Wanting to Help 'Robo'

While stranded on the sidelines, Browns starting MLB Andra Davis has been silently frustrated. He has been able to simply watch, unable to help Terry Robiskie, the man he wants to see become the 2005 head coach of the Browns. Bernie's Insiders' Frank Derry talks to Davis about the situation, and offers his thoughts on Robiskie's campaign to land the full-time job.

If linebacker Andra Davis has his way, the search for the next full-time head coach of the Cleveland Browns will begin with Terry Robiskie and end with Terry Robiskie.

That's because, even though the Browns were just 1-4 under their interim head coach to end the year, Davis truly believes the man who replaced Butch Davis on Nov. 30 should be given a legitimate shot to lead the team next year and beyond.

Andra Davis's reasoning is simple. Unless a head coach has some ammunition with which to do battle, you can't go by the team's record when making an evaluation.

"If you don't have a fully loaded weapon, there is no way people can truly judge you by your record," said Davis, who was one of 15 Browns on injured reserve throughout some or all of Robiskie's tenure.

Sunday afternoon at Houston, the Browns showed what they could do just by adding one more weapon. Quarterback Kelly Holcomb returned to action and helped the team snap a nine-game losing streak with their impressive 22-14 season-ending victory.

That game, which certainly showed that no one had quit on him, made you realize that Robiskie, a very honest, up-front and popular guy with his players, deserves being a finalist for the job. Team president John Collins reportedly said before the game that would be the case.

If indeed it proves true, Andra Davis and many of his teammates will be very, very happy. He wants the opportunity to help make Robiskie a winner, something the third-year middle linebacker couldn't do this year because his knee injury kept him out for the final five weeks.

Davis was joined on IR by defensive back Leigh Bodden, linebacker Brant Boyer, defensive end Courtney Brown, wide receiver Andre Davis, center Jeff Faine, offensive guard Kelvin Garmon, quarterback Jeff Garcia, defensive back Michael Grant, offensive lineman Sterling Harris, fullback Ben Miller, tight end Chad Mustard, linebacker Ben Taylor, offensive tackle Ryan Tucker and last, but certainly not least, tight end Kellen Winslow Jr.

Add in the fact Garcia's backup, Holcomb, was only available for the final game, and you had the makings of a disaster, one which a combination of Paul Brown, Vince Lombardi and every other great NFL coach couldn't have overcome.

It was Winslow's season-ending broken leg, suffered in Week Two's 19-12 loss to the Cowboys, that started the Browns on their downward spiral.

"We had such high hopes for this team, and so much talent," Davis said. "In the first game, we did so well against Baltimore (a 20-3 victory), one of the top teams in the league. But it seemed like after that, everything just went down hill."

Record aside, Davis says Robiskie has what it takes to lead the team.

"I would love to see Robo (Robiskie) stay," said Davis. "Everybody loves the guy. He is everything we envisioned he would be."

Davis was referring to the fact it was a group of veteran players who recommended to owner Randy Lerner that Robiskie be moved up from offensive coordinator to interim head coach when Butch Davis quit on his team after the Bengals game, a game in which both Andra Davis, the leader of the defense, and Holcomb suffered nasty injuries.

Holcomb, who had a magnificent day and showed he was capable of putting up big numbers when given an opportunity, suffered cracked ribs in the 58-48 loss to the Bengals.

Davis, meanwhile, suffered a medical collateral injury to his left knee. The original diagnosis of a tear turned out to be a much worse diagnosis than the injury actually was. In fact, if he hadn't been put on the season-ending injured reserve list, Davis probably could have played against the Dolphins in Week 15 and definitely in Sunday's season-ending victory over Houston.

The fact he was healthy enough to play made watching the games even more painful for the third-year linebacker out of the University of Florida.

"It was very tough (to just watch), especially the Miami game," he said. "The score should have been 17-7 in our favor. It's tough when you see guys leave it all out there on the field and still not win."

And making it doubly painful was the fact that because he was unable to help the team win, the chances of Robiskie being hired as the full-time head coach looked very slim, at least until the victory over Houston.

"He'd be the perfect coach for us, the perfect fit," said Davis, noting that the team never gave up and remained loose and upbeat throughout the nine-game losing streak, a streak that could have drained the team of all of its emotion.

"You could never tell by walking around this locker room that we had lost nine straight games," he said. "Credit for that has to be given to Robo. We know he cares about us. We appreciate what he does for us. Because of that, you want to go out and lay down your life for him."

It was a huge difference from when Butch Davis was running the show. Although Andra Davis didn't say it, there was no doubt Butch Davis had lost the respect of his players, punctuated by his decision to quit on his team.

"The whole (Butch) Davis thing was a big distraction, but Robo came in and he's the type of guy who we know cares," Andra Davis said. "Robo came in and made a bad situation a whole lot better; as good as it could possibly be.

"He is the type of guy you are going to go out and play your hardest for each and every game, each and every week."

Davis has somewhat of a ulterior motive for his desire to see Robiskie stay. "When a new guy comes in, you really don't know if that guy wants you," he said. "You try not to think about it, but you can't help but think about it.

"You have to prove yourself all over again each and every week. Of course, I believe you are going to go out and play your hardest no matter who the head coach is and what the circumstances are. I would go out and give my best even if we didn't have a coach."

But Davis doesn't think there needs to be wholesale changes, either in the coaching or player ranks, but rather just a return to health of the dozen-plus players on IR, and a couple of additional bodies.

"There is no reason we can't turn it around next year," he said. "San Diego did it this year. So did Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Why not us? We have a lot of players who play hard. And no one on this team ever quit. So why can't we (win next year)? Why can't we turn it around."

Davis wants to rectify things not only for himself and his team, but also the loyal fans.

"Losing is a terrible feeling," he said. "It seems like when you lose, it affects every aspect of your life. It affects your family. It affects your friends. You really don't want to socialize. You don't want to go anywhere.

"And the city deserves better," he added. "Our fans deserve a lot better. To not be able to give them what they want is ridiculous."

Hopefully, the victory over the Texans will not only be the start of something good for the fans, but also a strong vote for the possible return of Terry Robiskie, who took a job no one else wanted and did the best he could with an impossible situation. 

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