Behind Enemy Lines: Butch Davis

The Cleveland coach met with the Washington media via teleconference Wednesday.

Q: How close were you to moving up to draft Sean Taylor?

A: We had targeted three or four guys we felt had an opportunity to make our team. Sean was someone we liked and knew, but targeted he and Kellen along with the guys we felt would help our team. We gave it some consideration.

Q: Why have you struggled so much offensively?

A: To some extent we're trying to get into sync and in rhythm. It's been a bigger transformation. We've added three to four players to the offense and we've gotten away from the h-back, three-receiver offense we had run the previous couple of years. We've gone to more two-back sets and added a fullback in Terrelle Smith and a new quarterback. We lost our starting tight end in Steve Heiden so we had to thrust Kellen into the starting lineup immediately after holding out.

Q: Did you know last year would be such a rough year?

A: There wasn't any doubt. . . When we were informed that we were significantly over the cap, we had to create even more room to sign our rookies. As a coach I can tell you that nothing hurts worse than trying to build an organization, and it's built on trust and relationships and honesty. Then after the biggest success you've had after four years, to dismantle that . . . feelins are hurt. It creates unrest. There's no question that was a partial factor to the 2003 season, coupled with the fact that we had 14 players on injured reserve last year. We were totally decimated. We lost four of our five starting players on the offensive line. It was tough.

Q: What were your expectations coming into the season?

A: Internally in the organization, there's a feeling like the last six months is the most significant growth the organization has made in five years. There's some salary cap sanity. We've been able to add some players and maintain a significant amount of our rookies and we went back and re-did contracts of some players to develop a core nucleus of players. Look at the Redskins' roster. They have 12, 14 guys with eight years in the league or more. We don't have that situation. That's why we extended the contract of some guys on our team so that we'll be one of those teams who has 25, 30 guys together for four to 10 years, guys who give you that backbone and core leadership that give you a chance to win.

Q: What's your impression of Sean Taylor?

A: He's playing like his hair's on fire. He's playing exactly the way I remember him in high school. He's athletic. He's fast. He's a playmaker and he plays full-speed.

Q: What's one thing that's impressed you about Clinton Portis?

A: Probably his attitude. From the very first moment you met him you knew he had a tremendous amount of confidence and ability. Most schools in Florida didn't reject him, but Florida tagged him as a corner. The first tape you put on and watched from high school, he took the opening kickoff and scored a touchdown. It was called back for a penalty. So they kicked off again and he took that one and scored. You just knew he had explosive running skills and had the ability to make plays. He's done that at every level he's ever played.

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