Under fire, Davis decides to resign as coach of Browns

Robiskie to guide team in its final five games

Pro Football

December 01, 2004|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Left with no defense for Sunday's 58-point debacle and faced with eroding front office support, Cleveland Browns coach Butch Davis has resigned under pressure.

The Browns made the announcement yesterday after negotiating a financial settlement for the remaining three years and $12 million on Davis' contract.

Offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie, interim coach for the Washington Redskins for three games in 2000, will coach the final five games, starting Sunday in Cleveland against the New England Patriots.

Davis' decision comes after a week of rampant speculation about his job security. A week ago, team president John Collins said Davis would remain the coach unless he resigned.

But a day after the Browns lost, 58-48, in Cincinnati, Davis either was persuaded or decided on his own to step down. Collins expressed surprise at a news conference.

"This was Butch's decision," Collins said. "I'm personally disappointed."

The Browns won only five of their past 21 games under Davis and went 24-36, including postseason, in his four years. Since making the playoffs with a 9-7 record in 2002, Davis has overseen major purges of the roster and front office.

Last April, when former team president Carmen Policy resigned, Davis effectively was given autonomy by owner Randy Lerner to run the franchise. Seven months later, Davis, too, is gone.

Davis issued a statement through the team in which he accepted responsibility "for the mistakes that we have made," and alluded to the "intense pressure" he felt.

In fact, Davis, 53, sent his wife and son to Florida last week to escape the growing furor in Cleveland. He was booed as he left the field after his final home game, a 10-7 loss to the New York Jets, in Week 11.

It was after that game that Collins also voiced concern over how the Browns were perceived.

"The ultimate judgment is how well the plan is going," he told the Plain Dealer in Cleveland. "How well the constituents - our fans, you guys, the media, the community, and business partners - are buying into it. ... If we aren't showing progress and people aren't buying into the product, then there's a problem."

The Davis era was messy with turnover, upheaval and, this season, injuries. The Browns have 13 players on injured reserve, six of them starters.

During Davis' tenure, the Browns went 6-9 in games decided by three points or less, and they went 10-21 from November to the end of the season.

Worse, his drafts left him open to second-guessing. Of his four first-round draft picks, only tight end Kellen Winslow has Pro Bowl potential.

Davis also drafted underachieving defensive tackle Gerard Warren, troubled running back William Green and center Jeff Faine.

Davis said he had no "immediate plans" to coach, but he has already been linked to the opening at the University of Florida. He went 55-20 in six years at the University of Miami before taking the Cleveland job.

Davis feels he may be vindicated for the job he did with the Browns.

"I hope that some of the decisions we have made will be a part of a brighter future for the Browns' organization," he said in his statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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