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A new offensive coach: Davidson for Carthon



Published: Thu, October 26, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Jeff Davidson replaced Maurice Carthon as the offensive coordinator.

BEREA (AP) -- Maurice Carthon left, and left a big mess.

On Wednesday, the Cleveland Browns began trying to clean it up.

Carthon either resigned under pressure or was fired -- take your pick -- as the club's offensive coordinator following the Browns' dismal performance on Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

He was replaced by offensive line coach/assistant head coach Jeff Davidson, who will assume play-calling duties for the immediate future.

"Maybe this is what the offense needs," said guard Joe Andruzzi.

Yeah, and a whole lot more.

Six weeks into the season, the Browns (1-5) are dead last among the league's 32 teams in total offense (245.2 yards per game). They are ranked 31st in rushing (68.2 yards), 26th in scoring (14.6 points) and 26th in passing (177.0 yards).

There's nowhere to go but up.

Carthon's departure

Andruzzi was one of a few players willing to discuss Carthon's departure, which Browns fans had been clamoring for all season. Andruzzi, a 10-year veteran, was asked if he and his teammates were behind Carthon, in his second season running Cleveland's feeble offense.

"Hmmmm," he said, taking a long pause. "As an offense it was more or less a lot of confusion and a lot of young guys not on the same page, and as an offense you have to have 11 guys working as one."

Andruzzi and the rest of Cleveland's other offensive linemen were excited about Davidson's promotion.

"Jeff's a great guy," said Andruzzi, who signed as a free agent with the Browns shortly after Davidson joined Crennel's staff. "He's one of the big reasons why I came here. It's a long overdue job for him."

Unlike Carthon, who stayed within close range of coach Romeo Crennel on the sideline during games, Davidson will call the offensive shots from the press box. Maybe a bird's-eye view will help the 39-year-old Davidson see ways to get the Browns moving.

First chance Sunday

Davidson's first game calling plays will come Sunday against the New York Jets. Coincidentally, Jets coach Eric Mangini tried to hire Davidson during the offseason as his offensive coordinator.

Crennel wasn't surprised to hear Andruzzi's high praise for Davidson.

"When a player's position coach gets elevated, they feel good about that," Crennel said. "They feel like they know them better and have a better opportunity because [the coach] knows what their demands are and he might be able to help them more because he has control of the calls."

Davidson has limited experience running an offense. His only on-the-job training came in 2002 when he filled in during the preseason for Patriots coordinator Charlie Weis, who was hospitalized following complications after having gastric bypass surgery.

Andruzzi is confident Davidson can get the job done.

"He has been in the same room with Charlie Weis working on game plans," Andruzzi said. "He has a good understanding of how to get things flowing and to get the ball to the right guy."

If statistics are any indication, Davidson's baptism as coordinator is coming against the perfect opponent as the Jets are ranked 30th in total defense, allowing an average of 372.3 yards per game.

Carthon is criticized

Carthon was portrayed by a few players as being stubborn, overly critical and ill-equipped for his job.

"He was a hard coach, an old fashioned, hard-nosed coach," said wide receiver Joshua Cribbs.

"Coach did a lot of criticizing," guard Cosey Coleman said. "Not to bash him, but J.D. [Davidson] is more laid back."

Coleman said Davidson and Carthon clashed over what was best for Cleveland's offense. He hopes the change of coordinators can change a season headed in the wrong direction.

"I wouldn't say it was a sense of relief," he said of Carthon's departure. "The offense is searching. Hopefully this is the spark to get us going. Change is good. The biggest thing is that we have 10 games left."

Rookie fullback Lawrence Vickers said he was going to miss Carthon.

"He kind of took me under his wing a little bit," he said.

The sixth-round pick was involved in some of Carthon's most criticized play calls -- two third-down sweeps in the season opener against New Orleans and a failed halfback option against Carolina on Oct. 8.

Vickers said Carthon can't be blamed for all Cleveland's offensive problems.

"We just didn't execute plays," he said.




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