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Monday, December 29, 2003
Coordinator Bruce Arians fired

Associated Press

BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland coach Butch Davis fired three of his offensive assistants on Monday, including coordinator Bruce Arians.

Arians, running backs coach Todd McNair and quarterbacks coach Carl Smith were let go by Davis, who hired all three in 2001 when he got the Browns' job.

The dismissals are the first moves in what is expected to be a busy offseason for Cleveland, which dropped to 5-11 after going to the playoffs last season.

Following Sunday's 22-14 win in the season finale at Cincinnati, Davis shouldered some blame for the Browns' dismal year, saying he had "let this team down a little bit."

On Monday, he spread some of that blame around, but insisted the firings were not a rash response to a bad season.

"This is not a knee-jerk reaction," Davis said. "This is a three-year broad spectrum look at the whole thing offensively, the growth and the development."

Davis, who has two years left on his contract and may get an extension this winter, is 21-27 in his three seasons.

This is the second straight year that he has fired one of his coordinators immediately after the season. Following the Browns' loss in the AFC playoffs at Pittsburgh in January, defensive coordinator Foge Fazio was fired and replaced by Dave Campo.

The dismissal of the 51-year-old Arians has been expected for weeks.

Cleveland's offense was supposed to be the team's strongest unit this season. However, injuries across the offensive line and inconsistency from quarterbacks Tim Couch and Kelly Holcomb led to the offense dropping in several key statistical categories.

The Browns fell from No. 23 to No. 26 in total yardage, went from No. 18 to No. 25 in passing and scored just 15.9 points per game after averaging 21.9 in 2002.