BEREA, Ohio (AP) _ With his job security the talk of the town, Butch Davis looked like a beaten man as he discussed yet another excruciating loss.
Nearly four seasons of injuries, frustration, bitter defeats and mostly sub-par football appear to have taken their toll on Cleveland's coach.
Building the Browns into Super Bowl champions has been much tougher than he imagined.
Losing is a painful, painful experience and we're frustrated,'' Davis said Monday while discussing the Browns' 24-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.We're searching for answers on how to turn this thing around. ... Losing (stinks). Let's be real.
``If you're a competitor and you're a coach and you're a player, it's miserable. And the only cure for this misery is winning.''
The Browns (3-6) are running out of time to salvage their season. And Davis may be a few losses from losing his job. On Monday, he addressed mounting speculation that this may be his final season in Cleveland.
Davis, who is 24-34 since taking over the Browns in 2001 and 1-8 against the rival Steelers, is under contract until 2007. But if the Browns don't improve quickly, owner Randy Lerner could decide to make a coaching change.
Davis claims he has both Lerner's support and sympathy.
We speak after every game and I do believe that Randy clearly understands the challenges that we've had as an organization over the last two years,'' Davis said.There has been an awful lot of very, very difficult things to have to overcome. I think he is clearly in the loop and knows exactly what all those issues are. He knows where we are with the team from the talent and the coaching and the preparation. I think he's very supportive.''
Only time and the Browns' eventual record will tell just how much support Davis has in Lerner.
One thing is clear: The current Browns aren't very good.
They have lost three in a row and four of five, dropping them into last place in the AFC North, one game behind the Cincinnati Bengals _ the NFL's standard bearers for futility.
But beyond the Browns' offensive ineptitude and 8-17 record since making the playoffs in 2002, there are other disturbing signs that Davis isn't getting the job done.
The comments made by defensive tackle Gerard Warren that he was going to go after Pittsburgh rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's head were embarrassing and fired up the Steelers.
There was also the silly pregame trash talking that led to Browns running back William Green being ejected for fighting with Steelers linebacker Joey Porter.
Davis was troubled by both episodes, saying he didn't condone the behavior in either case while acknowledging that it was a reflection on him.
Ultimately, everything that happens on that football field is a reflection on me,'' he said.That's the ultimate responsibility as the head coach. You take it all.''
And this year, taking it all has included quarterback Jeff Garcia's almost weekly criticism that the Browns coaching staff isn't utilizing his skills properly.
Following Sunday's game, Garcia said the Browns were predictable, undisciplined and unimaginative.
``You name it, we do it _ unfortunately the wrong way,'' Garcia said.
Davis dismissed much of Garcia's post-Pittsburgh rant as frustration that everyone in the Browns' locker room is feeling.
Garcia, who was sacked four times and spent most of the afternoon running from Steelers blitzers, does need more help, Davis said.
We've got to give the kid an opportunity to be successful,'' he said.We've got to keep the wolves off of him.''
Davis may have his own wolves to worry about.
Unless the Browns can string some wins together, Davis could be going back to coach in college or rebuild another NFL franchise. But until that time comes, he's committed to making the Browns winners.
``That's my obsession,'' he said.