BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – While the Browns’ futility week in and week out remain comedic fodder for fans and the national media, there is one place where there is no laughing: the locker room.
For the second year in a row the team is winless through 6 games and the fourth time in franchise history – the expansion year of 1999 and 1975 were the other 2 – and so it’s understandable if the losing is wearing on the organization.
“I think it affects us all,” head coach Hue Jackson said Thursday. “Nobody, as I have said before, comes here to lose. I have come here from the beginning – we want to win. Losing is unacceptable for us, for our fans, for everybody involved. Nobody has come here to lose. We came here to win. That is what we are chasing, and we are going to keep chasing that.”
Linebacker Christian Kirksey, who last year declared they would not go 0-16 following the 9th loss of the season, explained how they’re dealing with the 0-6 start.
“We are keeping positive energy each and every day,” Kirksey said. “Spirits are still up. Six games, can’t get them back and have to move forward. There is no time to be sitting there moping around. We still have a lot of games in front of us and a lot of games in front of us that we can win. Our goal is just to look towards our next opponent, which is the Titans.”
Rookie defensive end Myles Garrett, who missed the first 4 games due to a high right ankle sprain, is not enjoying looking at the scoreboard when the clock runs out on Sundays.
“It’s not just 0-2 for me,” Garrett said. “Just because I wasn’t out there I still feel the other [4 losses] because this is my team regardless if I’m sitting on the bench or I’m participating.”
Garrett and rookie safety Jabrill Peppers – both selected in the first round in the 2017 NFL Draft – are viewed as franchise cornerstones but they’re now dealing with what fans have dealt with for the last 19 years: losing, losing and more losing.
“It’s tough,” Peppers said. “We knew it was a process. No one came in and said we were going 6-0. We knew it was going to be a process but at the end of the day [it’s about] how fast can we speed that process up and how quick can we get to where we need to be?
“We all got each others backs. We don’t point the finger.”
The Browns have the youngest roster in the league and left tackle Joe Thomas, who is in his 11th season, was asked if the youth simply has caught up to them.
“Deep thoughts, wow. I don’t know,” Thomas responded. “I agree with the concept that the ‘middle class’ has kind of shrunk in the NFL so you have your guys in their second contract that are kind of your superstars and you don’t get those veterans that are role players anymore. Teams would rather fill their roster with role players who are rookies because they are cheaper in the hopes that those rookies will turn into superstars with you – just give them experience.”
Your Turn – For the first time this season quarterback Cody Kessler will be active Sunday and back up rookie DeShone Kizer.
“As a competitor, you want to be out there, but at the same time, you have to do everything you can within your role or where you are, whether it is on the depth chart or active, inactive, one of those things,” Kessler said. “I have continued to prepare like a starter, but at the same time, help those guys out around me.”
Kizer was elevated from the No. 3 spot after Kevin Hogan, who started last week’s 33-17 loss at Houston, suffered bruised ribs in the game and the Browns decided to give him a week to recover.
“Luckily nothing is broken,” Hogan said. “They said just a rib contusion. Never had anything like it before so just trying to be smart about it.”
Although Kessler, who started 8 games last year as a rookie, started out as the No. 1 QB in April before falling to No. 3 at the end of August, he appreciates how Jackson has handled the situation.
“He has treated me the same way as last year when I was a starter as a rookie and now as a backup,” Kessler said. “He has done everything he can to help me out and help me improve as a quarterback.”
Now Kessler is a play away.
Celebrate [Bad] Times Come On – Jackson wants to see his players celebrate and that’s why he has no problem when Danny Shelton breaks out into a strut after finally making a play with the Browns being boat-raced in the third quarter down 3 touchdowns.
“That is an emotional outburst. That doesn’t bother me,” Jackson said Thursday when asked about Shelton’s celebration after dropping Houston running back Lamar Miller for a loss of 3 yards while trailing 24-3. “I want our guys in the game to enjoy themselves when they are making good plays. I think that is part of it, too. I don’t think because a guy made a tackle for a loss he should sulk or be mad about that. That is a good thing. I am OK with celebrating after you make a play.
“We just want to make more of them and have more celebrations, but the biggest celebration we want to have is in the locker room after the game, after a win, a team win, where the Cleveland Browns have won. I think that is the ultimate for us all, but I have no problem with our guys celebrating and having emotion and playing with passion that way. That is a good thing”
Injury Report – DNP: LT Joe Thomas (knee/rest) LB James Burgess (knee); LIMITED: S Jabrill Peppers (toe), WR Kenny Britt (knee/groin), WR Sammie Coates (hamstring), CB Jason McCourty (ankle), DL Jamie Meder (toe), DT Danny Shelton (ankle), CB Jamar Taylor (knee); FULL: QB Kevin Hogan (ribs), TE Randall Telfer (knee).