Browns Daily Wrap: 4th-Q breakdowns

Posted Dec 16, 2013

On Monday’s edition of “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford,” co-hosts Vic Carucci and Nathan Zegura expressed their concerns with the defense, which has been the Browns’ main focus and investment since the offseason. Mary Kay Cabot, from, and Tom Withers, from the Associated Press, joined Vic and Nathan for a Roundtable discussion about why the Browns cannot maintain a fourth-quarter lead.

Je’Rod Cherry wrapped up the show with Vic and Nathan as he addressed the mental and physical conditioning that seems to be lacking in all areas of the team.

Here are some highlights:

Vic Carucci: “When you make a commitment in the offseason to your defense, that has to be the thing that wins you games, that allows you to compete in games consistently, and at times it has been, but not enough. We are seeing a troubling trend that speaks to the inability to close out. I can’t leave the offense out of this conversation, but I don’t buy that it’s a lack of maturity in these guys. At this point in the season, your young players are not young anymore. Being good enough to say you are competitive with divisional leaders, there’s no solace in that anymore. The fact that they are “kind of good,” but not winning almost makes it harder. I guess I’m at a point where more of my thoughts are directed towards 2014 and beyond.”

Nathan Zegura: “The one thing that I am starting to get a little nervous about is that all the investments have been on the defensive side of the ball and it’s been the defense that hasn’t been able to get the job done at the end of games. If you go back and look at the losses, there are maybe only two games where you actually felt that the Browns did not have a chance to win. Other than that, this is a team that has been good enough to keep the game close, but not good enough to win. A team like Chicago has three guys on offense (Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, and Matt Forte) that they can count on at any moment to make a big play. And that’s not counting the quarterback. The Browns have Josh Gordon, that’s it. When you get down to the nitty-gritty, you need to have multiple guys who you can reasonably count on in big situations. The pressure is on this offseason to acquire those big talents. This has to be a homerun offseason.”

Mary Kay Cabot: “As far as not being able to finish games, you have to attribute that to the defensive breakdowns. No matter what you say about this team, you can’t deny that they have given up long drives, short drives, touchdowns; that’s unacceptable. When I watch the highlights of the Patriots, Tom Brady is only as good as the guys who make the plays for him. You have to have guys who will go up and run the right routes and make the right plays. The Browns need to go out and find at least two really good weapons for the next quarterback. They can turn things around in one year, but only if they do things right. Some of the holes will be filled when guys come back from injuries, but without a doubt, they have to get a receiver, a running back, and maybe a good defensive back.”

Tom Withers: “The Browns have not been able to stop teams when they absolutely need to do so and that is the bottom line. We were told the investment would be an aggressive, attacking defensive style of play. We’ve seen pieces of that, but not for the full 60 minutes. There are far too many times when the quarterback has plenty of time to throw the ball and make the big plays on our defense. All season long we’ve talked about the lack of playmakers, but when you have a guy like Gordon who has been breaking record after record, how is it that they are not throwing the ball to him? ...The thing that is scary to me is that the deeper we go into the season, the more holes this team seems to have. There’s been an ‘oh my gosh’ moment for every regime that comes to Cleveland, but I think they are starting to realize that there is a lot more that needs to be fixed.”

Je'Rod Cherry: “I’ve come to the point where I realize that these guys are simply not tough enough. They have poor conditioning and no mental toughness whatsoever to sustain the ability that is needed to win a football game. In a game where your body is telling you to quit, especially when it is cold outside and you know there is not much to play for, that’s when you have to put those demons to sleep and come out and play. They have to have the ability to mentality go beyond that outside noise and tell themselves that it does matter. They need to add those players who can take the team to the next step and not make those same mistakes over and over again. I think they should use these last two games to get over that mental hurdle and to show this organization that they deserve to be here next year.”

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