Browns Daily Wrap: Meaningful November

Posted Nov 11, 2013

On a Veteran’s Day edition of “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford,” co-hosts Vic Carucci and Nathan Zegura were joined in the Dawg Bowl by Associated Press writer Tom Withers, who discussed the opportunity that the Browns have to now control their own destiny as we approach the second half of the season.

Jamir Howerton, from, went in to the locker room for a conversation with tight end Gary Barnidge on the team morale after the bye week. In recognition of Veterans Day, Steve Gera, special assistant to coach Rob Chudzinski and a Marine Corps veteran, spoke with Vic about his tours overseas and working in the NFL. We rounded out the show by talking with Je’Rod Cherry, who expressed optimism for the Browns’ potential playoff run.

Here are some highlights:

Vic Carucci: “We can forget about the history of this club and its inability to play important games this time of year. Factually, we are in the playoffs.  I’m not saying I fully expect the Browns to be a playoff team this season, but these are the facts. From here on out, it’s mental conditioning for these guys. The fact that young players are getting to experience big games is critical to the team for years ahead, and I’m feeling really good about where this Browns team is.  There is justifiable reason to believe that they are on equal footing, if not at an advantage, over the other teams in this division.”

Nathan Zegura: “This is the biggest game so far for the Browns since their playoff game in 2007. To me, the next three games are the most critical games of the season for the Browns. They need to go at least 2-1.  In many cases, the Browns can control their own destiny. I can’t wait to see what (Ray) Horton will unleash on Andy Dalton this weekend. …The fact of the matter is, November 17th will be the most meaningful game in many, many years for the Browns, especially this late in the season. I’m excited to be here, this is such an exciting time for the Browns.”

Je’Rod Cherry: “How can you not be fired up about this situation?  These guys are coming off the bye week and have a reason to get rid of that lethargic feeling. When something this big is at stake and on the line, it gets you amped up. They want this mentality to permeate throughout the locker room, and if you can sweep a team like the Bengals, it just shows that your vision is coming to pass. The Browns need to go out there on Sunday and validate to the Bengals that this isn’t the same Cleveland Browns team that they are used to playing. This is what the guys need; you have to be in meaningful games to know the price that has to be paid in order to win.”

Tom Withers: “Who would have thought, in August, that November would be as meaningful as it is now? I think these guys are ready for what lies ahead of them. They feel that what they had to endure earlier in the season has prepared them for this moment. You look at where this team has come in nine weeks and the state of the Browns versus the state of the Bengals. It makes you believe that the Browns are the only team on the uprising. Dalton is struggling, and it is going to be vital to not let him get in to any kind of rhythm. He’s already rattled and that will break him.”

Steve Gera: “My time with the Marine Corps really defines who I am at this point. The ability, as a young man, to actually lead Marines was the one factor that influences me most on a day-to-day basis more than anything else, besides my wife. I joined the Marines right after 9/11, when I felt like I was compelled to join, that it was my purpose to join. I take pride in being one of the men and women at that time who stepped up to join the Marine Corps. …Football and the military are actually very similar. People always make the comparison between sport and war and there are similarities on how they function. When you are leading young men at a fundamental level, it’s essentially the same whether they hold a football or a rifle. All veterans serve because it’s their right to serve; it’s not a sacrifice to serve. The fact that NFL fans tip their cap to us is really tremendous and it really means a lot.”

Gary Barnidge: “The bye week really helped us recover and got us ready for the second half of the season. We need to focus on one game at a time, which is all that matters to us now. At this point, we have all improved: offense, defense, special teams … we are all playing better.  We aren’t going to worry about other teams; we just need to focus on one game at a time.”

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