Browns Daily Wrap: Mental struggles

Posted Dec 19, 2013

On a Thursday edition of “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford,” co-hosts Vic Carucci and Nathan Zegura looked ahead to the New York Jets game and where they feel the Browns can capitalize on the Jets’ weaknesses. Jim Donavon, from the PNC Bank Cleveland Browns Radio Network, joined Vic and Nathan for a Roundtable discussion to talk about what he hopes to take away from the Browns game against the Jets.
Randy Lang, editor-in-chief for, joined Vic and Nathan to discuss the psyche of the Jets after their playoff hopes ended and how they are responding to the distractions from speculation about Rex Ryan’s coaching future. Jamir Howerton, from, went inside the locker room with cornerback Leon McFadden, who touched on how he is preparing for Sunday’s game and how he plans to step up for the injured Joe Haden.
Je’Rod Cherry wrapped up the show up Vic and Nathan to discuss Jason Campbell’s comments on the New England game and the key elements that are needed to make an impact in Sunday’s game.

Here are some highlights:

Nathan Zegura: “This is a game where I want to see the defense take advantage of what has been a bad passing team. The Browns need to go out there and shut this down, and to me, the real test is against (running back) Chris Ivory, who has been running the ball really well. Can this (Browns) defense stop them from running and force them to be a one-dimensional team, force them to throw the ball? It’s a game where the Browns possess the opportunity to win, so it is going to be interesting to see what happens. I do have concern if Joe Haden can’t play because all of a sudden the cornerback position is really thin. But if the Browns can take care of the ball and take care of their assignment, not blow their coverage, then this game shouldn’t be a problem.”

Vic Carucci: “In terms of looking ahead at this Jets game, the first place I want to start is the front seven. I want to see this be the kind of game where Geno Smith, who has had a mediocre season, has a nightmare kind of game because of the pass defense. I’m confident that the coaching staff is delivering the right message, so I don’t think there is disconnect there. But if you are really in to it, really focused and motivated, which (Rob) Chudzinski has convinced us in not a problem, then you shouldn’t let a team get big pass plays on you. It just shouldn’t happen against one of the worst pass rushing teams in the league. You’re going to encounter emotionally draining games, but you are paid to deal with that and to make plays, not unravel on the stage. When you’re not good, you have to do it twice as good as everyone else. There is less slack when you have so much to overcome as team.”

Jim Donovan: “I’m anxious to see the effort level for both teams. I think I kind of have a good read on the effort level here. I don’t think we can say that the Browns have ever taken a Sunday off. They play hard and that’s a great characteristic they have, one that should be rewarded more in the ‘W’ column. It’s a worn-out phrase, but I would love to see the Browns finish. The longer they don’t finish a game, the more Hercules a task it becomes for them. As much as it can be physical, I think they have to get over this mentally. You worry that there has been too much losing, or that these guys may not know how to get over it. It’s going to come down to the right player(s) who take the team by the hand and get them out of this. The scheme is fine, I just they need someone who will come in and rescue them out of this funk.”

Randy Lange: “The Jets really felt as if they were in the playoff hunt, as if they had a shot, but it certainly didn’t materialize so now it’s a pride bowl. All things considered, they still have some juice left and they want to go 8-8, starting with the Browns this Sunday. The players are supportive of Rex (Ryan). I have no inside track on this, but from everything I’ve seen and heard, Rex and the new general manager (John Idzik) get along and think along the same lines. I don’t sense that this issue is a big distraction. The players want Rex to stick around and they do seem to like him. The big distraction for the Jets right now is that they are not playing for the playoffs.”

Leon McFadden: “Preparations have been coming along well. This week is about learning new things on defense and learning (the Jets’) offense. I’m just trying to take advantage and play to the best of my ability. Joe (Haden) is a big part of this defense and it’s my job to keep the defense going, they have been playing well all season. Mentally we just have to grind. We just need to pay attention to our assignments and try not to over think everything. If you take care of what you have to take care of, it will all fall together.”

Je'Rod Cherry: “Your mentality has to be week to week because you are in no position to feel sorry for yourself. That mentality has to leave, but when you are in the mode that the Browns are in, you struggle because you are losing and you are counting down the days until this is over. Losing is painful for these guys. McFadden has a great opportunity to step up for Haden this weekend. The best way for him to get better is experience, actually going out there and playing to see what actual game speed is like. Nothing can replace that. This is an opportunity for the front seven to pad their stats going against a weaker passing team, and if that’s not their mindset, then I know the mindset of palm trees and U-Haul trucks has set in. The Browns can do anything they set their mind to; it’s what they do for all four quarters that matters.”

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