Browns Daily Wrap: Playing for pride

Posted Dec 17, 2013

On a Tuesday edition of “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford,” co-hosts Vic Carucci and Nathan Zegura were joined by Browns coach Rob Chudzinski and Je’Rod Cherry to discuss the issues that need to be addressed in the offseason and how this team should continue to play hard for the last two games. Former Browns kicker Don Cockroft joined Nathan and Vic to highlight his book, The 1980 Kardiac Kids – Our Untold Stories, which highlights one of the more memorable seasons in Browns history.

Browns tight end MarQueis Gray also sat down with Jamir Howerton, of, to express why it is important for this team to try and finish this season strong and how he plans to continue to step up and make big plays.

Here are some highlights:

Nathan Zegura: “This team has struggled with teams that have one weapon in the passing game. There are some holes to address on the defensive side and their offensive side as well. We need to prioritize what this team needs and we need to prepare all day and every day for this offseason. …You need to be able to protect the quarterback, you need to have a quarterback, you need someone to aid the quarterback, and you need someone to guard the receivers. And one of the big problems is that this team didn’t generate enough pressure. …I think the defensive backfield is still an issue and they need a lot of work. I think free agency is where the Browns need to make a splash at cornerback, maybe not as well as Joe Haden, but someone that can make some big plays.”

Vic Carucci: “You need two more kinds of guys like (Browns wide receiver) Josh Gordon on offense for this team to be in contention to win these games and make playoffs. Defense as well; they need cornerback depth. …This is a make-or-break offseason for this entire organization.  I don’t see Jimmy Haslam’s tolerance or patience going beyond this offseason. Either get it right now, or get out. You can do one of two things and go for veterans and make coaches happy, or you can take a younger approach, and it leaves open the doors and puts more pressure on the 2014 offseason.”

Rob Chudzinski: “Losing, we will never accept, and it is frustrating when you play well and do a lot of good things and you have a lead in the fourth quarter. We have to finish those games out and get those differences and find those reasons why and get those chances to make some big plays. We were not able to get the job done (against the Bears) and that is what we will address with the guys for them to get better at. This group of people is (filled with) great competitors and they want to win so badly and they continue to drive. You look at the disappointments and frustrations and it hasn’t affected them and this team has responded and every chance we have an opportunity to step on the field, we have a chance to get better. And we plan to come out on top and do a better job of that. The effort or competitiveness or want to win aren’t a question at all. There are specific things from a breakdown standpoint and there are things we can do better. It’s not some sort of mystery; we need to focus on the details on exactly what we need to do to get better.”

MarQueis Gray: “We just have to come back to work the next week and get ready for the next game. You have to play the whole game until the clock reads all zeros and we have to finish out the games when we have a good lead. We have all the great playmakers and we are stacked; we just have to finish. It’s a blessing to be a part of this offense and we have a lot of playmakers, especially Josh (Gordon). I haven’t seen anything like him. There are a lot of guys making great plays, but as a team as a whole, we have to finish. I have to stay prepared and be ready to make plays.”

Don Cockroft: “In 1980, the year of the ‘Kardiac Kids,’ we knew we had something going that year. Ozzie Newsome is quoted in the book and the thing he said was, ‘The thing that set the team apart was the unselfish nature of the team,’ and he had never seen so much unselfishness on a team. There is a connection with the fans and it was unselfish because somebody came through every week. In 1980, we lost our first two ballgames and we were distraught, but we came back and won the next five and made the connection with the fans. I only hope and pray everyone can hang on and hope this team can win some football games. I’ve had mixed emotions throughout the year. In simple terms, they have some talent and we can see that.”

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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