The Cleveland Browns enter Thursday night’s game against the Buffalo Bills at FirstEnergy Stadium on a two-game winning streak after beating their in-state rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals, 17-6, Sunday.
And from that two-game winning streak, the players have drawn confidence in the fact that those two victories have them in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC North Division.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but right now, we’re creating something,” said defensive captain D’Qwell Jackson. “We’re building something that people are going to talk about in the AFC. In order to be successful and win, you’ve got to start with a good, solid defense, and that’s what we’re building.
“I’m not talking about the past. Right now, we’ve won two games in a row. The past is in the past. It’s definitely something to build on, and Thursday, we’ve got to come out and build on this performance. We’re not moving backwards. We work extremely hard throughout the week. We correct things, as players, on the field. We’re moving in the right direction. We’ve just got to hone in every day, and expect this type of outcome when the game’s on the line.”
As an eight-year veteran, Jackson has played for four head coaches, and from the moment he reported for offseason workouts back in April, there was something different about the 2013 Browns under the direction of first-year coach Rob Chudzinski.
“The expectation level hasn’t been what it’s been before,” Jackson said. “We expect to win. We expect to make the plays at the end of the game, and we expect to come out, start fast and finish games. I know we started a little slow, but Chud and the coaches stayed true to their word, even with everything that happened two weeks ago, and we still had our goals aligned. It’s finally paying off. It’s early. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got a quick turnaround, so we’ve got to come ready to work, study the heck out of Buffalo and get ready for them.
“That’s the big difference with this group. I think we’re hungry. Chud has done a phenomenal job of just trying to change the culture around here. I’m excited about these last two weeks, but we still have a lot of work to do. It’s a long season. We’ve got a ton of work ahead of us, some great teams coming up.”
First-year Browns outside linebacker
“We just want to keep building, keep putting good games together, and good things will happen,” Kruger said. “I think it’s a combination of the way we’re coming together in practice, the way we’re being competitive in practice. Our coaches are instilling a lot of confidence in us, and it’s just guys making great individual efforts.
“I have all the confidence in the world in those guys. We’ve come together as a family, and it really makes you want to play for the guy next to you. I think the reason guys are playing the way they are and playing hard, working the way they are in practice is because of the brotherhood we have here. This is early in the season. We’ve just got to keep it going.”
The Browns started the season at 0-2, losing to the Miami Dolphins and Ravens after leading at halftime in both games. However, after the loss to the Ravens, something changed for the Browns.
“We became closer as a team the last couple of weeks, and really just tuned out all the other stuff and focused on us getting better,” said tight end
“We are a young team with a brand new offense, and I think, every week, we are continuing to get better. It’s learning the game and getting the reps. I think we are doing a better job of that. We are making the corrections and learning from those mistakes we make during the game.”
Fourth-year defensive back
“The fans feel like our season is important,” Haden said. “We feel like we just have a really good team. With Josh (Gordon) back, it helps us out a whole lot, and (Brian) Hoyer just stepping in and doing what nobody thought he could do. Our defense is still holding strong, still coming in and making plays. Our front seven never lets us down. (Barkevious) Mingo never lets us down, and people just keep making plays. This is going to happen every week.”