The Cleveland Browns finished the 2011 season with a 4-12 record and many outside sources have predicted the 2012 team will not finish much better -- or in some cases, worse -- than they did after a 13-9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season finale on Jan. 1, 2012 at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
“We like that,” Cribbs said. “We’ve always been the underdog. Every team hates to lose to us, so they play timid when they play against us. We’re a good team this year. They want to say we’re going to be last on every category. We’ll see -- when the game cuts on and the lights cut on -- at the end of the game, who’s the winner.”
Brown added, “I don’t read anything. I really could care less, to be honest. My expectation for this football team is to take one game at a time, one day at a time and get better, have a better year than you did last year. Less is more. You don’t talk about what we’re going to do. You just go out and prove it. That’s my expectation.”
Both players sighted last year as an example for their feelings about others’ predictions.
Of the 12 games the Browns lost last year, six were by a touchdown or less, two by a field goal and one in overtime.
“It’s one play here or there that will put our team over the edge, a special teams return, a block or a kick, anything,” Cribbs said. “We’re close and you can see that. All that matters is us winning. We’ve got the components, the key components to do that, a new quarterback, a new running back. We’re a strong team, more than ever, right now.”
Cribbs felt the Browns improved themselves when they added depth at many positions through free agency and with the choosing of 12 players through the 2012 NFL and NFL Supplemental Drafts.
“When the game comes on, you’ll see a big difference in receiving and that’s going to come from the quarterback as well,” Cribbs said. “You’re going to see a lot more big-league throws and both quarterbacks are better. With a year under our belts, an offseason to prepare, things are looking up for us. We’re excited. We just want to see when the game cuts on, when the lights cut on, everybody’s out there and it’s game time because that’s the only thing that matters.”
In order to improve their record, the Browns are going to have to win games against tough competition.
The Browns face the AFC West and NFC East divisions in addition to the six games against the AFC North and one each against the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts based on divisional finishes in 2011.
The reigning NFC East champion New York Giants won last year’s Super Bowl and all three of the opponents in the AFC North qualified for postseason play.
The Browns’ defense will line up against several high-profile quarterbacks, including Philadelphia’s Michael Vick, both Peyton (Denver) and Eli Manning (Giants), Carson Palmer (Oakland) and Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers), as well as rookies Andrew Luck (Indianapolis) and Robert Griffin III (Washington).
“We have to be on top of our game every, single game,” said defensive back
“We have to make sure we stay on top of every, single play. Every time we break the huddle, we know what we have to do; we know the checks and everybody communicates.”