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Players sense desire to win

Posted Dec 31, 2013

Defensive back Joe Haden and tight end Jordan Cameron felt the organization’s desire to win with Sunday’s firing of coach Rob Chudzinski.

When Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and chief executive officer Joe Banner relieved Rob Chudzinski of his coaching duties on Sunday night, to the players, it signified the organization’s desire to reverse its fortunes, win games and compete for championships in the short term.

And the players believe the Browns have the talent in place to achieve that mission, starting with the 2014 season.

“We’ve got to realize we’ve got a really good team and we have a really good group of talented, core players,” Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden said. “We have to be stepping up. We’ve got to start closing games at the end. We’ve got to start finishing, and that’s the biggest thing, knowing that we have the guys here. We’ve just got to start winning. It has to start somewhere.

“Nobody’s playing around. The time is now. It’s not going to be a building process. They really want things to start snapping.”

Haden is one of five Browns players selected to participate in the 2014 Pro Bowl, along with left tackle Joe Thomas, center Alex Mack, wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron.

The five players selected to represent the Browns are the most of any team in the AFC North Division, which reminded Cameron of the way the Kansas City Chiefs went from holding the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft into the playoffs with an 11-5 record and second-place finish in the AFC West in one year’s time.

“You see with the Chiefs last year,” Cameron said. “They had (nine) Pro Bowlers and were 2-14, and this year, they turned it around. We’re there. We have the pieces to be a great team and the leadership to be a great team. It’s just about trusting this organization and where they’re going. I think a lot of guys do and I know I do.”

During the 2013 season, the Browns went through three starting quarterbacks because of injuries and inconsistent play, and bounced back to beat the Minnesota Vikings on the road after a mid-week trade of running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Browns now hold 10 picks in 2014 NFL Draft.

Although the Browns will be playing for their third head coach in as many seasons, the players believe in the team’s ability to overcome challenges and produce results on the field.

“History shows that this team has been resilient and came together in tough times,” Cameron said. “I think we’ll be able to do that and we have good team leaders that allowed that to happen. We’ll be fine. We’ll make it happen. We’re a good team and a lot of guys have been mentally tough the whole year.”

Haden added, “It’s always tough to see a coach go, especially a coach you started liking and started fight for, but it’s a business, and that’s just something the leaders have to do. They have to keep the team together because management’s not messing around. They want to win. They want to win now. It shows everybody you’ve got to tighten up. We’ve got to come out and we’ve got to start getting W’s. We’ve got to start playing together. We’ve just got to start winning around here.”