Winning three not enough for Browns

Posted Oct 11, 2013

The Cleveland Browns are in the midst of a three-game winning streak, but they are far from satisfied.

Hunger is what drives a man to pursue heights previously thought to be unreachable.

The desire for success consumes his efforts and energy while at work, and pushes him to give “something more” when it looks as though all reserves have been spent on the field of battle.

And it is that desire for victory that has the Cleveland Browns focused on the task at hand. Instead of basking in the glory of three straight wins over the Minnesota Vikings, Cincinnati Bengals, and Buffalo Bills, the Browns are preparing for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions at FirstEnergy Stadium with the goal of recapturing that winning feeling.

“Nobody on this team is satisfied, at all,” said six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas. “We’re at 3-2 right now. We wish we were 5-0, and that’s the mentality that we’re going to take. For us, this work’s not done until something happens in the postseason. We’ve got a long way to go. The season’s still really early. I think guys are really hungry to get this team to the postseason.”

Tight end Jordan Cameron added, “We’ve got a lot of prove, and guys are willing to go out and fight for that. We’ve got to continue to get better. We all want to get somewhere. We’re not where we need to be. We’re doing a good job of trying to get there.”

When looking at how the Browns have been able to overcome the desire to embrace the victories and relax, Thomas said it is “a mindset that was instilled in us back in the spring,” when coach Rob Chudzinski talked about “winning the one,” whether that be a practice rep, a goal in the weight room or a game on Sunday.

“You can’t let outside distractions affect the way you prepare every, single day,” Thomas said. “Coach talks about ‘winning the one.’ Whatever it is, you’re winning that one play, that one day, that one week, and you can’t really believe what people are saying outside of the building. When you win a couple games, they say, ‘You’re the best thing ever,’ and when you lose a couple, ‘You’re the worst thing ever.’ You’re always somewhere in-between.

“You want to rest on your laurels. It’s the human instinct to relax when somebody says that, ‘You’re great,’ or that ‘You don’t need to work that hard because you’re this good,’ but everybody in this locker room knows the type of work that it took to get three wins, and the type of work that it’s going to take to get three more because we’re not going to be flying under the radar anymore.”

The Browns started the 2013 regular season at 0-2 with losses to the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens. Three days after the loss in Baltimore, the team traded starting running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, and named Brian Hoyer the starting quarterback in place of an injured Brandon Weeden.

Since that moment, the Browns have won three straight games, despite losing Hoyer for the season to a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee and having Weeden come into a Thursday night game against the Bills with little practice time on the short week. They also find themselves in a three-way tie atop the AFC North Division.

“I’m very optimistic about this team,” said veteran wide receiver Davone Bess. “When you’re young in this league, and you’re thrown in the fire, you have certain tests thrown your way. It’s all about how you bounce back, and so far, so good. The guys have responded.

“Our biggest thing now is keeping our heads down, keeping that grinding mentality, not really worrying about what the outsiders are saying from a positive or negative standpoint. We’ve got to keep focusing. Now, we understand that we can be a winning team, and we want to bring that type of the vibe to the locker room.”

While the vibe in the Browns’ locker room is good right now, the players know what has to be done in order to continue building something special.

“It starts with Coach Chud,” said linebacker Paul Kruger. “He’s just done a great job of creating that environment. As players, we’ve really been able to play off of that just to keep guys working hard, keep positive emotions. Bring that to the table every day, and good things are going to happen. We’re worried about getting the fourth win and creating something really special for ourselves. It’s definitely a refocus every week.”

Defensive captain D’Qwell Jackson added, “We have a lot of goals around this building. We emphasize it every day, and we’re just staying the course. It was early in the season. There was no room to hit the panic button, and you see where it’s taken us.

“We have a lot of football to play, and we still have a lot to prove, a lot to prove to ourselves, a lot to prove to the community, a lot to prove in wanting to make that next step in making the Browns a perennial winning franchise.”

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