A busy Thursday full of interviews has our notebook overflowing with material three days before the Browns face the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte.
Here were the seven answers that really stood out on a day full of good ones.
- "It makes it frustrating to lose, and it makes it frustrating to lose a game that had that much meaning. It's always frustrating when teams can run the football on you. There's probably nothing in the game that's more frustrating than that." -- Browns defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil
The Browns front seven is hoping to regroup after surrendering a season-high 244 rushing yards to the Bengals. Cleveland has lost just once when it limits its opponent to fewer than 100 in a game. Coach Mike Pettine said the Browns' problems against the run Sunday stemmed from a lack of "it factor."
- "You'd think he's on a budget for words on the year. He says nothing, and all he does is go out and do everything we ask and then some." -- Pettine on tight end Jim Dray
Dray, a first-year player with the Browns after four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, was among the numerous players Pettine listed when he was asked who "played like a Brown." Among the others: Joe Thomas, Andrew Hawkins, Joel Bitonio, John Greco, Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, Craig Robertson, Joe Haden, Pierre Desir and Jim Leonhard.
- "At that position, it's the one position where you can't really just hide a guy and there's another replacement, so we had to go on the street and get Garrett." -- Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor
Tabor experienced a few unexpected surprises last week when kicker Billy Cundiff injured his knee during a Thursday workout. The Browns had to make a decision and it had to be made quickly, so Garrett Hartley, who went through a tryout earlier in the week, was signed and Cundiff was waived. He arrived in Cleveland late Friday and dressed for Sunday's game against the Bengals but didn't attempt a kick.
Hartley, an avid hunter who has his own show on The Sportsman Channel, hasn't kicked since 2013, his sixth and final season with the New Orleans Saints.
- "I think Jabaal (Sheard) has had a productive season. Just like we've talked about earlier in the year, it might not show up in the stats. There were two or three times where Jabaal had great rushes in that game, forced Andy Dalton to get off his spot and he had to either throw the ball away or he forced a bad throw. That doesn't show up obviously in the stat sheet as a sack or whatever, but he's been disruptive. He's probably our best outside linebacker against the run. I know everybody looks at sacks. Sacks come in bunches. Some years you get them, some years you don't, but he's been a good player for us." -- O'Neil
Sheard, in his fourth year out of Pittsburgh, has 42 tackles and two sacks. He's been battling through a foot injury that has limited him in practice for weeks.
- "Everyone's kind of on edge and just ready to get that taste out of your mouth, go back out there and finish the season strong. We know we want to kind of go into spoiler mode here and wreck some seasons along the way and no better than this week at Carolina." -- Leonhard
Despite their 5-8-1 record, the Panthers sit just a half-game out of first place in the NFC South. Still, the margin of error is minimal, as a loss to Cleveland on Sunday combined with a New Orleans win against Atlanta would knock Carolina completely out of the playoff picture.
The Browns' opponent next week, Baltimore, would make the playoffs if they started today, but there are few scenarios in which they do without a win over Cleveland.
- "For the three years I've been here, we haven't gone into the offseason with a winning season. If we go 9-7 to finish these games out, it would be big to come into next year and play hard." -- Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin
This falls in line with what pretty much every player said Thursday. As Leonhard iterated, there's intangible value to a strong finish that takes on even more importance with a roster as young as the Browns'.
- "Johnny (Manziel) is a real impressive guy. I don't think everybody knows really what Johnny is about, and Johnny is very humble. Johnny is a real dude. He's not going to sit there and BS me or anything. We all were embarrassed by that game. Anytime you don't put up point - it's not just Johnny - all of us are extremely embarrassed about that. We want to get back to Sunday, and Sunday couldn't come quick enough." -- Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan
That about says it all, doesn't it?