The Browns’ lone win of the past two seasons came on Christmas Eve in 2016, when they took down the Chargers at home in dramatic fashion.
And although Cleveland finds itself in a similar situation, searching for its first win after an 0-14 start, coach Hue Jackson stressed the scenarios are far from identical as the Browns travel to Chicago this weekend.
“I don’t want to dive into that because that was a year ago. This team is different. This team, I hate to say it, is younger. The guys that are playing now is a younger team,” he said Wednesday.
“It’s a younger team, a different year, a similar situation, but I don't want to attack it the same. What I think is important is that we continue to work as hard as we can and become better over this next week. This is a two-week season.”
Faced with what’s been a winless season thus far, the Browns hope to change that Sunday against the Bears. They play at Pittsburgh on New Year’s Eve in the season finale.
— Cornerback Jamar Taylor was limited to five special teams snaps in Sunday’s loss to the Ravens because of a foot injury and didn’t practice Wednesday. Jackson said he hopes Cleveland will have the veteran back this weekend. “We hope that that gets better and makes progress throughout the week.”
— After placing second-year strong safety Derrick Kindred on injured reserve Tuesday, the Browns will mix and match players to fill the void. That combination includes rookie backup Kai Nacua, who made his first start two weeks ago against Green Bay, and Jabrill Peppers, who has started 11 games opposite of Kindred. “We will play in different packages with people and we will move Jabrill a little bit closer to the ball,” Jackson said, “so he will have an opportunity to be down there, but Kai will, too, as we go through this.”
— Peppers, the 25th overall pick in this past spring’s NFL Draft, has 49 tackles and two pass breakups. Jackson said he’s eager to see what Peppers, who played just about everything at Michigan, can do closer to the line of scrimmage.
“You don’t want it to happen when somebody gets hurt because I think Kindred was doing some good things – he really was – but it’s also exciting to watch Jabrill do something that maybe (Peppers is) natural at,” Jackson said. “He has done some great things back there deep for us this year. That experience for him is going to pay off for him in his career as he continues to move forward, as well, because he has now done both.”
— DeShone Kizer said a rollercoaster of a rookie season hasn’t shaken his confidence. And after Sunday’s 27-10 loss to the Ravens — which saw the youngster combine for three turnovers — Jackson agreed with that assessment.
“Any quarterback who’s been under the duress that he has, I mean, that’s a struggle, but I think DeShone is still a very confident person and a confident player,” he said. “That being said, are there some scars there? You better know there are … but there have been many other players before him that have been in some similar situations that has had the same scars. Maybe not to this extent, but they have had them and they find a way to come back out of them and have great careers.”
Kizer, who has showed promise but struggled to demonstrate it consistently, has thrown 19 interceptions against nine touchdowns. “This has been a long Year 1, obviously, a very interesting Year 1 with a lot of ups and downs. I think it would be awesome and a cool opportunity for me to go out and close it out with some positive notes,” Kizer said.
— Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky grew up in Mentor rooting for the Browns. But the second-overall NFL Draft pick said there won’t be any extra emotions come Sunday.
“I’m an even-keeled player so I’m not going to get too high, not too low. Just another opportunity for me and my team to go out there, do what we do and try to come out with a win,” he said on a teleconference. “No added pressure. It is not going to be emotional for me. I just want to go out there, do my job and enjoy playing the game of football.”
Trubisky has passed for 1,822 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions in 10 starts.