The first question Baker Mayfield took at his weekly press conference focused on the impact of last season’s dramatic win at Denver. He discussed its significance but quickly shifted his focus to Sunday’s challenge.
“Last year does not matter. Right now, it is about this week,” Mayfield said. “It is about us and it is about doing everything we can to find a way to win in Denver.”
Earlier in the day, Browns coach Freddie Kitchens was asked about the offensive line’s performance last week at New England. Kitchens kept the focus on the present.
“I am only going to talk about this Denver game,” Kitchens said. “Those guys compete on an every-down basis. Every day they come to work, they are pros and they try to get better.”
Check out photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Broncos Sunday by team photographer Matt Starkey
These kinds of responses were common throughout a busy Wednesday in Berea as the Browns, sitting at 2-5 and in the midst of a three-game losing streak, acknowledged there’s nothing they can do about the record they hold at this juncture of the season while stressing they can’t afford to focus anywhere but Sunday’s pivotal matchup with the Broncos.
“Just based on where we are, we have to have a singular focus,” Mayfield said. “The only thing we need to be worried about right now is doing our job at a very high level each day, and that goes at practice, that goes to walkthrough, meetings and then to Sunday, carrying that over.
“We are 2-5. We have to win one game at a time.”
The schedule, to this point, has been a gauntlet, but the Browns haven’t done themselves any favors, either. Opportunities were there in games against the still-undefeated 49ers and Patriots, and the now 6-2 Seahawks, but self-inflicted wounds prevented Cleveland from pulling off any kind of upset.
The respective records of Cleveland’s next nine opponents? Nowhere near what it saw through the first seven weeks of the season, starting Sunday against the 2-6 Broncos.
That storyline or line of questioning just doesn’t carry much weight with a team that realizes it’s been its own worst enemy, especially when it pertains to penalties and turnovers, throughout the first half of the season.
“This is a group effort, and everybody has to understand that this is a group effort,” Kitchens said. “I am talking about everybody in our locker room has to understand that we are all accountable to the things that have been happening.
“This is a new day. We are trying to get better in that area, and I am confident that we will.”
The Browns’ hopes and dreams for this season, as many players have stressed since Sunday’s loss, are still alive and well despite the disappointing start. They just can’t let themselves think beyond the Broncos because the odds of achieving those hopes and dreams take a major hit if they can’t stop their losing skid sooner rather than later.
“It’s the NFL,” Mayfield said. “The margin of error is already very slim so for us to get to where we need to be. Little details and doing our job is very important.”