BALTIMORE -- The loss was still fresh and it stung just like the other eight Cleveland suffered this season, but Browns owner Jimmy Haslam found plenty of reasons to be encouraged from both a micro and macro standpoint after Sunday's loss at Baltimore.
When he honed his focus on what transpired Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, Haslam was pleased with the effort and intensity the Browns, amid a whirlwind of distractions and difficult circumstances, displayed in their 20-10 loss to the Ravens. Looking back on the Browns' first season of seven or more wins since 2007 and ahead to 2015 and beyond, Haslam saw even more to reasons to like the direction of his franchise with Ray Farmer as general manager and Mike Pettine as head coach.
Both will "absolutely" be back for 2015, and their meetings to build a more successful team started shortly after the team returned to Berea.
"I think they've done a good job," Haslam said to a group of reporters outside of the Browns' locker room. "Listen, we're all disappointed. We were 7-4 and we didn't think we'd be 7-9 but I think it's really positive how hard the guys played today when you think of all the guys we had hurt, we're playing a third-team quarterback who has never taken a snap in a live game and we go toe to toe with a team that's made the playoffs now seven of the last eight years in their facility. It went down to the wire, it was a 20-10 game and they made more plays than we did and they won the game. Guys played hard and did a good job.
"So we're happy with what Ray and Mike did and know they're like I am and they want to get better next year. We're going to go to work on that tonight."
Haslam said Pettine did a great job of "keeping the locker room together" during a week that included third-string quarterback Connor Shaw being elevated from the practice squad to make his NFL debut, the suspension of wide receiver Josh Gordon and frustration with rookie first-round selections Duke Johnson Jr. and Justin Gilbert. The Browns were tied with the Ravens, 3-3, at halftime and held a 10-3 lead early the fourth quarter before the Ravens rattled off 17 unanswered points to win and land a spot in the playoffs.
"Guys came out and, playing with one arm behind their back, gave a hell of a fight," Haslam said.
As the Browns work to improve the team in a division that features three of the AFC's six playoff squads, the ideals he, Pettine and Farmer have preached won't be sacrificed, Haslam said. The owner didn't single out any of the Browns' players, but the message was sent.
"This is the ultimate team game," Haslam said. "I think a player who can't show up for meetings, can't make practice, can't make weightlifting, disrespects himself. I think more importantly -- and I think this is what young guys miss -- they disrespect the team, the coaches, the staff, the fans. There's a lot of people in our organization whose livelihood depends on how well we do. We're not going to tolerate people who are irresponsible no matter what round they're drafted.
"These young guys, we're going to give them a chance, they're young kids, we're going to work with them and hope they grow up. But if they can't grow up and they can't be responsible to their teammates and coaches and our great fans, then they won't be with the Cleveland Browns."