Freddie Kitchens echoed what Gregg Williams and Browns players have said throughout the week about the elevated challenge Cleveland's offense will face Sunday against the Texans.
The Browns offensive coordinator said the Texans' front seven, which features All-Pro J.J. Watt and dangerous pass rushers in Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus, is the best in the NFL. That unit, he said, is playing at a "very high level" during the team's AFC-best eight-game winning streak. Cleveland's offense, which has gotten better with each week under his guidance, has "our work cut out for us" after three games against defenses that rank much lower than the Texans' star-studded group.
Kitchens, though, made one thing clear: The Browns, feeling as good as they have all season after back-to-back, convincing victories, won't be intimidated.
"You play the game on Sunday at one o'clock, and we have guys that are going to go down and compete. Lay it out there on the line and see where we come up at the end," Kitchens said. "We are not going to back down from anybody. We are going to go down with a good plan, and we are going to see if we can go down and execute it."
That's exactly what the Browns have done in each of their past two games, moving the ball with efficiency, spreading it around to numerous playmakers and capitalizing on scoring opportunities in a way unlike they have in years.
In a matchup against the AFC South-leading Texans, the Browns are expecting a four-quarter fight. There's just been enough to like over the past three games for Kitchens to believe his group has what it takes to hold up its end of the bargain.
"(The Texans) are playing at a very high level right now," Kitchens said. "We have our work cut out for us from the standpoint of just getting on them and just blocking them. We will go down and fight. We know what to do. We will see whatever happens."
The Browns have needed just a little more than five quarters to score 63 points in their past two wins. They're a perfect 10-for-10 with 10 touchdowns in their last 10 red zone trips. Nick Chubb has found the end zone four times and sprinkled in the longest run in Browns history. Quarterback Baker Mayfield was named the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Month after a three-game stretch in which he's completed 74 percent of his passes for 771 yards, nine touchdowns and one interception. Nine different players caught passes in Cleveland's 28-16 win over the Falcons and eight had at least one catch in a 15-point win over the Bengals. Six different players caught touchdowns in those games.
"To do that, you have to have the right people on the field because somebody can't get upset because they are not getting the ball. They have to understand that person got the ball for a reason," Kitchens said. "The quarterback has to know where his eyes are to get the ball into that person's hands because he is the one open and that is where his read takes him. They know that on any given play they can get the ball, and that enables the offense to be successful."
That success has bred a noticeable confidence among players who have been through far too many games when the offense wasn't clicking. There's belief this stretch is not just a blip, but the beginning of something sustainable.
It starts with Kitchens, who said he's simply empowering the players by putting them in positions to succeed.
"If they never can taste success and they do not know what that feels like, then it is hard to build confidence," Kitchens said. "This is a game that you have to play with tremendous amounts of confidence if you want to be successful. I think we are at a point where we are gaining confidence. We are very confident in what we can do."