These are indeed frustrating times for the Browns, and a loss to the Steelers this past Sunday didn't do much to improve matters. But following a conversation with his mother, Patrice, linebacker Christian Kirksey outlined what keeps him motivated in trying to help lift Cleveland to its first win of the season.
"You just have to take the punches," Kirksey said Monday on a conference call. "I look at her as the person I like to talk to. She was telling me that, it's just like life. We didn't expect to be in this situation. Nobody expected it to be like this, but it's life. You just have to get up and deal with it. You can't sit there and pout about it."
Kirksey, who leads the league in tackles and has become a playmaker for a young Browns defense, said he draws strength from his mother and others through life's highs and lows, including an 0-11 start to this year's season. "You always have to have that person to sit and just get things off your chest. For me, I talk to my teammates because I have a good relationship with my teammates. I talk to my family, my mother. I talk to my best friends from college," he said.
"I talk to people I feel like have their best interest for me and I have my best interest for them. It is good to just get things off your chest when you are going through a tough situation. At the end of the day, it is football. You have to go out there and you have to continue to fight.
"I don't think we should make it bigger than what it is. It is all about winning games. At the end of the day, you have to look yourself in the mirror and the team has to look themselves in the mirror and just see what our struggles are and see what we need to improve on. Things will get better in time. You can't lose faith."
Josh McCown, who's set to start against the Giants this weekend with Cody Kessler in the league's concussion protocol, echoed a similar sentiment. "It's a difficult time, there's no doubt about it, but we will keep preparing and come out fighting because that is what it is about. It's about being in the fire right now and saying, 'What are my core values?' When you are in the fire, what's going to burn up and what is going to come out of that fire and be there?" McCown said.
"That's what my foundation is and that's what I'm about. That's, for me, playing through for my faith and my family and for this game and for the love of this game. That is what it is about. As hard as this time is, it doesn't change anything for me."
It's a frame of mind that perhaps starts with head coach Hue Jackson, who has buoyed the club through thick and thin. "They come in this building every day and they are in here working their tails off with the expectation to go out and win and play well. When that doesn't happen, frustration does set in for everybody involved," he said.
"I am going to be the calming voice and the calming leader that is going to get us through all of this, and we are going to understand that there is one way and it is kind of my way. We will all work together and we will figure it out from there."
Jackson, who admitted this season has been tough and something he's "never encountered," won't back down from the challenges that await the Browns through the final five weeks of the season.
"I know what I signed up for. I truly believe I am just the man for the job. That has not shown, and I respect that and I understand how our fans and all feel, but I am not running from this. I am going to run through it, and I am going to deal with it head on," he said.
"We are going to fix this. That is what I came here to do. You said it, we are in the midst of a lot of past deeds and past things that have gone on, and I get that. We have to get it right, fix it and turn it over and get it to looking the way we want it to look. I have total confidence that we are going to do that as an organization."