Head coach Kevin Stefanski and EVP of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry expressed confidence Friday that everyone on the Browns has their focus set on an important game Sunday against the Bengals.
That confidence still remains after Berry announced earlier Friday that WR Odell Beckham Jr. will be released from the Browns. Berry said he had been in talks with representatives of Beckham that stretched beyond this week about the eight-year veteran's future with the team, and those discussions had reached a resolution this week.
"There are times in business partnerships where things do not just work out, and that is where we are today," Berry said. "Those decisions are incredibly difficult, but at the end of the day, it was the decision I felt was appropriate for our team. I can tell you that really everyone had put a ton of time and energy into it, and everybody is disappointed that this is the outcome, but it's where we are.
"We have to move forward and focus on Cincinnati."
That's been the mantra all week throughout CrossCountry Mortgage Campus.
At 4-4, the Browns currently sit last in the AFC North and are looking to generate momentum for the second half of the season after dropping three of their last four games. Both sides of the ball are looking to reverse inconsistent play that has kept the Browns short of their expectations, but with the division congested with playoff contenders — the first-place Ravens only have one more win than the Browns — Cleveland is fully aware how far a win Sunday could go toward their playoff hopes.
"We still have to win," defensive end Myles Garrett said. "At the end of the day, we have to come together as a team. We have to move forward. No one is going to stop and wait for us to pick up the pieces."
Check out exclusive photos from the practice fields at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus of the Browns preparing for their Week 9 game against the Cincinnati Bengals
Stefanski's confidence stems from what he's seen around the building and practice fields — team meetings have been smooth and focused on building a good game preparation, while the practices have been just as crisp at any point of the season.
Stefanski believes the Browns offense is well-equipped with the playmakers necessary to show improvement, too. Cleveland's passing attack, which ranks 26th in the league in passing yards per game and is tied for 31st with seven touchdowns, has struggled in recent weeks and dealt with inconsistency throughout the season, but the group is still full of talented veterans who have climbed out of tough stretches before.
"I think our guys are pros," Stefanski said. "I think all of us have to move forward. We have a challenge on Sunday right in front of us. I think a win would galvanize the team. I think that's where our focus is. We have to find a way to win this week."
No one on the Browns needs to be reminded of that. They have nine games left to prove their a team worthy of a playoff spot, and no game is more important than the next one.
"We have to do our best to focus on what we all have to do," Stefanski said. "We all have to go do our job, and that's a pretty simple way of looking at it."