Myles Garrett and the Browns defense called a players-only meeting last week to make corrections following inconsistent performances in the first two games of the season.
Garrett and other Browns defensive leaders knew they were better than what the results showed, so they closed the locker room doors and ensured their teammates knew it, too.
"You've got to learn to correct yourself," Garrett told local reporters Friday. "Coaches aren't going to be out there to babysit us. We've got to be able to make the calls ourselves, and when things go awry, we've got to be able to make adjustments on the fly."
Those adjustments paid off in historic fashion last Sunday.
The defense stymied every aspect of the Bears, holding Chicago to just one net passing yard and 47 total net yards — both the lowest-ever recorded by an opponent in Browns history. Nine sacks, 4.5 of which came from Garrett, spoiled rookie quarterback Justin Fields' starting debut in the 26-6 win.
"That's exactly what I want out of my teammates," Garrett said. "I know they expect the same out of me. I think we all just wanted more out of ourselves and we knew we had more in the tank.
"Right now, we have to keep on proving it against every opposition we face."
Check out exclusive photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Minnesota Vikings
Such a performance will be hard to replicate against the next opposition.
The Minnesota Vikings boast the eighth-best offense in the NFL and are in great form after scoring 30 points against the Seahawks last week. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has yet to throw an interception, while their top two receivers in Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson have combined for 435 yards and six touchdowns through three games.
This week, the defense has placed an emphasis on turnovers. That appears to be the top way they believe they can slow down Minnesota, which has benefitted from Cousins' uncanny quick release and ability to avoid sacks by doing so — he's only been sacked five times this season, which is in the top-10 lowest of all starting quarterbacks.
"We know that's trying to get it out quick," Garrett said. "We've been told it and we're working on getting our hands up and batting down passes so we can get him on second-and-long and third-and-long."
But the Browns defense is soaring, too, and has managed to climb the league rankings after one week of dominance. After allowing 699 yards in their first two games and ranking near the bottom third of the league in most defensive categories, they're now ranked seventh in the NFL in points allowed, second with 12 sacks and eighth with a 27.5 quarterback pressure percentage. Sure, those numbers received a big inflation after last week's effort, but the Browns are expecting to stay in that range — if not better — as the season continues.
Defensive coordinator Joe Woods said Thursday he believes the change was because of better execution from his players. Garrett partially agrees, but he believes everyone involved with the defense deserves credit for the quick turnaround.
"I don't want (Woods) to sell himself short," he said. "He dialed it up in some ways, but we all did execute better than we have been. That's just part of the work we've put in with staying in later and meeting more as a defense, and not needing the coaches to get us right. We've been correcting ourselves."
That was the message in their meeting last week. Now, the Browns are out to prove their performance wasn't a one-time display of early-season dominance.
"The first two games just weren't cutting it," Garrett said. "I knew we still had more to do. We have a long season and have no time to take it slow. We've got to mesh right now, and no one is going to wait for us.
"We've just got to go out there and prove it."