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Need to Know: Next step for the Browns? Winning back-to-back games regardless of opponent

The Browns are undefeated at home and off to their best start since 2014. They snapped a 19-game winless streak last month and earned their first AFC North victory in three years on Sunday by toppling the Baltimore Ravens.

The next mission for these new-look Browns?

“The next step for us is to start winning back-to-back games regardless of who the opponent is,” head coach Hue Jackson said.

“It’s coming into the building, putting the right focus, the right process every week, then going out and playing as hard and as well as we can. I think our guys are prepared to do that.”

The Browns last had a win streak in November 2014, when they won three straight against the Raiders, Buccaneers and Bengals. 

— There’s no shortage of confidence from Baker Mayfield on or off the field. While the Browns’ start to the 2018 season might surprise some people, the rookie quarterback and first overall pick said he envisioned it this past spring. 

“I’ve known that the Browns were not bad since the second I stepped foot into this franchise. We had a special team from the get-go,” he said. “Whoever we’re playing has nothing to do with this team. We believe in this team that we have. Management has put together a great group of guys. It’s on us to learn and move forward.”

Mayfield, named the team’s starter a few weeks ago after rallying Cleveland to a comeback win over the Jets, passed for a career high 342 yards in Sunday’s win over the Ravens. 

— With third-year wide receiver Rashard Higgins out for the next few weeks because of an MCL sprain, Mayfield said the Browns have to have a “next man up” mentality until he returns. “It’s going to hurt our offense. He is a guy that has been in there since Day 1. We have had the next man up mentality,” he said. “I love Higgie, but (undrafted rookie Derrick) Willies stepped in there and made plays. That’s the kind of mentality that we need, and we are going to be counting on those guys to do that.”

— After facing Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees thus far, the Browns defense gets to take on another future Hall-of-Fame quarterback. This time, it’s 36-year-old Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who’s completing 70 percent his passes for 1,495 yards, 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions. 

“He’s good. I’ve played against this guy so many times. Being in the AFC West and watching him compete. He’s one of the best that have played the game. The guy has completed over 70 percent of his passes. It doesn’t look like he’s slowing down at all,” Jackson said.

“He is one of the top quarterbacks in this league – bar none. Knows how to play. They play to him. Everything’s done for him – it should be. He knows how to play. He’s playing at a high level again this year.”

— Rookie cornerback Denzel Ward continues to live up to the expectations that come with being the fourth-overall pick in the NFL Draft. The former Ohio State star was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after blocking a crucial field goal in Sunday’s win over the Ravens and recorded an interception to go along with three pass breakups that afternoon. 

His veteran teammate, free safety Damarious Randall, said the 21-year-old has been “outstanding” since coming to Cleveland. “I was honestly expecting him to play like this. Just watching his film out of Ohio State, he went No. 4,” said Randall, a first-round pick in 2015. “He has all the intangibles and skills to be an elite corner. I’m just glad that he is able to show it early in his career.”

— It’s never a dull day in Berea, and Wednesday was no different as Snoop Dogg visited the team’s facility. “I’ve known him for quite a while … a lot of guys see him on the sideline, and his message was ‘you guys are doing some good things, some really good things’ and I thought that was great,” Jackson said. “At the same time, there are going to be a lot of people that want to come be on this wagon when the wagon gets rolling and we are going to circle the wagon. I know that, because I did not see any of these people the last two years!"

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