The Browns have finished a season with four wins four times since 1999. They have also finished 5-11 four times. The first two seasons under Chris Palmer the Browns won two and three games respectively.
That’s a whole lot of not winning.
Only twice since returning to the league have the Browns finished with more wins than losses. Twice. It won’t happen again this season.
After the loss to Pittsburgh, a few of the Browns players were honest about the state of the team and how they felt personally.
Safety T.J. Ward was clearly frustrated by the play of the offense, who put the defense in a terrible spot for the second week in a row. The offense committed four turnovers, one of which was returned for a touchdown. A second, Campbell’s fumble was returned to the four yard line where the Steelers scored a play later.
That makes eight turnovers in two weeks against division rivals and in big games where the Browns had a chance at making a run for the playoffs.
In the Browns’ four wins the offense has had five turnovers (four of which came in one game against the Vikings). In the seven losses they have had 15 turnovers.
It is about more than just the turnovers the last two weeks however.
“It is frustrating, I’m not going to lie, but it’s out of our power. We have to trust that they’re doing everything in their power to win ball games like we are,” said Ward of the offense. “And I trust that and I know that, it’s just things aren’t going the way any of us want them to go right now.”
Corenerback Joe Haden took the blame for touchdown he gave up, but even he sounded disturbed by the bad play of the offense.
“I can’t speak for anybody else, but as a defense, no matter where the ball is placed we are just trying to do what we can do,” said Haden. “When you look at it, from a defensive side, we aren’t getting run up and down the field on. So when we come in looking at what we need to change, of course, it’s big plays. They made a play on me today. That’s a great play, a good receiver, a good quarterback, making a good play. I’m saying I got beat. We just feel, as a defense, we aren’t getting marched on, we just have to step up, no matter where the ball is placed, we have to be able to do better in the red zone or whatever position we are in.”
Other players said the politically correct things, like Desmond Bryant who said that the defense needs to do a better job creating turnovers when the offense is turning the ball over. Or like Josh Gordon who downplayed the franchise receiving mark. “Honestly, it really doesn’t mean that much to me,” Gordon said. “After taking a loss like that, it means nothing. It is great for me as a wide receiver to get that experience, but if we can’t go out there and win, I don’t really care about it.”
Perhaps the most telling sign was how fast the locker room cleared following the game. Those who spoke seemed to be the ones who just couldn’t get out of the locker room fast enough.
Now the Browns must face another tough opponent. No, not Jacksonville. Apathy. Playing out the string without emotion or desire. It’s an opponent the veterans on the team know all too well.
“(We) still have games left in the season and opportunities to play,” said head coach Rob Chudzinski. “The men in that locker room there have a lot of character, and I believe in them. I believe in our coaches. We will bounce back and play well.”
That belief will need to turn into points if the Browns want to get off of four wins this season. Last year the team finished 5-11. That means the Browns would have to win a pair of games to finish with an improved record.
Jacksonville has been playing better and comes to town next week winning two of their last three. Then they play the Patriots, the Bears, the Jets and the Steelers.