BEREA—If there is a silver lining in Sunday’s 31-10 loss to the New York Jets, Browns fans can look back eight years to the 2007 season.
The Browns opened the season at home against the Steelers and were blown out, 34-7. It was so bad the Browns pulled their quarterback Charlie Frye at halftime and traded him the next day to Seattle. The Browns righted the ship and won 10 of their next 15 games to finish 10-6. They didn’t make the playoffs, but it was the last winning season for the Browns.
That’s how veteran cornerback Tramon Williams looks at it.
“Me personally, I think we can’t get any worse,” Williams said. “That’s momentum to me. We can’t get no worse. Five turnovers. You’ll lose 100 out of 100 games, so I don’t think it can get any worse. Every time we made plays, we got penalties. It was just bad football.”
In addition to the five turnovers, the Browns committed 12 penalties that accounted for 109 yards for a total of 17 mistakes on the day.
“It’s disappointing because in the preseason we handled it pretty well and weren’t penalized,” Mike Pettine said. “I didn’t anticipate that heading into (the season). It’s disappointing.”
Williams spent his entire career prior to the Browns with the Green Bay Packers, who historically have a winning tradition. Williams was asked how the Packers handled bad games and put it behind them.
“Compartmentalize, learn from you mistakes and move on,” Williams said. “Figure out what we need to do next week and not let it carry over (to Tennessee).”
Linebacker Christian Kirksey agreed.
“Just like a bad play, you have to put it away and move on to the next,” he said. “You mentally have to put it behind you.”
Pettine said that is what he tells the players all the time.
“I talk to the guys all the time,” Pettine said. “We have to compartmentalize wins and losses and move on to the next game.”
The Browns were supposed to be a dominant defensive team, but in the first game were not able to stop the run in the second half or get to the quarterback. Williams said he felt the Browns came out playing well on defense, but then fell apart.
“It’s tough,” Williams said. “I thought we came out on fire. It seemed like when a couple of circumstances went on and the whole feel of the team went down, the momentum of the team went down. We have to do a better job of that on the sideline. Guys were sitting down on the sidelines with their heads down. It’s too early for that. You have to come out and believe.”
Kirksey said Sunday’s performance was disappointing.
“It was very disappointing,” Kirksey said. “All that we have to do is make sure we play sound defense and make tackles and make sure we’re in the gaps we need to be in. We’re alright. We just have to get better. We don’t want to overreact.”
Williams was brought to the Browns with some other veterans last year like Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner to help change the culture of losing, but says it takes time.
“It’s human nature, I can see that,” he said. “We’re trying to change that and it starts with believing.”
Williams said it’s important for the Browns to put this game behind them and get ready for the Titans.
“One week at a time, learning from your mistakes in the past and bringing it to the future,” he said. “It’s all about Tennessee right now. We have to correct what we did wrong and then go on to Tennessee.”
Williams said there’s a lot of work to do.
“At the end of the day, as a unit, do we want to play better, obviously yes,” he said. “Defensively, we want to be the best defense in the league and we didn’t start that way. We have to keep working.”
“One of those things that you work so hard throughout training camp, the preseason and you want to showcase your talent and put it all together and fall short,” he said. “It’s week one and we just didn’t put our best foot forward. We’re not going to overthink it and just put it in a box and put it away.”
Pettine said his message to the team was simple.
“It is one loss,” he said. “We have to guard against one loss becoming two.”
Prepping Manziel: Pettine said that QB Josh McCown is in the NFL’s concussion protocol program and with the uncertainty of when he will be cleared, QB Johnny Manziel will prepare as the starting quarterback this week.
“I think that’s accurate to say,” Pettine said. “You’re starting quarterback is in the (concussion) protocol. We’ll have to see how it plays out.”
Pettine said McCown was in the building on Monday watching film and was evaluated, but no information is disclosed when a player is in the protocol.
Pettine was asked if McCown is cleared later in the week, if he would be the starter.
“We’ll make that decision later in the week.”
Manziel was 13-of-24 for 182 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He was sacked three times and fumble twice. His rating was 75.3. Manziel was the leading rusher with 35 yards on five carries.
Pettine gave no other update on LB Scott Solomon, who injured his ankle in the first quarter.
Bowe Setback: Pettine said that WR Dwayne Bowe had a ‘minor setback’ with his hamstring and that played into him being inactive for the game.
“We didn’t feel he was there,” Pettine said. “He had a minor setback during the week and that is the decision we made. It is frustrating because we made a big commitment to him.”
Gilbert’s Status: Pettine said that Gilbert was inactive for Sunday’s game because his hip flexor was not sufficiently healed.
“Similar to Bowe, we didn’t feel he was 100 percent,” Pettine said
Pettine said the vehicular incident he was involved in last week didn’t have any bearing on Gilbert not playing, but the team is still in the process trying to get all the information.
“It is troubling,” Pettine said. “Any time a player is involved in any type of incident we try to gather as much information as we can.”
Pettine said he has a meeting with security and want’s to make sure “we have all the facts”.