The Owl: Determination in the Locker Room

Our feathred friend knows and understands the mood in the Browns locker room...

It is too bad fans down on the Browns don't have the opportunity to spend time in the locker room because if they did, they would leave with a different perspective on the team they love, the team that breaks their heart week after week and season after season.

To those fans, if losing tears you from the inside out, you should know it does the same thing to the players three and four times over. The anguish is painted on the faces of the veterans who have known only one winning season since the Browns returned in 1999. The turnover has been so rapid year to year that most weren't even around when the Browns eked out a 9-7 record and a playoff berth in 2002.

"We're sick of losing," right tackle Ryan Tucker said. "We want to win for this team and we want to win for our fans. They've stuck by us all these years. No one deserves a winner more than they do."

As Coach Romeo Crennel says, no one is playing well. The defense is bad and the offense is bad. Usually one side of the locker room - the defense is on one side and the offense on the other side - has a reason to blame the other group for losing, but the Browns looked so inept against the Saints and Bengals that 53 players have been pronounced guilty by Crennel.

In an odd sort of way this is good, because while so many people are ready to give up the season with 14 games left, the players have banned together and taken an ‘us against the world' mentality.

It would help the cause if Willie McGinest would get on board, but that's a subject of another column. So far McGinest has not been the veteran leader he was hired to be; an old player who does not play - McGinest now has a calf injury on the heels of elbow surgery - just gets in the way, like a broken down couch on the tree lawn on garbage day gets in the way of a kid on his bicycle.

The players are convinced they are better than they have shown. That is the unmistakable feeling derived from spending a half hour with these guys. There is a difference between the robotic malarkey some players spew and sincerity. Players such as Tucker, Andra Davis, Charlie Frye and Kellen Winslow Jr. mean what they say about playing better.

And while we are on the subject of Winslow, I applaud him for coming out and challenging the coaches to come up with a better offensive game plan. He's right. He should be on the field on third down. In fact, given the problems the Browns have in the secondary, he could probably help on defense as well.

By all accounts, the Ravens should beat the Browns Sunday. The Baltimore defense looks as tough as ever. They allow less than two yards a carry and they have not given up a touchdown.

That being said, I have this weird feeling the Browns will find a way to pull the upset. I have no logical reasoning for that conclusion except to point out the Ravens are not great offensively. If the Browns can slow Jamal Lewis they have an excellent chance. The problem is they didn't come close to stopping the run in either of the first two games.

As Crennel said, the Browns played harder against the Bengals than against the Saints. They did not play smarter, but they played harder.

That determination from the locker room is the next step to playing smarter. Don't give up yet. The Browns have not given up on themselves or their fans.


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