Browns put 0-16 season behind them, look to future on day 1 of camp

Talent upgrades breed expectations to start winning this year

Daryl Ruiter
July 27, 2018 - 12:32 am
Fans greet Cleveland Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey (58) during training camp at the Cleveland Browns Training Complex.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Every year the first day of training camp feels like the first day of school.

The excitement, the anticipation, the potential, the hope.

Thursday was no different as chants of “Here we go Brownies, here we go” and the names of players could be heard raining down from the crowd as the team took the field and began running through drills.

For the Browns it is a new year. A clean slate.

The nightmare 0-16 season of misery now a thing of the past.

“It drives me a little bit, because I’ll never let something like that happen again,” defensive end Myles Garrett, who enters his second season, said. “No matter how long I’m here, there will never be a season like that.

“Everybody else has that same mentality. They think we can have a winning record, and I believe we can, too. We have to go out and prove it.”

Head coach Hue Jackson has preached from the moment they left Pittsburgh on Dec. 31, 2017 that they were turning the page and putting it all behind them.

For those that endured the winless campaign it’s easier said than done, but general manager John Dorsey has helped in a big way by overturning nearly half the roster this offseason.

Three-time Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry, acquired from Miami in March, can’t imagine what the Browns went through a year ago.

“That was the past,” Landry said. “I can’t. I can only focus on what we’ve got to try to do this year.

“Honestly, it’s just a mindset and we’re just trying to create the culture here that is about winning, as it should be.”

Receiver Corey Coleman, picked 15th overall in 2016 and facing a make or break year, has noticed the significant upgrade in talent around him.

“Not to knock any of the guys who were here, but John Dorsey did a great job bringing in a lot more talent,” Coleman said.

Coleman has had a difficult first 2 years that have been marred by a pair of broken bones in his right hand that cost him 13 games, but it was his drop in the closing moments against the Steelers that sealed the Browns’ date with infamy.

All the new faces have helped him move on.  

“We got a lot of great guys in the offseason to add to this team and they're great leaders, they've been at winning organizations and stuff,” Coleman said. “They're bringing their swagger here and we're just rolling with the punches, younger guys following along, hopping on the train.”

Dorsey traded for quarterback Tyrod Taylor to take the reigns in 2018 and help the franchise move beyond its darkest days.  

“Even if you were a part of it last year, it is a fresh start now,” Taylor said. “Learn from last year. No matter how good or how bad the season was, this season is a totally new year and be excited about the opportunity we have in front of us to go out and win games, change the culture and change the perception of this team.”

The presence of Taylor has removed the weight of the franchise and city from the shoulders of No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, who is expected to become a centerpiece to the resurrection of the downtrodden team and end the never-ending spinning quarterback carousel that will reach 30 starters when he takes the field.

“When you talk about a new season, the record from the past year goes out the window,” Mayfield said. “The culture around here, yes I’m new to it and we’ve made so many changes, this management and ownership has made so many changes, they are bringing in the guys that have fresh mindsets because you have to reset button every year.

“It doesn’t matter if you win the Super Bowl or you go 0-16, you start fresh and you haven’t done anything for this season so we’re working to be the best team in the country and that’s our mindset.”

Linebacker Christian Kirksey raised eyebrows when he tweeted about the Browns being a playoff team this year.

Considering they’ve won 4 games in 3 years, the thought is almost laughable.

Not to Landry.

“Everybody starts the year at 0-0, and only one team wins the championship,” Landry said. “I’m not trying to give predictions or make predictions. I’m just saying that I think if we play to our full potential, every guy plays to his full potential, we have a great chance of making the playoffs, and even going further.”

The warm fuzzy feelings of a fresh start will only last so long.

While the infusion of talent is noticeable, and refreshing to see, it won’t matter unless they start to win.

The Browns know it too.

“Talent is one thing. You’ve got to be a team,” Landry said. “The old saying is talent wins games, teams win championships, so we’re trying to be a team. We’re not trying to be just a bunch of talented guys running around here. We want to be a team, and we want to win a championship. That’s it. Simple.”

So there's only one thing left to do...

Win.