Christian Kirksey expects Browns to “shock a lot of people”

Linebacker believes they have the players needed to make playoff bid

Daryl Ruiter
August 25, 2018 - 5:05 pm
Cleveland Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey (58) at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Every year there is a worst to first Cinderella story in the NFL.

Inexplicably for the better part of 19 years the Cleveland Browns have yet to be one of them.

They’ve been the punchline, the laughingstock, the doormat and the bye week for the rest of the league.

Having been a bottom feeder for 2 decades, with 15 last-place divisional finishes since 1999, linebacker Christian Kirksey believes this year that’s about to change.

“I think this year is going to be special. I think this year is going to shock a lot of people,” Kirksey said Saturday.

In June, Kirksey tweeted that he believed the Browns would make the playoffs – the franchise owns the longest drought in the league, which enters its 16th year – a move that brought forth plenty of snark from fans and media alike, but he’s not backing down.

“It’s the feeling I get,” Kirksey said. “There’s going to be no greater feeling but to see this team excel and get the wins this city deserves.

“I know talent is on this team. I know we’re building. I know the chemistry. I don’t think we’re going to let the town down this year. I think it’s going to be special, so I’m ready for it.”

Forget worst to first, if the Browns live up to their own expectations they’ll have gone from the outhouse to the penthouse coming off an 0-16 season and the worst 3-year stretch (4-44) in league history.

Kirksey, ever the eternal optimist, has borne the brunt of the losing since the Browns drafted him in the third round – 71st overall – of the 2014 NFL Draft. The team is 11-53, which includes a 7-9 rookie season that saw them lose their final 5 to fall out of playoff contention after a 7-4 start.

They’ve yet to recover.

Despite the losing, the fans remain.

Kirksey has his own following of fans that have picked up on his ‘Kirkoland’ nickname. A few even showed up to training camp this year with custom made signs that Kirksey autographed for them after practice.

“I love the fans. I get a kick out of having a good time with them, especially right before the game, getting them hyped up,” Kirksey said. “They’re part of the team too. When we need a third down stop we need the crowd behind us. So I feel like we have that connection with the crowd and they feel like they’re part of it. It’s just special.”

Following an offseason that saw the roster turned upside down, Kirksey is convinced this is their year.

“I’m always going to have that as a goal is to get the playoffs and it’s something that the city deserves and as long as I’m here, as long as I’m walking around playing on this field, that’s always going to be my No. 1 goal is to make it to the playoffs and get a championship.”

To a degree, Kirksey’s optimism has been validated during the preseason – at least on defense where the starters have allowed just 3 points in 12 series – and those came against the Giants in the preseason opener.

They forced 4 3-and-outs and did not give up a first down against Buffalo and Thursday night against Philadelphia they recovered 2 fumbles, had 2 interceptions, made a stop on downs and collected a safety in the first half.

Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah are healthy, Mychal Kendricks was added to the linebacker’s room, Damarious Randall was traded for to help at safety, Jabrill Peppers has been moved within the same zip code of the line of scrimmage, Denzel Ward was drafted, and Terrance Mitchell signed as a free agent and is set to start opposite of Ward.

Plainly said, Kirksey is glad to finally have some help on his side of the football.

“When we have a bunch of ballplayers that’s at an elite caliber, all eyes are not on you,” Kirksey said. “You got guys like Myles Garrett, guys like Damarious Randall, Jamie Collins out there to where you got so many people to worry about, so it makes your job easier because you’re not just the [only] guy getting singled out.

“You can’t single out every dominant player that’s on the field because it’s almost impossible so the more players that you have that can be dominant, it’s like how can you beat us? I’m excited and I’m happy that we have guys that’s playing at a really high level because it makes plays come to you and it makes your job a little easier.”

And from Kirksey’s point of view, the expectation to win is much easier too.