BEREA—The winds of change are coming to the Browns and they’re coming from the windy city.
This week a new era in Browns history takes place as Jimmy Haslam III officially becomes the Browns owner. The NFL Owners are meeting in Chicago and set to approve Haslam as the majority owner on Tuesday.
The Browns are hoping to build on their 34-24 victory over the Bengals Sunday and use the win and the fresh start in ownership to spring board them into turning their season around.
“Momentum is everything in this league,” D’Qwell Jackson said. “With the young guys we have we’re asking a lot of them and to get the first win is big.”
Brandon Weeden agrees with Jackson that the win gives the Browns a lot of confidence.
“I think we can get a lot of confidence (from the win),” Weeden said. “We’ve been close and shot ourselves in the foot several times. Now, the goal is to keep moving forward and build on the momentum.”
However, Jackson knows the Browns have to follow up with more good games.
“The true test will be what we do going into the bye week,” he said. “That’s the plan. To create the momentum and sustain the momentum, but we have to go out and play.”
However, Pat Shurmur doesn’t want to look too far down the road.
“We took another step forward, for sure,” Shurmur said. “We got better as a team and now we have to show consistency and go win another game and we’ll add them up at the end.”
Shurmur deflected any pressure he might have felt about winning his first game.
“I think we as a team needed (the win),” Shurmur said. “You’ve known long enough that this isn’t about me. It’s about our players, our team, our city and I think we’re getting better. “
Shurmur did say you have to win in order to get people to believe in what you’re doing.
“It’s easy for folks to roll their eyes (when we say we’re getting better),” he said. “But now, once we’ve won a game I want our players to get greedy and win some more.”
The Browns have a somewhat favorable schedule moving forward.
The Browns travel to Indianapolis this Sunday to take on the 2-3 Colts and then they return to play the Chargers (3-2) and Ravens (5-1) before the bye week on Nov. 11. The Colts were thrashed by the Jets, 35-9 on Sunday.
After the bye week, the Browns have seven games against teams that are currently a combined 11-21 (.343 pct.). The Browns play the Steelers twice in the last seven games, so if you count their 2-3 record twice, the overall record for opponents is 12-24. (.333 pct).
In fact, there are only two teams on the Browns remaining schedule with a winning record, Baltimore (5-1) and San Diego (3-2). If the Chargers lose to the Broncos on Monday Night Football, the Chargers and Broncos will be 3-3. The Browns remaining road games after the bye are at Dallas (2-3), at Oakland (1-4), at Denver (2-3) and at Pittsburgh (2-3).
Remaining home games after the Chargers and Ravens are with the Steelers (2-3), Chiefs (1-5) and the Redskins (3-3).
Richardson Update: After injuring his flank (rib) early in the game, RB Trent Richardson had just 37 yards on 14 carries. He also caught two passes for 17 yards. Richardson tried to come back but was ineffective.
“Trent’s fine,” Shurmur said. “He has a right rib cartilage injury and he’s day to day.”
RB Montario Hardesty played in relief for the first time and had 15 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a pass for nine yards.
“Montario Hardesty stepped in and he was running hard,” Shurmur said. “He ran hard. He caught the ball and he scored a touchdown. He came in and gave us a spark.”
Shurmur didn’t say it would necessarily change the rotation of the running backs if Richardson is healthy.
“You want everybody that’s in there to be productive and when you bring them in from the dugout you want them to produce,” he said. “It’s good for me to see a guy serving as a role player come in and be productive.”
Shurmur was asked why Hardesty seemed to be more productive than Richardson and if it was the line’s run blocking was the same.
“If Trent played the full game, we might have seen the same numbers from him.”
Victory Monday: Shurmur gave the players off for the first time this year after the team’s win over the Bengals.
Birthday Boy: QB Brandon Weeden received a win for his 29th birthday and he also raised his QB rating to 68.1 for the season. He is 129-of-231 for 1519 yards (55.8 pct.) with seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions. After starting the season with a dismal 5 QB rating against the Eagles that included four interceptions, Weeden has thrown seven touchdowns and six interceptions.
Shurmur said that Weeden is getting better each week.
“It’s not always obvious but he’s much more comfortable with progressions.”
LB D’Qwell Jackson said the win might help Weeden more than anyone.
“There’s no question it will help him,” Jackson said. “The quarterback has so much attention on him and the win will help him a lot.”
The Haden Effect: Shurmur said the return of CB Joe Haden to the lineup helped the defense immensely. He said Haden’s presence had a domino effect and helped the secondary come up with three interceptions, including an interception for a touchdown by CB Sheldon Brown.
Shurmur was asked if Brown had his best game.
“I thought he’s played consistently throughout,” Shurmur said. “I think having Joe Haden back helped us tremendously. Buster (Skrine) had 10 tackles.
“There was a little more energy with Joe back,” Shurmur said. “I was happy with Sheldon getting the pick six.”
Jackson said that Haden helped a lot to the defense.
“He gave us a spark and that helped the whole defense.”
Taylor Return: DL Phil Taylor is eligible to return after spending the first six games on the PUP list. Shurmur gave no timetable if he will be activated for this week’s game.
“We’re going to get him in there soon,” Shurmur said. “He can start practicing. I’ll let that play out. All that I’ll say is that he’s where we thought he’d be.”
LB D’Qwell Jackson is looking forward to having him up front.
“I’m excited to have him up front in the rotation.”
Outgoing Owner: Shurmur said he received a text from Randy Lerner congratulating him on the win over the Bengals. Shurmur said he’s been in contact with Lerner. Jimmy Haslam is expected to be approved Tuesday as the majority owner of the Browns on Tuesday, but Lerner will retain 30 percent minority ownership for the next four years.
“(Lerner) gave it everything he had,” Jackson said. “I wish him the best of luck.”