BEREA, Ohio--The common theme coming out of Berea on Monday was that the Browns are determined to stick together and try and salvage the remaining five games on their schedule. After back-to-back division losses to the Bengals and the Steelers, the Browns have fallen to 4-7 and seemingly out of contention.
Questions surfaced after T.J. Ward spoke out after the loss to the Steelers, expressing his frustration with the way the offense has been playing.
"It is frustrating, I'm not going to lie, but it's out of our power," Ward said after the game. "We have to trust that they're doing everything in their power to win ball games like we are and I trust that and I know that, it's just things aren't going the way any of us want them to go right now."
Rob Chudzinski was asked about Ward's comments.
“I saw what he said," Chudzinski said. "I don’t know that it was in a context of being frustrated about losing, which I understand. Guys who aren’t frustrated or like losing, we don’t want here anyhow. I think that what T.J. said was in frustration. I know as he came in today, he’s looking at his own performance and there’s a lot of things that we all can do better. That’s the approach it’s been with the team.”
Chudzinski was asked if he addressed the team about staying together.
“I talked to the team about the importance of us sticking together and this is the time when those frustrations come out, when you don’t have as much success in a game that you want to have," he said. "Again, we have a lot of football left to play this season. It’s a team sport and we need to stick together in that way.”
Captain D'Qwell Jackson was asked about Ward's comments.
"It was just T.J. being frustrating with the game," Jackson said. "I understand that because we put so much into it and we came up short. We don't need any division and I'm sure he regrets it. T.J. is a team guy . We're struggling in certain areas and we have to do better, but at the end of the day we win as a team and lose as a team and I'm sure he understands that.
Paul Kruger agreed.
"The mood is frustration," he said. "We want to get better as a team. We want to progress and win games and if we're not doing that, it's frustrating.
"There's no division," he said. "Those turnovers obviously, hurt us ,but it's not something to dwell on. Is there a division on the team?,not at all. We're all brothers working every day. We're good teammates and we're loyal to each other."
Chudzinski said he thinks the team gets the message.
"I think our guys know it's a team game," he said. "Overall, we have the leaders that understand that. As we go through the season, there are going to be times when one side is playing well, but we all have to come together as a team in the end."
The players feel there is still a lot to play for.
"We have to keep grinding," Desmond Bryant said. "We have five more games left and it's our time to crank it up and play ball. We have five more opportunities to show the team we think we are."
"It's not too late for us," Kruger said. "We can still finish the season strong.
"We'll stick together," he said. " it was one game and we have five games left in the regular season, starting with Jacksonville."
Jackson said he doesn't feel a need to stand up and address the team.
"I don't think me doing anything differently other than carrying around that positive attitude," he said. "You don't want to clam guys up and make them so worried to make mistakes. Chud is going to do a great job of getting the message across.
"We have a five game season," he said. "(We'll) block out everything that's happened and we have a five game season and that's the way we're going to approach it."
Behind Brandon: Chudzinski said that QB Jason Campbell is in the NFL protocol for concussions.
"(He's) going through the NFL protocol for that before he's cleared to play."
Chudzinski said that Campbell was in the facility Monday morning and said he felt 'OK'.
With the possibility that QB Jason Campbell will not be cleared in time to play this week, the Browns will once again turn to QB Brandon Weeden. It will be the third time he has been the starting quarterback this season. Chudzinski said there's a good chance Weeden will start this week.
“I think that at the end of the day he’s on our team and that he’s done some good things this season," he said. "He’s our second-team quarterback, or was our second-team quarterback. We’ll see what we need to do this week. Chances are he’ll start this week and we’ll see later on in the week. We’ll make that determination and see where Jason’s at.”
The players said they back Weeden.
"He's the next guy up," D'Qwell Jackson said. "On the defensive side of the ball with Craig (Robertson), Tank (Carder) and now we have a rookie. It's a crazy story with the quarterback position. We can't keep guys healthy. As a pro you always have to prepare like you're starting. (Weeden) plays a tough position, (the quarterback) takes all the credit when we win and all the blame when we lose. I know both guys are more than capable to play well and help us win some games."
Paul Kruger agreed.
"I can't speak for the fans, that's just a reaction that's there," Kruger said. "We're out there doing what we got to do regardless of how people react. its something we notice but theres only so much stock you can put in what others are doing during a game. It's not something you can dwell on. We have Brandon's back. He's working hard every day. He's a good player and I'm not here to analyze how others are playing. It's not my responsibility."
If Weeden is back as the starter this week, Chudzinski is confident he will play well.
“I think that whoever it is, they’re going to prepare," he said. "The quarterback position is going to prepare and play. I feel confident every time we go into a game, of all of the guys on our team, regardless of position, regardless of how experienced, inexperienced they are; it doesn’t matter. You’re putting on the Cleveland Browns uniform and I believe in them.”
Chudzinski was asked if he thinks Weeden still has confidence.
“I think he does. I think he does and I think that going down when we were able to score, he led us down and got a touchdown on a drive. I think that was big for going into next week to be able to do that. The team kept fighting there in the end and was able to get the ball in the end zone and he led that drive down.”
No Pressure: The Browns have been one of the top teams in the league in sacks, but were unable to sack QB Ben Roethlisberger. In fact, the Browns have gone without a sack the last two games.
"They got the ball out quickly," Chudzinski said. "Most of their passes were quick screens or quick plays. When we did have four man pressure and (Roethlisberger) was able to drop back we weren't able to beat the one on one match ups. It was a combination of a number of things."
Sunday was the only game this season the Steelers haven't allowed a sack.
Chudzinski said the defense blitzed a good share of the game.
"When you look at our blitz percentage it was right in line with our other games," he said. "They were just getting the ball out quick."
Chudzinski downplayed the lack of a pass rush, rather said the Bengals and the Steelers didn't need to throw a lot.
"The situation the last two games wasn't one that the other team didn't have to throw the ball a lot," he said. "We had some one-on-one opportunities and when we get those opportunities we have to get the(quarterback) down."
Chudzinski said the Browns will keep working on it.
"We just have to keep stressing technique and beating the man," he said. That approach with our guys and again they were getting the ball out fast. It's tough with the quick passing game to get to the quarterback."
Campbell's HIt: Chudzinski was asked if the play that knocked QB Jason Campbelll out of the game with a concussion should've been a penalty on DB William Gay. Replays clearly shoed that Gay hit Campbell in the head. The plays resulted in a fumble with the Browns in Steelers territory at the 39. The penalty would've allowed the Browns to keep the ball with a first down at the 24. Instead, the Steelers scored a touchdown one play later and it was 20-3. Instead of trilling 13-3 and having a chance to cut the deficit.
"I think you open up that whole can of worms in terms of having all penalties reviewed," Chudzinski said.
New QB: Chudzinski said there's a good chance the Browns will add another quarterback this week.
"We're looking at all those options," he said. "There's a good chance we will sign another (QB) for the (Jacksonville) game."
Gordon's Production: Chudzinski refuted a report by a local television analyst that WR Josh Gordon set his records during garbage time.
"Production is production," Chudzinski said. "At the end of the day, he was able to get those yards in an NFL game and it doesn't really matter. I thought he played one of his better games and is getting better and better in being a route runner and his production."
Gordon set a franchise record 237 yards receiving yards and tied the franchise record for receptions in a game with 14. Both records were held by former Browns Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome, who did so on Oct. 14, 1984 against the Jets.
Other Injuries: Besides Campbell, Chudzinski said that LB Tank Carder has a sprained shoulder and that DB Buster Skrine has bruised ribs.
"We'll see how (each) progresses throughout the week," Chudzinski said.
City Council to Vote: Cleveland City Council members are set to vote on the proposal by the Browns to renovate FirstEnergy Stadium. The vote is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday night.