The Browns tried as hard as they could to put the distractions behind them last week, all for naught.
They still got blown out by the Patriots, 42-15.
Most teams who suffered a 27-point blowout loss and have lost six straight games would be headed to the woodshed, or at least slated for some overtime at work.
Interim coach Terry Robiskie took a different tack. He gave the players the day off.
It's a sign how bad things have gotten that the decision actually made sense.
"I thought last week, with everything that happened, guys were under a lot of pressure," Robiskie said. "I really felt like guys jumped over the wall to work as hard as they worked during the course of the week. To put all that stuff behind them and to prepare like we did -- coaches and players -- to come up empty-handed Sunday was tough.
"I didn't think they'd want to come in this morning and look at the tape and look at me and see me moping and moaning. I just figured I'd mope and moan to myself."
But the players under Robiskie are not the dispirited bunch they were in the final weeks of Butch Davis' tenure. It was clear they weren't buying what Davis was peddling, yet they had no choice but to muzzle themselves.
With the 3-9 record, the playoffs have long been an impossibility. But the players are determined to help Robiskie get a shot at the job on more than an interim basis.
The players know Robiskie is a fighter. On Wednesday, in his first meeting with his players as head coach, Robiskie stood in front of them with a bucket at his feet and a shovel in his hand.
"I'm going to dig a hole to hell and I'm going to fight the devil," Robiskie told the team and exhorted them to join him.
"There's a totally different mood in here," left tackle Ross Verba said. "Robiskie's got my vote. I love him. Everything he exemplifies as a head coach I want to be a part of. He exemplifies loyalty, integrity."
- Quarterback Luke McCown played as well as could be expected against the
Patriots, but he'll have to wait to find out if he's earned another start. "We
haven't decided," Robiskie said when asked if McCown will start against the
Buffalo Bills on Sunday. McCown threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns while
throwing two interceptions. He played because of injuries to Kelly Holcomb and
Jeff Garcia. When asked if the health of Garcia and Holcomb would determine
who starts, Robiskie hedged. "It'll bring up discussions," he said. "I don't
know if that will be the determining factor, but we'll take into account
whether the other two guys are healthy."
- Left tackle Ross Verba is an eight-year veteran, so he knows what's
likely to happen when the Browns hire a general manager and new coach. When it
was suggested the Browns' roster would undergo a 20% turnover next year, Verba
replied, "100 percent." "When it gets nasty like it's been, none of us are
disqualified from that list," Verba said. "We're in a nuclear war right now.
We've gotten blown up."
- Safety Chris Crocker dodged a major injury Sunday. The Browns feared he
tore his biceps trying to make a tackle. Instead, he sustained a severe
bruise. He won't play this week, but is not expected to miss the rest of the
- Cornerback Daylon McCutcheon missed Sunday's game with a separated
shoulder, but may return this week.
- Linebacker Barry Gardner sustained a cervical stinger Sunday but kept
- Running back Lee Suggs missed the game with a turf toe. He tested his toe
during pregame warmups but couldn't run effectively and was deactivated.
- Quarterback Jeff Garcia (strained shoulder) practiced on Friday and was
listed as the second quarterback Sunday. He's not 100%, but he may be
physically ready for the Buffalo game.
- Quarterback Kelly Holcomb threw on a limited basis before the game Sunday, but his cracked ribs made it impossible for him to play.