Despite the 17-16 win over the Miami Dolphins this past Sunday, the 53 men who comprise the roster of the Cleveland Browns as well as their coaching staff will be in Berea for a quick meeting on Monday.
Under Eric Mangini’s watch, wins – all 10 of them – were followed by a player of the coach’s choice yelling “See y’all on Wednesday” to the rest of his teammates before they hit their respective showers. A “victory Monday,” as they’re called in the business are an extra day of rest provided as a reward to the winning team, allowing for additional recuperation – both mental and physical – following a hard-fought contest. But with the Browns heading into their final game before their Week 5 bye and not exactly looking as sharp as a tack on Sunday afternoon, head coach Pat Shurmur neglected the day off, telling his team postgame that he would get the “in and out” as fast as possible.
Per Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, Shurmur opted to corrall his players for a quick meeting to get a head start on the team’s upcoming contest against the Tennessee Titans; not being a familiar foe, the head coach wants to maximize the preparation. Also per King, “not a peep” was heard from the players regarding the lack of a hopeful day off.
Of the three Rust Belters [Cleveland, Detroit and Buffalo] not accustomed to feeling so good on a Sunday,” King writes, ”Shurmur’s idea was not only the right one, but one his players embraced. And that’s the kind of team that can grow into something.”
No word on if the team still uses their old send-off following wins this season, but the fact of the matter is that this current Browns team is largely comprised of players in their first, second or third seasons; highly-drafted players who are contributing each game. While the wins against New England and New Orleans in 2010 were exciting and allowed for considerable praise through the middle of the season, even talk of playoffs at one point, no longer is this Browns team banking on a career game from players like David Bowens or Ray Ventrone. They’re tallying wins against teams which they should have a chance to beat. As Shurmur said post-game, it doesn’t have to be pretty. Fact is, this team has looked a lot better in some contests over the last two years and have failed to come out on top.
Ten of the team’s starting 22 players on Sunday’s depth chart were selected by Tom Heckert within the past two drafts. Gutting the roster of aging veterans and replacing them with young, capable talent who refuse to give up is the quickest way to instill a winning culture within a city that has not seen one since the mid-1990s. This team may have played like “garbage” (to quote Colt McCoy) through the majority of the first 58 minutes of football on Sunday, but when it counted – during the final two minutes of play with the game on the line – they stepped up and did what was needed to come out victorious.
“Multiple reasons why that’s an important game,” said receiver Muhammad Massaquoi. “You don’t want to go into a bye with a loss, and you want to be sure you keep a good thing going. We still have work to do here.”
The current crop of Browns players know that there will be plenty of other Mondays to take off as long as they continue winning. For now, it’s about correcting mistakes and continuing to improve with a 3-1 start well within reach when the Titans visit Cleveland this coming Sunday.
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