In his press conference Wednesday, Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski did not attempt to reduce the expectations or tension with the upcoming game in Cincinnati against the Bengals; he embraced it, and used the platform to not only suggest his guys were ready but to further prod them along through this week and into Sunday.
So often, coaches look to reduce the amount of value put on one game because if it goes wrong, they obviously look bad. Chud is not pretending this game is not huge, because it really is a must win if they Browns are going to contend for the playoffs. If they can win, not only do they gain a game on the Bengals, but owning that tie breaker is worth a half game. If they lose, they are three games back and needing the Bengals to fall apart to keep them in it. Chud is extremely confident in the team and he is not afraid to say it.
He also addressed the running game and said they worked on it during the bye week in hopes of achieving balance. Considering how far they have gotten without one, if they can add that piece to their offense, it would be huge. Along with that, Jason Pinkston is back, but he is a backup at this point that provides valuable depth and if they have an injury, they are not back to an Oniel Cousins situation.
Going with the confidence he had earlier, he came out and said that part of the reason they are willing to go for it on fourth down situations is because of the confidence they have in their defense. They know that even in bad positions, the defense has been able to at least mitigate the damage if not just eliminate it.
Along with that, Chud also said the secondary gelling and coming together has been helpful in allowing them to be more aggressive with how they attack opponents and how many they can send. Honestly, this does not look to have changed at all in terms of how much or how often; the change seems to be that the secondary has held up much better when they have sent the numbers they typically do, so they are beaten less. The result ultimately ends the same way as the product has been better. The coverage has held up and the pass rush has improved.
And as any coach does, Chud was quick to praise the Bengals and all the things they can do, especially wide receiver A.J. Green, who might have the best case to as the top receiver that always seems to get left out of the conversation. Perhaps if he was not saddled with Andy Dalton, he would get more recognition, but he has always been incredibly productive.
This game is huge for the Browns and Chud is embracing it and using it to back his players while at the same time challenging them. It is refreshing in the sense that he is confident in this team and what they can do and that confidence seems to be reflected on the field. With so many questions on offense, they are still alive with a chance to win the AFC North, which is baffling consider the twists and turns this season has had. Not bad for a team that was tanking and having a fire sale earlier in the year.