The circles around Rob Chudzinski’s eyes were deeper and darker than they’ve ever been this season.
Clearly the strain of losing is taking a toll. And the strain of playing so poorly against the Jets probably weighed heavier than any.
The Browns had one of their worst games of the season in New Jersey, at a point when the team is still trying to tell fans it is making progress.
The frustration, anger and bewilderment at the Browns' inability to be competitive, much less win, has rankled many who are weary of the sixth season in a row with at least 11 losses.
“I grew up as a Browns fan,” Chudzinski said. “I know the frustration, I understand the frustration; I’ve lived it. I can only say that there’s nothing more that I want than for this place to be a winner and for us to turn it around, and we’ll get that done.”
Chudzinski was the only person from the team speaking on Monday, as players were given the day off. It wasn’t easy for him to try to explain the lifeless game and effort on Sunday.
But a step back would show that Chudzinski has had to work with three different quarterbacks and he’s still looking for a running back. He has no true second or third receiver, and his tight end was hurt Sunday. Which doesn’t even bring up the defensive letdowns of the past four games.
With all that in mind, it might not be surprising that the Browns are limping to the finish.
“I don’ think that way, I don’t function that way,” Chudzinski said. “I’ve always felt whatever situation you’re in, whatever you’re doing, whoever you have, you have to figure out a way to make it work. It’s a puzzle ... you have to figure how you can put that puzzle together. And obviously we haven’t been able to do that this year well enough.”
When the Browns were 4-5, people actually talked about the Browns winning the division and competing for the playoffs.
It seemed preposterous at the time because to get to 4-5 the Browns had one win in four games.
It seems more preposterous now because they haven’t won since Nov. 3. When fans have dealt with nothing but losing for more than half a decade, it’s tough to take.
Chudzinski now looks like many other coaches who have come through Cleveland with high hopes. It’s his first season, and he looks like he’s been through 15.
But he insisted the situation is not tougher than he expected.
“I understood the challenges that we had and I know what it takes here, specifically,” he said.