BEREA, Ohio -- Give a Dawg a bone breeds new meaning in Cleveland.
To pump the new regime's "Play like a Brown" theme, the defensive coaches have provided each of their players with a spiked black dog collar, and each exceptional-effort play garners a dog bone charm to attach to the collar.
Next week, which is the halfway point of the season for the 4-3 Browns, coaches will reveal the clubhouse leaders with the most charms. Bone-worthy plays are not limited to interceptions or sacks. Effort plays count just as much.
"We wanted to develop a unique way to reinforce playing like a Brown," said defensive coordinator Jim O'Neill, holding a spiked dog collar at his Thursday news conference to preview Sunday's home game against Tampa Bay. "I hear [players] talking about it on the sideline. I hear them talking about it in the locker room. It's getting competitive."
Position coaches have final say in who gets the charms.
The Browns entered last week with the NFL's worst rushing defense, giving up 155.5 yards a game. But that number belies the defense's impact the past three games, when the Browns are averaging 15.7 points allowed per outing -- and that's after giving up four touchdowns that either came in garbage time or were fed by turnovers deep in Browns territory.
The Browns have created five turnovers in their past two games.
"We're getting the turnovers, we're getting to the quarterback, we just have to finish a little better," safety Donte Whitner said.
"It's an accomplishment -- play like a Brown, you get a dog tag," Skrine said.