Browns look to hit brakes on winless march against Bears
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Time is running out on the Cleveland Browns with two games left in the regular season.
And the idea they could wind up without a win is weighing on quarterback DeShone Kizer.
“You definitely feel it,” he said.
A Christmas Eve victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday would be a neat gift and a welcome relief for a team with nothing to celebrate this season.
The Browns already hold one dubious distinction. They’re the first team to open consecutive seasons 0-14 after last week’s loss to Baltimore, but the big one is still out there.
Drop this game, lose next week’s finale at Pittsburgh and they take their spot alongside the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to go 0-16.
Then again, the Bears (4-10) haven’t done much winning lately.
They’ve dropped six of seven. They are wrapping up their fourth straight losing season and their fifth in a row without a winning record. Coach John Fox could be on the way out after three years, and losing to the Browns would be another low for a sinking team.
“We won’t be that team,” defensive end Akiem Hicks said. “It’s as simple as that. We won’t let that happen.”
Here are some things to know as Cleveland seeks its first win at the Bears’ expense:
HOLIDAY CHEER: Cleveland’s lone win last season came on Christmas Eve — against the then-San Diego Chargers. Coach Hue Jackson is 2-0 in Christmas Eve games, the other win coming with Oakland in 2011.
“Every week you go in thinking it’s a win, but if we can get one this week it will be pretty special,” guard Joe Bitonio said. “We just got to play all our games on Christmas Eve if we pull this out.”
HOME FEELING: Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky meets his hometown team for the first time since Cleveland passed on drafting him with the No. 1 pick this year.
While the Browns went with defensive end Myles Garrett, the Bears traded up a spot with San Francisco to take the Cleveland-area product second overall. Trubisky’s 10 starts since replacing Mike Glennon have been a mix, with displays of promise along with lapses.
He was at his best and worst in last week’s loss at Detroit, setting career highs in completions (31), attempts (46) and yards passing (314) as well as interceptions (three). He has a chance to put up some big numbers this week, considering the Browns have struggled defending the pass.
KIZER’S YEAR: For a 21-year-old, Kizer has endured an eventful first season in the NFL.
Cleveland’s rookie quarterback won a starting job, injured his ribs, lost his job, got it back and struggled with turnovers. It’s been a lot to handle, but Kizer believes the experience will benefit him in the long run.
“In one year, I have been able to take what most guys get in four and five,” he said. “That means hopefully once I get over this and learn from this situation, I will be able to be a better quarterback for longer than anyone who has gotten to that level has been.”
Kizer enters Sunday’s game with a league-leading 19 interceptions. He has only had one game in which he didn’t throw at least one pick.
Jackson has been supportive of Kizer, but this week, he backed off on any talk that he might be Cleveland’s long-term answer at the position.
OUT FOX?: Fox could be coaching his final home game at Soldier Field. And if his tenure in Chicago is ending, it might go down as the least successful in franchise history.
Fox, who led Carolina and Denver to Super Bowl appearances, is 13-33 with the Bears. He has the second-lowest winning percentage in franchise history (.283), and two more losses would put him at the bottom. That spot is currently occupied by Abe Gibron, who was 11-30-1 (.274) from 1972-74.
CHANGE AHEAD?: Despite owner Jimmy Haslam saying Jackson will be back next season, there remains a belief that if the Browns finish 0-16 the team might make another coaching change.
Earlier this week, new general manager John Dorsey said he and Jackson are developing a solid working relationship that he hopes continues to grow. But when asked if he was 100 percent certain Jackson would return, Dorsey deferred to Haslam.
“I think ownership has already spoken on that question,” he said.
Jackson is 1-29 in two seasons with the Browns, the worst start for a coach with one team in league history.