The Cleveland Browns made quite a few high profile acquisitions this offseason through the draft and free agency, including QB DeShone Kizer, WR Kenny Britt, TE David Njoku, C J.C. Tretter, RG Kevin Zeitler, DE Myles Garrett, and SS Jabrill Peppers.
But when you paint the picture of the best newcomer to the club in 2017, it isn’t a guy who the team spent a first- or second-round asset on, or someone they had to shell out $30+ million for. Instead, it’s a guy who no one else around the league coveted, allowing Cleveland to get him for an inexpensive 2-year, $6 million deal: CB Jason McCourty.
Through four games, McCourty has been one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks. Even this past week, the Browns made a subtle change by having him defend the Bengals’ top receiver, something that kept the star receiver’s production at a minimum.
The Browns used Jason McCourty to shadow A.J. Green in Wk 4. Was on him 97% of Green's routes. Green's TD came in Jabrill Peppers' coverage— Jeff Ratcliffe (@JeffRatcliffe) October 2, 2017
McCourty was one of the players interviewed by the media on Wednesday, and he was asked if he’d ever been part of an 0-4 start to a season. He had been, and it ended quite well:
#Browns CB Jason McCourty said Titans went 0-6 once and 6th loss was 59-0 to Patriots. Then won 8 of final 10. Lesson: Keep fighting.— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) October 4, 2017
McCourty was asked if it’s challenging for players to stay motivated during such a rough stretch:
“I don’t think it is challenging at all. If you go out there and you play like you don’t care or you stop studying, you are not going to be here. You are not going to be in the NFL, period. I don’t think there is ever a lack of motivation from guys. You play this game to win it, but you also play this game because you love it. You play it because you have been battling with your guys next to you since April 17 and you still want to go out and play hard for that guy. We are not where we want to be after the first quarter of the season, but we have three more quarters to go. It is up to us. I said it Sunday, it is up to us to dictate how those quarters end up.”
The veteran said he doesn’t feel the need to talk about his experience in this situation to other players because he doesn’t get the sense that the locker room is unmotivated.
“I don’t think there’s anything I need to preach. Guys don’t seem unmotivated; no one’s walking around with their head down. This week, we said, ‘hey, it’s the start to the second quarter, we’ve got the New York Jets, let’s put everything into the Jets this week and see what we can do. Prepare our butts off and go out there Sunday and try to get a win.”
He also talked about how once you win, the wins can start becoming contagious. If Myles Garrett is able to provide a spark when he debuts this Sunday against Josh McCown and the Jets, could that be the start of a turnaround in this second quarter of the season?