It's OK to doubt the promises of a Browns coach, especially near the end of another losing season.
They've heard it all before from the likes of Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Pat Shurmur. It's basically a message that all will be well in time.
What they mean by "in time" can be debated endlessly. The projections of the coaches are usually within a couple of years, which is understandable when considering that only Crennel lasted a full four seasons.
Coach Rob Chudzinski has steadfastly stated his belief that the final product will look much better in the near future. That's a hard sell as the 4-10 Browns stumble down the finish line, but on the surface he appears adamant.
"I've said all along I believe in our plan that we have, and that's a long-term plan for sustained success," Chudzinski said this week as he prepared for today's road game against the 6-8 New York Jets. "I see progress, and although the outcomes and the wins and losses aren't what I or anybody else wants them to be, I see the progress, and it's internal progress.
"It's the things in developing what I believe is a backbone for success and future success. I've seen player development. I've seen growth from them in our systems. Those things give me the feeling of excitement and hope for the future. I believe we will win here. I feel our best days are ahead of us, and it is a bright future here in Cleveland."
Chudzinski wouldn't take the bait when asked if the Browns will be a playoff team next season. With seven picks in the first four rounds of the draft and plenty of cap space available, there will be too many changes to accurately predict anything beyond the first of the year.
"I don't think you can make those types of predictions that early," Chudzinski said. "Our goal is always going to be to win a championship. Our goal is always going to be to make the playoffs. As far as expectations, the things that I expect are to see us working and moving in that direction and making the progress that I know needs to get done in order to get to those points and being able to do that."
As Chudzinski nears the end of his first season as coach of the Browns, there's not a lot to show for his work. There was the positive of a 3-2 start and a short-lived spot in first place of the AFC North Division, but since then the Browns have lost eight of nine and five straight games.
The string of defeats has elevated their draft position to fifth overall. That could move up with losses to the Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers next Sunday.
Injuries have played a role in the downfall, primarily at quarterback. In addition, the offense will be without tight end Jordan Cameron (concussion) and receiver Davone Bess (non-football illness) today.
Cameron's loss is significant. He has 75 receptions for 848 yards, both second among all NFL tight ends.
"I'm really pleased with how he's jumped out and improved in such a short amount of time," Chudzinski said. "He's proved to be a consistent playmaker and really done a nice job of catching the ball, learning the game, getting open, understanding the nuances of that position and the versatility that you need."
The Browns should have a decent chance of ending the losing streak against the Jets, who are 30th in total offense and 31st in passing offense. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has struggled mightily, having thrown 21 interceptions.
"Any time you start a rookie quarterback it's not easy," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "Obviously you're seeing coverages you've never seen before. In Geno's case, the offense he played in in college, he had to get used to the drops and everything else. Protecting the football was certainly an issue. Are we still making mistakes? Absolutely."
That's what Chudzinski wants to hear.