CLEVELAND - Traditionally a 0-2 start to the NFL season means a playoff berth is unlikely.
Try qualifying for the postseason after a 0-3 start. It hasn't happened since the 1998 Buffalo Bills got on a roll.
The Browns are used to dealing with 0-2 starts. Heading into today's game at Cleveland Browns Stadium against the 1-1 Bills, the Browns are 0-2 for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
It would help the cause of the team and coach Pat Shurmur's job security if the Browns can get a win.
"I don't know the statistics of it all. We've got to win," Shurmur said. "I think we all understand the urgency of that and regardless of what's happened to this point there are other teams in this league that are in our situation. That's where the coaches and players are mentally, physically, emotionally doing what you can to get a victory."
The Browns will need performances similar to last week's showing against the Cincinnati Bengals from rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden and rookie running back Trent Richardson. Weeden rebounded from an awful first game to complete 26-of-37 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns. Richardson also came back from a poor opening game to rush for 109 yards on 19 carries and one touchdown while adding another touchdown on a 23-yard reception.
The bounce-back game should be a big boost to Weeden's confidence. Actually, he didn't seem shaken from his showing in the opener, expressing a resolution to improve in week two.
"It just shows that I can play at this level," Weeden said. "The Bengals have a good defense. They were a playoff team last year. It gives you that self confidence you can make all the throws and do the things that puts your team in position to score touchdowns.
"We scored more points that game (27) than we scored the entire preseason and everything combined. Now I just have to build off it."
Shurmur and quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple hammered the idea of relying on checkdowns in Weeden's progressions. That's not always an easy sell to a strong-armed quarterback that did nothing but throw vertically at Oklahoma State.
"In college usually someone was always open," Weeden said. "(Browns practice squad player) Josh Cooper was always open in college. Justin Blackmon was always open in college. That's not the case like that anymore. You have good receivers, but guys on the other side of the ball are better across the board.
"Through my thick skull and stubbornness I have to realize that sometimes those guys are going to get caught in man-to-man and are not going to win. I have to find my backs. That was one of the reasons why I had a big day the other day (in Cincinnati). You can't get greedy in this league. In college I got greedy."
Weeden showed better pocket awareness against the Bengals than he did a week earlier. He was also helped by a line that afforded better protection.
"I just know how you expect the quarterback to play," offensive coordinator Brad Childress said. "We talked last week about being in the 65th percentile, and I think he accomplished that. I think some of the things you don't see were him standing strong in the pocket. You talked about sliding in the pocket, but just standing there in the teeth of a couple of throws and getting hit in the nose. That's an important facet, and not moving your feet when you don't need to."
Defensively the Browns will have to shore up a secondary that sprung leaks against the Bengals without cornerback Joe Haden, who will serve the second week of a four-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy. A lot of attention will also be paid to running back C.J. Spiller, who leads the NFL in rushing with 292 yards.
"You have to be disciplined and that's true in every area of the game," defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said of stopping Spiller. "In the run game you're going to have to hit your fits. They do a very good job of trying to confuse your gap control with their offensive scheme, and they do a nice job of blocking it."