CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns are 0-4 with three straight losses in the fourth quarter or overtime.
But when New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick turns on the game film in preparation for Sunday’s matchup with the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium, he sees an entirely different team.
“This is a tough, well-disciplined, well-coached football team that is good fundamentally,” Belichick said. “They don’t make many mistakes. They make you execute well against them. This will be a big challenge for us. We know that.”
Despite the Browns' winless record, Belichick sees a team of playmakers, specifically as it relates to wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, who has turned 19 receptions into 290 yards and one touchdown, five carries into 15 yards and a score and completed three of his five pass attempts for 35 yards.
“It's been really impressive,” Belichick said. “He has shown the ability to really do everything that you could ask of a receiver really, or a football player.
“He has made great plays down the field, taking the ball away from defenders, has shown great timing and ball skills to get the ball. He's made good run-after-catch plays, taking short passes and turning them into long runs with his speed and his elusiveness, his ability to break tackles and pick up extra yards. And then, he's been productive in the quarterback position throwing, running.”
When Pryor was not taking snaps in a quarterback rotation with rookie Cody Kessler against the Miami Dolphins, he posted career highs with seven receptions for 144 yards and rushed for 21 yards with one touchdown on four carries. He became the first player in the NFL with at least three passing attempts, three carries and three receptions in the same game since San Francisco’s Billy Kilmer accomplished the feat in 1964.
In addition to registering his first career 100-yard game, Pryor became the first NFL player since Houston Texans wide receiver Cecil Shorts III, a Cleveland native, to have 20 or more yards rushing, receiving and passing in a single game.
Also, Pryor played safety at the end of the first half too.
“(He’s) just adding another dimension to the offense and another thing that the defense has to spent a lot of time working on, all of the multiple possibilities that he creates back there with his experience at quarterback as well as his skillset,” Belichick said.
“He's a dynamic player for the Browns and has a lot of different skills and Coach [Hue] Jackson's used him in a lot of different ways. That makes it very hard for the defense.”
Along with Pryor, Belichick and the Patriots’ defense is preparing for the challenge of facing third-year running back Isaiah Crowell.
Through the first four games of the season, Crowell has gained 394 yards and scored three touchdowns on 61 carries.
“Very explosive,” Belichick said. “They do a great job of running the ball. They have a lot of different ways to run it. They have multiple schemes, zone schemes, gap schemes. They do shifting, motion, unbalanced line, try to create different alignment problems for the defense, different forces problems for the defense.”