How about the Cleveland Browns? After a 1-5 start to the year, the Browns have won their past two games against top-tier competition. First it was New Orleans on the road, then after their Bye Week, the Browns hammered the visiting New England Patriots behind solid defense and a punishing ground game anchored by Peyton Hillis. The former 7th rounder out of Arkansas continued his breakthrough season with a 29 carry, 184 yard and two touchdown performance in Cleveland’s 34-14 win. Hillis now is averaging an exceptional 4.8 yards per carry and is on pace to flirt with a 1,300 yard season.
Hillis joined The Scott Van Pelt Show on ESPN Radio to talk about the Browns collective mindset in the wake of their back-to-back impressive wins, how his individual confidence is at an all-time high and how important it’s been for his play, being part of the Brady Quinn trade from Denver last year and how he had been hoping for a new opportunity elsewhere, how he thinks Colt McCoy is a born winner and capable of being as good as Drew Brees, and what he thinks realistic for the second half of the season for the Browns.
On the Browns’ collective mindset, and if the team feels like they’re much better than their 3-5 record suggests:
“I really do believe we could easily be 6-2 right now as much as we are 3-5. I mean, we’ve lost a lot of close games, some mistakes that we made were just extraordinarily outrageous – picks for touchdowns and stuff like that that made us lose games late. We haven’t finished in the fourth quarter, but I really think this team is turning things around lately, especially in the second half of the season.”
On if confidence has played a role in his emergence and on how important confidence is to succeed in the NFL:
“There’s no doubt. I think confidence is huge no matter what you do in life. What I do for a living, there’s not a lot of people that gave me a shot or even any credit to do it. But you know, I’ve got a chip on my shoulder, and I’m never going to let that go, let that down because every week I know I’ve got to come to play. And I feel like every week I have to get respect.”
On being traded away from Denver as a 7th round draft pick for Brady Quinn:
“You know when I left Denver last year, it kind of left a bitter taste in my mouth. I felt like I was a better player than what I was playing at out there last year. And I prayed every night that I would get a new opportunity and shot somewhere else. The Lord gave me that here in Cleveland, and I felt like I had a responsibility to take full advantage of it. I’m glad I’m doing everything in my power to help this team and help this city win. From here on out, I ain’t looking back.”
On the play of rookie quarterback Colt McCoy:
“Well I was telling everybody before he got his first start that I thought he was going to be the next Drew Brees. And the reason why I say that is because once you’re a winner, you’re always a winner. And he’s proven that at the high school level, at the college level, and there’s no doubt in my mind he can prove it at the NFL level. I think he’s shown the mental toughness and the confidence you need at this level. I mean, he’s played three of the top opponents in the NFL in his first three starts and he’s 2-1. I know he don’t have staggering numbers, but I mean, he’s gone 14-of-19 and stuff like that, not too many turnovers or picks. So he’s still young, he’s still learning and I think he’s going to be a tremendous force in this league before it’s all said and done.”
Listen here to Hillis with Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo on ESPN Radio (interview begins at 19:15 mark)