CLEVELAND - The Browns are looking to enter unchartered territory today when they host the Kansas City Chiefs.
Not since the stretch run of the 2009 season have the Browns won three or more games in a row. Then-coach Eric Mangini saved his job for another year that season by orchestrating wins in the final four games.
A win today would give the Browns (4-8) the first three-game winning streak in coach Pat Shurmur's two seasons on the job. Like Mangini three years ago, another win could go a long way in saving Shurmur's job, assuming there's a chance new management will bring him back.
Playing at home should help the cause. The Browns are starting to develop a homefield advantage, evidenced by their 3-3 mark at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
"It's important to establish a homefield advantage in this league," Shurmur said. "We know when we go on the road that crowd noise can be a big distraction when you're trying to move the football. Plus it's fun to be able to put a good performance on the field in front of our home crowd.
"We'd like to be able to establish that. We want to be able to establish a lot of things as you move forward and try to build a team that's going to be a consistent winner. Being able to win at home is obviously the starting point."
It's ironic that standing in the way of a three-game winning streak are former Browns coach Romeo Crennel and quarterback Brady Quinn, who split time with Derek Anderson in Cleveland from 2007-09. Another ex-Brown that factors into the equation is running back Peyton Hillis, who played in Cleveland the previous two seasons.
Quinn did an efficient job of handling the offense last Sunday for the 2-10 Chiefs in their 27-21 win over the Carolina Panthers. He was 19-of-23 for 201 yards and two touchdowns. For the season he is 67-of-106 for 635 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.
The Browns drafted Quinn 22nd overall in 2007. He never developed as planned and was traded to the Denver Broncos in exchange for Hillis and a draft choice in 2010.
Time will tell if last week's performance was a change in Quinn's career path or an aberration.
"Any time you have more experience playing the game you're going to become more comfortable," Quinn said. "I've been through so many different offenses and coaching changes and scenarios that at this point I think I can do a decent job of adjusting to anything."
In Kansas City, Quinn has been re-introduced to offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who served in the same capacity for the Browns from 2009-10. Daboll is known for calling a gadget play or two, and he'd undoubtedly like to surprise the Browns with a few tricks.
"If you look at his track record, he'll have a couple of trick plays in there," Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown said. "He'll save them until he thinks he can hit them. Sometimes you hope that your pass rushers up front don't allow those plays to work."
The Chiefs won't stray far from their strategy of grinding it out on the ground. They're fifth in the NFL in rushing with an average of 146.7 yards a game, led by Jamaal Charles with 1,055 on 222 carries. Hillis has 193 yards on 59 carries.
"Peyton is a big powerful back and a really good downhill runner," Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said. "He gets behind his pads. He's hard to stop. Then Charles is just a great zone runner. He's a great runner in everything. In the zone scheme, he's got the ability to stretch the defense and then put that one foot in the ground and make the cut."
The Browns enter the game with a growing sense of confidence.
"It's definitely on the way up," Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden said. "We're 4-8 and guys are still coming to work enthusiastic. Obviously, we're on an uphill climb because we put ourselves in the situation. I think attitudes have been great. That's all you can ask, especially this late in the year."