After Cleveland (0-9) was thumped by the Dallas Cowboys this weekend, the 24-year-old former third-round pick made a bold statement of faith.
"We're not going to go 0-16," he said, via Cleveland.com. "That's for a fact. We're not doing that. Things are going to get on a roll, and we've just got to keep fighting."
He added: "That's motivation," he said. "I don't know if I'm supposed to say this, but we're not going winless. We're not."
The Browns, who did not come in at 32 in our most recent power poll, are just as unlucky as they are bad. There's no reason to believe that they are markedly worse than, say, the San Francisco 49ers at this point. They had the good fortune of catching a wary Los Angeles Rams team on a bad night. Cleveland fumbled away a few chances at victory.
But down the stretch, the potential of an 0-16 season is becoming increasingly likely. Cleveland has games coming up against the Ravens, Steelers, Giants, Bengals, Bills and Chargers before finishing off the year at Pittsburgh. Obviously, any NFL team can win on any given Sunday, but is there a clear path to win No. 1 here?
Head coach Hue Jackson probably cares more that Kirksey is willing to say something like this anyway. Just about any coach would rather have a plucky 0-16 team than a moribund 5-11 or 4-12 team that squeezed out a win or two on the strength of an aging franchise player auditioning for free agency.