Jack Conklin gutted out an ankle injury during the Cleveland Browns game against the Patriots.
He left just long enough to slap some tape on it before coming back to fight some more.
Kevin Stefanski sat Conklin down for the final series when the game’s outcome was beyond decided.
But Conklin wasn’t ready to give up; not on the game and certainly not on the season.
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) October 17, 2022
Cleveland’s starting right tackle tweeted out a message to his teammates assuring them their playoff hopes are alive.
He cited the 2-4 start of the Tennessee Titans in 2019 when Conklin plied his wares in Nashville.
That team went on to finish a wild-card worthy 9-7 and continued to fight their way into the AFC Championship Game.
Like those Titans, the 2-4 Browns still have the division ahead of them.
Cleveland’s Destiny Is In Their Hands
It’s way too early to talk about who is in control of any team’s playoff destiny.
Even the 1-4 Raiders are still very much alive.
But the Browns are just 2 victories away from a share of first place in their division.
#Browns RT Jack Conklin said need to have playoff mindset. If win games, including next 2 in division, control their destiny.
— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) October 17, 2022
They play the pair of division rivals currently sharing the top spot at 3-3.
Beating the Ravens and Bengals over the next 2 weeks assures each team has a 4-4 record at best.
And if this NFL season has shown anything, it’s that nobody is unbeatable.
But Is First Place Realistic?
Cleveland’s best shot at the playoffs might be taking the AFC North title.
It won’t be easy, but it is infinitely doable.
Baltimore is struggling to hold late-game leads behind a shaky Lamar Jackson.
The AFC North 👀
— BROWNS OR DIE 💀 (@BrownsorDie) October 16, 2022
Cincinnati appears to be getting better, but the Browns have had their number for quite a while.
And while Pittsburgh proved it can win on any given Sunday, they have a wealth of challenges.
Winning the division is not only realistic, but Cleveland could also be on top heading into their bye week.
Good Time To Catch Fire
Cleveland faces one of the NFL’s most difficult schedules from Week 7 on.
But teams like the Dolphins and Buccaneers don’t seem as formidable as they did in September.
Andrew Berry signed a couple of new players to help the defense, and Jadeveon Clowney should be back soon.
Hardest remaining schedule by average DVOA of opponents ⚖️
— Football Outsiders (@fboutsiders) October 17, 2022
Joe Woods’ secondary didn’t forget how to play, so fans should expect some improvement back there, too.
Maybe Sunday’s embarrassing loss and a couple of new faces are enough to wake up the Browns players.
And maybe Jack Conklin can help them catch fire in time to make a playoff push.