BEREA — Zane Gonzalez expected the front office to work out kickers during the bye week. After all, he’s only 7-for-11 on field goals and missed a 35-yarder and an extra point in the loss to the Vikings before the break.
But the Browns didn’t try out anyone and are moving forward with Gonzalez, a rookie seventh-round pick.
“It shows a lot of confidence and it shows a lot of belief they have in me, which goes a long way and helps me out immensely on and off the field, which is a great feeling,” he said.
Gonzalez was the nation’s top college kicker last year at Arizona State and holds the FBS records with 96 field goals and 494 points. He has been up and down with the Browns, missing two field goals against the Jets, then making four in a row before the letdown against Minnesota in London.
Gonzalez said special teams coordinator Chris Tabor continues to support and encourage him.
“He can tell that I usually get more mad at myself than anybody else could,” Gonzalez said. “He just tells me, keeps reiterating how good of a kicker I am and just get better and believe in myself. Having that bye week was huge, just get away, relax and then come back for this last eight games and just perform to the best of my ability.”
The misses have all been wide left, so Gonzalez said he needs to make sure he’s driving through the ball.
“Instead of just hitting or dead-legging kind of deal, just going up and through the ball,” he said.
Tabor said the fix isn’t that simple.
“In practice if he misses, sometimes they go right,” he said. “You guys just see the games. I get the full gamut.
“These last eight games, we are approaching it like it is a new season for him. He knows he needs to perform better, and we expect him to perform better.”
Tabor said he wasn’t involved in the decision to not try out kickers. Coach Hue Jackson said there were two reasons: The front office didn’t love anyone available, and feels comfortable Gonzalez can work through his issues.
“Hopefully, the guy can kick consistently and stay that way for the rest of the year, but he has a job to do,” Jackson said. “If we have to move forward as we go down the road here these last eight games, then we will do that, but right now, I think we feel very good that he is making progress and that he is going to do better.”
SICK AND TIRED
Jackson informed the media Thursday that he woke up in a bad mood and was in a funk all day.
“I’m tired of freakin’ losing,” he said.
The Browns are 0-8 this year and 1-23 since Jackson took over. He explained what he wanted to see from his team in the second half.
“Fight. Play consistent football,” he said. “On offense, take care of the football better. On defense, do a better job in the scoring zone. Let’s get after the quarterback a little bit more. Myles (Garrett) is back playing. Let’s showcase his talent and ability. Let’s have DeShone (Kizer) play consistently over four quarters. Let’s have our skill players play some dominating football.
“The ultimate in this thing is we want to win. That is what it is all about. That is what we are chasing, but there are some things that lead to winning that we need to do better.”
A GOOD CAUSE
Cornerback Jason McCourty is hosting “Tackle Sickle Cell” Comedy Night on Monday at Cleveland Improv, featuring comedians Gary Owen and Guy Torry. All proceeds will be donated to University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospitals.
McCourty and his twin brother, Devin, started the Tackle Sickle Cell campaign years ago because members of their family have the disease.
“We grew up very close to my aunt. She suffers from the disease,” McCourty said. “Just watching her throughout the years of her battles, at this point, she is 67 and she was told that she wouldn’t live to see 35. She has lost vision and she needs oxygen 24/7 so it is definitely a struggle, but she is a fighter.”
Details of the event can be found and tickets purchased at TackleSickleCell.org.
Rookie defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (groin) was limited in practice and listed as questionable for the game Sunday vs. the Lions. Everyone else is expected to play.
** For the Lions, right guard T.J. Lang (concussion) was ruled out. Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (back) was listed as doubtful.
** Fullback Danny Vitale has become an Avon High School fan. A buddy’s nephew plays for the Eagles, so Vitale addressed the team on Senior Night. He said he was impressed by the team and coach Mike Elder.
** Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has a daily reminder to stay in his lane, given to him by Saints coach Sean Payton, his former boss. It’s a nameplate on his desk that has “Gregg Williams, defensive coordinator” facing visitors. From his chair, Williams sees “Just coach the f-ing defense.”