Sometimes you intend to give bulletin board material. Sometimes you do it accidentally. In all cases, it doesn’t matter what your intentions are, because your opponent will always have the authority to interpret what you say in any way they choose, and that is typically going to be in a way that helps, even if in some small way, to serve as motivation.
This is what happened yesterday as the Cleveland Browns prepare to face the New England Patriots, coming off their bye week as they got off to a 2-4 start on the year, the season that was supposed to be the turning point in the franchise.
In actual fact, however, their current record is not far off from where they were a year ago. They were 2-3-1 through six games, so they actually have a worse record. They proceeded to lose their next two games before firing Hue Jackson and Todd Haley. If they don’t want to get to 2-5, they’ll have to win in Foxboro.
And Jarvis Landry didn’t make that any easier. He was asked the following question: “what’s your sense of how the Browns are going to do coming out of the bye?”. His response: “we’re going to win. We’re going to win, I think it’s just that simple. We’re getting guys back healthy again, and we’re going to win”.
Jarvis Landry here, asked how the Browns are going to do coming out of the bye, says, “We’re going to win. We’re going to win. It’s just that simple. We’re getting guys back healthy again. And we’re going to win.” Take it how you will pic.twitter.com/KseklmbBa8
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) October 24, 2019
You can watch the video provided by Browns beat writer Jake Trotter to assess for yourself the way that he phrased his statement and the tone in his voice. He later clarified to say that they are “going there”, as in to Foxboro”, “to win”, as in, with the intention to win. And of course, every team goes to every game with the intention to win.
Given Landry every possible benefit of the doubt, however, literally doesn’t matter, because it doesn’t change how the Patriots are permitted to interpret the comment. And reportedly, Bill Belichick had already, within hours, brought up Landry’s comments to the locker room.
Patriots beat writer Tom E. Curran wrote on Twitter that he had asked a player in the locker room if he had seen the comments that Landry made. The player told him, “no, but Bill mentioned it to us”.
I think that says a lot about the way Belichick coaches. He looks for every possible advantage. And you certainly can’t blame him for that. Whether Landry really was, in any way, shape, or form, guaranteeing that the Browns would go into Foxboro and beat the Patriots, you can be sure that Belichick is framing it that way to his locker room.
In all fairness to Landry, this is not an Anthony Smith situation. But once it’s out there, it’s out there, and the Patriots can do whatever they want with it.