BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Jacksonville safety Tashaun Gipson chuckled when reminded that he said the Browns will probably go 0-16.
His former teammates aren’t amused.
Gipson has provided bulletin-board material for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville in a radio interview by ripping Cleveland’s front office, predicting the Jaguars would score 40 points and record a shutout, and forecasting a winless season for the Browns.
A one-time Pro Bowler in Cleveland, Gipson didn’t back off from his harsh comments — with one exception.
“I probably got a bit out of hand with 0-16 team,” he said Wednesday on a conference call with the Cleveland media. “But I definitely do stand by my comments when I say I feel like Sunday we plan on going 1-0.”
While Gipson attempted to soften his stance, Browns coach Hue Jackson said he addressed the verbal attack with his team.
“Oh, I did,” Jackson said. “You can bet your bottom dollar I did.”
So did Jaguars coach Doug Marrone, who has his team on a roll — the Jags (6-3) have won three straight — and isn’t pleased that one of his players would doing anything unnecessary to motivate or provoke a desperate team.
“That is not something that we like to do as a team,” he said. “It has been addressed, and we understand that it is going to be very difficult for us to go on the road and win a football game.”
On Monday, Gipson, who spent four years with the Browns before signing as a free agent with the Jags after the 2015 season, lambasted Cleveland’s front office during a radio interview.
The 27-year-old was among a group of established veterans that the team chose not to re-sign, and Gipson said his first chance to play against the Browns was “definitely going to be personal, man, for sure.”
Gipson went on to say he didn’t understand why Cleveland’s executive team led by Sashi Brown would allow him, starting center Alex Mack, right tackle Mitchell Schwartz and receiver Travis Benjamin to leave as free agents. Gipson added that Browns rookie safety Jabrill Peppers is playing out of position and he sympathizes with former teammates such as linebacker Christian Kirskey and running back Isaiah Crowell because in Cleveland they’ll “probably never get the due they deserve.”
Gipson’s chatter became headlines in Cleveland and prompted him to call Kirksey and others to explain that he wasn’t disrespecting them.
“They get paid just like we do, and I show respect for the guys they have,” he said. “It was not a shot.”
Gipson, however, doubled down on his claim that the Jaguars, who have the NFL’s top-ranked scoring defense, can blank the Browns.
“Unless you have Tom Brady at the helm, I think we can pitch a shutout against any team,” he said. “I don’t take those comments back. I stand by those comments.”
Kirksey is close with Gipson and expects Sunday’s game, now fueled by some serious trash talk, to “be a fistfight.”
“Their defense is solid. Our defense is solid,” Kirksey said. “It’s going to be the best defense to win. Tashaun, he’s just saying what he’s saying to get his team riled up. I’m going to say what I’m going to say to get my team riled up. The best man wins. The best team wins.”
Gipson understands that his comments have made him a target and put more pressure on the Jaguars, who will have to deal with wintry conditions and a Browns team that has shown improvement in recent weeks.
The war of words could escalate.
“I’m hoping that it might be chippy,” he said. “That is fine. That is part of the game, but as far as any extracurricular, I know that I’m not on that and I hope that nobody is out there trying to end people’s seasons and things like that because at the end of the day, it is just football. I can’t tell you what Mr. (Hue) Jackson is over there talking and coaching on or what is being said about me over there.”
Jackson said Gipson didn’t have to utter a thing to get the Browns ready.
“I don’t think we need any motivation,” he said. “We are a 0-9 football team, so I don’t think we are looking for anything. The opportunity to play is motivation enough for this football team. We want to win. That is what it is all about.”
NOTES: Rookie QB DeShone Kizer appeared in the locker room wearing a Hurricanes T-shirt after losing a bet with teammate David Njoku when Notre Dame was throttled by Miami last week. Kizer joked that having to wear the shirt hurt worse than his bruised ribs or being benched this season. … RT Shon Coleman remains in the concussion protocol. … C J.C. Tretter did not practice because of shoulder, knee and quad injuries.