Crowell, Pryor & McCown: Reunited and it feels so Browns

Terrelle Pryor had his best season in 2016 for Cleveland, and Josh McCown was the starter in two of his 100-yard receiving games. David Richard/AP Photo

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- They lost a lot of games that year, but that doesn't mean they're losers.

Terrelle Pryor produced his best season in 2016. So did Isaiah Crowell. They were flickering lights in the darkness, but the darkness always prevails on a 1-15 team. We're talking about the Cleveland Browns, of course.

First Pryor, then Crowell, they escaped the Factory of Sadness, both signing with the New York Jets this offseason with the hope of washing away the stink of that disastrous year. Oddly, the Jets have an affinity for ex-Browns, as their roster includes five Cleveland '16 survivors. In addition to Pryor and Crowell, they have quarterback Josh McCown, defensive lineman Xavier Cooper and recently signed running back George Atkinson.

Nearly one-tenth of the Browns' 1-15 roster now wears green and white.

Pause here to wrap your brain around that.

"We don't talk about it," Crowell said. "We don't talk about the past. We just talk about what we're capable of doing right now. I feel like we can do something special."

Crowell might deserve a medal because he spent four years in Cleveland, losing 53 out of 64 games. He was their leading rusher in each of his final three seasons, posting a career-high 952 yards on an impressive 4.8 yards per carry in 2016. He's a good football player, still only 25 years old. Scouts say his cutback ability makes him an ideal fit in the Jets' zone-blocking scheme.

It wouldn't be a surprise if he winds up their leading rusher, overtaking Bilal Powell. Crowell said he just wants to win games, and you know that's not lip service because of where he came from.

"I'm a competitive guy. I hate to lose," he said. "I'm a sore loser. [That season] was real hard."

The Browns lost their first 14 games, including a 31-28 decision to the Jets, before upsetting the San Diego Chargers on Dec. 24. Merry Christmas, Cleveland. It saved them from the indignity of 0-16, but it was only a temporary stay. Since then, they've lost every game, 17 in a row.

Pryor said the 2016 Browns remind him of last season's Jets (5-11), which is to say a team that was competitive and lost a bunch of close games. Actually, the Browns lost only five games by seven points or fewer, so it's not like their season would've looked different if those games had gone the other way.

"Being here is different," Pryor said. "We have a young group of guys and they're coming out of college. It's a whole locker room of alpha males. That's how I always looked at myself, as an alpha male. There's [90] of them. That's why we all connect. It's like that brotherhood. That have that fire in there. I don't know if that was there or not in Cleveland, but that's the feeling I get here."

Pryor was the Browns' leading receiver in 2016, a converted quarterback who blossomed in only his second season as a wide receiver. He finished with 77 catches and 1,007 yards, pretty impressive on a one-win team.

"In that first year, he was just figuring out what he didn't know," said McCown, who witnessed the transformation in 2015 and 2016 as the Browns' occasional starting quarterback. "Since then, he's worked with more intention. That will help him and, hopefully, pay dividends."

Pryor is coming off a difficult, injury-plagued season with the Washington Redskins. If healthy, he could be a major factor for the Jets, especially in the red zone with his size (6-foot-4) and leaping ability.

His goal is simple, but lofty:

"I want to dominate," he said.

Pryor, Crowell and McCown have played a combined total of 25 seasons, only one of which ended with a playoff berth. In 2008, McCown reached the postseason as a backup with the Carolina Panthers.

The Cleveland Three has experienced a lot of losing, the worst of it in 2016. They're reunited in New York, hoping to remove the stigma that no player wants attached to his name.

"We were all in that situation and now we're all here," said McCown, sounding as if he'd rather have a bunion than talk about That Year. "It's a different style of offense ... and the guys around us offensively are different. You have to take every situation as it is. That was that situation and this is a new one, and we're excited about it."