Winless Browns showing little sign of progress
CLEVELAND — Although his team has yet to win, Browns coach Hue Jackson usually spends a moment or two rattling off good things he extracts from a loss.
There’s always a silver lining.
Not Monday. Not after a 35-10 shellacking by the Dallas Cowboys.
“There were no positives to take out of yesterday,” Jackson said Monday on a conference call. “Some we need to learn from but really no positives.”
The Browns (0-9) are beyond bad, and they appear to be getting worse.
They’ve matched the worst start in team history and will need a win over Baltimore on Thursday night to avoid being the first 0-10 club in Cleveland’s 66-year history.
The Browns have lost 12 in a row going back to last season, 19 of 20 and they are 3-27 in their past 30 games — an unimaginable stretch of sorry football.
If all that wasn’t tough enough, Jackson, whose young team has been hit hard by injuries in his first season with Cleveland, there’s little time to prepare for the Ravens.
No rest for the weary.
“I’ve never been 0-and-9 before, so you better believe it’s the toughest challenge I’ve ever had,” he said. “But I am excited about the challenge and I truly believe that we’ve got a tough road ahead of us, but we’re looking forward to it.
“I mean, this is the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns, Thursday night in Baltimore. So we’ve got to get up and get these guys ready to play, and they will be.”
That didn’t seem to be the case on Sunday as the Cowboys (7-1) outmanned the Browns on both sides of the ball. Dallas put together one long touchdown drive after another, running up a 25-point lead after three quarters before pumping the brakes and coasting to their seventh straight win.
According to STATS, the Browns became the first team in 52 years to allow at least 25 points in its first nine games, a stat which underscores how poorly Cleveland’s defense has played under coordinator Ray Horton.
In a league where coordinators are routinely replaced during the season, it would seem Horton’s job would be in jeopardy. The Browns are ranked 31st in total defense and 31st in points allowed.
However, Jackson said he’s sticking with Horton, who is in his second stint running Cleveland’s defense. To Jackson, there are plenty of other reasons why the Browns are stumbling, and he dismissed a question asking if Horton was in trouble.
“No, and I say that with no question,” he said. “I don’t want to continue to get into those kinds of things, and that is probably the last question I will probably take on any of our staff members about their job because it is not about that at all in my opinion.”
It had to be troubling for Jackson not to be able to mention one good thing about Sunday’s game. After all, the Browns are nine games in, and while there were no illusions that this would be a long turnaround, the team seems be regressing.
“It is tough,” Jackson said. “But at the same time, there were no positives from yesterday, but there have been some positives so that has been the foundation. We take the positives that we can find and really build on those and make that something that we rally to.
“Our players are professionals, and they understand when they come in this building we come in here to work each and every day.”
Like Horton, rookie quarterback Cody Kessler is safe for now.
Jackson isn’t going to replace the third-round pick, who returned to the lineup after missing one game with a concussion.
Kessler had some decent moments against the Cowboys, but struggled to get the ball downfield and Jackson conveyed some dissatisfaction in his performance.
Kessler finished 19 of 27 for 203 yards, but he wasn’t able to sustain drives in the second half when Cleveland managed just 28 total yards.
“The biggest disappointment for me as the leader of our offense is we haven’t been able to win, haven’t found a way to score one more point than the other team to win a game,” Jackson said.
“There’s some things I’m sure individually players have done well, but as an offensive team, it’s the quarterback’s job to get the team to win. I haven’t done a good enough job of getting that done for our guys. Regardless of what stat lines are, until we get a win for this football team, (stats) are not going to matter.”