CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns are set to begin their second season under the direction of coach Hue Jackson in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium today, and again, they are one of the youngest teams in the league.
But despite having 20 of his 53 players on the active roster with one year or less of NFL experience, Jackson is confident the mission of the organization is to win and win now.
“Honestly, this is always about winning,” Jackson said. “I don’t know any other way to do it. I think our players see it that way, too. We come out here every day and go into these meetings with one thing in mind: ‘Let’s win,’ and ‘Let’s find a way to win.’
“That is not going to change. I understand where you are coming from and what it looks like, but I think every day, everything we do is built towards winning. There is no other way you can do this.”
Of the 53 players on the roster, 42 have been added since the Browns’ current front office of Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta assumed their roles in January of 2016, and 21 came aboard since the start of 2017.
The Browns begin the 2017 season with 28 players having been acquired in the NFL Draft, and 20 of their first or second-year players on the roster were selected by the current regime in the last two years.
“I don’t think that they have any other agenda,” Jackson said of the front office. “I know sometimes, when you look at transactions and all those things… But I think there is a plan and a purpose to what we are doing, and I think we are getting there.
“I think you guys can see the team has improved, and I think we will improve. We have to go do it when it counts in these games that are coming up now.”
After an 0-4 slate in the 2016 preseason, the Browns won just one game during the regular season, and that one victory came in the second-to-last week of the year, but the team seemed to get things going in the right direction with their four exhibition games in 2017.
The Browns finished with a 4-0 preseason record, and while those games are meaningless now, Jackson believes a foundation is in place that could help lead the team to success.
“When I look at our roster, it is better,” Jackson said. “I think it is stronger. I think there is more talent on our football team. When I watch our defense play, I see a defense that has a chance to be really good. Those things I feel really good about.
“I see a young, promising quarterback. If we can keep growing him and getting better and keep surrounding him with more tools and more guys, that will give him opportunities. I think that is what it is all about. I think that is how you start to build a team.”