CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson did not need to watch the tape of Sunday’s 33-13 loss to the New England Patriots at FirstEnergy Stadium to know just how far away his team is from contending.
Jackson watched from the sidelines as the strength of his offense, the running game, never got going, and the secondary struggle to contain wide receiver Chris Hogan and tight ends Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski, who were playing for the first time in the regular season with quarterback Tom Brady, who was back from a four-game suspension.
“There were a lot of lessons learned for our football team,” Jackson said. “There is a lot we could have done to play better. Our team has to continue to grow in a lot of different areas. That is my responsibility as the head coach of this football team, and I get that, along with our staff, to continue to get these men better.”
The NFL’s best rushing team through the first four weeks of the regular season, the Browns managed just 27 yards on 22 attempts against the Patriots, an average of 1.2 yards per carry.
Starting running back Isaiah Crowell came into the game with 394 yards and three touchdowns on 61 carries, but managed just 22 yards and no scores on 13 rushes against New England.
“It is unfortunate it happened against a good, quality opponent,” Jackson said. “We wish that part of our team played extremely well. It is the run game. We were one of the better running teams in football, and they shut it down. I don’t know if it is a blueprint. I’m sure people will attempt to do those same things, but I didn’t think our run game was more shut down.”
Although frustrated with the outcome and the lack of offensive success against the Patriots after having three straight games that came down to the fourth quarter and overtime, Jackson knows one thing is for certain.
To Jackson, there might be many questions about the Browns, but “the effort is there.”
“There is no question about that,” Jackson said. “The guys are working extremely hard. They are giving everything they have. I saw some improvement in some areas that I thought was very important that we continue to get better in over the next several weeks.
“I’m not by any means discouraged. I’m going to stay determined. This team is going to stay determined. We are going to stay together and we are going to keep working at it. That is what I love about these guys. I know everybody says, ‘Well, you guys are 0-5. How much long can you keep playing this card until you get there?’
“We are a pro team. Our job and our mission is to go out and win every game and to work every week to get better. That is my job to motivate these guys, along with our staff, to get them to buy into what we’re trying to sell. We understand we are a young team, but we are going to work at it every day to continue to get better.”