CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns went 0-4 during the 2016 preseason, but the exact opposite proved to be true this summer, as they completed a perfect slate of exhibition games with a 25-0 victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field Thursday night.
With the win over the Bears, the Browns (4-0) finished the preseason undefeated for the eighth time in team history (1946, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1962, 1982 and 1986), and first time since the 1986 season, where they went on to win the AFC Central Division title and advance to the AFC Championship Game.
“One of our goals was to play better in the preseason,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “We didn’t know what that was going to look like. I just know a year ago, we were 0-4, so these guys came back with a different mentality, and obviously, we added some new coaches, and it’s led to this. We went out in every game and did the best you can be, which is 4-0.
“Again, we all understand it’s the preseason, but you’ve got to start some place, and that’s what I said to the team when we first started, and they accomplished something that I heard hadn’t been done in 31 years, which is to be 4-0. That’s a credit to them.”
Cleveland Browns battle Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in preseason finale
After watching the Browns’ reactions to the preseason wins and the interaction between the players, during the games, in practice and in the meeting rooms, Jackson has a positive feeling for the direction of the team as the regular season approaches.
The Browns get the 2017 regular season underway against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday, September 10.
“The coaching staff, we just tried to create the environment for the guys, and we let them play,” Jackson said. “As I said before, I can see something building in our locker room, and that’s what you want.
“There’s a lot of good things happening in there right now, and I’m proud of the guys, but at the same time, I told them that’s behind us. Now, we’re going to get ready for the regular season, which we all know what that is. Football’s a whole lot different in the regular season coming up against Pittsburgh here soon.”
By shutting out the Bears, the Browns finished the preseason with just one touchdown allowed, and Jackson attributed that to the hiring of coordinator Gregg Williams during the offseason after finishing 2016 with one of the worst defenses in the National Football League.
And Jackson expects that defensive intensity to help carry the Browns through 2017.
“I don’t want to put any pressure on our guys, but again, let me say this, me getting Gregg Williams here was the biggest coup I could ever do,” Jackson said. “The time spent with him, having him make the decision to come here and help assist me in getting this team where it needs to be is one of the best things I’ve done.
“No. 2, it’s our players buying into the system. The system works and I know it works, and it’s showing itself that way. I think our players are enjoying it. What we’ve got to do is play complementary football, as a football team, offensively, defensively and special teams. If we can do that, I like our chances. When we get our guys clicking and playing good ball, we’ll see where this thing can go.”