BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns struggled mightily in all three phases of the game during the 2016 season, and as such, they finished the year with a franchise-worst 1-15 record and earned the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
As the team readies to take the field for the starting of training camp, the players and coaches know the time for talking is done and they aim to show substantial progress in 2017.
“Our job to here is to win games, a lot of games,” said Sashi Brown, the team’s executive vice president of football operations. “We are not going to put a number of wins on a season, but we also understand that we have to establish the way we work and prepare, and the wins will follow from that.
“The coaching staff did an excellent job at really establishing who we are as Cleveland Browns and what the expectations are. We are not lowering that. We talked about it upstairs -- our expectation is to go in and win 20 games this year, and that is exactly what we will tell our guys. That is the expectation they need to have for themselves.”
Although not one to look in the proverbial rearview mirror too much, coach Hue Jackson believes there were plenty of lessons to be learned from the struggles of the 2016 season.
“What we learned is that if you continue to work hard, it gives you the best opportunity,” Jackson said. “That doesn’t mean that you’re going to win.
“It just means it gives you an opportunity, but now, we feel that we have a better roster and better players in certain positions. I feel like we have made huge jumps and strides on defense. I think we are making huge strides on offense. Now, we have to go try to take this to the next level.”
And to turn young players into a successful team, Jackson knows the best way to mature the group is by winning.
“We have added more talent to our roster,” Jackson said. “We have drafted better talent on our roster. That is why we feel good about having a better opportunity to win. I get where you are coming from, but I think our players know that we are doing anything and everything we can to put the best product on the field that gives us the best opportunity to win.”
As such, Brown is confident that the coaches will lead the players to more successes and that the team “will answer several questions in 2017.”
“We have a talented coaching staff that is really committed to helping us return this organization and get this city back to winning ways,” Brown said.
“We talk about it all of the time. We have got an obligation to the men who wore this uniform before any of us were here, and we have got an obligation to the Dawg Pound and the rest of the fans here in Northeast Ohio to establish a championship organization, a club that Cleveland can be proud of. There will be a lot of underlying questions that point in that direction, but we want to be heading there.”