CLEVELAND -- So close, yet so far!
The Cleveland Browns have been close in three of their five losses during the 2016 regular season. But close has not been good enough for the Browns, as they have fallen short in the fourth quarter or overtime to the Baltimore Ravens, Washington and Miami Dolphins.
Now, at 0-5 and the NFL’s only remaining winless team, the Browns are preparing for a road game against the Tennessee Titans, and they do so with the focus of putting the losses behind them and getting marks into the win column.
“Everybody is frustrated, but this is the time that we have to stick together and keep fighting because if we don’t quit, good things are going to come out,” wide receiver Terrelle Pryor said. “We are getting a couple guys back, some core guys that are important on the offensive side. It is up to myself and other guys, playmakers to make plays on the outside and make plays when they come to us. We just have to continue to do that and keep pushing.”
Browns head coach Hue Jackson did not need to watch the tape of last 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 struggled 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 after his return from a four-game suspension.
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.
“Obviously, another week, another opportunity for our team,” Jackson said. “Got a chance to get out and keep working, keep trying to get better as a football team. There is a lot of work to do. I think we all know that. I will say that every week.
“We just have to keep grinding at this thing and keep getting better. Our guys, I give them a lot of credit. They came back into the building ready to go.”
Although the Browns carry extra motivation to win into this Sunday’s game against the Titans, they will do so without the presence of offensive lineman Joel Bitonio, who suffered a mid-foot sprain against the Patriots and is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
But despite another injury and the yet-to-be determined starting quarterback, Jackson remained unflappable when questioned about the challenges currently facing the Browns.
“This is the National Football League,” Jackson said. “We have other guys that are paid to do a job, and we, as coaches, have to get them ready to play and our guys have to get themselves ready to play. It is not going to always be pretty, it is not going to always be the way we want it to be, but that is just life in this business.
“I’m not going to put my head down and nobody is. That is just the way it goes. We are going to get this thing right and get it better, and that is what I’m here to do.”