BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – ‘Victory Monday’ is a common celebration around the NFL the day after a win on Sunday.
In Berea it’s called ‘Miserable Monday’ where Hue Jackson gets to field questions about what went wrong this time after yet another loss.
He’s had to do it now 18 times out of the 19 games he’s coached since taking over as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. And it isn’t getting any easier for him.
“None of us like losing,” Jackson said.
The record is not entirely Jackson’s fault considering the overall plan to build with youth through the draft. The fact that the franchise has won 4 times out of the last 35 times they’ve taken the field is also not his fault.
But he’s the one who takes the blame and has to face the music with reporters daily as the unofficial spokesman of the organization. He also is in charge of keeping his players from losing faith in their ability as well as the team as he tries to keep the season from taking on water like it did a year ago.
“There is a human element we all deal with, let’s be honest, that is there,” Jackson said. “But, I think this team is very resilient. I think they’ll keep working. I know they will. I think they’ll keep coming in here ready to go. We got a big game this week, we all recognize that.
“These guys are pros and they under stand what their job is and they understand what we need to do. I’m not going to tell you that I don’t think about the human side of it as a head coach that’s something I do have to think through with our football team.”
Jackson was able to keep the locker room together a year ago during a brutal 1-15 campaign that saw them lose their first 14 and he hopes that he won’t ever have to do it again. The Browns are in the midst of a critical stretch to get that first win out of the way and they’ve already blown the first chance in Indianapolis by laying an egg in the first half on both sides of the ball and digging a 28-7 hole that was ultimately too deep to climb out of.
“It’s disappointing because we wanted to win the game,” Jackson said. “We wanted to go and win a football game that we thought we had a great chance at.”
Jackson was asked again on Monday if he can actually win with the roster he’s been given which features 11 rookies, 3 first-year players and 18 more in their second season.
“I think this team can,” Jackson said. “I think we have to do some things better and work a little bit harder and make sure that we do some of the detail things right, but that question that you just asked, I think that is something you have to talk to [executive vice president of football operations] Sashi [Brown] about and the executive team.”
Brown has spent the last 19 months completely gutting the roster – 47 of the 53 players on the active roster have been added within the last 2 years – and assembling draft picks. They made 14 selections in 2016, 10 more in April and they have 12 more picks awaiting next April including 5 in the first 3 rounds of the draft.
The fact of the matter is that this roster lacks consistent impact playmakers on offense which is crippling the development of rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, but Jackson isn’t crying for help – at least publicly.
“My job is to coach the guys that are here with our football staff, and that is what we are going to do,” Jackson said. “I am sure that our executive team is scouring everywhere looking at who could potentially help our football team. That is what they do so I am sure that that is being done.”
On Sunday Kenny Britt, Rashard Higgins and Ricardo Louis combined to catch just 6 of the 22 footballs that were thrown their way. Aside from investing over $120 million in the offensive line, Kizer has been hung out to dry and left to twist in the wind while trying to adapt to the speed of the NFL game because he literally has no one he can throw the ball to that he can count on to catch it.
“We have the group that we have,” Jackson said. “These guys are working hard and are trying to be the best they can be. We are going to keep working with these guys. We are going to get them better. We are going to make sure that when we go out there our next opportunity that we can go out there and play even better than we did this past week.”
So what now for the 0-3 Browns who have the winless Cincinnati Bengals due into town this Sunday?
“We just gotta keep coaching them, keep working at it,” Jackson said. “We got guys. We just gotta keep doing the little things and doing them better. Again, it’s a group that I think comes in here every day to work and we just gotta continue to take what we do on the practice field to the game field.”