- Hue Jackson wasn't going there, not after a disappointing 31-7 loss to the Bengals on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Neither were the players. All were adamant what happened against their AFC North rival was not a reflection on the team's overall direction.
"Today was not a good day for our football team," Jackson said. "We need to get better. I just think we have to go in this room and there are some fundamental things that we have to do better across the board. It starts obviously with me, down through our coaches and the rest of our players, and that is what we have to do better."
The Browns' loss Sunday followed a few of the unfortunate patterns that have surfaced in recent weeks.
Cleveland had an opportunity to take an early lead after an Emmanuel Ogbah strip sack but ultimately came away with no points after a three-and-out by the offense and a missed field goal. The Browns didn't get on the scoreboard until a late touchdown drive led by backup quarterback Kevin Hogan.
The Browns' defense started strong with the turnover but struggled for a second straight week in the second quarter. Cleveland surrendered 21 second-quarter points for a second consecutive game. A 61-yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to Giovani Bernard served as the punctuating play much like T.Y. Hilton's 61-yard touchdown reception did the week before.
Jackson has been adamant that this is a different team than last year's, and the leaders in Cleveland's locker room reflected it Sunday.
"I do not think that we are in panic mode right now," linebacker Christian Kirksey said. "I do not think that the team is in the slumps as far as attitude. I think that we still have goals in front of us that we can reach. It is the National Football League. It is hard to win a game. As long as we keep striving to get better, keep cleaning things up in the film room and getting our key players back, I think we will be fine."
- Kenny Britt took full accountability for a drop that changed the course of the first half.
With the Browns trailing 7-0 but driving inside the Bengals' 20-yard line, rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer fired a third-down pass to Britt. The ball bounced off Britt's chest and hands before falling into the arms of Cincinnati safety Clayton Fejedelem. The Browns didn't return to the red zone until the late part of the fourth quarter.
"That was clearly on me. That was definitely clearly on me," Britt said. "Ball came on me faster than I thought it would, and that's something I should have."
Britt finished with three catches for 52 yards on eight targets. On the season, he has eight catches for 121 yards and a touchdown.
"I think Kenny is trying hard. I do," Jackson said. "Obviously, it is not happening for him in some situations. It is tough because we need those plays when we have an opportunity to make them. We will go back and watch it, see where we are, see if we can continue to have a good week of practice and see if we can get better."
- The last thing Jackson wanted to do was make excuses for a Browns defense that was without three of its top playmakers Sunday.
Though he practiced this week, top pick Myles Garrett was inactive for a fourth consecutive game. Linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. missed his second straight game with a concussion. Defensive tackle Danny Shelton was inactive because of a calf injury he suffered during practice this week.
Cleveland surrendered a season-worst 350 yards, as Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw for 286 yards and four touchdowns with just five incompletions.
"I'm not going to make excuses. We didn't play well. We didn't play well anywhere. We didn't coach well. We didn't play well. We didn't do anything well," Jackson said. "Cincinnati had a lot to do with that. We did not play as well as I think our football team can play."
The Browns lost two more players Sunday, as linebacker Dominique Alexander left with a knee injury and wide receiver Jordan Leslie did not return because of a hamstring injury.