CLEVELAND — Faced with their second 0-12 start in as many years, the Browns are determined to earn their first win with a shrinking window to do so.
After falling to the Chargers on Sunday in Los Angeles, Cleveland has four games to end a disappointing season on a more pleasant note.
"We're really working, we are putting in the time and we are taking our bumps and bruises. Eventually, we're going to come out the other side," offensive lineman Joel Bitonio said.
"You dig, you dig and you dig, and you are going to find something eventually. That's what we're working at right now … With such a young team, I think the guys understand it's a long season, but we still have a quarter of the season left to improve. That's kind of where we're at right now — 'What can we do this last quarter of the season?'"
That's the Browns focus with back-to-back home games against Green Bay and Baltimore and road trips to Chicago and Pittsburgh remaining. To be certain, 2017 has been a frustrating and dispiriting campaign that's seen the young Browns struggle with self-inflicted wounds and missed opportunities.
For example, this past weekend, Cleveland rallied late before turning the ball over twice in the final 5 minutes of play. Those kinds of setbacks are what coach Hue Jackson has referred to as "melting" in critical moments. The only way the Browns can learn to win, he said, is by actually winning.
"We just have to continue to put them in those situations when we can as much as we can and hope that our guys learn from those," Jackson said. "You just have to keep pushing through it. You just have to plow through it and make sure you are managing it every chance that you get."
The next opportunity for the Browns, of course, is at home against the Packers this weekend.
The other three games? Jackson said his group can't afford to look ahead.
"I don't look and say, 'Well, maybe it is this one. Maybe it is that one.' We have to go out and play our tails off to try to secure a win this week here at home in front of our fans," he said.
"That has to mean something to our players, too, being in front of the Dawg Pound and at home. I think our guys will come out and play well."