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Browns hope to snap red zone blues: 'I won't throw it a down there if I don't have to​'

Among the list of things ailing the winless Browns, interceptions in the red zone have been as frustrating as any of them.

It's something coach Hue Jackson and players have lamented over the past month-and-a-half. Asked about it again Wednesday, Jackson said he'll do whatever it takes to ensure Cleveland comes away with points.

"I've told our quarterbacks I won't throw it down there if I don't have to," he said. "If I can't trust you, if you're going to throw the ball to the other team, I won't throw it. If we end up kicking field goals, we end up kicking field goals. At least we have a chance to kick a field goal."

Through six games, Cleveland ranks 21st in red zone efficiency with nine scores (eight touchdowns, one field goal) on 16 trips. The Browns lead the league with 16 turnovers, six of which have come inside the 20-yard line.

Though Jackson has placed faith in rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer (five starts) and backup Kevin Hogan (one start) down near the end zone, most of those miscues have been interceptions.

"If we're down there and there are plays to be made and opportunities, I think they see them," he said. "If you play quarterback in the National Football League, what do you want to do? You want to throw touchdown passes. You're not here to hand the ball off every play. Eventually, you go, 'Coach, you don't trust me. You won't throw the ball in that situation.'"

Jackson, however, made clear the Browns' must curb those passing errors if they're to notch their first win of 2017. As such, the coach said it's entirely possible Cleveland will lean on an inconsistent run game when they're within scoring distance.

That message got to Kizer — who was re-appointed the team's starter this weekend against Tennessee — loud and clear.

"I'm trying to make sure that we can do whatever we can to make sure we are realizing those things that are stopping us from being 3-3 rather than 0-6 and focusing on it. Obviously, it is turnovers in the red zone; it is lulls at the beginning of games," he said.

"It's a bunch of small things that we have been able to recognize and that we are going to continue to attack each week and make sure that when we come out, we come out on the other side of this. Maybe we can win by three points instead of losing by three points."

Jackson said he believes Kizer, who turned the ball over twice in the red zone against the Jets two weeks ago, better understands that dynamic after watching Sunday's loss to Houston from the sideline.

"We have to do what we have to do to score points, but we also have to do what we have to do to be team protecting as much as we can," Jackson said.

"I think our quarterbacks get that now. We have to because we have not done a great job in the scoring zone with the ball, so we have to improve in that way."

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