The Browns did not expect to go winless in September.
But that's "where we are," head coach Hue Jackson said after Sunday's 31-28 loss to the Colts. "It's what we've earned."
After Cleveland dropped to 0-3 when a late rally fall short in Indianapolis, Jackson expressed his disappointment in a start neither he nor a young team envisioned.
"None of us like losing. There is a human element we all deal with. I mean, let's be honest, that's there," Jackson said Monday when asked about his group's morale, "but I think this team is very resilient and I think they'll keep working. I know they will."
If anything, the Browns proved as much in Indianapolis. They fell behind by three touchdowns early but didn't fold. They tightened up on defense after halftime— allowing three points and 75 yards — and cut the deficit to three points with two minutes to play.
And though it was too little, too late, rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer said in his postgame news conference that it reflected the collective character of him and his teammates.
"This locker room is one that fights. This locker room is one that's never going to give up, and no game's ever over for us," said Kizer, who also took ownership of Cleveland's offensive struggles and spoke of the need for "sustainable" offensive play.
Kizer reiterated that approach after watching film of the game, saying the Browns are "right where we want to be."
"We just don't have the W's to support it. We are driving the ball down the field. We know on offense if we take away one simple thing, and that is turnovers, we are the offense we want to be," added Kizer, who described an upbeat locker room amid a bumpy start.
"On defense, if we go out and stop the playmakers on the other offense, we're going to be a great defense. Everything is right there. We have the talent, we have the players, we have the mentality. It's just about going out and making sure we are executing from the first snap to the last snap of the game."
Kizer, who continues to grow from the highs and lows in his first three NFL regular season games, and a host of other young players should give the Browns plenty to be optimistic about. The defense, despite a rocky first half in which it struggled to contain Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton, has demonstrated promise under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Jackson expressed confidence his bunch will "keep coming here, getting ready to go."
"We have a big game this week and I think we all recognize that, but these guys are pros and they understand what their job is and they understand what we need to do," he said, referencing back-to-back home games against the Bengals and Jets.
"But I'm not going to tell you that I don't think about the human side of it. As the head coach, that's something I do have to think through with our football team."
An optimistic Kizer believes the youth-laden Browns could turn a corner sooner rather than later.
"I've been in this building for four or five months. There are quite a few other guys who have been in this building for four or five months," he said.
"We're growing every day. We can feel it. I'm getting to know my guys on and off the field every day, and we know we are heading in the right direction. Once again, it's just a matter of continuing to stay on the same line, stay on the same path, grinding it out together and hopefully experiencing some wins with that."
"We understand what it takes to win," he continued. "Now, it's about executing consistently like I've said over and over again to get to those wins."