There were glimmers in a loss to the Jets this past weekend that offered head coach Hue Jackson and the Browns hope amid an 0-8 start.
"We are not anywhere close to where we want to be or where we hope to be," Jackson said Monday, "but there were times yesterday that I saw a team that looked the way I want our football team to look."
Indeed, Sunday was a tale of two halves. The first watched Cleveland mount a 20-7 lead behind a high-flying offense and stingy defensive display. The second saw the Browns surrender 24 unanswered points.
"In the first half, I thought on offense we kind of played the way I kind of like to play, and I think our players enjoyed that part of it to start the game. On defense, I thought we played a tremendous first half," Jackson said.
"What we have to do is put a full game together – offense, defense and special teams. We haven't been able to do that yet. That is something we are going to continue to work on and work through."
That's the objective moving forward for the Browns as they search for their first win this season. Jackson said another narrow defeat — the fourth by six points or less — has dispirited neither him nor his team, but there's a sense of urgency to close out games.
"I just think for whatever reason in the second half when it is time, when it is 'go time,' as people say, it is 'money time,' whatever you want to call it, we are not doing it as well as I think we can," he said. "That has been kind of our Achilles' heel this year so I have to get it solved."
Take a look at the best pictures from the Browns vs. Jets game in Week 8.
Sunday was the fifth time the Browns have either led or been tied in the final 30 minutes of play.
"They made more plays than us," linebacker Christian Kirksey said after the game. "We have to make those crucial plays in crucial moments."
"We feel like we were in several games and we had opportunities to win and we just weren't able to close it out and so that's going to be probably the emphasis moving forward here," left tackle Joe Thomas added.
"When you have a close game in the second half, you have to be able to make the plays that you have to because typically it comes down to a handful of plays and you've gotta make those plays and can't just expect the other team to not make plays in the second half. You've got to have kind of a killer instinct."
The Browns are trying to find that edge by the time Dallas comes to town.
"We have to figure this out together and just go finish the game," Jackson said. "When you get good — when we get good here — we won't be having this discussion. I promise you that."