CHICAGO — Over the past month, Hue Jackson and the Browns have spoken of small victories, little moments that let them know they're heading down the right path.
Cleveland's first undefeated preseason in 31 years would likely fall into that category as it defeated the Bears, 25-0, Thursday night at Soldier Field.
This was a goal, Jackson said, the Browns laid out for themselves this past offseason following a 1-15 season. And while the second-year head coach emphasized it all must be taken with a grain of salt, "you've gotta start someplace."
"That's what I said to the team when we first started. They accomplished something that I heard hadn't been done in 31 years," Jackson said as cheers echoed from the team's locker room. "I've said before, I can see something building in our locker room and that's what you want."
The 2017 Browns completed what's just the fifth perfect preseason in franchise history with wins over the Bears, Buccaneers, Giants and Saints. And in the process, they learned a whole lot about themselves.
Perhaps most notably, Cleveland's re-energized defense surrendered 29 points in four games under new coordinator Gregg Williams, an addition that Jackson described as "the biggest coup I could ever do."
The Browns also received clarity on offense, naming DeShone Kizer their starting quarterback for the season as the rookie continues to make strides since coming to Cleveland as a second-round pick this spring.
And while neither Kizer nor the majority of the team's starters played Thursday, it marked the final chance for other members of the roster to make their case ahead of roster cuts this weekend.
"I think we understand that this is the last time that group of players will be together and I told them that last night, and I told them that again today," Jackson said. "And they went out and played for each other and held each other accountable."
Once the Browns trim their roster to 53 members, they'll have to refocus their attention to hosting the Steelers in 10 days. For as bright as the preseason was, Jackson said, there's work to be done.
"There's a lot of good things happening right now and I'm proud of the guys," he said.
"But as I told them, that's behind us now. We've got to get ready for the regular season, which we all know football is a whole lot different."