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Hue Jackson, Browns know turnovers will be 'key' moving forward


LANDOVER, Maryland — **The Browns locker room was subdued on Sunday afternoon and head coach Hue Jackson understood why.

After a narrow defeat against the Redskins — the team's third-straight near miss despite an array of injuries — and falling to 0-4, Jackson said he knows what his team is capable of.

But a matter of putting everything together has eluded Cleveland thus far this season.

"I know what's in there, we've just got to do it from start to finish," he said following a 31-20 loss to Washington at FedExField.  "I'm not disappointed in our effort, I'm disappointed in the outcome, I'm disappointed for our players and how hard they fight."

The Browns battled past an double-digit deficit to take a 20-17 late in the third quarter. They were ultimately undone, however, by three turnovers in the second half that dashed the best of an otherwise spirited performance. 

"We can't turn the ball over the last three series right there late in the third quarter and fourth quarter," Jackson said. "I think we had like three in a row and, to me, that's where the game turned the other way."

Indeed, with the Redskins on their heels and the chance to bloat their lead to 10 points, the Browns made a costly error when fullback Malcolm Johnson fumbled near the goal line. The moment was something of a turning point as Kirk Cousins and Washington's high-powered offense drove down the field for the go-ahead touchdown.

The Browns, which mounted two more promising drives after that miscue, also watched those series cut short by a Duke Johnson Jr. fumble in the fourth quarter and then an interception by rookie quarterback Cody Kessler late in the game. 

"It's kind of a bitter taste just because I feel like we had the W in our hands and we gave it away," running back Isaiah Crowell said, "so I feel like we've just got to keep on grinding hard and keep working hard and it'll come together."

The Browns play the second half against the Redskins in Week 4.

To be sure, the Browns should be able take several bright spots back to Berea, whether it was a bruising run game led by Crowell or a defense that held the Redskins to a season low in total yardage. 

"I think our guys continued to fight, we got down 14, I don't think anybody on the sideline blinked," Jackson said, "(but) as I talked to our team, I think that's the key to our season: you can't turn the ball over. If you don't turn it over, you've got a chance to win. That's just the way pro football is."

That echoes a sentiment made by Jackson and the shorthanded Browns, who have marched forward despite an array of injuries, including the loss of quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively.

"I think we're learning, you know? We want to win so bad and to come out on the losing end it's just not good enough," left guard Joel Bitonio said. "There's no moral victories anymore when you do it three times in a row and we've just got to take the next step as a team and turn these into wins."

Still, the Browns have watched their past three games come down to the wire. And against that backdrop, Jackson remains optimistic about what the future holds for a hungry team trying to find its footing through the first month of the season.

"We've got a group of fighters and I'm not concerned about what's going to happen in our locker room, we're going to go back to work and go fight again," he said. 

"I just want to make sure the things that I know that it takes to win, we've just got to do them better and again it starts with me and getting the rest of the guys to see that and understand and do it, and they will. 

"We have such good veteran leadership in our locker room that I think our guys will rally again and it's my job to lead them and they'll keep fighting. I think a win's around the corner, I really do, we've been in the last three ball games with a chance."

Middle linebacker and captain Demario Davis offered a similar analysis, saying "you've got to weather the storm and when the breaks come your way they come in bunches."

"So it's a little adversity right now but the only thing you can do is you have to weather the storm, you have to hold down, bunker down," he continued. 

"It's like when the tornado comes you've just got to keep as much in place as you can. We've got guys who understand where we're going, believe in what we're doing."

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