Hue Jackson press conference - 10/2

Head Coach Hue Jackson:

Opening statement:

"Obviously, we are through a quarter of the season. Like I told our team today, definitely not where we want to be; nowhere close to where we want to be. Obviously, we have a lot of work to do, but that is what it was, a quarter of the season. We are 0-4 heading into our second quarter. Disappointed because we are not off to a better start not just for our players but also for our organization, for the fans and for everybody involved. At the same time, we are not going to put our head down. We have dug this hole so we have to climb our way out of it, and the only way you are going to climb your way out of it is by working. We came back in today. Our players were focused. We had great conversation. We talked about the first quarter of the season, where we thought we fell short and what we need to do to improve. To a man, I think the guys get it. I think we understand that yesterday was unacceptable for where we want to be. We didn't play as well as we would like to play. Not how we want to show – definitely not here at home in front of our fans so we take full responsibility for that, starting with me on down through our coaches, to our players, and we know we have to perform better. It is a performance business. We appreciate our fans being there. We know they pay hard-earned dollars to come watch us play. They deserve something better, and that is what we are going to set out to do."

On an injury update:

"As far as the injuries are concerned, (LB) Dominique Alexander is out with a knee injury. We fear the worst as far as that is concerned. We have some other nicks and bumps and bruises, but we will know more about that on Wednesday. (DL) Myles (Garrett) will practice on Wednesday. He will go out there and practice. (LB) Jamie (Collins Sr.) is still in concussion protocol, and (WR) Sammie (Coates) should be able to practice Wednesday as well so that is where we are from an injury standpoint."

On Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis saying, 'don't let them quit on you' after the game yesterday:

"I think Marvin was talking about the record. He knows that losing is tough, and I think he gets that. I don't think… He wasn't meaning that our team quit during the game. There is no way. He watched us score a touchdown there at the end. I just think that is a message to me that I think everybody gets, the losing is tough. At the same time, I understand where he was coming from. I don't think he meant that as a negative towards our football team."

On if this is a critical stage in the season after starting 0-4:

"Oh, absolutely. We are not running from that. We understand that it is. This is the second quarter. We break this up into four quarters and this is the second one. Obviously, we have four big games. We start with the (New York) Jets, then we have Houston (Texans), then Tennessee (Titans) and then go to London and play Minnesota (Vikings) so we need to get better in this quarter of the season. We understand how we come into this building, how we prepare for teams, how we travel, what we do when we come here and play at home so we have to eliminate any distractions and make sure that our focus is only on one thing, trying to find a way to win."

On Bengals CB Adam Jones's comments on the talent on the Browns roster:

"I can't comment on… I have a lot of respect for Adam and a lot of those players over there as you guys know, and they are going to feel the way they feel. We have work to do. That is all I can say. I am not going to get caught up into what anyone else is saying about our football team or where we are. We just have to continue to work and get better. That is what my focus is."

On why he is confident that the Browns can turn the franchise around with Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown, Vice President of Player Personnel Andrew Berry and him:

"Because you named those three guys. These are the guys who are at the head of this organization, and we have to find a way to get it done. I am very confident that we can get it done. We just have to get it done. That is what it comes down to."

On challenges keeping a team together and playing hard after losing consecutive games:

"No, it doesn't happen all the time. I have total confidence in the men that are in that room. I have total confidence in our staff. This team won't quit. I have never been a part of anything that has ever quit, and I won't allow that. We are going to fight and we have demonstrated that. Whether it was last year or whether it is in to this year, I just think that is who we are and that is never going to change. What we are chasing, though, is winning so when you ask me, 'How hard is it to hold it together?' It is as hard as we make it. We are pros. We understand what our job is, and the losing sucks. I will be the first to tell you that, and I think our players will tell you that, too. At the same time, we have a job to do. We have to do our job better. Like I said, the only guys that can change it are the guys that are in that room. We have to play better. We have to make sure we take care of the football. We have to do the fundamental things better. Yesterday was – I am going to say it again – unacceptable for us. We have to get better."

On what it is within himself that keeps him motivating the team:

"It is my job. It is my job as a leader. I think that is what leaders do. I am very honest with our football team. I don't sugarcoat it. I don't have some (former Notre Dame Head Coach) Knute Rockne speech. I talk to them from my heart. From what I truly believe and what I see, I think normally if you are honest with men, they respond the right way and the right way is to do the right thing, which is our job is to go out there and win football games. That is what they will continue to do and I would be disappointed ever if our team did not attempt to do that because I know that is the way I am made and that is the way I think these guys have taken on that personality, as well."

On WR Kenny Britt playing late in the game when not having many WRs available and if it potentially sends the wrong message for him to play late in the game when he wasn't producing:

"I totally agree, but we had some guys down. We lost a couple guys. Trust me, I think our guys know based on performance if you are not getting it done, we will stick the next guy in there, but you have to have the next guy to stick in there. It is what it is. I get it. There is a time that you can be really tough on guys and turn away from them, and there is a time you have to try to get the most out of every player on this football team, and that is my job. I have to find different ways to do that. There is more than one way, as you know, to get a player to respond and do the right thing. We will continue to find ways, and if we have opportunities to put another person in, we will do that, as well. Maybe sometimes guys need to take a breather and reassess some things, but you have to have the capability of doing that."

On if he is perplexed that the Browns haven't been able to get anything out of Britt:

"I think it is unfair to say we have gotten nothing out of him' I think what we have seen is there has been some drops that I think we have all seen so that is factual. There have been some drops at some key times and he has to make those plays. I do get where you are coming from, but we have gotten something out of him."

On if he goes into a game with a script of plays he wants to run:


On the offensive struggles on the opening series of the game:

"Yeah, there has been penalties, turnovers, those were the things that stuck out."

On practicing the script for the game's opening series during the week:

"Over and over and over again. It is disappointing. It is disappointing, and I bring it to their attention. There is no question about that. We have to solve it. It is not magical. There is nothing in that script that we can't do. We do it quite a few times. We talk through it, we walk through it, we practice through it and we do it all. Those are some things we have to do better. The concentration things are the things that bother me. Turnovers are going to happen from time to time in games, but when you jump offside and we have our own self-inflicted wounds, then that is disappointing because that means maybe we are not ready and that our focus is not totally into where it should be when the game starts."

On if it is a lot to ask 21-year-old starting QB DeShone Kizer to put the team on his shoulders when 'the pieces around him don't seem to be there':

"Let me first comment about DeShone. I think DeShone played – I know (OL) Joe (Thomas) said last week he thought he played well. I thought yesterday he played as well as he has played all year. With the exception of missing a couple re-IDs and protection, he played lights out. He didn't take sacks. He threw the ball away. He didn't have turnovers. That is improvement so I want everybody to know, I thought regardless of what the numbers were for him, I thought the guy played extremely well. Now, you just said it. We have to continue – I have said it from the start of this for him – we have to support him every way that we can offensively, defensively and special teams to help this young man get a win under his belt because I think he is doing some good things. No one would know that just because we are 0-4, and at the end of the day, he does understand that his job is to win football games and to help this team win. Yesterday, I think he did all that he could in the time that he played. We have to continue to get better around him. We have to continue to coach better around him. That is what we are going to try to do as we head into the second quarter of the season."

On if he worries about Kizer's confidence:

"No. He is a quarterback in the National Football League. I don't know how many guys have come into this league and started 0-for. I haven't done that study yet. I am sure we can find that out, but there are guys that have walked in this league and hadn't won for a while yet and then eventually got to winning as the season went on. I have total confidence in DeShone. That is why you guys see me when he comes off the field him always talking to me. We are always going back through the series, talking about things because there is a lot to educate in a quarterback in this situation, too. It is like you said, it is keeping his confidence up, it is keeping him moving forward and it is keeping him seeing the right things and not all of the sudden seeing the rush or flinching. I see none of that in him. He has truly, truly gotten better over the last four weeks."

On if yesterday's game is simply a byproduct of a multiyear rebuild:

"I hope it is not (laughter). I hope it is not the pain of yesterday. I hope what we do is we are going to regroup here as a football team – staff and players – and come out and play. I think you guys have gotten to know me. I don't get caught up in everything that everybody says. I have a football team that I am in charge of leading and trying to get these men to win, along with our coaching staff. That is what I'm going to try to do. I don't like my record any more than you do or anybody does. It is horrible, and I will be the first to tell you that. That being said, I understand and I place more emphasis on improving players and trying to get them in the right spot and trying to win. I do not like losing. I will be the first to tell you that. I detest it. When you keep score, there is no place for losing. There's a winner and a loser, and we have been on the other side of this ledger way too many times. We have to keep pushing. If this is what it is, it is what it is. We are going to keep working at it. I do know that much."

On saying previously that this is a process:

"Yes it is. It's a process."

On if the process will work:

"I can't be the judge of that. Do I think it can still work? Yes. Let me go on the record of saying, yes, I do, but I can't be the judge of what is going to mean it is working. Other than, at the end of the day, the only thing that solves this is what? Winning. That is the only thing that solves any of this that we are talking about. Let's be honest, until we win, you guys are going to keep asking these questions. That is what it is. Like I told our team, the only people that can stop the narrative that is out there right now is us. We have to find a way to win football games, period."

What Jimmy Haslam says to him after a game like yesterday:

"Jimmy has been as supportive of anybody I have ever been around in this situation. Let me go on record of saying that. I know everybody is thinking Jimmy is going to throw me over in the river (laughter). That is not the case at all. He has been extremely supportive. He has been more than supportive from what I understand what the situation has been here in the past. I couldn't ask for a better owner in that situation. My comment to him is always, 'Hey, Jimmy. Let's get it right.' That is what he talks about. Let's find a way to get this right. That is what we are trying to do. There is pain in this process – obviously, a lot. We just have to get through it, and I think we are."

On how much influence he has in player personnel decisions:

"I'm not going to get into all of that because I don't think I should. I don't think that is what I'm here to talk about today. What we are here to talk about is the game from yesterday, and I'm going to leave it at that."

On the number of hits Kizer took yesterday:

"That is why at the end there I took him out. I thought he had enough of those hits for that day. Come over here and stand next to me and watch because I don't want him to get hit out. You said it, but that is part of the game sometimes. That was a good front we played that we held to two sacks – one on him and one on (QB) Kevin Hogan – but there were numerous hits as the ball was there and we were trying to get it out and doing certain things. We are always going to be protecting of our quarterback that way. There are going to be some games where he gets pushed and knocked around and all of that. We don't want those hits on our guy."

On if he is concerned about the number of hits Kizer has taken during season and how Kizer will make it through the full 16-game season:

"He will make it through. He will make it though. We will make sure he makes it through."

On if there is any concerned losing early in young players' careers may have a long-term effect:

"Yeah, we all have that. Let's be honest about that. Losing isn't good for anybody. Like I said, we are trying to get to winning as fast as we can. I think we all understand that, but I don't have the psychological thought process of what is on the other side of that. I just know that losing is not good for anybody. I just think at some point in time, you have to get to winning as fast as you can and I truly believe that that is what we are trying to do."

On if he talked to coaches who started a rookie QB and didn't immediately win:

"Yeah, I did (laugher). I talked to some coaches about it. I have talked to some players about it. I have talked to a lot of people about it. It is tough. It is tough being a quarterback on a team that you are trying to win and every week, it is some of the same questions. Please, y'all write that down, OK? When you see this guy, be gentle with him, OK (laughter)? At the same time, it is his job. I think he gets that it is his job and he knows you guys are going to ask those tough questions. He has to be prepared to answer them, but he also has to be prepared to go back to his football team and urge his team on. That is what it is. The leadership ability of that position, as we all know in this room, is paramount. Whether you are 21-years old, whether you are 25-years old or whether you are 26-years old, you have to find a way to do it. DeShone is working at that. I assure everybody in this room, that is what he is trying to do. It is not easy when you are in one of these situations and he knows that, but at the same time you have to keep pushing because who knows when a breakthrough is going to happen. I truly believe it is going to happen, but when it is going to happen, he has to make sure that he is ready and he is there to all of a sudden put it together because let's be honest, the quarterback is the leader of this team. He is not just the offensive team, but at the end of the day, the team. You can only do that by winning, and we all understand that and he does, too."

On if it would be easier to accept the process if there was less of an emphasis on winning:

"I truly believe that is our focus. I know that is my focus. I know that is our team's focus, and I think it is everybody's focus. We are trying to win. I don't want anybody to think we are walking out there trying to lose. We are not doing that. I don't know how to do that or else what would I come here for everyday and what would the players come here for everyday? We are trying to win, and we are working our tails off to do that. It just hasn't happened for us."

On what needs to be tweaked to start winning:

"You have any ideas (laughter)? No, just kidding. We are looking at everything. That is my charge to this staff after a quarter of this season. We have played three of our division opponents. We have played four in the AFC. We have to truly look at who we are and what we can do well, what we can't do well. It is not like a self-scout when you have had your bye, but we really have to look back and see what things we are accomplishing because there are a lot of small victories in there somewhere. Not victories on the field and that is what matters the most but things that we are doing OK, and we need really to emphasize those and get rid of the things that we are not doing OK, and that is what we are trying to do."

On if trailing early in games is preventing the running game from clicking:

"When you look up and you are down 21-0 or whatever it was, that is hard. You are not going to score a lot of points by just running the ball. I think you guys know that. You have to have chunk plays in the National Football League to score. Even on the drive when we are getting down there, we handed (RB Isaiah) Crow(ell) the ball for about 15 yards or something like that. That is the way it works in the National Football League. There will be a time – I am going to say it again – when we will be able to run the football. We have to quit falling behind so quickly. The second quarter has been our Achilles' Heel. We have talked about that this morning. We have to shore that up. We can't get to some of the things we want to do until we are truly in a football game where we are not trying to come from behind. Every game takes on a life of its own. Last week in Indy, it was different trying to throw the ball in the second half. This week in this game, it was different trying to throw the ball in the second half. That is going to happen from time to time."

On his relationship with Brown and how it will prevent division within the organization despite the lack of success on Sundays:

"I think we both want the same thing, which is winning. I think we both understand that in order to win, we need each other. I think we see a lot of the same things the same way. I think we talk the same language, and that is a process within itself. We are not going to let division happen. We won't do it. It is easy to do like you said because everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to get to winning as fast as they can, but we have to do it our way, the way we see it and that is the only way you can get these things done."

On DB Jabrill Peppers covering Bengals WR A.J. Green on the first TD of the game:

"We played soft Cover 0 and we were trying to pressure (Bengals QB) Andy (Dalton). Andy saw it, checked to a protection that gave them an opportunity to throw to A.J. Green in the corner. That is exactly what happened."

On if it would have been worth calling a timeout prior to that play:

"No, that happens bang-bang. That is not something where you can go, 'Oh, hey, timeout, he is doing this.' It was a click of the finger because I know Andy, and I know his mannerisms and how he is going through it. I watched him bring the tight end in, set the tight end down and boom, here they go and there it was. It happened that fast."

On if the cornerback gave the blitz off the edge away:

"No, Andy is a veteran player. He has seen a lot of things down there. I thought our disguise was pretty good. Let me put it to you like this, I don't think it was something DeShone would have seen right now in his career. I think it was a heads up play by Andy Dalton and he was able to make it happen."

On how close DL Myles Garrett is to playing and if he will make his debut Sunday:

"I hope that is where it is going. I think we were close this past week. I think we are definitely going to be closer this week, but let's get through practice and make sure there are no hiccups that way. If there isn't, hopefully, will can get him out there this Sunday and ready to play. We need all of our guys out there ready to go participating. We have a big game this week."

On DL Danny Shelton may return this week:

"Hopefully, Danny too, absolutely." 

On if Garrett didn't play because his ankle responded to practices last week poorly:

"No, he didn't respond to the practices poorly. What we saw, we still weren't comfortable that he was 100 percent and where he needs to be. I think he had a good couple of days of practice, but it still wasn't to our liking as a group together. Like I said, he is an important part of our organization. We are going to stick him out there when he is ready to go, not when he can all of a sudden have setbacks and we lose him again for four or five weeks."

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