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Press Conference

Hue Jackson press conference: Browns vs. Steelers

Opening statement:
"Give the credit to Pittsburgh. They made the plays when they had to make them. Obviously, (Steelers WR) Antonio Brown made some tremendous plays and gave them a chance to win the game there. Our guys fought hard. We had some opportunities. We didn't make the most of them. We will grow from that, but I like my football team. I like the way they fight. We played hard. We had some chances, like I said, to make some plays. We just have to make them. I think our guys understand this was a wakeup call for some of the young guys playing early at how fast and how the game happens and every possession. When you get opportunities to make plays, you have to make them. That is what good NFL teams do. We are growing there, but again, I like this football team. We will keep working. We will stay together and stay healthy. We will get to taste of victory, and that is what we are chasing. We have a big game next week. It is in the division against Baltimore so we have to get better fast this week."

On QB DeShone Kizer's performance in his NFL debut:
"I like DeShone. I like the feel of him on the sideline with me. I love our communication. He did some good things. There are some opportunities that he is going to be the first to tell you he wish he had back. That is going to happen to a young quarterback, but this guy gave us a chance. He put the team in position to give us an opportunity to make something special happen. We didn't finish it the way we wanted to, but I like the first game with him. His first live, big game, I thought he handled himself extremely well. Don't like the turnover. Be the first to tell you that. Have to take care of the ball. I told our team, the key to us winning is taking care of the ball. It will be the key to us winning a lot of games this year. We have to do that better, but outside of that, I thought he made some other plays and every now and then maybe held the ball a little too long. We will learn from that, but I thought for the first game, he did some good stuff."

On if most of the sacks that Kizer took were due to holding onto the football too long:
"Until I get the chance to watch [the tape], I don't want to say that, but again, I think it is probably a combination of things and we have to learn from that. That is what young quarterbacks do from time to time. You are waiting on things, waiting on things and all of the sudden, there is a rush that is coming. It is a real rush. He will grow from that. I know he will."

On if Kizer was hurt at any point in the game:
"No, he took some pretty good shots, too. That is why he is 230 pounds. He has to take care of himself a little bit better. We know that. He can't keep taking hits like that. Like I said, from his first game, I thought he did some real good things."

On the Browns defense's performance:
"As I have said – I have been saying this since the summer – I think our defense is a good defense. (Defensive coordinator) Gregg (Williams) does a great job with the defensive staff. I think we are playing inspired football over there and the guys were working hard. This is a team game. They are doing their job. Offense has to continue to do theirs and special teams has to do theirs. That is how you build a football team."

On how critical the punt block for a TD was on the opening series:
"It was huge. Obviously, that is kind of the difference in the game when you look back. The momentum switched. We had a miscommunication there and let a guy go free. We didn't handle that right early in the a game. That is disappointing, but we have to grow from that. That happened early so we had opportunities to go make some other plays on both sides of the ball. We have to make enough when those things happen to get the chance to win the game."

On needing players to capitalize on plays when needed to help Kizer:
"Absolutely. Everybody has to help him out. I am going to say it again, this is a team game. It is not offense against defense and special teams. This is the Cleveland Browns football team, and everybody, every member has got to do their job as well as they can for us to have an opportunity to taste victory. This is about helping a young quarterback. We do have a young quarterback so everybody has to make plays when you have an opportunity to make them."

On his perspective on Brown's catch that was challenged late in the game:
"What I thought is that the ball came out. I thought he did not have total control down to the ground. I thought the ball did come out. It was loose and that is what I saw, and one of the officials kind of agreed with me. That is why I said, 'Are you challenging this?' because he thought we were going to win the challenge. Obviously, we did not. We will learn from that one, as well, but you have to take that chance. I thought it was the right chance to take, because again it would have been third-and-18 for them backed up, and it wasn't."

On the report that he was 'irate' when the team released DB Joe Haden:
"That did not come from me. I think you guys know me well enough that if I feel something, I am going to say it. I don't run from that. Me and the executive team are working lockstep, hand-in-hand. I don't know where that came from. I trust (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Sashi (Brown) and I trust our executive team to make the right decisions for this football team. I stand behind that whole-heartedly. Never wanted to see Joe go, but at the same time, we made the decision as an organization. I totally stand behind it."

On if not running the ball as much in the second half:
"There were some other opportunities that we had, and those lead us to three points and 10 points in the second half. I would have liked to run the ball better. We have to continue to run it better and get better at it. That is just what it is. You have to do whatever you think it takes to win the game, and that is what we did. It gave us a chance."

On if the Browns can be as successful as desired running out of the shotgun:
"You can be. You can be. We just weren't today. We were playing against a good defensive football team. Last time I checked, they are pretty good. First time out, and let's be honest, it is the first time we have had all of those guys together. First time (OL) Joel (Bitonio), (OL) Joe (Thomas), our center (OL) JC (Tretter), (OL) Kevin (Zeitler) and (OL) Shon Coleman played together in a game. I get it. There is going to be a little of that – growing and learning as we go. I expect those guys to gel pretty quickly. The run game has got to become our backbone. It does. I am not running from that. We are going to run the football. We just have to get better at it."

On if the timing of Haden's release factored into Steelers WR Antonio Brown's success today, despite Brown's ability to consistently perform at a high level:
"I don't think so. I don't think that had anything to do with it. Our guys had chances to make plays, and we didn't make them. If Joe would have been here, he might not have made them either. We don't know, but I don't think that had anything to do with that. We had chances to make plays, and we have to make them."

On Kizer's performance on third down:
"He made some plays. He did some good things on third down. That is the money down for a quarterback. He just didn't make enough plays on third down. There were some other opportunities there. We just have to continue to grow. This is his first game. Guys, we weren't going to go 16-0. This game is behind us. Next week, we have to get ready for this game and get better. We have watched teams in the regular season make a huge jump in Week 2 when you really can see who you are and what you are. I now know better exactly about who we are because we played a real game with DeShone playing all four quarters. I kind of know who we are, and we will grow from this."

On what he discussed with Kizer after his interception:
"He knows that is a ball you can't throw, not in that situation. I have had a lot of young quarterbacks make that choice and decision like you can get it over a guy, and there is a little miscommunication about the route and those things. If you're not sure, it is OK to say 'uncle' and throw it away. He did that when we went to the last touchdown drive. He threw the ball into the back of the end zone, and that is OK. It is OK to do that. You don't have to just throw it. I'm going to continue to coach him through it through every series because I think I have to because him and I are joined by the hip in this thing. I think this guy is going to be a really good player, but he has to keep getting better."

On having confidence the Browns will win more games this year:
"I'm watching our defense. I think our defense is a legit defense. I think there is going to be a running game as we go. Today wasn't as good as I would like us to run the football. I think we have the ability to throw the ball with this quarterback. I think he can also make some plays in a lot of different ways. We just have to keep growing on our side of the ball. Special teams wise, we have to tie some things up. I saw (DB) Jabrill Peppers running back kicks and doing some things that way. When I look at our team, we just lost to who everybody has favored in the division, 21-18. We are going to have some games like that. We have to find a way to score more points, and we have to find a way to stop teams better and be better on special teams, but I feel good about today. It is not a moral victory – I'm not saying that – but I watched our football team fight and play. There is grit, there is toughness, and there are things that we have talked about that I have seen and that I needed to see as a head coach from the beginning, and it has shown itself. Now, we just have to take it to another level.

On Kizer being able to run some no-huddle offense in the his debut:
"He is a starting quarterback of a National Football League team. He can do it. He can do it, and he will keep getting better at everything we do. We play a lot of different ways. This young man, I told you guys, he earned the right to be the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. I think you guys saw that today. Not a lot of rookies can go out there against Pittsburgh and do some of the things he did. He just has to keep going. It was a good start, but we didn't win the game. That is the No. 1 thing we want to do here is win the game. If I had a feeling about our football team, there are a bunch of men who are disappointed. We thought we were going to win the game. That is the way we worked. We expect to win football games. That is what I am looking for. That is what we feel in that locker room. We are going to get better, and we have to go to Baltimore and we have to play well."

On the display of unity between Browns players, ownership, police officers, first responders and the military prior to the game:
"It was huge. We all are in this together, and that is what it is all about. I think whatever has gone on in the past, we let all of that go. I really appreciate our organization reaching out and them reaching back out to us and us being united towards doing things better. That is what it is all about. We love our police department and our military and everything they do for us, and we respect what they do. I think we showed that today, and I think that we showed that we are all together in this."

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