CLEVELAND — Hue Jackson placed the Browns' early struggles squarely on his shoulders after Sunday's frustrating and "unacceptable" loss to the Bengals.
"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," the head coach said Monday. "It's a performance business. We appreciate our fans being there. We know they pay hard-earned dollars to come watch us play, so they deserve something better and that is what we are going to set out to do."
In a wide-ranging news conference, Jackson took ownership of Cleveland's 0-4 record and a 1-19 mark since the start of 2016. But he also stressed a young Browns team that has shown promise during that span has the power to change its circumstances.
"We've dug this hole, so we have to climb our way out of it," he said. "And the only way you are going to climb your way out of it is by working."
That resumed once again Monday morning as Cleveland's coaches and players took inventory of a winless start that has seen the NFL's youngest team struggle in various ways. Sunday's 31-7 loss to the Bengals, however, marked something of a new low as the Browns were "soundly beaten" at home.
After self-inflicted wounds (turnovers, penalties) and missed opportunities did Cleveland no favors, Jackson agreed it was a step backward for a young team that had lost its first three games by less than a touchdown. He also made clear the next month could prove to be a critical period with games against the Jets, Texans, Titans and Vikings on tap.
"We understand that it is. This is the second quarter. We break this up into four quarters and this is the second one," Jackson said. "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."
Jackson also made clear his group — many of whom experienced that 1-15 campaign in 2016 — won't fold in the face adversity.
"This team won't quit. I've never been a part of anything that has ever quit and I won't allow that. I mean, we are going to fight and we have demonstrated that. Whether it was last year or whether it is into this year," he said.
"I just think that's who we are and that's never going to change. What we're chasing, though, is winning ... We understand what our job is and the losing sucks, I'll be the first to tell you that and I think our players will tell you that, too, but 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'm going to say it again, unacceptable for us. We have to get better."