CLEVELAND — Turnovers, red zone struggles, penalties. If you wanted to pinpoint the Browns' undoing through an 0-7 start, you can start here.
Cleveland's season-long battle with those dynamics continued Sunday in an overtime loss to the Titans in which the Browns rallied late only to lose in disappointing fashion.
"We had a chance to win in the end and couldn't pull it off. We had our chances. I'm sure our players will tell you that," head coach Hue Jackson said in his postgame news conference. "
"We have continued to do the things that stop us from having chances to secure victories, which are turnovers and being able to convert on third down better on offense and being able to make plays when we're there. We just have to make them, and we didn't. This will continue to be who we are until we change it."
Right now, the Browns are, according to Jackson, an "undisciplined" team that has watched self-inflicted wounds damage a young bunch with very little margin for error. Against Tennessee, they committed three turnovers (all interceptions), were 3-of-13 on third down and had 12 penalties, including eight in the first half.
"That's a direct reflection of me, and it disappoints me to no end," Jackson said of the penalties.
"Some of them we get called and I'm just going to say it, I'm shocked, but we will get the reports back and maybe we didn't do this or do that. That's what it is, but I'm disappointed as the head coach of the team that has had the penalties we had.
"The offsides, the holdings, the things on special teams, we have got to get that cleaned up. That was something we talked about all week so we are trying to emphasize it, but obviously, we aren't doing it good enough so that's what it is."
The Browns play the Tennessee Titans in Week 7.
Turnovers, however, have vexed the Browns most of all. Through seven games, Cleveland leads the league with 19 giveaways (six more than the second-place Bengals' 13).
"It's been our kryptonite all year. We haven't been able to finish in the red zone. We have had too many turnovers and little things of that nature," left guard Joel Bitonio said. "It's hard to say right now. We have to look back at the film and check what's going on, but I think if you look back, we just didn't take advantage of our opportunities. We keep turning the ball over.
Most of those miscues, as evidenced by the team's toggling between quarterback DeShone Kizer, Kevin Hogan and, most recently, Cody Kessler, have come through the air. The interceptions, Jackson said, must stop. It's why he pulled the rookie Kizer from action after he tossed picks on back-to-back possessions. When Kessler went in, he tossed an interception of his own in the fourth quarter.
Asked about rotating quarterbacks going forward, Jackson shrugged. "I don't know, maybe this is the way it is going to go for the rest of the year. I can't tell you. I don't know that, but I'm going to find a way where we can't turn the ball over," he said, "because you can't win when you turn the ball over. We've proven that so we have to get the turnovers out of here."
For as frustrating as this season has been, Jackson expressed confidence in a group still searching for their first victory,
"Our football team is not as down – they're disappointed about not winning – but they're not as hurt as you guys think they are or fractured. We're not," he said.
"We know what this is because I talk to them. I'm honest with them. I'm honest with them about turnovers. I'm honest with them about what we are trying to do. They get it. There is not a man in that room that does not stand behind me and support what I am trying to do just like I support what they are trying to do. We just have to put it all on the table, figure it out and keep going forward."