Winless Browns still looking for answers

Published 9:07 pm Monday, October 2, 2017

BEREA (AP) — Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer used a metaphor about a toilet. Coach Hue Jackson expressed confidence that the team’s owner will not dump him.
Both accurately — and colorfully — described the state of the Browns after a 0-4 start. They have won four times in their past 41 games going back to Nov. 30, 2014.
Cleveland established its latest rock-bottom Sunday with a 31-7 home loss to the previously winless Bengals.
The “Battle of Ohio” was anything but competitive or compelling, prompting Kizer to evoke bathroom imagery.
“You just have to flush it,” he said Monday. “That was quarter one of the season and we’re 0-4. It is what it is. It’s on us now to be pros and to flush it and do whatever we can to make sure that quarter two goes better than quarter one.
“It’s definitely a mental challenge to continue to flush. We want to start stacking wins on top of wins, but in order to do so, you have to get your first one.”
Jackson’s job could depend on it as the former Cincinnati assistant is 1-19 in two seasons. The lack of talent on the roster is one thing, but there were reports on Sunday that there is growing division between the front office and coaching staff.
Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, and football operations director Sashi Brown have not fielded questions since a joint appearance with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Aug. 17, increasing speculation about Jackson’s security.
“I know everybody is thinking Jimmy is going to throw me over in the river, but that’s not the case at all,” Jackson said, chuckling. “Jimmy has been as supportive as anybody I’ve ever been around in this situation.
“I don’t like my record no more than you do or anybody else does — it’s horrible — and I’ll be the first to tell you that. There is pain in this process, obviously a lot, and we just have to get through it.”
Cleveland, San Francisco, the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Chargers are all seeking their first wins, but the Browns have the second-worst point differential (minus-44) and the youngest QB in the group.
The 21-year-old Kizer was sacked once against the Bengals, lowering his NFL-worst passer rating to 50.9. He completed 16 of 34 throws for 118 yards and was intercepted for a league-high eighth time.
Jackson reacted to the physical toll Cincinnati inflicted on Kizer by pulling him midway through the fourth quarter. Backup Kevin Hogan led the Browns on a late touchdown drive.
“DeShone has truly, truly gotten better over the last four weeks, but no one would know that because we’re 0-4,” Jackson said. “Regardless of what the numbers were, I thought yesterday he played as well as he has all year. He played lights-out. We’ve got to get better around him.”
Help could be on the way Sunday when Cleveland hosts the New York Jets.
No. 1 overall draft pick Myles Garrett, who suffered a high right ankle sprain on the eve of the opener, could make his NFL debut. The defensive end from Texas A&M resumed practicing last week.
Defensive tackle Danny Shelton missed the Bengals game with a calf injury, but Jackson also was optimistic about his chances of playing.
“Let’s be honest about it, the only people that can stop the narrative that is out there is us,” Jackson said.
“I don’t have any Knute Rockne speeches. I talk to them from my heart. I’m very honest with them, and I have total confidence in the men in that room.”
NOTES: LB Dominque Alexander (knee) could miss the remainder of the season after being hurt against Cincinnati. “Obviously, we fear the worst,” Jackson said. … LB Jamie Collins has not played since Sept. 17 and remains in the league’s concussion protocol. … WR Sammie Coates (hamstring) is expected to practice Wednesday after missing two games.

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