Hue Jackson won one game in his first year as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, and welcome to Cleveland. The Browns haven’t had a winning season since 2007. So what, we asked Jackson on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, is his message to long-suffering Browns’ fans for 2017?
“It’s going to be different,” he said.
That wouldn’t take much. The Browns were the worst team in the NFL a year ago, winning their only game the 16th week of the season when they beat San Diego, and they were the worst team in the AFC North for the sixth straight year. But their most significant victory was reserved for the offseason when they won the right to choose the first player in the NFL draft … and picked defensive end Myles Garrett.
So, naturally, we were interested in what he preaches to fans for the coming season, fans who stood by the club while sitting through nine straight years of 38-106 football in Cleveland. Is it patience or a team that can win now?
“I think there’s a little bit of both there,” he said. “The most important job I have is making sure we become better as a team. That’s my charge, our coaches’ charge and we’re going to do that.
“Do I think we’re better? What I would say to our fans is, ‘It’s going to be different.’ I think we’re very excited about that. I think we’re a better football team than we were a year ago. How much better we are is yet to be seen. There are no games slated right away, right now.
“There’s a lot of practice ahead of us. We know there’s a lot of work to do to get better. But we want to compete. You don’t play pro football or coach pro football to walk out out and lose. So we’re going to do everything we can to put ourselves in position to win.”
Of course, that mantra is repeated in 32 locker rooms this time of year. But being “different?” That isn’t, and it demands an explanation. Jackson was only too happy to oblige.
“I think it’s going to be different in the sense that we’re heading into Year Two,” he said. “We kind of know who we are and what we’re trying to become.
“I think we’ve done a great job of putting better talent on our roster. We think we have some young talent that we’re continuing to develop each and every day that’s going to help our football team and be better in this league as we get ready to play this year.
“So I truly believe things will be different. We’ll look different. We’ll play different. And that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”