BEREA, Ohio — Hue Jackson’s message at the first team meeting for the offseason program wasn’t new, but it had added emphasis for a Cleveland Browns team coming off an 0-16 season.
“Winning starts here,” Jackson said on a video shown on the team’s social media account. “It starts today. It starts right now.”
“Winning starts here. Starts today. Starts right now.”
First team meeting: ✅ pic.twitter.com/gUGjSOR7Hu
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) April 16, 2018
Jackson said that a winless 2017 and a one-win 2016 had built toughness and determination, but that it’s not enough.
Jackson elaborated at a Tuesday session with the media.
“You go into every year wanting to win,” Jackson said, “but I think, let’s just be honest: This is where we are. We’re a 1-31 organization over the last two years. I think it’s time to win. I think our fans deserve to see something different. I think our organization deserves to do something different. I think our players should expect to be different and play different.
“So I think it’s time.”
“I think every offseason there’s a goal to win, but I think with us, coming the last two seasons where we came from, there’s a little bit more urgency in it,” guard Joel Bitonio said.
Jackson’s emphasis on the word “win” was not by accident. They have lost at least 11 games in nine of the past 10 seasons. Since 1999, when they returned to the NFL as an expansion team, they have had two winning seasons and been in one playoff game. Anyone who has been involved with the Browns for the past few years has known only losing.
To change the vibe, the Browns acquired via trade a new quarterback in Tyrod Taylor, a new receiver in Jarvis Landry (and signed him to a $75 million extension) and a new safety in Damarious Randall. They then signed 10 players in free agency and added offensive coordinator Todd Haley from the Steelers.
“They were strategically picked to be a part of this because they can help get this organization to winning as fast as we can,” Jackson said.
Bitonio remembered the day when the trades for Taylor, Landry and Randall leaked.
“My phone was blowing up, and I was taking a nap and all this stuff was happening, and I was like, ‘I got to stay up now,'” Bitonio said.
Taylor recognizes the challenge. He and Landry got together with tight end David Njoku to work out and throw together in Miami in March. The group worked for five days on the field to generate chemistry. Landry even put together a video on the workouts and posted it on Twitter.
— Jarvis Juice Landry (@God_Son80) March 23, 2018
Taylor was in Cleveland last week, so he got to know some of his teammates then. On the first day of the offseason program, he said he was in the building between 6 and 6:15 a.m. A little less than two hours later, he was listening to Jackson.
“Everyone is zero and zero right now, and we control what happens in the future,” Taylor said.
“The excuses have to go,” Bitonio said. “It’s time.”
The Browns also look forward to the draft on April 26, when they will have the first and fourth overall picks. Jackson said the team is still undecided on which quarterback it will draft, likely with the first pick, and that Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield are all still in the discussion.
“I think it’s going to be pretty crystal clear at the end what’s the best player for us,” Jackson said.