Despite overwhelming failure, Browns have hope

By TOM WITHERS

AP Sports Writer

BEREA — Amid this season of depression and despair, the Browns haven’t lost hope.

And as he and his teammates prepare for a much-needed bye week following 12 straight losses, rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman looked to the future and offered a shred of optimism.

“I’ve been winning my whole life,” he said. “But the tables are going to turn. It can’t get any worse.”

Sadly, there’s still another level of misery for the Browns (0-12), now four losses from joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams in NFL history to complete a 16-game schedule without a win. They can avoid that notoriety with a victory that has remained so elusive so far.

This is new territory for Coleman and Cleveland’s 17 other rookies, who in addition to adjusting to life as paid professionals, are getting their first real taste of failure as athletes.

“It’s tough around here,” Coleman said Monday, a day after the Browns fell 27-13 to the New York Giants, Cleveland’s 15th straight loss dating to last season. “But we’re going to continue to keep on working. I’m going to continue to keep on working. Nobody’s given up, and that’s what’s really good about this locker room and the older guys leading us and stuff, nobody’s showing any signs of quitting.”

Browns coach Hue Jackson won’t let them.

Jackson, who became emotional while discussing the agony of his first season in Cleveland following Sunday’s game, said he’s determined to get win No. 1 before the 2016 season ends. The Browns will take some time off, but Jackson has no plans to decompress.

“I honestly do not know how to,” he said. “I need to teach myself how to do it. I know my kids would like for me to do it. I just think what is important is to just keep searching. I owe our fan base and our organization and these players an opportunity to win a game. The next one up is Cincinnati. We are going to do whatever it takes to get ourselves in that ‘W’ column.”

Jackson has spent the season shuffling quarterbacks and another switch could be on the horizon.

Robert Griffin III, out since breaking a bone in his left shoulder in the opener, returned to practice last week and could play in Cleveland’s final four games. He still has to undergo a medical test before he can be cleared for contact, and Jackson said the team is “in the process of getting that done.”

Jackson acknowledged that Griffin, who has made just one start since the end of the 2014 season, might be able to jump-start the Browns’ offense, which has scored just 39 points in the past four games.

“We have to find a way to get the ball in the end zone better than what we have, and if somebody can do that better, then we are going to play him,” Jackson said.

The Browns want to get another look at Griffin before heading into an offseason when they’ll need to make major personnel decisions, none more important than at quarterback. They have two first-round draft picks, and it’s possible they’ll use one on their next QB.

That’s down the road. Of more immediate concern for Jackson is getting his team to finish this dreadful season on a positive note.

Jackson extracted some positives from Sunday, but he won’t be satisfied until the Browns win and that’s why he briefly choked up Sunday. He received numerous sympathetic texts, but joked that he deleted them all.

The losing has hurt, but hasn’t changed him.

“I am what I am,” Jackson said. “What you guys see in me is what you are going to get. I am not a phony and I am human like everybody else, so that is just part of it. You might see more of it than that over the course of time here.”

NOTES: Rookie QB Cody Kessler cleared concussion protocol and returned to practice. He sustained his second head injury in 29 days on Nov. 20 against Pittsburgh. … RG John Greco was placed on injured reserve with a mid-foot injury. The Browns lost starting left guard Joel Bitonio on Oct. 9 to a similar injury. … TE Randall Telfer underwent thumb surgery.

——

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP–NFL

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.