Browns fans have seen enough bad football over the years to know what to do when the home team goes down 31-0 before the end of the third quarter.
They headed home in plenty of time for Sunday dinner, leaving patches of empty seats to watch the Browns avoid a shutout against the Bengals with a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the game. The sight of the exodus from the stadium was hard to miss from the Browns sideline and coach Hue Jackson said after the game that he could understand why so many headed for the doors.
“It pains me. It does,” Jackson said, via Cleveland.com. “I see it all. I saw everything here today because we all want to give them what they deserve. We didn’t today. I understand our fans leaving. I probably would have, too. We weren’t playing good enough. I respect that. Hopefully, they’ll be back next week. We have a big game against New York. I know our guys. We are going to go back to work on Monday, and they are going to get ready to play a big time game here at home. We need to give our fans and our football team what they deserve, which is an opportunity to win. That’s what we are trying to do.”
There was hope coming into the season that the Browns had made progress after overhauling their roster the last two years, but signs of it were hard to find on Sunday. Jackson didn’t argue when asked if the loss represented a step backward for the team.
“I can see you saying that about today,” Jacksons said. “We got beat soundly in every phase, but we are going to work. I’m not going to let this tram go backwards. We did today. There’s no question about that. We have some work to do. I think to a man in there, we’ll go back to work. We’ll put our heads down and get better.”
Bengals cornerback Adam Jones said after Sunday’s game that he doesn’t know if Jackson “has enough to win” when discussing the Browns’ talent. Jackson wouldn’t comment on if the Browns’ process of stockpiling draft picks and young players is working when asked after the game. Whatever Jackson might say, it would be hard to make that kind of argument after a fourth straight loss and the familiar sight of dejected fans shuffling off before the final whistle.