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Hoyer: Browns offense not down on itself

BEREA, Ohio -- Brian Hoyer insists there is not great cause for concern with the Cleveland Browns' offense.

He knows things have looked bad and there have been struggles, but he also said after watching the film that there were some good things in the 33-14 loss to St. Louis.

“If we just sucked, then I think we’d be down on ourselves,” Hoyer said Tuesday as the team looks ahead to the preseason finale Thursday against Chicago. “I think we realize what we can be.”

Problem is, it hasn't been seen yet. The first team has one touchdown in three games, and the Browns have been outscored 70-49 in three losses.

It is preseason, but this also is a team with a new and complex offense learning on the fly -- a team that until a week ago had a quarterback competition, and a team that has lost 10 games in each of the last six seasons.

Even with preseason being about evaluating and assessing players and positions, winning should never be taken for granted when losing has been so pervasive.

Hoyer, though, said the offense is not “down on ourselves.”

“I think the most frustrating part is that we do do some things really well,” he said, “and then we shoot ourselves in the foot.”

The first-team offense has scored 16 points in its playing offense -- all on possessions with Hoyer at quarterback. Those 16 points came on 15 possessions. The only touchdown came on a late two-minute drive against the Rams.

There have been turnovers, missed throws and some serious struggles -- with only six passes that gained at least 15 yards. Hoyer said the team runs the play called no matter what the defense is doing, but clearly the Browns would like some better production.

Because they need the time, coach Mike Pettine will play the starters up to a quarter Thursday, a game normally reserved for reserves.

Hoyer, though, is not ready to say he and the starters need a positive experience from the fourth game. Just that they want one.

“I don’t think there will be any kind of hangover, whether it’s positive or negative, going into the regular season,” he said. “I think it’s a whole new ballgame when that comes around.”

That’s not a new statement from a Browns player at this point of preseason.

The hope in Cleveland would simply be that Hoyer is the guy who is finally right about it.