BEREA, Ohio -- Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer reacted pointedly Monday to Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones saying that Cleveland coach Hue Jackson does not have a roster that can win.
"[Jones] is not in our locker room," Kizer said the day after an embarrassing loss dropped the Browns to 0-4 this season and 1-19 since Jackson was hired. "He doesn't know what the talent looks like. He doesn't know the grind that we put in. He doesn't know the camaraderie that we have. I look forward to hearing his comments once we do figure this out."
Jones basically challenged the entire Browns team in an interview with The Athletic.
"He is not in our locker room. He doesn't know what the talent looks like. He doesn't know the grind that we put in. He doesn't know the camaraderie that we have. I look forward to hearing his comments once we do figure this out."DeShone Kizer, responding to comments Adam Jones made about the Browns
"I know you say they're getting a lot of talent," Jones told The Athletic on Sunday, "but I don't know. From watching today and watching film, I probably shouldn't say this but it's going to be hard to win with that group. I'm just saying all around football, I don't know if Hue has enough to win."
"I can't comment on [that]," said Jackson, who was on the Bengals' staff (2012 to 2015) before taking the Cleveland job. "I have a lot of respect for Adam and a lot of those players over there, as you guys know. And they're going to feel the way they feel. We got work to do. That's all I can say. I'm not going to get caught up into what anyone else is saying about our football team or where we are. We just got to work to get better. That's where my focus is."
The Browns' 0-4 record might not say how badly they have struggled the past two games against previously winless teams.
The Colts took a 28-7 first-half lead before playing conservatively en route to a three-point victory. The Bengals romped, winning 31-7.
Jackson did not mince words in his opening remarks, saying the team's play has been "unacceptable" and that it's not fair to the city or the fans.
"We appreciate our fans being there," Jackson said. "We know they paid hard-earned dollars to come watch us play. They deserve something better, and that's what we're going to set out to do."
Sunday, the stands were half-empty by the middle of the third quarter, and when the game ended there may have been 15,000 fans left. Jackson admitted after the game he noticed the crowd was gone.
His emphasis was that the first quarter of the season ended 0-4 and the team could start anew with the second quarter. Jones, who a year ago actually looked in a trash can and asked if former Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor was in there, said Jackson's hands are tied. He said the winless Bengals played with a sense of desperation he did not see from the winless Browns.
"He only can get so much out of the group that he has," Jones said. "I was with Hue when he was with us. ... If we had to go to Iraq right now and he had to pick friends to go, I would [go with him] because I know what type of leader and person he is."
The Browns are in the second season of what owner Jimmy Haslam called "a multiyear rebuild" when the 2015 season ended. The emphasis has been on building a new culture under Jackson with young players who would grow together. Sashi Brown, the team's executive vice president of football operations, admitted during the draft that it's tough on a coach with a lot of young players, but the team believes this group, along with the five picks the team has in the 2018 draft, will win together for a sustained amount of time.
Jackson said "I hope it's not" when asked if Sunday was an example of the growing pains of a team built to win in 2018 and '19.
"I don't like my record any more than you do or anyone does; it's horrible," Jackson said. "But that being said, I understand and I place more emphasis on improving players and trying to get them to the right spot and trying to win.
"I do not like losing; I'll be the first to tell you that. I detest it. ... When you keep score, there's no place for losing. There's a winner and a loser and we've been on the other side of this ledger way too many times. But we got to keep pushing."
He added he believes the Browns' process can work, but winning is the only thing that would change the narrative. Haslam, Jackson said, has been "extremely supportive."
"I know everybody will be thinking, 'Jimmy's going to go throw me over in the river,'" Jackson said. "That's not the case. At all."
Jackson also addressed Bengals coach Marvin Lewis telling him after the game, "Don't let them quit on you."
"I think Marvin was talking about the record," Jackson said. "I think he knows that losing is tough. I think he gets that. ... He wasn't meaning that our team quit during the game. There's no way. You watched us score a touchdown there at the end.
"I just think that's a message to me that I think everybody gets, that losing is tough. I understand where he was coming from. I don't think he meant that as a negative toward our football team."