BEREA, OHIO—When the assorted pieces that currently make up the Browns roster joined together for their first set of offseason team workouts in Berea, Hue Jackson was happy with what he saw.
Though his team is very much in the middle stages of a massive rebuild, Jackson's eyes darted around the team’s facility and he saw a foundation for the future.
He watched as Gary Barnidge, Joel Bitonio and Joe Haden went to work.
He looked on at a quarterback room full of potential leaders like Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown.
He saw the makings of a strong core of defensive play-callers, including DeMario Davis and Christian Kirksey.
As he watched his team, it was easy for him to forget the negative voices that have already trashed the Browns for the upcoming season.
He doesn’t listen to those voices and there’s only one expectation that matters: his own.
“I have said it from the day I sat up here before: I expect to win,” Jackson said. “I expect to win, our players expect to win, and we understand that in order for that to happen, we have to work to win. That is all we are about right now.”
Just as Jackson believes in the abilities of his team— a team that, again, has plenty of pieces to add to the puzzle before the 2016 season kicks off— so too do the players that are already a part of the plans.
“People outside of our building are not going to have expectations for us, we feed on that. We love that,” Barnidge said. “We are going to go out there and just show what we can do, and we are looking forward to the future. That’s all we can do.”
Barnidge isn't alone in his thoughts.
Bitonio too believes in the Browns, even as the number of new faces grows.
“I think there are more new faces this year than I saw last year, but I think with the guys that we have in here and the way we are working and the way things are being set up, we are going to work our tails off,” Bitonio said. “We’re going to have as much chance to win a game as the next team.”
That last statement by Bitonio has been heavily contested by many media outlets and analysts, who seem to believe the Browns are set for a tough time next season.
Even if they are, with so much turnover from the old regime to the new group, Jackson is thrilled to be a part of this organization.
He still has no plans to listen to the many dissenting voices.
He has far too much else with which to concern himself as the rebuild continues.
“There’s no better group that I have ever been around than the guys I am working with each and every day. I feel very blessed and fortunate to be in this situation regardless of what the outside people think,” Jackson said. “We will let everyone else talk about all the other things that are going on. We are only interested in working and getting better.”
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.