CLEVELAND-- Dark clouds may be rolling in, but not a drop has hit the ground.
Or so says Hue Jackson.
After the Browns had a tough night in Tampa, there's a sense of frustration from fans surrounding the team, but Jackson isn't worried about the ability of the group to turn things around before the regular season begins.
"Boy, you guys, all of a sudden the sky is falling," Jackson said. "I don’t think the sky is falling at all."
Amidst a 30-13 loss to the Buccaneers in Friday night's "dress rehearsal" game, Cleveland struggled in all three facets-- something Jackson felt was the result of an inexperienced group learning on the field.
"I think what you see is a young football team that you’re going to see some of that, especially early until they get well-grounded," Jackson said. "Last night's game certainly didn't go the way any of us would have liked and there's plenty for us to learn from."
Starting with the offense, the coach was impressed by the play of Josh Gordon and Robert Griffin III, who connected twice for 87 yards and a touchdown.
He wasn't as impressed, however, with the running game.
“I love the big plays, but I feel like we can't be a team that just relies on big plays offensively," Jackson said. "We need to sustain drives and that gets back running the football."
Defensively, the Browns allowed 361 yards to the Buccaneers, including 259 yards and two touchdowns from Jameis Winston.
Despite the issues through the air, Jackson chose to focus on the improvement of the rush defense.
"We're certainly not at the point, you know, that I desire or the level I want us to be," Jackson said. "We defended the run better and I think we're a little bit better at tackling, but we had some miscommunication that needs to get cleaned up."
Though the issues on offense and defense were clear, perhaps the biggest issues of the evening for the Browns came on special teams.
Cleveland allowed two big punt returns-- including a 73-yard return for a touchdown-- which Jackson feels is inexcusable.
"Our special teams, we need to make sure that obviously our punt team is doing things better," Jackson said. "They had two big returns and again you can't have that, that's a huge plays and momentum and touchdowns and however you want to rank that."
With so much struggle on Friday, Jackson feels the only way to get better is to continue to work, which is why he wouldn't rule out playing the starters for the final game of the preseason against Chicago on Thursday.
Figuring out who those starters will be, for both the final preseason game and the start of the regular season, is Jackson's next task.
"I think what's important now is that we really start putting our units together and let them go play together because I think it's so important that those guys play together, be together, be able to make calls," Jackson said. "You have a lot of young guys maybe playing at a time and they hear something and don't react very quickly, so we've got to make sure we take the opportunity for error out as much as we can."
The solution for the team's struggles, in Jackson's estimation, is simple.
The Browns need to continue to practice hard, while working on the details and fundamentals.
If they can do that, Jackson sees a different result to start the regular season on September 11 in Philadelphia.
"We gotta lot of work to do. We need to accomplish this over the next two weeks before we get ready for Philly," Jackson said. "All three phases of our football team there is some work to do and we take that challenge and we're looking forward to it."
- The Browns came out of Tampa with just two significant injuries, as Justin Gilbert is dealing with a concussion and Marlon Moore has a hip pointer. There are no further updates on their status at this time.
- Jackson confirmed that the Browns will stick with Austin Pasztor at right tackle, despite his struggles on Friday night.
- After Cam Erving struggled again on Friday night, Jackson was asked about the status of the second-year center. Jackson said he was satisfied with Erving's play and feels that he will be a "tremendous" player for the Browns in the future.
- Danny Shelton played well into the second half in Friday night's game, but Jackson made little issue of it. The coach said that he was exploring different ways and situations in which to use the second-year defensive tackle to make him the most productive player possible.
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grovenull