1) Coordinators take accountability for their respective groups' struggles
As interviews have unfolded throughout the week, Browns players have stepped up and taken accountability for how the team played against the Oakland Raiders.
On Thursday, it was the assistant coaches' turn, and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor followed suit in similar fashion.
DeFilippo singled out his play-calling during Sunday's first half, saying he put the team in bad situations on three separate occasions.
O'Neil called himself his toughest critic and said his meetings with players throughout the week have included self-assessments of the areas in which he can put them in better positions to make plays.
"Those guys know if they mess up, I call them out and if I mess something up or don't put them in a great position to make a play, I'll be the first to take the blame," O'Neil said. "It starts with me. I have to do better and If I'm better they'll do better. I have no problem, I'm not going to be a finger pointer. I'm always going to start with myself and I hope those guys respect that."
Pettine laid out the kind of message he relayed to the coaches in the wake of last week's loss to the Raiders. He's expecting more from them just like the players when the Browns face San Diego on Sunday.
"It is attention to detail. That is big part of it. Sense of urgency. Planning for contingencies and making sure you go into a game with some healthy paranoia of just sitting down late in the week and doing all the 'what ifs." What if this guy does down? What if this guy does down? What if they come out in this?" Pettine said. "From a preparation standpoint – in the week of practice just making sure the players are going to reflect how (the coaches) are. It is going to be a reflection of their leadership. I want to make sure our guys are on point and ready to go. If a player asks a question, they have the answer for them or if they don't they know where they can get the answer."
2) Discussions for Cam Erving to play more underway, but playing time 'has to be earned'
First-round offensive lineman Cameron Erving has seen the field in spurts at the jumbo tight end spot, but he's primarily served as unit's sixth man. The spot he's best suited for in 2014, right guard, has been manned by veteran John Greco, who "has played well," Pettine said.
Pettine said there have been discussions about working Erving in with the regular offensive line, but that playing time "has to be earned."
"There will be opportunities as the season goes on, but it is not something we want to force," Pettine said. "We want to make sure that Cam has all of his little details nailed down and that he is prepared as he can be and is ready to jumbo in there with that group and perform at a high level."
3) Coaches excited by 'flashes' from Duke Johnson, looking forward to more
DeFilippo thought the Browns had Sunday's game won when rookie running back Duke Johnson scooted 18 yards on a short pass to the Raiders' 31-yard line with 1:04 to play. Ultimately, that didn't happen, as Josh McCown threw an interception three plays later, but DeFilippo could reflect on the play Thursday and use it as a source of encouragement about Johnson's development.
"The thing I really like about Duke – he is not where he is going to be this week, next week. He is a guy that is going to keep getting better each week and he knows that he getting better each week," DeFilippo said. "You see him getting better each week. He has become a more viable force for us in the passing game. You see him running it faster. I think a lot of it has to do with just being a rookie and adjusting to the speed of the game because he lacked those preseason snaps."
Johnson's six catches for 32 yards against the Raiders were his first six of the season. Before the big reception on Cleveland's final drive, Johnson was primarily bottled up by Oakland's defense and finished with a combined 35 yards on 10 touches.
For the season, Johnson has 100 yards on 29 touches.
"We need to get him in space a little bit more and get him the ball," Pettine said. "I think we saw flashes of what he can do … I think the future is bright for Duke and he's a big part of our plan this weekend and moving forward."
4) Manziel package?
DeFilippo, who reaffirmed his confidence in McCown as Cleveland's starting quarterback, said he'd be "lying" if he said he didn't have a slate of plays ready just in case Johnny Manziel needed to play Sunday against the Chargers.
Manziel did not play against the Raiders. In his seven quarters of work, he's 21-of-39 for 354 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
"You never know. We may use him. We may not," DeFilippo said. "That is the competitive advantage of showing up and playing an opponent on Sunday. We don't know what they are going to do and they don't know what we are going to do."
5) No regrets
Tabor lamented the roughing-the-kicker penalty that preceded Oakland's first touchdown drive, but he didn't have any regrets about calling for the block against the Raiders' look.
"Just an unfortunate play," Tabor said. "If we had to call it again, we'd do it again."
Barkevious Mingo was ultimately flagged for the penalty, but a couple of his teammates were just as guilty. The Browns, who came into the game as one of the league's leaders in punt returns, lined up like they were going to drop back for a Travis Benjamin return but instead rushed punter Marquette King in hopes of a surprise block attempt.
King got the punt off a second before the rush reached him.
"Obviously didn't get it, but we have to do a better job of staying off the punter," DeFilippo said. "When you're going for it, you either get it or you don't and that's the world of special teams."