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Browns Monday locker room report

  • There is a positive vibe right now, in Cleveland, and league wide about the Browns. When's the last time the franchise has absolutely dominated the Steelers on the road -- for any portion of a game? And while the coaching staff and players are taking the positive momentum from the second half in stride, the Cleveland Browns are an 0-1 football team.
  • "I told our players in the meeting today, there's a phrase for almost winning: it's called losing," said Pettine. "I talked about no moral victories, When you guys publish the standings, it's wins and losses. There's no third column for moral victories. We'll take some lessons, some hard ones."
  • "We know we are 0-1, but it could have been a different 0-1 had that second half been a duplicate of the first half," said Pettine. "But to get a taste of what it should look like is a confidence boost for our guys."

Correcting mistakes

  • Pettine said the sign of a solid team is not repeating the same mistakes. So the Browns are going to address their slow start against the Steelers in any way possible.
  • "Whether it's something we are doing from a prep standpoint, how we warm up, all things are on the table for us," Pettine said about honing in on starting strong against New Orleans. "We need to make sure right from the beginning that we are dialed in and focused. You can't ease your way into NFL games. You've got to be ready to go."
  • "We know what we've got," said linebacker Karlos Dansby, who had six tackles and an interception against Pittsburgh. "It was all mistakes on our end. Things that we weren't doing right technique-wise. And making mental errors…We overcame that in the second half. You saw the lights out defense that we know. We were playing together. We were playing hard. We were trusting one another."
  • While there were some problems all around in the Browns' secondary, rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert's struggles against the Steelers came to the forefront Monday. Gilbert was guarding Pittsburgh receiver Markus Wheaton, who ended up hauling in the 20-yard reception which set up the Steelers game-winning field goal. Pettine and the defensive coaches are balancing giving Gilbert live game reps and what's best for the team. Pettine did say he thinks he and the coaches need to do a better job of putting Gilbert in the right places to make some plays.
  • "You put yourself at the mercy of his learning curve," said Pettine. "If he's still learning, we talk about the two positions that get you beat the fastest: cornerback and quarterback…but there is no substitute for playing. He needs to transition and take what he does on the practice field into the game."
  • A noticeable problem on defense from the first half against the Steelers was tackling. This week in practice, the Browns' coaches will be more creative in drill work. There will be more "thudding up" in practice, meaning Cleveland defenders need to show they are in the right body position, square up and show coaches they are ready to make the tackle. Sometimes, by habit, players just "tag" receivers and running backs during practice. There will be a stronger emphasis on wrapping up this week.

Simmer down on the no-huddle chatter

  • A majority of questions fielded by Pettine and a few veteran players on Monday had to do with the no-huddle offense. The general theme taken from observers is that the Browns MUST run the no-huddle to have success on offense. Not so fast.
  • Pettine wants the offense to have ability to switch tempos, when the time is right in the game. The Browns' coach said running the same tempo all the time makes it easy for defenses to figure out the rhythm. Pettine suggested using the no-huddle sporadically actually makes it more difficult for defenses than running it all the time.
  • "Some teams, [no-huddle] it's all they do – Philly, Buffalo," said Pettine. "That's not who we are. But I was glad that we showed the ability that we could jump into it and sustain it for as long as we did."  
  • "Obviously it worked," said quarterback Brian Hoyer. "But you can't rely your whole entire game plan on [the no-huddle] because we have to do better at things we do on a normal basis. Really watching the film today, and watching the first half, I know as poorly as it felt going into halftime, it's just little things here or there."
  • One interesting point Hoyer made about going with the hurry up offense: his headset doesn't turn off until 15 seconds left on the play clock. So Hoyer said offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was able to read the defenses pre-snap.

News and notes

  • Pettine and Jim O'Neil shared the play calling responsibility against Pittsburgh, with O'Neil focusing more on passing down situations in the Browns' nickel defense.
  • There are no injury updates on running back Ben Tate (knee) or tight end Jordan Cameron (shoulder).
  • Hoyer said the busted play near the goal line to end the third quarter was his fault. The ball was supposed to go to fullback Ray Agnew, and Hoyer turned the wrong way.
  • A misconception from the Steelers game: Joe Haden did not play up to par. According to Pettine that claim is false. On Antonio Brown's 35-yard touchdown in the second quarter, Haden was draped all over the receiver. Ben Roethlisberger was able to escape from a free blitzer to make one of the better throws we'll see all season.
  • "I don't know if he could have been in better coverage. That was as perfect of a ball as you could have thrown," said Pettine.
  • Pettine thought the offensive line "really started to turn it on and play well." Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell are taking the glory, but all five offensive linemen were in sync together.
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