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Mike Pettine explains why his optimism hasn't wavered heading into 2015 season


INDIANAPOLIS -- Little rattles Mike Pettine, and it goes beyond the stoic face expressions he displays on the sidelines, win or lose.

A few headlines during the first month of the offseason certainly weren't enough to fluster the Browns coach as he looks ahead to 2015. Comfort was found in what he saw on a daily basis inside the Browns facility and how little it matched what was being said and written outside the walls.

"You'd be surprised at how positive the feelings are not just in the coaching area but around the building about the Browns moving forward," Pettine said. "I know that feeling is not shared by many outside the building but if I had to choose one, that's how I would prefer it."

Pettine delivered that statement amid an hour's worth of media engagements Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. One year after he stood in the same spot as the Browns' freshly hired head coach, Pettine joked he would be "as boring as possible" and answered an array of questions from all angles.

Pettine was at ease. The confidence, he said, came from the sources of optimism he sees after the Browns' 7-9 finish, the franchise's best record since 2007.

"We return a lot of pieces," Pettine said. "If we can get a handful of positions right, you look at it we were sitting at 7-4 at one point and playing pretty good football. Then, for a lot of reasons, the bottom fell out and certainly didn't finish the way we wanted to. There's still momentum to take from that.

"As a coach, especially as a head coach, when you're in a leadership position, you can't get overly emotional and you can't overreact to things. I just feel like I've always had the ability to compartmentalize."

As he mentioned during offensive coordinator John DeFilippo's introductory press conference, Pettine said Wednesday he was "rejuvenated" by the changes on the Browns' offensive staff. Along with DeFilippo, Pettine hired Joker Phillips (wide receivers), Kevin O'Connell (quarterbacks) and Kurt Roper (senior assistant) to help inject new life into an offense that sputtered down the stretch of the 2014 season. Pettine, who rose the ranks as a defensive assistant coach and defensive coordinator, has said he'll "immerse" himself on the offensive side this offseason.

Amid a series of questions about the Browns' uncertainty at quarterback, Pettine lauded O'Connell for his ability to hold players at the position accountable while teaching proper technique and implementing DeFilippo's offensive scheme.

Pettine said he and his coaches are currently in the "self-scout" stage of the offseason. From there, the coaches will attack the areas that simply need to be better.

"I feel very positive about it," Pettine said. "Defensively, we're a year into the system. We know our players much better. We know what our strengths are and more importantly what our shortcomings are."

Pettine, much like owner Jimmy Haslam did one week earlier, cited a recent retreat that included team president Alec Scheiner, general manager Ray Farmer and executive vice president - general counsel Sashi Brown as one of the offseason's most productive ventures. He also discussed his relationship with Farmer, who apologized to Pettine and many other members of the Browns organization for sending impermissible text messages during games.

"Ray and I have had very clear and open conversations about it," Pettine said. "In-game is very emotional … I'm very comfortable with my relationship with Ray. We still see things very much the same. It's a mistake, he admits it. A lot of it is deeply rooted in his competitiveness."

Hidden behind Pettine's poker face is the same sort of competitive fire.

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