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Mike Pettine press conference - 10/5

Opening statement:

"With a quarter of the season behind us, the fact is that we are 1-3. We own that. It is not where we certainly wanted to be, but we are not going to make excuses for that start. We own it and that's our focus. We talked to the team about it today – where we are and how to move forward. I think we knew after watching the film that we are close, but we are in a bottom line business. As I've said all along, you are either winning or you are losing. The encouraging thing is we've made strides in some areas, and there are areas where we know we have to get things cleaned up and we know we are capable of doing it. I thought it was a very positive meeting. I think our guys will learn a lot from this film and move on from it. We do have to get better in a lot of areas. Like I said, we did take some positive steps.

"The run defense, I thought we did some good things, still let one or two of them out. We have to limit the big plays. That's been our Achilles heel, defensively – big plays, especially in crunch time. If you want to be successful in this league, you have to be able to defend at a high level at critical times during the game. We have not been able to do that, and that's been consistent.

"On the offensive, end I thought we did some really good things. I think we all got a glimpse of what (RB) Duke (Johnson Jr.) is capable of. I thought (QB) Josh (McCown) did a real good job of getting the ball to the backs when the time called for it, when he knew he had a mismatch on the long ball to Duke. There were times where they dropped deep in a zone coverage, and we were able to get the ball to the check down. I know the second-and-20 where we just made the easy throw to Crow and it turned into a significant gain. I think that was a missing part of our offense that we are very pleased with where that is. We need to do a better job finishing some drives in the end zone. Throughout the season, not just yesterday, we had some penalties in the red zone that have forced us to take field goals over touchdowns. It's hard to win that way. Overall, I think some of our guys are playing at a high level. We need to raise the consistency. Very pleased with where (WR) Travis (Benjamin) is at this point, and (TE) Gary Barnidge, I think, has come up big. I think the offensive line is showing improvement.

"Special-teams wise, I know we have had a handful of rocky moments, but overall, they have done some really good things in the return game. I thought (DB) Justin Gilbert showed yesterday what he was capable of. I think he averaged over 30 yards a return. He also had a nice block that sprung Travis on the punt return. (K Travis) Coons, for being a big question mark coming into the season, has been one of our most consistent players, not just in field goals, but in the kickoffs, as well.

"On the injury front, really no updates. I haven't heard anything back yet regarding (DB Tashaun) Gipson's ankle. We will just have to wait until Wednesday. (WR Brian) Hartline has the thigh contusion that could limit him early in the week. We will see how it unfolds late. Hopefully, (DB) Joe (Haden) will get more comfortable with the finger injury so we can get him back out there, as well. Also, (LB Scott) Solomon potentially will take some team reps this week to see where he is. (RB) Robert Turbin is also at that point. He did some individual last week. He will take some team reps this week so we can assess exactly where he is."

On if it is as simple as guys making plays in crunch time in order to stop big plays:

"Some of it is focus. We always talk about doing your job. Do your job; good things will happen. That has been our mantra since Day 1. You get guys that get anxious in those situations and try to do too much or get caught up in the moment. To be able to do your job, you have to know your job and know it inside and out. We need to play better in those situations, and we need to coach better in those situations. That is something that if we have to over practice that moving forward and try to find a way to simulate it, it is something we are going to certainly spend a good amount of time on evaluating where we are on it and getting it improved."

On if there will be any wholesale changes on defense:

"No. I don't need see any wholesale changes. I like our depth. One of the positives to come out of yesterday was the fact that (DB Johnson) Bademosi stepped up and played 41 plays. He played fairly well. He did some really good things. Here is a guy that is a core special teamer that gets a lot of scout team reps, does not get a lot of reps with the starting defense; he will take some reps with the twos. He did some good things. Then (DB Pierre) Desir, we didn't plan on him having as big of role in the game as he did. He ended playing over 60 snaps. The glaring one was he gave up free access on the touchdown and didn't get his hands on (Chargers WR Keenan) Allen. Outside of that, I thought Pierre did some really good things. We like our depth, knowing that guys can go in there and play at a high level, but we are not at the point where we feel that wholesale changes are necessary."

On the tackling in Sunday's game, given it was a concern against Oakland:

"I don't have the exact count, but it was a marked improvement. We came out of last week not very pleased from a fundamental standpoint. We didn't block well. We didn't tackle well. It showed. That was a point of emphasis all week. I thought we improved significantly in both. We blocked very well. I think that shows up in the pass pro(tection) and especially in the run game. Then the tackling part of it, I thought we did a better job. We also did a better job – I think the tackling improved because there were fewer tackles that were required in the run game to be made in open space. When you have somebody bottled up, it is a lot easier to make a tackle when it is more in a phone booth than it is out in open field."

On Browns players' postgame comments that Chargers QB Philip Rivers knew play calls and that the team needed a bit more variety:

"I think that comes from their competitiveness. NFL quarterbacks, that is what they are trained to do and know. I think Jimmy (defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil) does a good job of mixing things up. They are going to lengthen the cadence and be able to sort some things out. It is hard to disguise everything. I don't put too much stock into it. I think a player hears the quarterback call something out one time and it becomes 'They know what we are doing.' As a staff, we don't get too wrapped up into that."

On if there is a philosophy shift on offense, given the run-pass ratio at San Diego:

"I think some of that is a product of what we are going against. When you are going against teams that are going to put five on the line of scrimmage against you and essentially dare you to throw the football, you are going to have to open it up some. I thought there was a shift in emphasis from Flip (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) in that we ran the ball a lot more out of three wide receivers on the field. Even on early downs when they matched that with base people, that is hard look to run into so a lot of our called runs ending up having pass answers to them – bubble screens and some of those type of plays that ended up going into the books as a pass, but it was really a called run. I wouldn't say there was a shift in emphasis. I think some of it was a result of the times when we trailed when we threw it a little bit more. Just how they were playing us and loading guys up and getting the safety down tight, we felt there would be some opportunities there in the pass game, and we took advantage of it."

On if it would plausible to change to a 4-3 front as the base defense, given the Browns' depth at DL:

"I know people like to classify 4-3 versus 3-4. This system dating back, I have never really truly seen it that way. We call it a rush linebacker. You very easily could call that a drop end. A lot of what we do has its roots in 4-3. There won't be a dramatic scheme shift. We have to evaluate everything we are doing defensively. We have to coach it better, and we have to play it better."

On how the Browns will correct issues on defense:

"First of all is understand the why – why is it happening? When we look at negative plays, you try to categorize them. Was it because it was a technical error that we made? Was it a scheme mistake? Was it personnel? As you build that data over an entire game of evaluating plays that you would consider negative ones, you see the patterns. 'Hey, is it a certain player that's giving it up all the time? Hey, do we need to make a change and get somebody else out there? Is it something technical that needs to be addressed in practice? Are we executing a certain technique the wrong way that ends up costing us? Or is it schematic? Did they run a play that we don't have an answer? We can't get somebody unblocked to the football? Do we either need to take that's scheme out or improve it?' That's something that we constantly do. You always want to know the why when you go to get things fixed. Yeah, I can't sit here and say that it's not a source of frustration, it's not a source of disappointment. We need to play better. We need to play better across the board, and we haven't. That's why we're 1-3. Defensively, given my background and just where we are as a coaching staff and having worked closely with those guys for so long and continue to, that whole room is upset. It's prideful, and it's players and coaches alike."

On when DB Joe Haden was ruled out:

"The morning of the game."

On if Haden tested the injury pregame to potentially play:

"He did. He went out with (assistant secondary coach/corners) Aaron Glenn. They went ahead and covered [his finger] up. He went out and worked out before the deadline to turn in the inactives to see if he could go or he couldn't."

On who decided whether or not Haden could play:

"We left it up to Joe. We left it up to Joe, and he made the decision that he didn't want to go."

On if the Browns defense needs a more vocal leader:

"We have some vocal guys. (DB Donte) Whitner's vocal. (LB) Craig Robertson, (LB) Karlos (Dansby), (LB Paul) Kruger, (DL) Danny (Shelton) even for a rookie will speak up. (DL Randy) Starks. We have some guys. I don't think there's a leadership void, if that what we're driving at. The one thing you don't want to do is try to manufacture that or try to ask somebody to do something that's outside of their personality. I know we're looking for answers, but I feel good about the leadership coming from the coaching staff, and I feel good about the leadership in the locker room and obviously with the players."

* *

On why QB Austin Davis was active and if he was the No. 2 QB on Sunday:

"It was (QB) Johnny (Manziel). Davis was put up just when Joe (Haden) made the decision that we just talked about. Whether the camera caught it at bad times, I listen in on a lot of that. I walk over there. Johnny is very interactive with it but Johnny's clearly the two. Austin was the third, and that way we could give the good news to (WR) Brian Hartline that he didn't have to worry about the third-quarterback wristband."

On if he needs to be more involved with the defense:

"I don't because I'm involved and I have a lot of… The one thing that I've already said we're not going to do is we're not going to panic. We know what we need to do and we need to do it better. I have a lot of faith in Jim O'Neil and the rest of that staff. We've showed that we're very capable of playing well. We just need to do it on a more consistent basis. It's a challenge to everybody in that room, but getting more involved, right now, I'll meet with Jimmy today as part of our normal protocol and we'll discuss where we are with it. Kind of like 'Hey, we're at the quarter pole' state of the union. What can we do moving forward? One thing we're not going to do is anything wholesale and hit the panic button. We know we're close, but there are things we have to do better."

* *

On if there is a clear answer to the defensive problems:

"There hasn't. As I've said from the first time I ever sat up here, football is a game of a million little things. Right now, defensively, we're not doing enough of those little things right, and we have to get them crossed off the list and make sure that they don't come back to the list. We have to be that team that if a mistake is made, we learn from it, we lock it away and we don't make it again."

On his interaction with GM Ray Farmer upon his return:

"Saw him briefly this morning. Walked in, he was in the middle of watching the tape. I was getting ready to start doing it so just a real positive interaction or a couple minutes. Then actually, we were just going through the roster, where we were with each guy when Pete (vice president, communications Peter John-Baptiste) came and said 'Hey, it's time to go do the favorite thing that you love to do (laughter).' So I'm going to head up there, we'll finish that up. Not to speak for him, but I know he's thrilled to be back."

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