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Mike Pettine press conference - 11/16

Opening statement:

"As we head into the bye week, I laid out to the team and staff what our objectives are for this period of time. Taking this opportunity to learn and understand the 'why' of where we are. Being a 2-8 football team forces you to question yourself and question your methods. The fact of the matter is that we are not playing good enough football. We are not playing complete football games. We are not playing well enough. We are not coaching well enough. That all has to be improved. We are not going to look back and make excuses and talk about 'what ifs.' We own the fact that our record is what it is. We are going to come to an understanding of the 'why' and do what we can to get it fixed. It gives us the opportunity to do just that. We need to look at the instances of where we have had success and find a way to do that consistently. We have played good football for stretches at a time – good enough to win, but again, it is the consistency, it is the complete game part of it that has been lacking. We are going to be on the field tomorrow – more of a teaching day, given that we are so close to the game. Wednesday, we will put the pads on and have a good session. Get quality days so we can get something out of this. Then, we let our guys get away, get refreshed and refocused for the stretch run. Staff wise, we will work a little bit longer and look to figure some of these things out, as well."

On WR Andrew Hawkins' status:

"They kept him overnight. He is back in town. From a testing standpoint, he is in the concussion protocol, but for the reasons they hospitalized him, all the tests were negative."

On his mindset coaching the Browns, given the team's 2-8 record and speculation about his job status:

"My mindset hasn't changed. One, I have addressed this before – I don't operate like that. I don't think you can work that way or else it becomes self-fulfilling. If you start coaching to save your job, then you are not doing your job. That doesn't factor in it for me. I am passionate about my job. I love it here in Cleveland. I love the guys in the locker room and on the staff. There is nothing that I want more for this team and for this city than to be successful. While I am still sitting in this chair, I am going to do everything I can to make that possible. Do these things happen overnight? It is difficult the way the league is set up to turn it quick, but nobody wants to hear that. We are in an age of instant gratification and win now. We all understand that. You could be headed in the right direction in a lot of different phases of the program, but when you are not winning, that is what we are all ultimately judged on. As I have said before, this is a pass/fail league. We have failed a heck of a lot more times than we have passed, and that is the bottom line."

On if he is prepared to say QB Johnny Manziel will start QB, given his performance Sunday:

"I am not prepared to say that, but that is a conversation that certainly will be had."

On factors in the starting QB position decision:

"We will talk about all of it. To go back to yesterday and echo – the film showed it even more – he showed significant progress. That was one of the better quarterbacking performances. You take the first play out – which you can't forget about, the ball slipped out of his hand – but the fact that he rallied from that, being on the road in that environment I have seen where things have gone bad early and guys go in the tank and they get that glazed look in their eye. He was the exact opposite. He was loose. He was into it. I thought he did an outstanding job in between series getting input from the other quarterbacks and Flip (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) and on the headset with Kev (quarterbacks coach Kevin O'Connell). I just thought the improvement that he made from the Cincinnati game to this one, it was a leap. Given what he has gone through, you are just proud of the kid and happy for him. Wish we had a better result from a team standpoint because – pardon my French – he played his ass off."

On Manziel staying in the pocket and making reads:

"That is a big part of it. Playing quarterback in the NFL, it is as simple as it sounds – take what is there. If you can make your read as you are dropping back… First of all, you gather your information pre-snap. Here is what it looks like based on this front or the spin of the safeties. I think I am getting this coverage. We might have something in the formation that is going to tell us man or zone or something that will uncover some information there. Then use it based on the route combination. Where does this ball need to go? By the time he hits his plant step, if he knows what coverage we are in and he knows where to go with the ball and deliver it on time with an accurate throw, then we are on to the next play. That is what good quarterback play is all about. He did a much better job of that this game then he did before. The unique thing about Johnny, as we all know, is when that is not there. When he has to go to his second read and it is not there and then maybe the pocket starts to break down and he has to move and get out and make a play, he has a unique ability to do that. We are looking for the best of both worlds. Take the plays that are there, but when it does get extended, go ahead and do your thing."

On if his philosophies about selecting the starting QB have changed:

"We haven't discussed it yet so probably the next time I sit in front of you, I will be able to answer that."

On considering personally controlling gameday operations for the defense:

"I am very active with the defense now as it is. I get together with (defensive coordinator) Jimmy (O'Neil) each week. I am well versed on the call sheet. What he is calling – I do the exercise often and I will help him in game and we will talk some in-between series – is not all that different because he and I were kind of were raised together in it. He and I did all the gameplans together in New York and were together in Buffalo. He understands the thinking of it. I don't know if we are ready for that drastic of a move. We need to play better. We need to play better defensively. We need to trust our technique. We get some guys out there, some young guys who fall back into some old habits on gameday – things that they execute in practice well – footwork, getting hands on guys and that type of stuff. Unfortunately, you get guys in the game, and they kind of lose their minds a little bit. We gave up some big plays that way, but as a result, I am not looking to make wholesale changes. We know there are corrections that need to be made. I wouldn't put it at something where it needs to be drastic."

On spending more time with the offense leading to the perception that he is not involved with the defense:

"No, not at all. Not at all. It is a shift in emphasis that I will be in both gameplan meetings but have spent much more time on the offense. I will even get in with Tabes (special teams coordinator Chris Tabor) just to see what his thoughts are. We meet as coordinators each week to discuss the plan so all of us together understand the plate. That is where I can tie the sides together. Where 'Hey, listen. We are going to need to be a certain way offensively because of what our circumstances are on [defense] and vice versa, whether or not we need to try to steal a possession on special teams.' Whatever those factors are. It wasn't at extremes like last year where I was all involved with the [defense] and this year I am all involved in the [offense]. It has been a shift in emphasis."

On the apparent lack of safety help yesterday:

"There were a lot of plays where there was safety help. There are times in our defense where our corners are going to have to play on-top man. He caught us a bunch of times when we were in those situations. Sometimes you want to force the long ball, and if you are going to force it somewhere, you have to make it be the longest throw and make it be to the field side. We have to do a better job staying on top. Your issues are, when you are not a Cover 2 team, where you are going to have safety help on both sides, when that is not what you are and that is not what this system has ever been, then you are going to be rolling one side or the other. They did a good job of finding the side we weren't rolling to. I think at times, our safeties didn't disguise as well enough and gave him (Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger) a little bit of information pre-snap on where to go with the football. This system has been in place, I have roots in it going way back and it has had a lot of success. I am not going to get here and sit in here and think that we have to switch to be a Cover 2 team with two high safeties in order to be successful because then it is pick your poison. Then you have issues defending the run when you only have seven defenders down and they can get a helmet on a helmet. I am not going to get deep in scheme discussions."

On QB Josh McCown as QB Johnny Manziel's mentor:

"I think there's already been evidence of that. You want to talk about why Johnny has made the improvement that he's made – Josh is a big part of that. I've talked a lot about this before that I think it's a combination of a lot of things. Johnny's want-to, along with what we're doing schematically for him, what Kevin O'Connell's been able to bring to that room as far as accountability, but Josh has been a big part of it. To have that guy in the room that has his personality and sets the example that he can set, yeah. he has been a mentor for him, especially the weeks that he's been down."

On if he has heard anything from the league its investigation regarding Manziel:

"No, haven't heard anything. I'm not a part of that. All I know is I haven't heard anything."

On if there should have been a penalty on the play when WR Andrew Hawkins sustained a concussion:

"I'm not going to comment on whether or not. We submit plays in to the officials and find out. I'm not going to comment on ones, especially that could potentially have discipline implications."

On if it would be difficult to tell McCown if the Browns name Manziel the starter for the rest of the season:

"That is a hypothetical, but sure. I think it's pretty obvious. We all see what type of a competitor he is. Yeah, wouldn't be an easy one."

On self-evaluating during the bye week:

"I think you have to be careful. You have to walk the middle ground between questioning everything that you do. You have to sort it out. What are we doing well? If you panic and just say we have to change everything, the players sense that, too. We believe in what we do, that we can put together a lot of clips, a lot of clips of us playing at a high level, capable of winning a lot of football games, good film against good teams but haven't found a way to finish. Had a great opportunity to beat Denver here, had a 10 point lead at halftime on Arizona. The Jets game, even going back to that one, the circumstances of that one. The games, some of them have gotten away from us from the end, but there's been pivotal points in every game that have gone the other way. That's why we are where we are. You don't want to wholesale question what you're doing, but you have to isolate it. I think it falls back to when you have negative plays, you look at the 'why.' Is it something schematic? Is it something from a technique standpoint or is it something from a personnel standpoint? As you pile up answers in each category, that steers you to a solution. If it's schematic, we have to change it or throw it out. If it's technical, we have to practice it better. If it is personnel, we have to shake up the lineup."

On if Owner Jimmy Haslam will be involved in the QB decision:

"I know a lot was made of this meeting with Jimmy. It was just a regular scheduled meeting at the midway point. We had it last year, as well. Most of our meetings take place on the practice field. Sometimes we'll get together in his office, sometimes in mine. We meet often when he's in town. We'll talk at some point during this time off and we'll hit a lot of points. We'll cover a lot of ground, and I'm sure the quarterback situation will be one."

On if Browns players have responded well to coaching:

"For the most part, yes. Is it 100 percent? I don't know if I could say that. I would say for the most part, our guys have been very professional, very receptive. Has everybody bought in? No, but sometimes it's tough when guys aren't playing well. Those are some of the things that come up. No, I feel our guys for the most part are competitive, they're prideful and they play hard."

On what Browns' struggles have surprised him most:

"If you look back to the preseason and going into this year, the two groups we thought were going to be anchors for us were the offensive line and the secondary, and both have underperformed for a variety of reasons up to this point."

On how much of the secondary's struggles are due to DB Joe Haden's injuries:

"I think it's more than that, but when your best defensive player is not out there and when he has been out there has had some struggles because when he's not in there and he's not practicing fully and just from a repetition standpoint, continuity, being out there getting the work… I know it's been a frustrating year for Joe, and that's had a ripple effect. You look at a guy like (DB) Pierre (Desir) who is forced now to be your [No. 2 corner], it essentially pushes (DB) Tramon (Williams) to the No. 1 corner, pushed Pierre or even we had (DB Charles) Gaines out there (DB Johnson) Bademosi to the No. 2. That's not what their role was intended to be, but when they get pushed up and they're out there in those roles probably sooner than they should be, that's the effect that it has. I don't want to lay all of our defensive struggles on not having Joe Haden, but that's certainly a part of it."

On if off-field circumstances contributed to DB Justin Gilbert being inactive yesterday:


On using RB Isaiah Crowell in the Wildcat:

"What you do is you lighten the box so you're running two-back runs against one-back spacing. If I had a grease board, I could draw it for you. If you just look at the Wildcat over the history of the it, what the purpose of it is, one, it forces teams to prepare for it. Something that's easy for us – nothing changes from the line, the blocking scheme doesn't change – but from a defensive perspective because I've been there, it causes adjustments. How are you going to handle the quarterback that split out? Is it a check? Now, in all of your defenses, you have to install a Wildcat check? Is this how to play it? Or how are we going to handle our mans verses our zones? Are we going to adjust the front? So something that's easy for us that we can run one or two plays every now and again is a body punch to the opposing defense because of the preparation time that it takes. Also, if you just look at the math of it, like I said, you have the ability to run two-back runs, but they have to have one less defender because you're essentially in a single wing type mentality. All of those things, whether it's empty, we haven't been a lot of unbalanced line but empty, unbalanced line, Wildcat, those types of things all are easy for the offense to do and cause preparation time and you get a chance to hit a play against a defense."

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