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Mike Pettine press conference - 12/16

Opening statement:

"Sunday will certainly be a big test for us to go on the road and face a quality football team in Seattle – won four in a row, six of their last seven – and then you add to it that they're in their building, one of the toughest environments to play. Just looking at the forecast for the next 10 days in Seattle, it's all the same. We'll be prepared for that chance of some wind and some rain. It's a great test. We see it as a great opportunity to go up there and as I said earlier, cut it loose. Why not? We're coming off a win. We did some good things, and we're hoping to build on that. We know the challenge that exists. We have a ton of respect for Seattle and what they're doing and where they are. We're going to go up there and give great effort and compete and see how it falls out.

"Quarterback wise, they replaying extremely well. (Seahawks QB) Russell Wilson has put together a stretch better than any other quarterback in the last month – making good decisions, using his athleticism. I think they've done a good job building that system around him. I know they have some questions at running back, but they have guys that filled in that are very capable. Very familiar with (Seahawks RB) Fred Jackson – they used him primarily on third down. I spent a year with him in Buffalo.

"Defensively, it's all built around their front four. They don't pressure a lot because essentially, they don't have to. Those guys, they do a good job getting off the ball up front, all high-motor guys. They do a good job scheming up pass rush games. That's something they're very productive with each week. Our mission up front: we have to control their front four and see if we can establish the type of run game that we showed this past Sunday and give (QB) Johnny (Manziel) some time.

"On the injury front, the players that won't practice will be (WR Andrew) Hawkins, (DB Justin) Gilbert and (RB Glenn) Winston, all in the concussion protocol. We've listed (OL) Joe Thomas with a knee, but today will be his standard day off and then we're hopeful to get him back later in the week. Everybody else should be available at least on a limited basis."

On if it is status quo with Manziel's right elbow soreness:

"Yeah, and he really hasn't had… As the year has gone on just due to the decreased volume in practice, that really has not been an issue."

On the Browns plans to 'cut it loose' against Seattle at this point in the season:

"It's the attitude. We're not going up there to curl up in a ball. We're going up there to compete. I thought our guys showed that this past Sunday. When you talk about where our season had gotten to and losing seven in a row – Sunday's game, two teams in very similar situations – I thought you saw one team that wanted to be out there, wanted to compete and wanted to win a football game. I don't know that I sensed that same attitude from the other side. I'm proud of our guys, the way they came out. The message from the coaches on that can only go so far that we're going to get our guys mentally ready to play. I think that was more of a sign of our veteran leadership and brought those young guys along. The focus, the energy, very few mental mistakes – we only missed two tackles in the game, which I think is a low for the season; penalty wise, it was one of our better games in that sense. We're just not going to go up there and just put in a day. As I stressed to the team, that starts today with how we prepare, how we practice."

On if the Browns attempted to retain Seahawks DT Ahtyba Rubin:

"You engage all of your free agents at some time or another. Sometimes it's before the season. Sometimes it's during. Sometimes you're going to wait and see how the season goes and engage him after. It was just a situation where it didn't work out. When guys get to the market, you have to make sure – I've said this before – that you have your guidelines for 'Hey, this is the right player but it has to be at the right price.' That's where sometimes you have the disagreements or when things don't work out because it's essentially the right player but we could never get it to be the right price."

On Rubin's role in the Seahawks run defense and the Browns difficulties stopping the run this year:

"Where he's improved this year as well is he is healthier. I think that's helped him. He's a tough guy. There were times where he would never say he was hurt, but I know Rube gutted through a lot last year and I think at times that affected his performance."

On RB Glenn Winston's fumble on his first carry and sustaining concussion against the 49ers:

"Nobody is as frustrated as he is. It was his former team, captain for the game, gets a chance to get in there and try to make a play and gets the ball punched out. That was a tough one, and I believe it was on a kickoff that he got concussed. It was a tough day, but Glenn is a tough kid and he'll fight back from this.

On if Winston has a future in the NFL:

"I think so. Glenn is a guy that's given us good work, works hard in practice. It's just a shame that the one time he was in there, that's what happened. He did some quality work for Tabes (special teams coordinator Chris Tabor). He's a guy that has an NFL skillset."

On comparing Manziel and Wilson:

"I think that the first one is just the experience level. Wilson has been in the league longer and has been in a system longer and just has played more. I don't know how many starts he has total compared to the five that Johnny has. You can certainly see the similarities. They've done a nice job up there kind of building the package around him. He's more of a runner than we see Johnny. I'm talking about called quarterback runs. Do we have some zone read stuff and putting the quarterback on the move? We do that, but he's a little thicker built and can withstand some of the shots in the run game more so than we would want to expose Johnny to. Now Johnny, he'll get his rushing yard when the pocket breaks down and he has to get out, and that's where Wilson has done a good job as well. When he's been forced to get out of the pocket, he's a threat to scramble for a first down. I think where his game has really taken off is his eyes are down the field more so now. He's made a lot of big plays with throws on the run."

On where the pass rush and high sack total came from on Sunday:

"The Cleveland Browns."

On recording nine sacks Sunday after entering the game with 17 :

"It is a function of a lot of things. We had a good plan, some of the things they were doing that we exploited. The other thing was we got a lead. We got a lead. When the situation aren't 50/50, when a team breaks the huddle and I am a pass rusher, and it is a tie game or another team is ahead and it is second-and-7, it is still a 50/50 down. If you get up a couple scores, which is not a luxury that we have had that often this season, you see things like that happen when you can go ahead and tee off and say, 'I am going to stop the run on the way to the quarterback.' The circumstances were better, and I thought our guys played well. (DL) Des(mond) Bryant has been extremely consistent this year, and I think that has been hidden in the lack of team success that we have had. Des Bryant is having a pretty good year for us. I know the sack production that he has had, but just his ability to affect a quarterback, he has a lot of hits, a lot of hurries. It was good to see (LB) Nate (Orchard) have the game he did and Krug (LB Paul Kruger) get some production. I think the circumstances of the game and some of the things that they were doing all added up to the nine sacks."

On if the Seahawks play Cover 3 for the majority of games:

"Early downs, they do. There is some variety. They aren't not in the exact same front and coverage every play. There are a lot of subtle tweaks to it that you can see that they game plan into it. They will play the Cover 3 a little bit different week to week based on the opponent. Where (Seahawks SS Kam) Chancellor comes down, they usually mix that up. They usually end up in some type of 4-4 look, but he could be anywhere. Sometimes he could be at the inside backer. Sometimes he will come down as the safety. It plays out structurally very much the same. Third down, there will be some variety. They have mixed some things up. They switched some coverages up against Baltimore and did some different things. There is a little bit more variety on third down, depending on what the down and distance is."

On Super Bowl winning QBs Wilson and Drew Brees as exceptions to the need for size at the position or signs that the attribute is overrated:

"I don't know that I want to say that they are necessarily exceptions. I just think coming up through their ranks that you don't typically get a lot of shorter quarterbacks because I think guys kind of know the deal that if I am going to make it in the NFL that I am likely to end playing a different position. You don't see a lot to necessarily choose from that are playing at a high level in college football. Those two guys also were very highly functional in their systems, and they had really good teams around them. Can you win with a shorter quarterback? I believe so, but it is what we have said all along here the whole time that you have to build the supporting cast. There are only a handful of quarterbacks in this league that can be successful outside of a supporting cast. That is the ultimate goal is to make the quarterback position less important, still the most important position, but just less important. That you are running the ball well, you are playing good defense, you are not falling behind situations we just talked about, all those things that lead to your quarterback looking pretty good when your second downs aren't long and your third downs aren't long."

On if Wilson is now a top-10 QB in his mind now, compared to 2014:

"He has ascended. He plays at a high level. He is very productive and they win. A lot of that I think is a function, too, of him being the perfect quarterback for what they do. To me, it goes both ways. They have also built it around him. Would you put him up there with the guys that can transcend their supporting cast – the (Patriots QB Tom) Bradys, (Packers QB) Aaron Rodgers, (Saints QB Drew) Brees, (Steelers QB Ben) Roethlisberger, the ones that you would consider the two, three, four elite guys? But he has certainly played himself into that next tier."

On how Sunday's game affected Manziel's confidence:

"Nothing but boost it. Here is a guy who came out, had one of his better weeks of practice, prepared extremely well. I thought he had a good sense of the Niners defense and that is not a defense that is going to sit in one look against you. They are going to mix it up. There was some processing that he had to do that wasn't, 'I am getting one front and one coverage, and it is just a matter of making plays. I know where to go with the ball.' That wasn't the case with some of the stuff that they threw at him. He handled all of that well. It can do nothing but bolster the confidence. That is big. You have to be confident going into Seattle. You can't go up there unsure, uncertain because that plays right into their hands. We are looking for more of the same this week. There will be less, they are not going to give you as many looks as other teams, but what they do, they do extremely well. You have to be efficient. You have to be extremely accurate. This is a team that thrives on the quarterback making mistakes. His success this week will come from Monday through Saturday, and hopefully, that will translate out on the field."

On if OL Joe Thomas' knee injury could keep him out of Sunday's game:

"I don't think so. We just might have to give him a second day [of rest]. This is more precautionary. There is nothing that we are looking at now that we say, 'Wow, it is going to be a struggle for him to play.'"

On WR Dwayne Bowe's status and why he hasn't played much:

"There is frustration I am sure on both ends that it hasn't worked out as we had hoped, that he did fall behind. As I have said, each week is a separate story line, a separate set of circumstances that we evaluate. In more weeks than not, he was not in the group of receivers that we were going to have up. A big part of it is that he only plays the one spot, which is the X, which (WR) Travis (Benjamin) has occupied that spot and played at a high level for most of the year. Our other guys know multiple positions. Again, it is tough. I know he is frustrated that it hasn't worked out. That is a week-to-week decision that we make. We hit the reset button and talk about who are the guys that we are going to have up and what spots they are going to play. Usually, it is multiple spots. Then I always use the phrase 'we backfill' from a special teams standpoint.'

On if Bowe only plays the X position because that is what he has played throughout his career and if he could also learn a new position:

"Just from a body-type, skillset standpoint, he is primarily an X, and that is what he has played."

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