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Mike Pettine press conference - 12/7

Opening statement:

"Had the same feeling of frustration this morning after watching the film last night again today. We don't like where we are. We own that. We know right now we're staring at as big a test of our mental toughness that we'll face. That doesn't change how we have to approach things. We preach control the controllables, and that's certainly appropriate as the negativity continues to mount. I said it before, we're going to use this as a source of strength. We're going to use this to get stronger. We're going to look back on it and use the knowledge that we gained. It is a tough time for us. Losing is the worst feeling, especially when you know that you're letting others down, people that spend their money to come see us play, our fans, not just in this area but all over. That weighs heavy on us, but we're going to do our best. We're going to stay positive, stay together. When you look at the tape – people want to talk about effort – it's easy for a coach when you talk about what do we have that's tangible, we talk about whether it's effort, focus starting to decline. We grade that on the tape. When the loafs start to go up and the mental errors start to go up, those are the indicators that things are sliding, and we didn't see that. Unfortunately, we obviously made mistakes in the game. Unfortunately, a lot of our mistakes came at crucial times. You can't do that against a team as talented as the Bengals.

"At this point, I'm not prepared to name a starting quarterback for Sunday yet. I've had preliminary discussions. I know there are reports out there as early as last night that had a decision being made. That's not the case. I can speak for Flip (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) and for (quarterbacks coach) Kevin (O'Connell) and I that we've had preliminary talk and I have a couple meetings schedule right after this one, but I haven't spoken to the quarterbacks yet. That's where we are with it.

"On the injury front (OL Joel) Bitonio's ankle is a new injury. He's going to miss some time. I'm not sure – that'll more than likely an IR move. (WR) Travis' (Benjamin) shoulder right now looks like it'll be a day-to-day thing. We'll see how he progresses through the week. (FB) Malcolm Johnson groin injury – still waiting to hear back on that. That one could be severe. Good news on (WR) Marlon Moore's X-rays – they were negative. He's one of the toughest guys we have on the team. I'd be surprised if he doesn't find a way to be back out there. As far as our concussion guys – (WR Taylor) Gabriel, (DB Joe) Haden, (WR Andrew) Hawkins, (DB Justin) Gilbert – all remain in the protocol."

On why there won't be a QB decision today:

"The meetings that we have are typically at night. I don't think we've done a quarterback move on a Monday morning. Monday morning is usually designed to look back, grade the film. We have meetings with the players. They're in the building. They lift. We don't move on, we don't flip the switch and move on to next week until later. We have a staff meeting at 11 a.m. on a typical week, but that's to review the game position by position, player by player, let that soak in and later in the day circle back. We'll get the injury report in that meeting, as well, so we kind of know preliminary what are some of the moves we have to make, but those discussions in a normal situation – which that's how we're treating this one – typically don't occur until later today."

On if the Browns will announce the QB decision tonight or tomorrow morning:

"We're not going to wait until Wednesday. More than likely tomorrow at some point. The quarterbacks always come in the building on Tuesday. Like to get a chance to sit down with the guys individually and as a group. That's how we've handled it before."

On if QB Austin Davis did enough in his first start to earn a second with the Browns:

"Austin did some good things. It's tough when you just look at the final output – you see that we only scored three points. You guys probably get sick of hearing me saying it, but quarterback play is truly a function of the guys around him. Did we play exceptionally well around him? No, we didn't. Some of that was a result of things they were doing and some of that was self-inflicted. I thought he was poised. He was confident. I thought he had a good feel for the plan. He made some good throws and he had some that he wished he had back. Overall, even going this entire season not just yesterday, we talk about our issues, quarterback play has not been a major problem for us this year."

On if the current roster makes it difficult for the Browns to be successful:

"We're charged as coaches that guys that are our backups to get them prepared to play and play. A good friend of mine in the business, every once in a while he'd constantly remind you when you start to lament about 'We don't have this and we don't have that,' and he's like 'Hey, you can't win with players you don't have.' I'm not going to sit here, throw up the white flag and just say, 'We're not good enough.' That's not what this business is about. It's next man up. You coach your guys to the best of your ability. I know we're playing a lot of young guys out there, and while short term there are certainly growing pains, looking at it, you hope that's going to pay dividends for you in the long run. Where you get guys real game experience and they learn to grow up quick – just look at our guys, the concussion protocol guys out there – we didn't think we'd ever have that rack of players not playing for us, but that's the National Football League. Very rarely do things ever go according to plan, and the better staffs, the better teams are the ones that can withstand those changes and still find a way to function. We haven't been able to function."

On if QB Duke Johnson Jr.'s previous violation of trust will factor into this week's QB decision:

"When we talk about [the QB decision], we hit the reset button and throw everything on the table. It'll all be discussed"

On if Manziel has learned a lesson from his demotion:

"I hope so. It's a better question from him, but we hope so."

On the Browns seeing positive signs from Manziel over the past two weeks:

"Yeah, as I've talked about before, when he's in the building, that hasn't been an issue. I just know the nature of that quarterback room – the way they hold each other accountable and how Kevin runs it and Flip is in there a lot, too – those guys work and prepare and help each other. He was on point this week in his role."

On reasons not to promote Manziel to starting QB, considering the Browns would then have four games to evaluate his play:

"That will be a part of the debate. I don't want to get in specifics of it. I don't want to sit here and throw out hypotheticals, why would we, why wouldn't we."

On the defensive disconnect being due to coaching, scheme, talent or injures:

"Yes. Yes, I think it's everything you said. It's everything you said. When you have injuries, now all of a sudden a guy whose ideal role is as a three or a four now all of a sudden is thrust in a role to be a two; a guy who's a two now all of a sudden has to be your one. Just the ripple effect that that has because that also has an effect now on special teams, as well. When things like this happen, it's rare that it's any one thing. If it's any one thing, it's easily fixed and you move on from it and there is improvement there. It's a lot of little things and its some big things, as well. Coaching is a part of it. As a staff and as a head coach, I'm certainly culpable and defensive staff wise, too. Those guys know it. For people to question the want-to and the passion to get it fixed, we're upset with it. Maybe I don't show it outwardly – that's not my personality. I don't know whether people want me to start flipping out on the sideline. I did break one headset this year. I did that in St. Louis but I guess the TV cameras didn't catch it. You did see it? I'm more likely to do that behind the scenes when it calls for it. We know what it's supposed to look like and it's frustrating for a variety of reasons why we can't get it there, but as I said before, we have a plan to get it fixed. That plan is based on simple things: passion, hard work, rolling up our sleeves. We're going to use this time. We're going to use this time to find out who is in with us to get that fixed and who potentially isn't."

On if Manziel has been at every meeting since being named as third-string QB:

"I think I saw a report – I don't know if it was yours – that he was late. That is not the case. That is not the case."

On if Manziel's time in the facility will factor into the starting QB decision:

"Sure, it will. We take it all into account. All of it."

On if Manziel missed a lifting session:

"Our guys have flexible lift times. They can arrange through (strength and conditioning) Coach (Paul) Ricci. That is not hard and fast that they have to be there. We have times available when they can make it up. If one guy maybe saw him not at his prescribed lift time, and our guys miss and make it up, sometimes they will come in early or they will stay late. We have flexibility as far as when they can. It is just by the end of the week they have to get their lifts in."

On if OL Cameron Erving will remain at LG with OL Joel Bitonio's injury:

"Quarterback isn't the only position that will be discussed."

On if the Browns would have a good handle on what they have in Manziel, if he starts four more games:

"Sure, it depends on how those games go. We have to make sure that we support our quarterback. As I mentioned earlier in this press conference, we have to be playing well around our quarterback. Four games is a quarter of a season. That is a good chunk of time. I think we already have a sense of where he is from a football standpoint. He has done some good things and showed progress from a year ago. That has been encouraging. We will see how it plays out."

On if WRs Dwayne Bowe and Terrelle Pryor could potentially be active Sunday, given injuries at WR:

"Sure. Very well could be. Both could be. As we put the plan together, just some of the injury stuff and the information that we have, the guys in the concussion protocol, there is a chance. You can't say they are out this week. There is a chance. At this point with the roster and who is up and who is down, it is still a little bit too fluid to say who in that receiving room is going to be up."

On if he detects upcoming free agents are thinking about staying healthy, in reference to WR Brian Hartline's comments:

"Maybe that is just human nature. There is no player at any point that wants to get hurt. My indication on that and the biggest test of it is when you watch the film, and I don't see it. A good example is (OL) Alex Mack. Here is a guy we all know has the opt-out in his contract and can go to the market. Watch his effort, especially on balls that get thrown down the field and he is sprinting 20 yards to go and try to make a block on somebody. I don't see it. (TE) Gary Barnidge is up and this is a guy that wanted to get back into the game. I already talked to him today. He is going to fight like heck. He rolled the ankle. We don't think it is serious, but it is nothing that is going to keep him from playing."

On the plan to turn the season around:

"It begins with a detailed evaluation of everything, of everything we do. I think the knee-jerk reaction when things don't go well – I have said this before – is that everything is wrong. We have to figure out what are the exact problems first. It is hard to fix something when you haven't pinpointed it exactly. The references you made to the defense before – How much of is coaching? How much of it is scheme? How much of it is the technique part of it? How much of it is personnel? Those are all things that get factored into it, but we have to be very accurate in identifying what we are doing well and what we are not doing well. We have to be brutally honest with ourselves and brutally honest not just looking into the mirror but to other parts of the building, as well. The one thing, if you are going to be successful, your building has to be unified. That is a big part of it. That is where the plan starts. That to me hopefully will drive what changes need to be made. Sometimes you fall into the trap of 'Let's just make change. Let's change for the sake of change.' Let's make damn sure the changes we are making are the right ones that are going to get this ship turned and headed into the right direction."

On if the building is unified:

"It is hard to be at this point. I just think it is human nature when things don't go well, I think, everyone has a tendency to bunker in and get into that mode when things aren't going well. We all want what is best for the Cleveland Browns. I think we all have ideas on how to get it done, and we need to be collaborative and we need to make sure that we are picking the best ideas and pushing those agendas moving forward. I can't sit here and say, 'Absolutely, we are all on board 100 percent.' No, that is not reality. When things don't go well, everybody has their opinions and their reasons why. It is going to come down to a brutal self-assessment and to be able to have the strength to make tough decisions and trust them and move forward."

More on potentially detecting upcoming free agents are thinking about staying healthy, given they have contract negotiations forthcoming:

"I get that, too, but also understand – put yourself in the shoes of a hypothetical free agent that is now a month away from getting to the open market. What is he? Sure, he is a Cleveland Brown, but he is also the CEO of himself. He represents him and his family first. This happens on every team, no matter what. I don't think this is anything new to our situation. There are teams that are having tough seasons that have guys come up. It comes down to the character of the player. Those are choices that he has to make. I don't see our guys turning down contact or pulling up short for whatever reason because I am potentially a free agent. That is easy to throw out there, but until I see real examples of it, to me it is there and it is there with every team."

On how his comments about people not agreeing with an organization might be portrayed in this day and age:

"You mean something gets said and the media is going to take it and portray it the worst possible way? No, I'm not familiar with that at all (laughter)."

On if he feels tension or disagreement within the building, whether it be with the General Manager, President or Owner:

"When you have the record that we have, if there is not tension in the building, there is a problem. That is what losing does to you. When you are paid to be successful, when you are paid to win in a bottom line business and we are not, of course, there is going to be tension. When you have passionate, competitive people that want to get it done right and it is not, there's going to be, and it is part of it. We have to make sure that we stay very clear headed with it. Like I said before, it goes back to an accurate assessment of what our problems are. I said it yesterday, if you have a problem with your heart, you don't perform a lobotomy. We have to make sure we identify what the exact problems are and get them fixed."

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