"This weekend presents another opportunity for us to remove this feeling of frustration, disappointment that's been in our locker room for far, far too long. We are all sick of the feeling. We also understand that it's up to us. It's up to get rid of that feeling so this is a big week for us to have a solid week of prep, remain focused, dialed in, all the stuff we talk about controlling what we have control over. There's no disputing that it does get harder as the losses mount, but that's our reality right now, and we have to face those facts. Like I said, we need everybody in the locker room, coaches, players prepared at the highest level and whatever they've been given, find a way to give a little bit more because as we all know, what we've seen on the field hasn't been enough.
"49ers coming into town. Their season is not going the way that they wanted it to go, but it's a competitive group. To go into Chicago, and win on the road in overtime, I'm sure that gives them some momentum. (49ers QB) Blaine Gabbert is doing a nice job for them. They're not asking him to do a lot, but what they're asking him, he's doing it well. He's very good with his feet as evidenced by the scramble production that he's had. He does a good job knowing where to go with the football.
"Defensively, I've known (49ers defensive coordinator) Eric (Mangini) for a long time. I know that group is going to be very prepared, well-coached, dialed in to what we do, have a plan to take away our strengths. (49ers LB) NaVorro Bowman is a guy that's coming off the knee and is playing well. He's one of their main playmakers. The rookie (49ers DL Arik) Armstead has come on of late playing some good football. It's a challenge, will be a challenge for us.
"On the decision to go with (QB) Johnny (Manziel) at quarterback, we want to see him play. We want to see him build off the improvements that he made on the field. He and I talked, and he also understands – I've said this a lot – to be a starting quarterback in this league, it is so much more than what's done on the field. There's an added responsibility. There's the responsibility that you have when you're an NFL football player and then you add to it when you're an NFL quarterback. That's a big part of it. Earning respect of teammates and trust of coaches is just as important as what you're doing on the field. He understands it. He's working hard, and I'll be surprised if he goes out there and he's not dialed in and prepared for this defense. Like I said, he understands it and he knows this is an opportunity for him, and we all want him to take full advantage of it.
"On the injury front, the injury report is a little long. (WR) Travis Benjamin has the shoulder and all the guys in the concussion protocol will not practice. Everybody else on the list will be at least limited in some form."
On what QB Johnny Manziel has done to earn the starting job:
"First of all the on the field – we had the well documented violation of trust, but everything else has been solid, the preparation in the building. Even when he wasn't the guy, whether it was (QB) Josh (McCown) or whether it was (QB) Austin (Davis), he was very supportive. He upheld his responsibilities as the backup as is required in that room. We've seen the improvement that he took. The Pittsburgh game wasn't that long ago. It was a step backwards, but that didn't have anything to do with football. We have a guy that we've invested a lot in. We have four games left, and this will give us a good sense of where we are with that room moving forward."
On if QB Josh McCown's season-ending injury changed Manziel's timeline to earn trust:
"I wouldn't say, that but we have to be able to put a team out there and play. We know that there are some off the field issues there with Johnny. That's been very public and debated. Those are things that we're well aware of. We're going to spend some time whether it's now doing what you can and after the season addressing those. We made the decision to go with Austin and here we are with Johnny. Like I said, we want to see him play."
On discussions with Manziel about starting again after the bye week:
"I don't want to go into the details of it. He and I visited yesterday for a while, and he's full speed ahead."
On if there is zero-tolerance policy with Manziel:
"It's hard when you have to put things in a vacuum. I don't want to sit here and say that because then you look at the degree of the incident. It would be hard for me to sit here and say we have a zero-tolerance policy, but if something were to occur, I could imagine that the repercussions would be harsh."
On if trust in Manziel will still be questionable, even if he starts the final four games:
"Four weeks is a long time so I think we'll have a good sense of that then and then I think at the end of the season or as the seasons winding down as we look ahead to the break – it's not just with him – we'll meet with all of our players and have a plan for them and have open discussion. 'Here's where we see you. How do you see yourself? These are the things you need to work on.' It's A-to-Z. Sometimes it's football related. Sometimes we'll talk about if there's potentially off the field issues. That's part of the exit process for everyone."
On how Manziel can prove he is capable of being a long-term starting QB:
"Do his job. Do his job and understand that it's not just about on the field. I've said that: to be a starting quarterback in this league, with that comes great responsibility. The field is part of it and off the field is another part of it. What does he have to do? It's day today and work. We already talked about getting things rebuilt, and that does take time, but for all of our players, what you strive for is respect of your teammates and trust of your coaches. It's even more so when you're a starting quarterback. We feel he's capable of getting there, but it's a process."
On evidence that Manziel can be a long-term starter in the NFL:
"I just think the improvement he has made, even just going back to his rookie year. It starts with preparation. When you have a good sense of what the opponent is in – I understand that this front likely means one of two coverages; OK, where is my coverage indicator? Now, it is this coverage. When you know what the other team is in, then that helps you. What is our play? If it is man, I am going here. If it is zone, I am going here. If it is blitz, I have this pressure showing. It is all of that – the processing speed, the pre-snap stuff. Whereas last year he was at an elementary level with that, this year he is so much better. In the games that he has played, he has done a good job of redirecting the MIKE in protection. At times when (OL) Alex (Mack) couldn't see it or getting guys lined up or knowing when the motion is supposed to leave and if two guys move and holding one back, all of those little play-by-play, graduate-level of details of playing quarterback. He has come a long way with that. He has had production. You don't throw for 375 yards on the road in Pittsburgh by accident. He went out there and executed the plan, did a lot of good things in the pocket and then when the play broke down made some plays out of the pocket. Is he is batting 1.000? No, he has made mistakes. He has had issues with turning the ball over. That is stuff we are working on. We just feel from the overall sense with all the details that are involved in quarterback play that he has covered a lot of distance, and the eagerness and desire is there for him to continue to head down that right path."
On if it is an extra challenge for coaches because some of the off the field issues are ones Manziel can help and others he may not be able to necessarily help:
"Our first concern always will be with the person before the player. We have discussions – very personal, very private discussions – about his issues, and things like that get addressed. I wouldn't say it adds to the challenge. That is part of coaching. Whether you are a mentor, an authority figure, a mentor or a brother, it all comes with that. We always want what is best for our guys personally. They have to be in a good place personally for them to be in a good place professionally."
On DB Joe Haden's status and if he is in the building:
"He's around. He is towards the end of the protocol, but he is still in it. Hopefully, in the next couple of days, we will be able to shed a little bit more light on it."
On if Haden passed the baseline test of the concussion protocol:
"I don't have the details of it. I just know in all of the steps that he is close to the end."
On ability to take Manziel at his word:
"I'm a big believer in 'Show me. Don't tell me.' I have said that before. That is true of anybody. When trust gets violated, don't tell me just day-to-day do the right thing and let that be your guiding force."
On if the Browns were aware Manziel's off-field behavior could potentially be an issued before drafting him:
"Of course. You see the reputation and what was out there. I don't think we anticipated that his problems, his issues, maybe how deep rooted they were and the extent of it. If you sat in our draft meetings and listened to the background reports on a lot of our guys and you took guys off the board based on that, there would be about five or six magnets left over to pick from. You have to decide – How much of this is maturity? Was it early in his college career? Is it continuing? You do as much research as you can. The other part that is impossible to predict is when you have players that are in college and all of a sudden they come to the NFL, and now they are getting NFL paychecks and how will that affect them, and you are trying to predict that. That is why the draft is hit or miss with so many guys just because of how impossible it is to predict those things as they move forward."
On who will start at LG:
"We are going ahead and give (OL) Austin Pasztor the start."
On frustration that OL Cameron Erving hasn't played up to his draft status:
"I don't think anybody is more frustrated than he is because he will have a stretch of four or five good plays where he does his job, does it well, but he has made critical mistakes and ones that have had a big effect, whether it is giving up a quarterback hit or a sack. We have not lost confidence or faith in Cam, but it is just something that Austin is a guy here on campus that we also want to see play, and he has been great since he has been here. He works his tail off and he knows what to do. We will see how he is this week, but we just felt it was best to go ahead and switch those two."
On if it will take WR Terrelle Pryor weeks to get back into football shape mentally and physically:
"I think that was probably worst case scenario. There is a reasonable chance that he will be up this week. To his credit, he came in here in very good shape, and the knowledge that he gained of our system quickly came back to him. That was a positive. You assume the worst when a guy just gets here. 'Let's assume he hasn't done much and is out of shape and he has forgotten a lot of what we have done.' That is not the case with Terrelle. Hopefully we can get him out there sooner than later."