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Mike Pettine press conference - 9/28

Opening statement:

"It's not that different a feeling from yesterday after the game. That disappointment is clearly there. We wasted a good opportunity in front of our home crowd, didn't play well enough to earn the right to win. I thought last week all three phases contributed. This week, it was the exact opposite, and we're obviously all accountable for that.

"The fact that we didn't start the game the way we needed to hurt us. Slow start with a lot of little mistakes, those mistakes added up. We started to play well later, but when you get down three scores, you leave yourself no margin for error. I do like the way we got back into the game, fought until the end. Offense made some plays, defense forced a turnover, came up with two stops to give us a chance to tie the game.

"Again, the start that we had just put us in too big of a hole. It's extremely difficult to win in this league under those circumstances. We have to handle today much like we did after the Jets loss – bunker in, look each other in the eye, admit our mistakes and get them corrected. A lot more opportunities coming our way, but the focus has to be in or prep so we can be confident in what we're doing. We just have to make sure that we're – I spoke to the team about it today – we're just not that team that's going to be at the opposite extremes, where we don't play well and then we rally back and then play well, and then as a result of that, we take a step backwards. The psyche of a football team cannot be fragile and that's something we need to work on.

"As far as injuries (LB) Craig Robertson is the only player we think will take some time with his ankle sprain. We'll see how he responds. We'll have a much better idea on Wednesday. (DB) Joe (Haden) and Gip (DB Tashaun Gipson) will both be day-to-day with their injuries. We'll see how the response to treatment goes and hopeful they dot miss significant time preparing for this week. (DB) K'Waun (Williams) is still in the concussion protocol. "

On what is most troubling about the Browns defense's performance on Sunday:

"It's the missed tackles, the missed tackles. There were 14 that we charted yesterday. We do a lot – how we play blocks and how we get to the ball, how we fly to the ball – we get guys in a position to make tackles at the point of attack, and when you miss them, that's hard to handle. I don't know the exact total yardage that led to. When I look at yesterday and have to say one thing defensively, that would be it."

On how well QB Josh McCown handled pressure and missing a few deep throws:

"He did. It was a windy day. I know the one long ball he would have wanted to have back. I think it was to Gabe (WR Taylor Gabriel). The one to (DB) Travis (Benjamin), I thought Travis relaxed a little bit and pulled away from the guy late; he wasn't primary in the read. I thought overall, he's showed what he's capable of doing, and hopefully, he'll only get better and learn from some of the situations that came up yesterday."

On if McCown should have thrown to TE Gary Barnidge on the interception:

"To me, the coverage that we anticipated, the route was if you read the backside, if he squeezes (TE Gary) Barnidge, then you go to (RB) Duke (Johnson). I don't know whether he felt that there was a big enough window there to get it to Travis, but that's the read on that coverage. Seeing the film I'm sure, he regrets not just letting the progression take care of itself. Backside defender squeezed it and he had Duke leaking out."

On McCown hurting his right, throwing hand during the game and if it impacted his performance:

"Yeah, I knew he got hit, but it didn't appear to any of us that it had a significant impact."

On what number of missed tackles he could realistically live with:

"Less than a handful."

On standout players after watching yesterday's film:

"(DL) Danny Shelton continues to play at a very high level. He was impressive. (DB) Tramon (Williams) has been very consistent. He gives up some throws every now and again, but it's rarely for a big one. Offensively, (FB) Malcolm (Johnson) in his limited role has done some good things for us. Duke did some good things, as well. I think Gary Barnidge has been very much under the radar this year as far as tight ends, but he gets open, he catches the ball, he makes big plays. I think he had three third down conversions, including a touchdown and a fourth down conversion so he's been one of our go-to guys, as well. Our receivers I think at times, when the ball is where it should be, I think they made plays. (WR Brian) Hartline added another circus catch that forced another team to challenge it and it ended up being ruled a catch. I think that groups done a nice job overall."

On WR Dwayne Bowe being inactive:

"He's going to play, it's a long year. The decision came down from a number standpoint. With K'Waun being down, that number was needed on the defense, particularly on the special teams part of it. Dwayne will help us, but he's just not there yet. The setback that he suffered during training camp, it's just hard to make those reps up, especially now that we're in a practice week. We're hopeful that we'll get him out there and he'll contribute at we expect him to."

On how much Bowe needs to catch up:

"It is a new system, but I think it might be a little more physical at this point than it is [mental]. It's a combination, but it's just as much or more the physical as it is the mental."

* *

On if the Browns have thought about cutting Bowe:

"No. No, it's a long season. It hasn't started out the way that we've all, including Dwayne, wanted it to, but we're confident that we'll get him contributing here sooner than later."

* *

On DB Joe Haden's rib injury on the first play and his performance throughout the game:

"I didn't know it was the first play. There are some throws when you look at it – Joe sometimes gets the job of having to cover the X receiver, the single receiver, a lot. With a lot of the defenses that we play, the ball is going to go there. There are times when the ball is thrown well and the routes run well that those are hard to defend. There are some plays I think Joe would want to have back, and I was proud that he battled through the injury the way that he did. If there's anybody that we're ultra-confident will stay positive and bounce back, it's Joe Haden."

On if DB Justin Gilbert was out of position on the muffed punt:

"I wouldn't say he was out of position. We work with our punt returners all the time. Sometimes guys are getting pushed into them. There is traffic around, guys flying by. There is no rule about that like there was in the past. I think that is a ball that Travis agrees he needed to hold onto."

On the lack of production in the running game:

"It is a lot of little things. I think Crow (RB Isaiah Crowell) missed some runs yesterday. I think the most obvious one was the one on the goal line. He just stays outside the fullback, he goes in standing up. That one was tough because we having to kick the field goal on that drive after we had the penalty on fourth down."

On what areas should a backup QB improve during a game on the bench:

"Similar to in practice, putting themselves through the reps. They hear the play call. They can read the defense from the sideline and at least get a sense of what the coverage is and take themselves through the play mentally. Some of our runs are checked so they should know listening to the play call what direction the run should go to based on the look. From a pass concept standpoint, the ability to read the coverage from field level and know where the football is supposed to go and then be very interactive the quarterback that is out, with the coordinator, with the quarterback coach in between series and any information that they can provide, obviously, is helpful."

On reconsidering the Browns' plan to run the football and play good defense after early struggles or how to get that plan back on track:

"No, we are capable of executing that plan and we are not going to deviate from it or panic from it. We need to play better. We need to execute. If you want to look at the biggest reasons why we have lost two of three games, it is exactly what you said. It's because we didn't run the ball well enough and we didn't defend the run well enough."

On the Browns run defense, given the emphasis this past offseason:

"I think that the biggest thing has been the missed tackles. I think we took a long hard look at some of the stuff we were doing from a schematic standpoint, but it has been a lot of different things. I would say the tackling has been the most troubling. There have been some technical issues – how we are playing double teams, some of the guys on the edge losing the edge – but it has been a mixture. To me, it has been the most disappointing aspect of our defense this year. Something that we weren't very good at last year and not much has changed. With all the emphasis that was put on it, that is an obvious source of frustration."

On if he plans to be more involved with the defense, given his increased time with the offense this season compared to last season:

"I stay involved with the (defense). It hasn't been a whole-sale, complete shift. Those guys, I have a very open lines of communication with (defensive coordinator) Jim (O'Neil) and the rest of the guys on that staff."

On if the Browns need to add players who are better tacklers:

"I think we are all capable of tackling. It is just something we need to emphasize and we need to do it better. We will have to shuffle a little bit this week or for the coming weeks if Craig is going to be out an extended period of time. You might see (LB) Tank (Carder) get a few more reps defensively outside of his normal special-teams workload."

On the pass rush and how the Browns can improve in the coming weeks:

"Some of it was how quickly the ball was getting out. There weren't as many true opportunities to get to the passer. I thought they did a pretty good job on some of the 50-50 downs where we were more thinking run and they were throwing the ball then. I thought individual effort wise, I thought (DL) Armonty (Bryant) did some good things. (LB) Paul (Kruger) has yet to find his groove rushing the passer this year. We do need better push up the middle. It just hasn't been consistent enough. Yesterday, they had a good plan picking up some of the pressure and blocking our four-man front where some of the stuff we were successful with last week was not there yesterday."

On DB Donte Whitner's performance so far this season:

"I think he would be the first to tell you he has been inconsistent. There have been some plays for him to make that he hasn't made. He has done some good things for us, and he has left some plays out there."

On why attempt to block a punt with Benjamin' success this year:

"It was a situation we chose to be aggressive and it backfired. We gave a look that we had just constantly been in return mode and just wanted to change it up and see if we could hit them with the block. We chose to be aggressive and it didn't work out."

On how the decision is made to attempt a blocked punt with special teams coordinator Chris Tabor:

"We talk about it going into it. What is the plan for the game? In-game, he'll talk about which way we are going to return it. I am in the loop. There is a third channel on the headset if I am not standing next to him that I can at least listen in."

On if the Browns can drastically improve tackling with the way practices are structured in-season:

"Drastic is a strong word, but we need to improve. We are capable of tackling. It is not like we have to teach our guys to do it. There are a lot of finer points involved with it. We need to do it better."

On if tackling issues can be attributed to restrictions placed on hitting in training camp due to the CBA:

"No, I wouldn't use that as an excuse."

On if the draft process is frustrating or disconcerting, given the performances of the Raiders' top 2014 NFL Draft selections compared to the Browns':

"No, that doesn't even enter into our thought process. We have our guys that are Cleveland Browns on our roster. We coach them up hard and build a plan to go out and win a game. You don't get into the 'What ifs, I know the end of the movie now, and now, I can go back and second guess things.' That is not how we work."

On if there is anything McCown did in the game for the coaches to consider going back to QB Johnny Manziel:


On if the Browns will get DL Desmond Bryant and LB Scott Solomon back this week:

"They are both close. Des would be a better chance of going this week than Scott. (RB Robert) Turbin is also progressing, too. He will be on the horizon, probably not this week but potentially the next two or three (weeks), getting him back. I would think Des would probably have the best chance of those three to go this week."

On understanding fans' frustrations that two of the Raiders' impact players could have been drafted by the Browns:

"Sure, I understand it, but I will apply to myself what we preach to the players: Control the controllables. It's as simple as that."

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