BEREA, Ohio—When Mike Pettine became the Browns head coach in January he set out to change the culture in Berea. Despite missing out on the playoffs once again, the Browns are 7-9 and have a chance to turn things around before the end of the season.
If the Browns can finish 8-8 or 9-7, it would do wonders for the Browns going into the off-season according to Pettine.
“I think that’s critical,” Pettine said. “Just momentum in the offseason is critical. I’ve said it before that the NFL, like most sports, it is what have you done lately. How we started the year, a lot of people won’t remember that. We’ll be remembered by our last game, our last performance or our last month or our last two months. I think that is important as you move forward.
“As far as the culture change part of it, that’s something consciously and subconsciously, we’ve been working on doing here since the end of January a year ago, just to come in and implement a system,” he said. “When you have the culture of losing that’s been here when it’s been only four or five wins a year going back however many years, that’s a difficult thing to overcome because it’s a mentality. When you get stuck in a rut like we’re in now it’s easy to fall back into an old habit.
“That’s what I’ve been saying,” Pettine continued. “We need to fight our way out of it. We were close against Indy and have lost some tight games, but as I said after the Pittsburgh game in the opener, pass-fail. Right now, we’ve gotten ourselves in a mode where we’ve been failing more than we should.”
Rookie Johnny Manziel wants to do his part in trying to change the culture.
“Sure, I mean it’s a culture that...we, obviously throughout this year, have won more games than we have in the recent past,” Manziel said. “Obviously, it’s not up to our standards and up to what we wanted to accomplish going into this year, but it is progress. It is a step forward.
“Even though we have a couple of games left, we want to continue to build on this record and make something out of this year,” he said. “This whole team has worked extremely hard through OTAs, through training camp, through the season to put us in a position to come out with a better record than we’ve had in the past. I feel we owe it to ourselves to come out these last two weeks and try and get these wins to boost our record and really show...we’ve obviously worked really hard to get these wins, and we want to continue and try improve on those and get more with the two left that we have on our schedule.”
If the Browns finish 7-9, they would have lost six of their final seven games, including the final five. Pettine was asked if the Browns would’ve accomplished anything in 2014 if that were to happen.
“I won’t say it would have been lost,” he said. “I think in the short term – and I hate dealing in hypotheticals saying that things aren’t going to go well in the next two weeks – we’ve accomplished a lot. We’ll be very proud of what we’ve accomplished, and we’re going to work our butts off to finish on a positive note.
“To me, it would just be human nature not to feel great about it, but I think as time went on and we look back the feelings would be different. As I stressed to the players, we’re in the moment now, and our sole focus is Carolina.”
Haden Out?: The Browns pre-practice injury report listed DB Joe Haden (shoulder), TE Gary Barnidge (ribs), LB Karlos Dansby (knee), DB Tashaun Gipson (knee), WR Marlon Moore (hamstring), DB Robert Nelson (hamstring), DB K’Waun Williams (hamstring), LB Jabaal Sheard (foot) and OL Joe Thomas (rest).
“Joe, we’ll know later in the week,” Pettine said. “He truly is ‘day-to-day.’
“If he does anything it might be just some conditioning on the side,” he said. “I don’t know if he’ll take any reps (Wednesday).”
Haden was on the stationary bike during the open part of practice.
Nelson and Barnidge returned to practice, while Haden, Moore and Williams were on the bike.
“Barnidge will work (Wednesday) but no contact,” Pettine said. “We won’t know until the end of the week how he feels running around from a comfort level.”
Pettine was asked about Dansby, who’s missed the last four games with a knee injury.
We’ll have a much better sense of where he is after (Wednesday and Thursday).”
Gip still at top: DB Tashaun Gipson still is tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions, despite missing the last three games with a knee injury suffered against the Falcons.
Gipson is tied with the Lions’ Glover Quin, who also has six interceptions.
Two weeks ago, Gipson said he hoped to return to play the Panthers this week. However, he did not practice Wednesday.
Pettine said he wasn’t sure where Gipson was at physically.
“(With) Gip, I’m not real positive about (his status).”