Mike Pettine Press Conference

Head coach Mike Pettine addressed the media today, with questions regarding Johnny Manziel, Josh Gordon and Justin Gilbert taking center stage

Opening statement:

“Just understand that we have a lot of work to do this offseason, a lot. It’s difficult because our finish was very disappointing. We talked about that with the team this morning. Disappointing to everybody involved – players, coaching staff, everybody within the organization. I think the biggest lament for us is how disappointing it was for our fans to be 6-3 and to finish 7-9. That’s hard to deal with. There are a lot of circumstances involved, a lot of reasons why that happened, but it’s stuff that we’re going to have to dissect and study and look to learn very valuable lessons from. The game at Cincinnati, I think, was our high point. Then unfortunately, from there – like I said – for a variety of reasons we were not able to put together a very good end of November and all of December. In just getting a brief amount of time to reflect, I thought we did a lot of positive things this year. I think we’ve instilled a culture change. I think we’re well on our way to having that bought into by the vast majority of our players – the ‘Play Like a Brown’ mantra. I think we have a lot of guys that typify that, but we have to get everybody on board. That’s critical. As I told the team today and I’ve said it to them in prior team meetings – and it’s something that comes from (Browns GM) Ray (Farmer) and I truly believe it having been in the league for as long as I have been – that your raw talent will get you in the league, but it’s your character that determines how long you stay. I think it’s important for our guys to realize that. Overall, the message to the team this morning – we looked back. We talked about the disappointing finish. We talked about the foundation we built, the lessons that we’ve learned, and the fact that we still feel we’re headed in the right direction. We know we are. Then just looking ahead, just talking about relaxing, giving their minds and their bodies a chance to heal up, to recharge, but understand how important this offseason is. The lessons we learned this past year do us no good if we don’t correct those mistakes, that we don’t make them again, and just knowing and planting the seed that in 2015 it’s going to be a bigger challenge for us, just for the sheer fact of the schedule – the teams that we play. I know our strength of schedule will be much more difficult. We know we have to be that much better moving into next year. Very encouraged by a lot of things and discouraged by some others, but at the same time, feel that we’re headed in the right direction. Very excited about getting some time off. Very excited about looking back and evaluating what we’ve done. I’m very excited about moving forward, making changes and accomplishing what we want to accomplish next year.”

On how he gets everybody on board:

“A variety of ways, tough love being one of them. It’s something that I’ve talked about it a number of times throughout the season. I think the staff can only go so far in getting players to do it the right way. I think our veteran leaders have stepped in and understood that we have some talented guys that need to be kind of herded in the right direction. I think you have to understand what motivated each player and push those buttons to get them going. Like I said, I told the team today that the guys that do it the right way we’re thankful for, and the guys that aren’t that if they want to take it as a warning we’re going to encourage them and coach them hard to do it the right way. If we exhaust all opportunities, all options and can’t then they won’t be here.”

On if DB Justin Gilbert and QB Johnny Manziel are in that group that is out of warnings:

“I wouldn’t say out of warnings. I wouldn’t say that. I think the two situations are a little bit different. I’m not going to get into…Like I said with Justin, I’m not going to open up each player’s personal file here and get into details. Justin essentially was suspended on Sunday. It was just past the 4 o’ clock deadline to do it, but it was a result – as was (WR) Josh’s (Gordon) – just as multiple violations and having been served, having been warned that a suspension would occur. Whereas, Manziel – he was late for a treatment. I’m not writing off his behavior as acceptable. It is unacceptable, especially we said that we hold the quarterback to a higher standard than everybody else. That just comes with the territory at that position. Has his behavior been disappointing? Absolutely.”

On priding tough love and it not having sunk in for Gilbert:

“The results have been inconsistent. Sometimes, it has been. Other times, it hasn’t.”

On fans and media saying it’s time to cut ties with Manziel and Gordon and if he would do that:

“We’re going to take our time here. We’re going to step away from the emotion of it all, get some time off, come back. We’ll have all the players written up and evaluated, and in a much less emotional, evaluate the roster, talk about each position, talk about what changes need to be made. That’s something that, I’m sure at all positions, will be discussed. How do the players on our roster, given where they are now, should they be here or should they not be here?”

On if there is a flaw in the draft process with the first two picks having problems living up to the ‘Play Like a Brown’ mantra:

“It’s something we’ll certainly discuss. I know the use of just different type of the testing that you have now at the combine, and to me this is more stuff Ray, but just the scouting process of getting into the schools and knowing who you can trust and who you can talk to, gathering as much information as you can as possible. Then, it’s also tough because you have to decide how much of this can you write off to a guy just being…He’s young. He’s immature. I’ve seen a lot of guys come into the league that if you just evaluated them on their rookie year that you would have thought they would never make it, and these are guys that are playing 10, 11, 12 years. It’s an inexact science. That’s why you look at drafts, you look at the hit rate on draft picks – it is very inexact because it’s impossible to predict. We recognize that these guys have talent, but at the same time, feel that it’s on us as well to get them to meet us more than half way and do it the right way.”

On if there was anything in Gilbert’s background that they weren’t comfortable with or if some of the things with Gilbert weren’t surprising:

“I won’t get into the details of a draft report. Like I said, we do a full work-up on all the guys. It’s rare that you have a guy that’s just, ‘Hey, this is a 100 percent clean, All-American kid, can’t-miss prospect.’ It’s rare given the amount of information you get.”

On Manziel having an internal battle about making the right choices and what the Browns can do in the offseason to help Manziel:

“We’re going to do what we can. It’s difficult with the rules. We can still have interaction with him from a non-football standpoint. The rules are very clear that he can’t come in here. We can’t have a structure for him, ‘Hey, come in. Watch film.’ With all of our guys, we formed an action plan with the staff, as far as how we’re going to handle the offseason. Every one of them is tailor made to that individual player.”

On Gordon’s place in the franchise:

“Clearly a disappointing way for him to end the year, but at the same time, Josh right now is a Cleveland Brown. We want to take care of our own, but at the same time, we’re going to hold our guys accountable. I think everybody recognizes the talent that’s there, but this isn’t an individual sport. You have to be accountable to your coaching staff. You have to be accountable to your teammates, more importantly. That’s the thing that we have to get right with Josh. It’s not the ability, but at some point you get tired of using the word ‘potential.’ This offseason for him puts him squarely in a crossroads with us.”

On if he gets the sense that Gordon wants to be here and if that’s a concern at all:

“It’s a better question for him whether he wants to be here or not. We want him here, but we want him here with him being accountable, with him having the ability to function as a member of this team who’s in good standing.”

On how he reconciles talent with a player that has a lengthy record of not being accountable:

“It’s like a scale, and at some point it tips. Like I said, all this will be discussed. Like I said, we’re going to get out of the emotion of it, take off a week, and then get back together and have very lengthy meetings and discuss how personnel sees our players, how the coaches see our players and look at where our needs are and where the roster stands and make the best decisions for the Browns moving forward.”

On how he thinks the behavior issues reflect on him:

“I don’t concern myself with that too much. To me, because it’s not about me. It’s about the Cleveland Browns, and it reflects badly on the organization. That’s what pains me is that, like I said yesterday, we had 40-plus guys out there busting their tails in a game that to a lot of people was meaningless, but it wasn’t meaningless to us. The fact that we were able to have a lead with eight minutes or whatever it was left in the game and guys playing their hearts out, guys basically in tears in the locker room after the game because they had played so hard – that’s what pains me because we have so many guys here that are doing it the right way. But to have two or three or four or five guys that aren’t doing it that are drawing a ton of negative attention to this organization, that’s what’s disappointing.”

On where the quarterback situation stands going into 2015:

“Still very much a question mark. We all know (QB) Brian’s (Hoyer) due to become a free agent. The sample size on Manziel was not very big, and on the surface not very encouraging. (QB) Connor Shaw went out there and battled. Here’s a kid that was peeing blood last night, took a shot in the kidney. He took some major shots during the game and got up. It’s a credit to him. He wasn’t coming out. He showed some things yesterday. I would say our quarterback picture is muddy at best and obviously will be a major point. When we allocate time to discussing each position I have a sense that quarterback will be given the most.”

On a player taken in the first round assuming that he’d be the guy in his second season and if he saw anything from Manziel that makes him convinced that he needs to have another option at quarterback:

“Yeah, we can’t assume anything. Can’t. I think each year’s different. We’ll assess the position, and go ahead and make what we feel are the best moves for us in 2015. To me, there should be no sense of entitlement because he was drafted where he was drafted, therefore he is the starter. We’re not going to connect those dots.”

On if he wants to resign QB Brian Hoyer:

“I want what’s best for the Browns, and that’s all going to be part of the evaluation. I think Brian did some really good things for us. I don’t know where Brian is with Cleveland, and I’ll be very interested to hear where we are from an organizational standpoint. Personally, I have a very good relationship with Brian. He was a big part of our success this year, but it’s something that I just don’t know if the circumstances can come together for him to be back here next year.”

On if he was more excited about QB Johnny Manziel before his performance in the six quarters he played this season:

“Well, I think some of it was just hard to judge because one, he wasn’t getting starters reps throughout the year and then two, didn’t play very well around him. You had some balls dropped. You had some breakdowns up front, didn’t run the ball well, got behind the sticks. The sample size is small, so it’s...were we expecting him to go out there and light it up? Internally I think it was unrealistic to expect him to go in there. If we felt that way then he would have been our starter from the beginning, but he did show flashes of what he’s capable of with some of the balls he threw and some of the plays he made with his feet. It’s just still very early to tell just what his future holds for us.”

On if there wasn’t consensus in the organization supporting Hoyer and if that’s the case, if that situation was irreconcilable and if that’s why they’re leaning on him not coming back:

“No, given that we have a much bigger sample size with him as far as his body of work, that will all get discussed. We’re going to look at every option available, and Brian will be one of them. Whether we have a consensus in the room, I don’t know. Sometimes, especially with that position, it’s rare that you have a consensus, but as far as getting that position right moving forward, we’ll spend the most amount of time on it and we’ll leave no stone unturned.”

On if he’d still like to see Manziel compete for the position in 2015:

“Absolutely. It’s very difficult coming out of his last season in college and that whirl-wind of the draft. Then he’s here, and it’s such a short, short period of time. Now you get a full real offseason where football is your full time job, and now you get through all the offseason stuff here - the OTAs, the mini-camps. You see so many guys make such big strides from year one to year two once they finally realize what the NFL is all about and all the things that go into preparing for a season.”

On if it’s perplexing to him that a guy can say all the right things and speak well but make a lot of mistakes and repeat the mistakes:

“Well, I’ve had great talks with him, but I do agree with your point. He realizes this - that at some point the talk is cheap. He’s gotten himself to the point where his actions to me are much more important than what he says.”

On what Manziel needs to do for the next three or four months before he comes in for offseason conditioning:

“This is for all of our guys, and I’ve already talked about it. We have a tailor-made plan for all of them whether it’s strength and conditioning. We’ll be able to get information out to them. We can’t physically...we can’t coach them through stuff, but we’re able to arm them with stuff leaving the building. A lot of it is they are on their own. He will be in town here some. I know the guys are all taking a little bit of time off, but guys that are injured are required to be back in Cleveland until they are cleared as healthy and he’s on that list.”

On if he thinks Manziel needs more micro-managing:

“Micro-managing comes in what form? To me, if...how do we control a player’s behavior outside of the building? When his actions start to affect his job as they did, then he was fined for the miss, but at some point they have to take ownership of themselves and their career and do it the right way or they won’t be here. I just don’t know what we can do for our guys. They’re men. I don’t know what we can do for them outside of the building that’s going to help them. They have to be able to do it for themselves.”

On if he thinks everything is on the table as far as the quarterback position goes including looking at draft prospects:

“Yeah, I think we’re a ways away from assessing draft needs. Again, we’ll look at every possible way to upgrade every position. We’re fortunate that we do have the draft picks that we have - two in the first round. That gives us some leverage and some options on some things that we can do, but we will be tasked as a coaching staff and as a personnel department to get creative and find how we can upgrade, not just quarterback, but every position.”

On if he anticipates making any changes to the coaching staff:

“At this point, I anticipate the vast majority of the staff back. There might be a change or two, but I was going to get away and talk with the coordinators and just kind of get a feel for it. They do their own evaluations of their own guys as I do. We’re going to compare notes and see if we need to make any changes.”

On how frustrating it is that the day after a hard fought game most of the questions are about distractions off the field or the same two or three plays:

“It is frustrating, and that’s why I didn’t want yesterday to turn into that because it was right on the heels of it. I understand that this is more the end of the year than it is the day after a game type deal. It is frustrating, but we’re not going to sweep our problems under the carpet. If a player warrants being suspended or being disciplined, we’re going to do it. When you suspend a player, it becomes public. When you deactivate a player, it’s public. When a player’s reps are cut, questions will be asked. It becomes public. We’re not going to be that organization that sweeps stuff under the carpet just for the sake of appearing functional on the outside. I would rather be functional internally and appear dysfunctional on the outside because we’re going to do things the right way. We don’t have a lot of rules, but the rules that we have are pretty simple ones. We want our players to follow them, and when they break the rules, there will be consequences. In year one it is frustrating, to your point, to have it end like this. Especially when you’re losing, a lot more attention goes to the negative, but as I’ve referenced before and used the analogy, we’re building a house here and we’re making sure that it’s on a damn good foundation. I feel that these are all growing pains in order to do that.”

On if he has a feel for what he has in RB Terrance West yet:

“Well, we’ve shown glimpses, and the one thing I feel is if a guy shows it - that he’s capable of doing it - then he’s capable of doing it on a much more consistent basis. A lot of that is Terrance doing things the right way - making sure that he prepares himself properly, that he handles his business well on the practice field, in the meeting room, that he’s doing everything that we’re asking of him. I’m confident that in year two...I think the light came on for him this past week and he played well yesterday. I hope that momentum carries for him in the offseason when he sees, when he does it the right way, what he’s capable of. I think the same is true for some of our other guys as well.”

On if he’s still confident in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and his system and if he expects to keep him:

“Yes. Yes.”

On if he sees flashes from DB Justin Gilbert that tells him if he can get through the other stuff he’s got a good cornerback there:

“We’ve definitely seen flashes of his ability, and we’ve seen it in games as well. I could make a 20-play cut-up of him where he’d look like one of the elite corners in the league, and I could make another 20-play cut-up where you wouldn’t take him until day three of the draft. In this league, it’s all about being consistent. When you show you can do it at a high level, we joke with our guys. We’re like, ‘Caught on tape. We know you can do it.’ Now that needs to be done not one out of four plays - get it to two out of four, get it to three out of four, get it to nine out of 10. Then you feel good about where a guy is.”

On if he’d ideally prefer a proven veteran at quarterback next year:

“We’re going to discuss all the options. Obviously common sense would tell you that, but at the same time, we have plenty of time to get that figured out. Opening day, what I said before - I’ve bored you guys to death with it - we want to put the quarterback out there that gives us our best chance to win.”

On if the off-the-field issues with Gilbert are restricting him from making those plays nine out of 10 times:

“To me, there’s definitely a correlation. I won’t get into details, but like I said, I’m hopefully that given a full offseason and spending some more time getting to know the kid and everybody here that works with him because we all see it. I think that’s one of the reasons - and I’ve referenced this before - one of the reasons that the veteran players are hardest on him is because they see how good he is. They see how good he can be. They just know that he’s inconsistent. They’re trying to pull him along for the ride because they all see it. They all do.”

On how Manziel ended up starting the most important game of this year:

“Just given where we were when you go back to before that game, coming out of the Colts game, we just felt that the quarterback play had deteriorated, had been narrowed down for several weeks. It had gotten to the point where it was risk-reward. We knew that Johnny, for us, was the big unknown. It obviously didn’t work out. The unfortunate part of it is we did not play well around him to the point where if we had all played well around him, we would have gotten a much better picture of what we had. That to me was the most disappointing aspect of that whole stretch.”

On how the fact that they didn’t play well around the quarterback was different when Hoyer played:

“It is similar, but like I said, the quarterback play, when you still could evaluate it, had gotten to the point where we felt it warranted a change.”

On if there were veteran players that didn’t believe in Manziel and subconsciously didn’t play as well for that reason:

“I can’t answer that question. That’s such a...very much a hypothetical.”

On if this whole Manziel thing is just too much and whether he buys in or not it’s all going to be about every move he makes on and off the field:

“I don’t know about that. I just think time can heal a lot, and I think going out and playing well - that can quiet a lot of that stuff down. I don’t think that...it will certainly come up when we discuss it all. I think all the circumstances surrounding it will come up, but I don’t see that as being something that’s going to be a determining factor.”

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