BEREA— The Cleveland Browns boast the 32nd best defense in a league made up of 32 teams, yet head coach Mike Pettine feels as if there’s no reason to reassess the defense as a whole.
“No, I don’t see any wholesale changes,” Pettine said, when asked if there would be any changes in the Browns defense— from scheme to coaching. “We are not at the point where we feel that wholesale changes are necessary.”
Though he may not feel that there needs to be much change in the defense as a whole, Pettine is consistently trying to figure out what is ailing the Browns and their defense that allowed 406.3 yards per game in their four games this season.
“You always want to know the why when you go to get things fixed,” Pettine said. “Was it because it was a technical error that we made? Was it a scheme mistake? Was it personnel? As you build that data over an entire game of evaluating plays that you would consider negative ones, you see the patterns.”
The problem is, however, that Pettine can’t quite find a real, consistent pattern off of which to base his decisions.
“Defensively, we’re not doing enough of those little things right, and we have to get them crossed off the list and make sure that they don’t come back to the list,” Pettine said. “We have to be that team that if a mistake is made, we learn from it, we lock it away and we don’t make it again.”
Browns defensive back Tramon Williams, after watching the film of the Browns defense against San Diego, agreed that it was tough to pinpoint one specific area in which the Browns drastically needed improvement.
“Sometimes you just can’t see it from afar, but we feel that we are close,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Hopefully we can, obviously, get some wins.”
There’s yet another constant between Pettine and Williams in their view of the defense— each has very good faith in defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil and his ability to turn the things in the right direction.
“I got great faith in Jim,” Williams said. “He’s one of the guys who’s open to anything. I can go up to Jim and talk to him about anything and vice versa.”
Pettine echoed the veteran’s sentiments almost exactly.
“I have a lot of faith in Jim O’Neil and the rest of that staff,” Pettine said. “We’ve showed that we’re very capable of playing well. We just need to do it on a more consistent basis.”
Though the Browns haven yet to show consistency on the defensive side of the football, Pettine and Williams believe, again, that they’re closer than they appear if they do turn things around, they’ll do so together.
“We’re in this together. It’s no finger-pointing,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, as long as we stick together, we’ll pull it together.”
“One thing we’re not going to do is anything wholesale and hit the panic button,” Pettine said. “We know we’re close, but there are things we have to do better.”
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