BEREA— Donte Whitner might have misheard the words of the reporter or he might've ignored their context entirely.
Meeting with the media for the first time in months, Whitner was asked if he was losing faith in the Browns coaching staff— the same staff that has led the Browns to the league’s worst record this season and has played a part in the Cleveland's 2-15 record over its last 17 games.
Instead of providing a “yes” or “no” answer to the "yes-or-no" question, he immediately vouched for said staff without hesitation.
“I have total faith in this coaching staff,” Whitner said. “ I think they are really, really a hard-working coaching staff. They’re young, but they’re hungry to win. I think just players, we’ve let them down a little bit.”
With that belief— the belief that this season in Cleveland is more about the performance of the players than that of the coaches— Whitner would rather not see changes in the coaching staff this offseason, despite the rampant reports that another rebuild is in the works.
“Sometimes it’s not greener on the other side. Sometimes you have to stick it out to get to where you want to get to,” Whitner said. “Who’s to say we couldn’t come out next season with the same coaching staff being in the third year in the system and run off a streak like the Carolina Panthers?”
While Whitner is right in that the Browns could have a Panthers-like turnaround next season, the winning formula was well in the works for Carolina— they, unlike the Browns, had a proven commodity at quarterback in Cam Newton.
Whitner might not believe that Johnny Manziel is near Newton's level, but he does seem to think that the second-year signal caller can lead a third-year turnaround for this Browns regime.
“He's becoming what a lot of people don't want to see him become and that's a true quarterback,” Whitner said. “He's throwing the football from the pocket, but he can also break out of their and throw the football, so I want to continue to see Johnny continue to get better and better and I want to see him lead this offense and lead this football team.”
With Manziel manning the ship and the Browns bringing back the bulk of the coaching staff, the final part of Whitner’s vision for next season involves the current defensive scheme being brought back and things going a little bit differently next time around.
“You always understand that second, third year in the system some things can change, something can click,” Whitner said. “Maybe the players won’t make the same mistakes or the same mental errors when we step out there being the third year in the system. So, we’ll see.”
Though it remains to be seen what will become of Whitner’s wishes following the final four games of the 2015 season, if he had the power, he’d have it his way.
Unfortunately, Whitner knows who he is and, as it turns out, he’s not Jimmy Haslam.
“I would say stick with it but who am I?,” Whitner said. “I don’t know anything.”
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.