Many questions linger for the Browns as the 2015 NFL Draft approaches. How does the team view Johnny Manziel? Will the club consider moving up for Marcus Mariota? How will John DeFilippo run the offense in his first year as the team's offensive coordinator?
Browns head coach Mike Pettine answered all of these questions and more during his press conference on Tuesday. Noting that today marked only the second day of the team's offseason program, Pettine provided many vague answers. However, Pettine supplied crystal clear responses to a couple of questions.
The main points of Pettine's press conference are summarized below. Pettine spoke for over 15 minutes, so not every topic is in this summary, but the biggest points of interest are included:
- Pettine said: Manziel is a big part of the Browns' offseason plans. Pettine directly responded to ESPN's Chris Mortensen's report that the Browns are "90 percent done with Manziel.
"[Mortensen] used the number 90 percent, and I used that number too about the accuracy of the reports out there being 90 percent inaccurate. I don't know where he would have gotten that from, he's very much in our plans. His career with us just hit the pause button, and we've said this before, he's gotta get himself right as a person first before we worry about Johnny the player. I filed that one in the "ridiculous" category when it was brought that to my attention."
- Johnny is just 'one of the guys.' Manziel does not expect, or receive, any special treatment because of his star status. As Pettine said:
"When he's here, he is one of the guys and he doesn't expect treatment any other way. From where he was a year ago, essential being a backup quarterback, he's in that quarterback room today, and not what you would you consider the starter, that's how he's going to be treated as well. I know that persona stuff is out there, but if you ask the players, and they're probably the best ones to ask, I don't think they feel the need or have ever felt the need to treat him any differently."
- In regards to Manziel, actions speak louder than words. Manziel realizes that at this point, his words mean little until he backs them up with results. Pettine explained:
"This is the one comment I'll share that Johnny has made because he will be the first one to say it: 'Don't judge me on my words, judge me on my actions.' That's something in the past that even I've been critical of him, where the actions have to match what he's saying. He's saying the right things, but it's not adding up by what he's doing. That's been a big part of his message coming out."
- The depth chart at quarterback is far from set. As Pettine said, it's anyone's job.
I sat in on the quarterback meeting yesterday, and every guy in that room is raring to go. We're a ways away from worrying about how the depth shakes out. Again, they're all in that room, and they're all trying to learn it. Josh obviously has an advantage having been in this system where there's a lot of carryover, because he's worked with Flip before, and there's a lot of similar routes are in there. We don't really get into depth charts and where guys are.
- Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer are in a better place than last year. As Pettine admitted, the front office and coaching staff had a tough time getting on the same page last April.
"I just feel so much better in year two. To me, it was a natural thing between Ray [Farmer]'s staff and the coaching staff just getting on the same page ... From an evaluation of players standpoint, we're a lot more on the same page this year. Year one, you're all over the map: you have grades from the previous fall for a different system, and now that the scouting department has a better feel for who we are and what we're looking for, I just feel we're a lot more together on prospective draft picks."
- Farmer still has the final say in the draft. While the coaching staff has significant input, it's still Farmer's show.
Ray's in charge of the draft. He's in charge of the 53-man roster and the practice squad. But I don't think he sees it that way. It's his final call, bit coaches are very involved in it, and that's a big part of the process, that we are on the same page and we view players the same, and that we all feel good about the players we select and add to this roster."
- The Browns are playing it coy on trading up or down. Pettine didn't reveal much about the Browns' draft strategy, saying that you never know until draft day.
"I think people naturally assume that we can be a part of it because of having an extra pick and having a little more ammunition than some other teams would. But it just makes for good filler material for you guys, good draft talk ... I think all of the teams communicate. I think we showed last year that we're willing to move ... I'm sure given the picks we have this year that Ray's phone will be ringing."
- Pettine likes working with DeFilippo. Pettine had high praise for his new offensive coordinator, noting his flexibility with the existing offense.
"I've sat in the back of the room with my notebook like a rookie quarterback, taking a lot of notes in the quarterback meetings and his install meeting. I thought Flip was outstanding. It's his day, and he'll tell you: he's prepared for this day for a long time. He hit it out of the park. I told the players in the team meeting that I can tell you why I hired the guy, but when you have your first meeting with him, you'll know why. It's passion and it's energy, and he was great. It would be difficult to doze off in one of his meetings, I'll put it that way."
- Pettine is 'confident' the Browns will work out a deal with Tashaun Gipson. As Pettine noted, there's a silver lining in this cloud.
"I don't like talking about that stuff, and I tell the players, too, that you never want the business side to affect the football side. It's obviously that we have a player who was undrafted and played well enough to warrant a sizable second contract. I see that as a positive. I'm very optimistic that we'll get it worked out ... But this is all voluntary, he does not need to be here, so I don't have much of a comment on that other than it's something we're very hopeful it will get done, but like I said, that;s a god problem to have when you're have a good player and you're wanting to play him."
Update: A couple of commenters asked for the full transcript, so I have attached to this article it as a Word document: Mike Pettine Transcript 4-21-15