Mike Pettine talks, but is anyone actually listening?


Jun 16, 2015; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine during minicamp at the Cleveland Browns practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine held a press conference on Monday to go over the state of the team as he prepares for the start of training camp on Thursday in Berea.

Judging from some of the reactions we’ve read and heard to Pettine’s comments, we’re left wondering if anyone was actually listening to what the second-year head coach was actually saying.

Two points stood out to us in particular, the first being the media-manufactured rift that supposedly has formed between Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer.

Related: Is GM/Coach rift reality or rumor?

“I think it was that late summer slow news day,” Pettine said, according to The Beacon Journal. “The unfortunate thing is this: When you don’t win, when you have the history, or not so recent history of the Browns, to me, there’s not much credibility there. You can take an individual event and extrapolate that out to it has a negative connotation to it. That was the disappointing part of that.

“Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“The truth is Ray and I work very well together. Do we bat 1,000 on our decisions when it comes to personnel? We don’t, but it’s pretty close to it. When you look at the roster moves we’ve made, from the beginning here, through this past draft and even adding [quarterback-turned-wide receiver] Terrelle Pryor here, right up to some of the things we’re doing now around camp, we are singing from the same hymnal virtually on every decision.

“To say we agree on everything would not be accurate, but to say there’s a rift or a power struggle or a tug-of-war, that would be completely inaccurate.”

Now we’re not naive enough to think that Pettine would sit in front of the media and admit that he can’t even stand being in the same room as Farmer, let alone work with him. But there is nothing in Pettine’s record since he arrived in Cleveland to suggest that he is lying about the relationship, either.

So why is it a surprise to anyone that a coach and a general manager may disagree at times? Do people really believe that this never occurs across the NFL? And, more importantly, shouldn’t we want a healthy debate about the team’s personnel from the two men who are most directly involved in building a winning team?

“A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.” – Grantland Rice

If the Browns had more healthy debate and less yes men over the years, we’d be reminiscing right now about the great careers that LaDainian Tomlinson and Richard Seymour, to name a few, had in the Orange and Brown.

The second point concerns the team’s quarterbacks.

Just as he’s done for the past few months, Pettine reiterated the undeniable truth that Josh McCown is currently the best option for the Browns at quarterback.

“I don’t think anything’s changed,” Pettine said. “The repetitions will be handled that way, with Josh as the one. Now I wouldn’t say I’m guaranteeing today that Josh McCown is going to be the starter against the Jets. A lot can happen in a preseason.

“Will Josh McCown likely be our Day One starter? To answer that question, I would say he would likely be. But I don’t want to say he is. I don’t want to guarantee it.”

“Crawl, walk, and then run.” – State Sen. Clay Davis

We’ve heard the notion repeated that the Browns should commit to Johnny Manziel as the team’s quarterback, rather than McCown, on the notion that the Browns need to “see what they have in Manziel.”

Fortunately for the Browns, that is not the way things work. To paraphrase LeBron James, “In the NFL, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.”

Related: 5 keys to the Browns finding success in 2015

The absolute worse thing the Browns can do is hand the starting job to Manziel simply to “see what he can do.” They did that last December (out of necessity) and Manziel put up three points out of 13 offensive drives.

Since then, Manziel has spent time in a rehabilitation facility, been praised by offensive coordinator John DeFilippo for being able to work through his progressions during a non-contact drill (baby steps, people), and spent time with self-proclaimed quarterback guru Jon Gruden.

Which of those items scream’s “starting NFL quarterback” to anyone?

Here’s the deal about Pettine. While we don’t know him, he has never come across as being a stubborn coach, one who puts being being surrounded by “his guys” over anyone else. He’s not overmatched by the job, like Pat Shurmur and Rob Chudzinski, and he’s not trying to be someone else, like Eric Mangini.

All Pettine’s done since arriving in Cleveland is try and put on the field the players who give the Browns the best chance to win on a given Sunday.

We are also relatively confident in saying that, given a choice, Pettine would prefer not to open the season with McCown running the offense. But that is the situation he currently finds himself in, although there is one person who can change it, and that is Manziel.

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When it comes to Manziel, we’re reminded of a comment from Pettine late last season about the qualities he wants from a quarterback: one who is mentally tough and can lead vocally and by example, one who has a complete knowledge of the offensive playbook, and someone who is on the same page with the offensive coordinator.

Which of those qualities can you confidently put a check mark next to Manziel’s name?

Manziel will have to earn his spot the same as every other player – on the practice field, in the film room and while he is away from the facility. If he does that, there is little reason to believe that Manziel won’t get his shot.

Until that day comes, and we have very strong doubts that it will ever arrive, everyone would be better off listening to what Pettine has to say about the team, rather than just hearing him.

What do you say, Browns fans? Are you listening to Pettine and do you like what you hear?

Next: Why Johnny Manziel should start Week 1