BEREA, Ohio (AP) – With the losses piling up and heat intensifying around him, Browns coach Mike Pettine is keeping cool.
When a reporter pointed out Thursday that his team has gone just 2-14 in its last 16 games, Pettine interrupted.
“Thanks for reminding me of that, by the way,” Pettine playfully quipped.
Pettine’s future could be in jeopardy with the Browns (2-9) stuck in the middle of one of those slides that has taken down Cleveland coaches before. They’ve lost six straight and suffered one of the most gut-wrenching defeats in recent memory Monday night, when the Ravens blocked a field goal on the game’s final play and returned it 64 yards for a touchdown.
The loss – and some questionable clock management decisions by Pettine in the closing minutes – brought further scrutiny to the coach in his second year and his staff. Pettine understands that his job could be hanging in the balance of Cleveland’s final five games.
“I feel very upset about the record and that’s on us,” Pettine said. “We own it. This is a bottom-line business and where we are isn’t good enough.”
Pettine said he has weekly conversations with owner Jimmy Haslam about the status of his team. Nothing is ever held back.
“Anybody that knows me and anybody that knows Jimmy Haslam knows our conversations are always blunt,” Pettine said. “The time is so valuable during the season that when we get into a conversation we hit topics head on, there’s no dancing around them.”
There’s no sidestepping that the Browns are a mess.
Their defense has not played close to expectations. The offense hasn’t run the ball the way Pettine had promised. There have been costly injuries, and general manager Ray Farmer has made bad decisions in evaluating talent and filling the roster.
Pettine knows he could be running out of time to correct the problems.
“The question is, do we have a plan to fix it? Is it fixable?” said Pettine, who had the Browns off to a 7-4 start before a five-game losing streak last season. “I feel like we do. I’m full speed ahead committed to getting this fixed here in Cleveland. I know the results aren’t anywhere they need to be. But that doesn’t mean we’re not making strides, we’re not getting it set up, that it can be done.”
Haslam vowed during training camp that he would not “blow it up” and keep things in place if the season took a downward turn. But with the Browns seemingly headed toward another double-digit loss season, his plan may have changed.
Haslam has already established a quick-trigger approach, firing Rob Chudzinski after one 4-12 season.
Browns Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas would like to see Haslam stay with Pettine, his fifth coach in nine years.
Thomas has been impressed by Pettine’s even-keeled demeanor in good times and bad.
“His personality is very blunt and to the point, but he’s also not a rollercoaster coach,” Thomas said. “You don’t see him after a win just going off the deep end with how great we are and the same things with a loss. He stays the course. The steadiness that he has is something you see in a lot of the great coaches over the years, and that’s one of the things that I respect most about him.”
Thomas said Pettine believes in himself and has his own system and philosophy.
“He doesn’t deviate from that based on public perception or emotion or things that can take you away from your plan, which I think is what you have to have if you want to be a successful coach,” he said.
NOTES: Pettine expects the organization to consider placing CB Joe Haden and WR Andrew Hawkins on injured reserve with concussions. “The longer guys are out, I think those conversations will come up,” Pettine said. “We’re not there yet. It’s a sensitive topic and something that ultimately has to come to the table.” Haden will miss his sixth game Sunday with a head injury. He’s had two concussions this season. Hawkins is expected to miss his fourth game.
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