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BEREA, Ohio -- Coach Mike Pettine called Bernie Kosar's criticism of the Browns' front office this week way off base and unfounded.
In an interview on The Mike Trivisonno Show on WTAM 1100, Kosar said that Johnny Manziel and any other quarterback the Browns start will fail because of the losing culture at the top of the organization.
He said it's "somewhat of a tough spot for Johnny given this team and given this organization. It's just a complete recipe for a disaster.
"You can't put these kids (the quarterbacks) in these spots. It's almost abuse. If you're going to keep running it the way we're running it, we may as well do nothing (to fix the quarterback situation), because you'll kill two more kids coming in here. It'll fail. It does not matter right now.''
He added: "We've had a headache. I've had a headache for 15 years with this and it's not stopping. It's getting worse."
Pettine stressed that he's been a longtime fan of Kosar's but that his remarks "could be further from the truth.''
"I think that's a little dramatic,'' he said. "I know I've talked about that before. Sometimes guys will make comments that are a little bit over the top.
"I have a lot of respect for Bernie. He was one of my favorite guys growing up - heck of a quarterback - and he's entitled to his opinion. But being here on the inside of it and seeing what we're building and the interaction we have between Jimmy Haslam and Ray Farmer and Alec Scheiner and myself, that the commitment is all there for us to be successful.''
Pettine acknowledged that the track record hasn't been good, but that the current regime is committed to turning things around. From his opening press conference, Pettine has talked about changing the culture.
"Obstacles are being removed for us to be successful and I'm very encouraged about the future here - very encouraged,''And I'd be the last one to tell you that the odds are stacked against us to be successful because of management. That couldn't be further from the truth. We're in a society of instant gratification. Everybody wants it to happen now. As much as we want that to happen, it is a process.''
Pettine had the Browns all alone in first place in the AFC North at 6-3 until they've lost four of their last five.
"When you build a house, you have to build it from the foundation,'' he said. "You have to build it the right way, make sure it's rock solid and we're in the middle of that. So I get that people are going to have their opinions and say what they say. A lot more of that happens when you've lost three in a row. I didn't hear a lot of that when we'd just gotten our seventh win, so [if] we want that stuff to go away, it's still a bottom line business. You've got to win games.''
Pettine stressed that the Browns must be successful in the final two games to eradicate the "losing culture'' mantra.
"I think that's critical,'' he said. "Just momentum in the offseason is critical. How we started the year, a lot of people won't remember that. We'll be remembered by our last game, our last performance or our last month or our last two months.
"As far as the culture change part of it, that's something consciously and subconsciously, we've been working on doing here since the end of January a year ago, just to come in and implement a system. When you have the culture of losing that's been here when it's been only four or five wins a year going back however many years, that's a difficult thing to overcome because it's a mentality.
"When you get stuck in a rut like we're in now it's easy to fall back into an old habit. That's what I've been saying. We need to fight our way out of it. Right now, we've gotten ourselves in a mode where we've been failing more than we should."
Kosar said during the interview: "You can take out Brian, you can take out Johnny Manziel's name and you can plug in (Tim) Couch.....(Derek) Anderson, Brady Quinn, Colt McCoy...the names change, but the way we do things as a culture above them is still the same and yeah he wasn't ready, but the team's not ready. December is when teams have to play good.''
He said the Browns set the bar too high for Manziel by the way they praised him all week.
"They've been talking so positively like 'this is the savior' and that's what bad organizations do,'' he said. "They set these quarterback controversies up and it kind of takes the heat off of them and it gives everybody a little glimmer of hope. ...The organization and the players and coaches actually thought he was going to do good. I know they believed he was going to do good.''
He said he's been hearing the same refrain since 1999 about the 21 quarterbacks who have started a game since then.
"I'm 51,'' he said. "At this pace, I'm going to die by 60 and for the last 25 years of my life, all I'm going to talk about is, 'Who do you think the quarterback should be?' That's all we talk about. And you can't fix it until you fix it above it.'
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