NFL Wire News

Browns owner Haslam won’t ‘blow things up’


The Sports Xchange

Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said he will not “blow things up” if the team has a losing record this season.

Haslam, addressing the media at training camp in Berea, Ohio, on Saturday, said win-loss record will not affect the future of coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer.

“We’re not going to blow things up. OK?” Haslam said. “I think we’re on the right track, so we’re not going to blow things up. I understand why people might ask that after a couple of bumps in the road the first couple of years, but we’re not going to do that. I think we’re putting in place a good foundation. The first year we were here the draft was not what we wanted.

“I think the second year was better, and a lot depends on how the two first-rounders do, right? If they turn out to be really good players, we had a tremendous draft last year. If one of them makes it, we had a good draft. If neither of them makes it, it’s OK, it’s just so-so. But I think this past year we had a really good draft. We added 12 players, two of them might be redshirts and we have 11 picks this coming year. So if you have that many picks and you pick good talent and can coach them over a period of time, we’re going to be successful.”

Cleveland went 7-9 last season in Pettine’s first year as head coach and Farmer’s first year as general manager.

However, the Browns lost their last five games to fall out of postseason contention.

“I think we got the right people in place to over a period of time be successful here,” Haslam said. “If I had said at this time last year we were going to be 7-9, you all would have said, ‘That’s pretty good.’ The problem is we lost our last five. We get that.”

Pettine faced questions throughout last season for his handling of rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel and the team’s quarterback situation.

The Browns got off to a 7-4 start with veteran Brian Hoyer as their starter, but he threw five interceptions over a two-game stretch in November. That prompted Pettine to turn to Manziel.

Manziel was shaky in his two starts and completed 18-of-35 passes for 175 yards before being placed on injured reserve after sustaining a hamstring injury in Week 16 against the Carolina Panthers.

Josh McCown, a 13-year NFL veteran, was brought in and signed a three-year contract with the Browns worth $14 million, with $5.25 million due in 2015.

Pettine will not declare McCown the starter for the season opener against the New York Jets. He said he wouldn’t name his starter until the third preseason game.

Manziel took steps to clean up his life during the offseason, putting a disastrous rookie season behind him after spending 10 weeks in a rehab center earlier this year.

“I think we’re pleased that Johnny did the things he should do in the offseason,” Haslam said. “It was a great improvement over his first year, but anything less would have been totally unacceptable. So he’s working hard.

“But playing pro football, you have to be a pro, particularly playing the position he does. So he’s got to work hard every day on and off the field. He’s making progress, but he’s got a long way to go. But we’re obviously pleased with the offseason.

“He’s barely 22 years old. He’s still young. So I think over the next couple of years we’ve got to see if Johnny can be a legitimate quarterback or not. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him or our coaches and say it has to happen this year.”

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