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Week 2 vs. Cleveland Browns: Thursday Transcripts

Posted Sep 12, 2013

Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg

With the new addition of Shaun Draughn, is he a guy who can jump into the game action right away, or will we need to wait and see? (Pete Gilbert) “He’s practicing in all the phases that we anticipate him playing for us. The decision will be made, obviously, prior to game time, whether he’s ready to go or not, or how he fits into the 46-man lineup. We like the things he did at Kansas City, and we played against him ourselves, so we knew of him. He’s a good player, so we’ll see how it works out in practice and then make the decision on Sunday prior to the game.”

On the blocked punt, was it a matter of each guy, Arthur Brown and James Ihedigbo, was it just their guy getting through them, or more of an assignment thing? (Aaron Wilson) “No, the assignments were fine – techniques were not good. We didn’t block the guy, it’s that simple. He’s a good rusher, and we need to block him, and we didn’t block him. It was really that simple.”

The punt return with Lardarius Webb out there … Is he somebody who could be the starting punt returner consistently, or would you prefer not to have that because of his defensive contributions? (Garrett Downing) “He’s demonstrated for the Ravens in the past that he can be an effective punt returner, and he likes doing it, and we like having him do it because he’s good at it. We got a 13-yard return the other day from him, and there’s possibility for more. We’ll see how it goes. You never know how the game plays out. We have other options, but he’s certainly one of the options.”

Tandon Doss has done some punt returning. Can you discuss him specifically as a return man? (Bo Smolka) “He’s had an opportunity while he was here to return a lot of pooch punts – we used him in the plus-50 area – because he’s got such sure hands. He’s an excellent catcher of the ball, he makes really good decisions; it’s almost too easy for him. It’s easy. Some guys underneath the ball, they move around and they stutter their feet, and for him, he’s very relaxed and balanced under the ball. He’s got excellent hands, so that’s the first thing with any punt returner. He’s also demonstrated when he’s had opportunities to return punts like last year where he split one – I believe it was against Denver if I’m not mistaken, in the game here – that he had an excellent punt return, because he can put his foot in the ground and he’s a big guy. He’s got strength, and he can knock guys off of him. So, we look at him as a possibility, certainly. He’s had experience; that’s always good.”

Jerry, just your thoughts on what it will be like to have Billy Cundiff back in the stadium and having a good chance to try to talk to him before the game? (Aaron Wilson) “We have a great deal of respect for Billy. Billy had a lot of success here. We had a lot of success with Billy here. He’s done great things for our club while he was a member of our team, and we have a lot of respect for him and we like him a lot. So, that personal part of it, sure, we’re ex-teammates and I admire the kind of man that he is, and it doesn’t surprise me a bit that he’s still kicking in the National Football League. He was a testament to persistence and toughness prior to his arrival here, as you may recall. He had numerous tryouts and numerous [instances of] bouncing around the league and then showed up here and became a Pro Bowl kicker. So, it doesn’t surprise me at all that he’s still kicking in the league. At the same time, he’s now our opponent, so we’re going to try to go beat him.”

You’re also familiar with the kickoff returner there, Bobby Rainey. Is it not just watching him, but watching their scheme as well, even though you have a familiarity with the player? (Jamison Hensley) “It’s probably the other way around – we’re probably watching more scheme than we are him, because we do know him so well. We have an understanding of all of his talents, so whoever is back there for them, we’re going to try to defend him through the scheme. Different returners have different styles, and we know his style quite well.”

Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell

Opening statement: “Good afternoon. I think you can all see, as you have been talking to our coaches and players, etcetera … With a lot of the coaches oftentimes, you find out this game is quite an emotional game – it means a lot to us. We spend a lot of time doing what we do, and so every defeat is taken hard and every victory is fleeting. So, we look on to the next one, but, here we are again. We’re a week removed from our game last week, and we’re staring at a very talented team. Just like anything else, when you play one game, you think you’re playing against a really, really good defense and a good group. Then, all of the sudden, you face another group that’s equally as talented. I’ll open it up for any questions.”

In terms of run-pass ratio, a lot of the guys are saying that they’d like to get the running game cranked up to complement the passing game. What are your thoughts on that after the first game, obviously, with some of it dictated by score? (Aaron Wilson) “I think every game takes on its own personality, and there are some things that happen during the course of a game where you have to change your mode of operation. I don’t think anybody would have any question that we’re committed to making certain that we can run the ball. We certainly need to run it and run it better.”

What did you see from the Browns’ defense against the Dolphins? I know they have a new [defensive] coordinator in Ray Horton who’s an aggressive, attacking guy. What did you see? (Matt Vensel) “It’s an extremely talented group, first of all. They held the Dolphins to really low numbers in terms of the running game. When you look at them up front, they’re extremely talented. Their front seven is outstanding. [Phil] Taylor in the middle of that and [Ahtyba] Rubin in the middle, [they] obviously do a great job. They can stop the run; they can squeeze it off hard. They run well on the edge [with Jabaal] Sheard and [Paul] Kruger – who we know well. [They] do a tremendous job also, not just in terms of stopping the run, but they’re also excellent pass rushers. Their inside linebackers are very, very talented guys. [Craig] Robertson moves around extremely well. [D’Qwell] Jackson is active, fast. They can run sideline to sideline. They present some very, very difficult obstacles for you just in terms of stopping the run. They’re very talented.”

Are some of the growing pains predictable with the offense with so many new, fresh starters in a few weeks span? (Aaron Wilson) “Our standards around here are high. We’re not looking for any excuse. You’ve probably heard the old saying, ‘Excuses are tools of incompetence. They’re used by monuments of nothingness. Those who specialize in them are seldom good at anything else.’ We tend not to want to lean on any. Our standards are high, we focus on getting better, and we expect to be better. We will be better, no question about that.”

Besides necessity, why has Marlon Brown been able to step up and make plays for this team? (Matt Vensel) “Obviously, you saw during preseason that he’s a big guy who can catch, [is] physical [and] does a nice job. He’s certainly been able to get a good feel for the offense, and he’s improved, day-in and day-out. [He’s] just a very, very talented young guy. Every time he’s in the ball game, you see a few big plays that are just waiting to happen, and he’s been able to do that. I think you’ll see he’s going to get better and better each and every week.”

Michael Oher has never missed a start in his whole career, and true to form, he practices on Wednesday after he sprained his ankle. Your thoughts on the toughness of Michael Oher? (Aaron Wilson) “[He’s an] unusual guy – extremely tough, extremely dedicated and disciplined. He has a very, very high tolerance for pain. He’s been able to get back out. He’s obviously committed to this team, and he’s working at it extremely hard.”

How difficult is it not to have Jacoby Jones for that dynamic when you go three wide – him on one side and Torrey Smith on the other – with that vertical threat on each side of the field where a defense will easily shade coverage to one side of the field? (Luke Jones) “That’s what that 53-man roster is for, and I think we have a good one, to be honest with you. Jacoby [Jones] is a dynamic player – a very talented guy. I think we have some guys that can step in and certainly fill in that role. We have some talented guys we think will be able to do that. We just have to anticipate that we’re going to be able to step up and do the things we’re capable of doing in the pass game, do the things we’re capable of doing in the run game and battle a real tough team this week.”

What about [Rick] Wagner – fifth-round rookie thrown into the fire in Week 1? It looked like he had some struggles early on, but then he got better as the game went. (Pete Gilbert) “That’s one of the things that when you look at experience … Here’s a young guy that does have ability and talent, and he’s been playing some on the goal line for us. He stepped in there and did an admirable job. [It’s] certainly not quite what he’d like to do at this point in time – not perfect – but he learned and he adjusted. That’s the unique thing about it, not having experience, because you have the opportunity to face a number of different styles of rusher. Last week he saw a little different technique and maybe a little bit different strength here and there. This week, it will be different. [Jabaal] Sheard and [Paul] Kruger give you another look at things, just in terms of how they go about conducting their business. He has to be able to adjust to those things, and that’s experience. I think he’s smart, tough, and he can adapt to anything.”

With the receiving corps being a little bit depleted now with Jacoby [Jones] down and Deonte [Thompson] down and [Aaron] Mellette going to the IR, could Tandon [Doss] come back in make an impact right away? (Garrett Downing) “We’re working him in to our rotation. He’s capable, and he certainly could. There’s no question about that. That’s why we brought him back, because we thought he could … He’s a guy that knew our system, knew it well. It wouldn’t take long to get him up to speed. Obviously, we’ve put some new things in since his departure. We’re certainly glad to have him back.”

 

Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees

On Friday, a lot of the guys said the corrections jumped right off the screen. How did it look to you? (Aaron Wilson) “Well, the biggest problem … This has been a difficult week, kind of anticipating this press conference, too, a little bit and the questions I was going to get. The only thing I can tell you is … I know talking to the media, sometimes I just have to tell you how I honestly feel, and I know sometimes that’s not what you’re supposed to do. What’s really hard about this last game was the amount of preparation that went into it – coaches and players. The way we played in the first half, except for a couple of bumps, really we played very well. We did the things up front we needed to do in the running game, because they had hurt us a year ago during the season in the running game. Guys did a great job. When you look at a game and you give up 49 points and 500 yards, it’s just really, really disappointing. I’m not a stat guy, but I’m not an idiot either. I don’t want to say that it doesn’t matter; it does matter. The bottom line is winning, but to say that, to kind of blow off that you don’t really care what the stats are, that’s not really true either. We want to be a Top 10 defense; that’s what we want to be. And we still can be – that’s the great thing. The thing about this game, though, was when you watched 61 plays against Denver and Peyton Manning and a really good, talented offensive football team … We gave up 200 yards of offense on those 61 plays. Now, 61 plays sometimes can be a normal football game. And if you ever said you did that against a Denver Bronco team with Peyton Manning, you would be just ecstatic. But it wasn’t that. You can’t neglect the nine plays for 300 yards. So, you can’t just ignore it and say, ‘We had a good game, but we had these nine plays.’ Those nine plays, you had them. It’s our job as a coaching staff to sit down and evaluate all plays – why the ones worked, but also more why the other ones didn’t work, and is there anything we can do schematically to help those guys. Is it a technique thing? Is there anything we can do better to coach those guys in the technique? Is it a personnel problem? It’s our situation to solve those. But to sit here and say I’m really disappointed in the defense … There’s times, being honest, like last year in Philadelphia, [when] we didn’t play well, I called a crap game. I did, and sometimes you’ve just got to say that. I didn’t do well that game. I didn’t put our guys in the best position. Houston game last year, we didn’t play well when we gave up points and yardage. This game, I can’t say that the whole defense didn’t play well. We didn’t play poorly; we played poor plays. And there were nine of them, and we’ve got to correct those nine plays. I still really believe we can be a very, very good defense. And it was … The corrections just jumped off the charts like you said, just because they were so easy. They were on the same plays that we ran in the first half, and we just missed a tackle. Two big plays were missed tackles. One communication error; it wasn’t like we had a bunch of missed assignments. It wasn’t like we had early in the first preseason game, miscommunication between new guys. There wasn’t that. We had one miscommunication on the goal line on a pass. We put those guys between a rock and a hard place with Manning, because we were not going to let them run the football in on the goal line. You know what that does to the secondary. That puts you on an island out there against a very talented football team, and they got us. One was a missed tackle, [and] one we just played the play poorly. It’s not all on the secondary, either. We sacked the guy three times; we hit him nine times to the ground. I don’t think we’ve ever done that against Manning. So, we put the pressure on, but maybe we’ve just got to put on a little bit more. On the last play, I ran a full-out blitz, which I almost really never do against Peyton Manning because they hit [a score of] 42-27. I could really care … Something has got to happen, so we tried to make it happen. It didn’t. Somebody’s band was going to play, and it was theirs. This has been a hard week, because I’m disappointed in the outcome. I’m disappointed in the statistics, which look terrible. I’m not disappointed in the total defensive effort that we gave. I’m disappointed in nine plays; that’s what it is. So, it’s been a hard week. It isn’t one where you can just go in and start chastising and get everybody and be ranting and raving and be crazy. At the same time, you can’t sit there and go, ‘Well, it’s OK,’ because it’s not. It’s kind of that in-between. That’s as honest an answer as I can possible give you.”

Is it good that you learned these things in Week 1? (Rich Sayers) “Absolutely. Now, you would like to say we learned them in preseason, but it’s kind of like they never came up. Every game is always a different game, even preseason. Remember last week when I said at the press conference that we’ve never had this whole group together for a full game. We’ve played a half, we’ve played a quarter, but we’ve never gone in at halftime and made adjustments or maybe not make adjustments. There wasn’t a lot to adjust at halftime. We were playing good, except for really two plays – well, three. We missed a tackle, they gained big yards, and then they threw the next play right down in the end zone, and we played it poorly. I’ll give them credit on the screen-and-go. It’s a heck of a good play, [and] they caught us. Remember last year they ran the exact same screen for a touchdown on us. So, they set it up with a screen-and-go. Hey, good play on offense. That one really didn’t bother me as much as the other two. But 17-14 at halftime, I’m feeling pretty good against these guys, and I think we’re playing well, and that’s kind of what we told the guys. We’ve got to stick with the plan. Then, we missed a couple tackles, and we missed a couple good things. But you’re right; it was the first game, and now what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to improve. We’ve got to take all those things, correct them all, and move forward and be a good defense.”

Michael Huff and Corey Graham were toughest on themselves after the game. What did you see from them after the game? (Aaron Wilson) “You know I’m never going to stand up here and talk about a player. I’ll talk about good. I’m not going to talk about any mistake a guy made. They gave you an answer. If they’re tough on themselves, that’s good. That’s the way they ought to be. There’s always something that we can do better as a coaching staff. There’s always something players can do better. Rather than complete a pass, if we sack him, then it really doesn’t matter. I’ve seen guys running free down the field and they get a sack and everybody says, ‘Well, you guys played great on defense,’ and the guy didn’t cover anybody. Those guys can talk about themselves. I’m not going to talk about any individual guy.”

Was chemistry not really a problem? Was it just that the guys didn’t execute on those nine plays? (Pete Gilbert) “It wasn’t chemistry. We made the call, guys made the communication, a guy knows who he’s got … I think I also alluded to last week about when you play Peyton Manning, it’s an execution-type offense, and you’ve got to execute on defense. If you’ve got a guy in man coverage, you’ve got to cover that man. It was not rocket science. The communication was there. I don’t think it had anything to do with chemistry. I think our guys really work well together [and] like each other. It’s a great room. It doesn’t have anything to do with that. We did not execute, whether it was technique or a missed tackle. In preseason, I said one of the things I felt best about coming out of the preseason was the way that we tackled. And we didn’t tackle as well in this game. On some teams, you might give up one of those and it might not hurt you, but [if] you do that against Denver [and] certain teams, they’re just going to crush you, and that’s exactly what happened.”

How pleased were you with Lardarius Webb’s performance, and do you think he’s back to form? (Garrett Downing) “I was really surprised as many plays as he played. He played well, came out of it healthy [and] felt good after the game. I was very, very pleased that we got him back.”

What can you do to better defend the tight ends? It seemed like they were finding holes between the linebackers and safeties in the zone. (Matt Vensel) “I don’t think you’re watching the same film I’m watching. The guy was in man coverage. On almost every ball that the tight end caught, he was in man coverage. So, that’s not a spot between the zones. That’s somebody playing technique man-to-man on the tight end, and that guy has got to play better technique, or we’ve got to coach better technique.”

Do you expect Cleveland to also use the tight end, seeing what Denver did to you guys? (Jamison Hensley) “[It’s a] copycat league. Everybody copies whoever they played the week before. So, you better be prepared for any mistake that you made on any formation [or] any particular play the week before. You better have corrected it, because they’ll find out if you have.”

What did you think of Matt Elam in his debut? (Pete Gilbert) “Good. He didn’t play all that much, but I thought it was good to get Matt [Elam] in there and get him a little bit of a game experience in a big atmosphere like that. That’ll prove beneficial for us.”

What goes into deciding who will play the nickel corner, considering both Corey Graham and Lardarius Webb play well inside and out? (Luke Jones) “Kind of what we think the matchup is on the guy who’s playing the slot for the other team. It might be that, and also it may really be the guy who’s on the outside. You may have a better matchup outside. It’s kind of both. You just have to look at their personnel. Who’s going to be the slot receiver? Who’s going to be the outside receiver? How do you match up well? And sometimes, it’s like anything else – it’s like even in basketball – sometimes you have to change up who is covering who, just because maybe a guy is having a tough day covering that guy. Let’s try somebody else and move the other guy outside. So, there are a couple variations that go into that decision.”

You’re certainly being accountable, but it sounds like this is a little more personal. Given that you’re also playing at home in front of the home crowd this week … (Rich Sayers) “I’m also from Ohio. (laughter) It’s real personal this week. It is personal. I don’t usually kind of … I love this defense. I love these guys. These guys are good football players. We put a lot of work into this offseason, put a lot of work in this summer, and put a lot of work into that game plan for Denver – staff and players. When I talk about ‘we,’ I’m talking about all of us. And when you put that much work into it and hard work and [you’re] really dedicated to it and believe in what you’re doing, and really, just a few things make an unbelievable amount of difference, it does – it really bothers me. It bothers me, because I want us to be a Top 10 defense. I want us to be a top-tier defense. I think we are a top-tier defense if we don’t do those things. We can’t do those things. I can say that, but then I can’t disregard those plays and say, ‘Well, we’re a great defense.’ No. We gave up too many yards and too many points. That doesn’t make you a great defense. We have the potential to be that. So, it is personal because I feel for those guys. We all take pride in our job. It’s our heart and our soul. We’re here 90 hours a week as coaches. And players, they’re here a lot. They aren’t here 90 [hours]. We put a lot into this, and to have it go out and not end up like you want it … A loss is one thing. That hurts worse than anything, but still, you want to play well. And we didn’t play well enough. There are some other guys up front that played great. To ask our line to play a six-man box all game against their running game and hold them to 60 yards? [That’s the] best we’ve ever done. To hit Manning that many times? [That’s the] best we’ve ever done. But it all negates because of the other. That’s why it is personal. It bothers me, and the only thing that’s going to take the stink off of it is you know what.”

A big storyline, and I heard it a lot in the post-game show calling in and read some of it as well … No Ed Reed, no Ray Lewis and a franchise-record 49 points allowed. Is there any fairness to that line of thought? (Pete Gilbert) “It’s a call-in [radio show]. Do you? Thank you. I didn’t have to answer it for you.”

 

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