Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Good to see everybody – appreciate you guys being here. Good day. Hot day. Full pads. [We] had a good practice."
How is OLB Elvis Dumervil progressing, and do you anticipate him getting back on the practice field soon? (Luke Jones)"They are all progressing and working really hard on it. I think the same goes for Elvis, just like all of the guys who are not out there practicing."
John, I know you addressed this Sunday, but was it nice for you to see TE Dennis Pitta playing and contributing? (David Ginsburg) "It was nice. Now the thing is, we're both talking about, 'OK, here's where we have to go from here.' You move right into the next thing. It was good to see him out there. When you take a minute and look back instead of ahead – there's not a lot of time to look back – but certainly, when you look back on his journey, it makes you feel really good about where he's at right now."
We talked about the possibility, and now it's official that Browns QB Josh McCown will play. You were preparing for RGIII. Does it change things drastically for you guys? (Jerry Coleman) "I wouldn't say drastically. It's just a different quarterback playing their offense. There will be certain things they'll do more, other things they'll do less. One thing about Josh McCown [is] he's just excellent on third down. He's been great on third down his whole career. His touchdown-interception ratio was really good last year. He hangs in the pocket. He'll make throws when the pocket is kind of coming down around him – and make accurate throws. He played well. You can look at the [Browns'] record [from 2015] and say it's his, but when you look at the way the quarterback played last year, he certainly played well in all games and played particularly well here against us. We have a lot of respect for Josh McCown."
QB Joe Flacco completed passes to 10 different guys on Sunday. How beneficial is it to have that kind of depth? (Jamison Hensley)"It's good to be able to spread the ball around, certainly. If you have one or two good players at receiver or whatever, you're certainly going to draw a defense's attention. The ability to move the ball around to different guys is a benefit. The ability to get the ball to Mike Wallace on the zero blitz touchdown pass where they double-teamed Steve [Smith Sr.] was a good example of that."
**Will that change as the passing game improves a little bit and receivers start to separate themselves from the pack? *(Mike Preston) *"That's a good question. I don't think so. We do need to get the ball in guys' hands, and it's a challenge, because we have a number of guys that you can say that about. I think the ability to have some game-breakers, hopefully … That's what we're chasing right now, having some guys that can break the game open. Mike [Wallace] made the difference in the game. Dennis [Pitta] made the seam-route catch. Breshad [Perriman] made the nine-route catch. Those are big plays. But also, the ability to keep the coverage off of him a little bit or at least to have some other guys in a position where they can make some plays, as well, [is important], because maybe they're giving too much attention to a couple of guys. We'll have to see how it plays out."
*John, is WR Breshad Perriman precautionary, or did he have a setback on Sunday? (Jeff Zrebiec) *"The injury report will be out later, so I'm just going to leave it at that for where he's at. We'll see."
OLB Matthew Judon saw some time in the opener and could be a guy who is important to the defense. Can you talk about what you saw and where he is? (Cliff Brown) "I saw a young guy who played well, played hard. The first 10, 12 plays he was feeling his way a little bit. He didn't want to make a mistake, I think, and didn't. Once he got his sea legs, he seemed like he really amped it up and did make some plays and played hard toward the end. That was good to see. He did a nice job."
QB Joe Flacco
On if he owns the shirt OLB Terrell Suggs was wearing, which is a picture of Joe Flacco's face with "elite" written on it: "No, I don't. I think you get those at Barstool [Sports], by the way. I picked up Dennis on the way to the game this past Sunday, and he came out wearing one. I said, 'Man, why do you have my face on your shirt?' (laughter) I think they planned on wearing them in the team meeting on Saturday night, and I think Dennis just wanted to be the guy to get all the glory for me seeing it, so he wore it coming out of his house." (laughter)
On what makes him and TE Dennis Pitta so close on and off the field: "I'm not sure. I throw him the ball, so he probably buddies up with me, just so I throw him the ball. *(laughter) *He acts the rest of the time; he probably doesn't like me that much. He will invite me over to his house every now and then, if I can throw him the ball a couple times."
On his relationship with Browns head coach Hue Jackson:"Hue [Jackson] is great. [I have] a lot of respect for Hue; I had a lot of fun here with him. [We had] a lot of fiery battles between us and a lot of really good times our first two years. I love him. Him and [former Ravens offensive coordinator] Cam [Cameron] brought me into the league, and I have a lot of respect for him [Jackson]. A lot of what he taught me is a lot of the reason I am here and the reason we still play the way we do. A lot of stuff I learned came from him. He is going to have those guys ready to play. I know his attitude. I know how fiery and exciting he can be. He used to go out pre-game and mess with some of the opposing coaches and players. As a head coach, I don't know if he will be coming out and trying to put any bad thoughts in my head. It would be funny if he did."
On what it meant to see TE Dennis Pitta in the huddle and then connect with him after what Pitta has been through: "Not to sound cold or anything, but I really didn't think about it too much. It was funny when he caught the pass. Obviously, the place erupted a little bit. I said to myself, 'I guess that was the first pass he caught today.' I didn't really think about it too much, but I'm sure he did a little bit. At the same time, I think he is kind of like me, so he probably didn't think it was that big of a deal."
On if the plays were designed to get a lot of people involved:"I think you can see the amount that we rotated personnel in the game on Sunday. I think that just lends itself to a lot of guys touching the ball. When you have all the backs touch the ball and you are rotating receivers like that [and] tight ends, I think it's just the way it is going to turn out some of the times. I don't think you ever necessarily design plays to get the ball out to 10 different guys. It is the way it works out when you are rotating personnel and you have confidence in everybody. It just happened to play out like that."
On how much he hears from players throughout the game about getting the ball and if WR Steve Smith Sr. said anything to him about getting the ball more:"No, I don't worry about Steve [Smith Sr.]. Me and Steve are good. I think Steve is great, and he understands what it is all about. Same with me. Believe me; I want to get Steve the ball. I think the biggest thing with Steve, and why we can have a good relationship, is that he knows I want to get him the ball, and he knows that we all want to go out there and do well. There are very few reasons for that kind of stuff to happen. It does [happen] every now and then, just because we are all fiery and we are all competitive. That stuff is going to happen, and I think it is a good thing when it does happen; it is not a bad thing. We have a great relationship, and that is not going to do anything to it if it happens to get to that point."
On if the respect that the Bills gave WR Steve Smith Sr. opened things up, specifically on the 66-yard TD to WR Mike Wallace: "Yes. They doubled Steve, and it probably had a lot do with the fact that he was just the inside receiver on that play. They were playing Cover Zero; there was nobody in the back end. It would be interesting to see if Steve was the slot guy, if they would have doubled him still. I figured because of where the way the safety was dropping down, that they were doubling the inside guy there. He is going to get a lot of respect everywhere we go; I don't care that he just came off the injury. I think that you can see out there that he is very explosive and is going to have the ability to make a ton of plays for us this year. Teams are definitely going to have to respect him, and it is going to open up guys."
On if he felt he was his old self or if he felt tentative at times during the game Sunday:"I felt good, physically. I didn't think I played as well as I could have. I thought I played OK. I thought I could have moved better at times. I thought I could have been a little more accurate – things like that. [Those are] all things that we are going to get better at and that I'm going to get better at and clean up a little bit. I thought it was a good starting point. But physically, I felt great. I think it is just a matter of getting back out there and doing it all over again."
ILB C.J. Mosley
On what they can take from playing against Browns QB Josh McCown last season:"Well, you want to say that with him being the quarterback now, the offense might change. From what we have seen, some of the stuff that [Brown head] coach Hue [Jackson] did at Cincinnati is kind of the same. I wouldn't say … I'm not going to compare McCown to their quarterback at Cincinnati. Some similarities are the same. We might not see as much read zone option as we might see [with Robert Griffin III], but our gameplan going in pretty much hasn't changed, even though they swapped quarterbacks."
On how to prevent QB Josh McCown from having similar success as last year against the defense:"We have to execute our defense. A lot of the plays that they made were because we didn't do the right thing on defense. One of the big plays they made when they threw it up to the tight end, and he caught it between his legs, was because we actually left him wide open running down the seam. It is just little things we have to work on. [We have] to watch some of the film from last year, but know what kind of offense we are dealing with. They are going to come out and probably do some shifts of motion. They might do a little Wildcat, like we saw last week. We just have to execute and be ready for whatever happens."
On how pleased he was with the communication on the defense in Week 1: "Practice makes perfect. All training camp [and] OTAs, that is what we talked about – communication, running to the ball, being relentless. All that paid off Sunday. We have to make sure we do that every week, because we set the tone."
On the challenge of covering Browns TE Gary Barnidge:"It goes back to what I said before: Some of the plays they made … Of course he is a great athlete, a great player. He made some plays on his own, but the other ones were because we messed up on defense by not communicating or somebody doing the right thing. We have to make sure that we communicate, study our gameplan, know what type of plays we are going to be dealing with; it will be different with different tight ends. He is going to be the more passing tight end. They get him out in space and try to make big plays. We just have to try and make plays, too."
On how his health is and why he didn't practice today: "I'm feeling pretty good. I just have to make sure I don't go out there and make anything any worse. I'll be out there tomorrow."
TE Dennis Pitta
On what it meant to him to take the field for the first time in a while on Sunday:"It meant a lot being able to take the field and run out of the tunnel again. It's something I didn't know if I would be able to do. I am just extremely grateful and humbled to be back on the field with my teammates."
On his low point after his latest hip injury:"I think the last time I played in Cleveland was a pretty big low point. That was probably the lowest. When you dislocate your hip for the second time in that many years, it's tough. I didn't know how I would respond or how my body would feel six months down the road, a year down the road. I was really relying on what the doctors were telling me, which wasn't all that positive, to be honest. I just kept working hard, put my head down, and knew I would just see what happens, see how I would feel, and make an assessment when the time came. Fortunately, I was able to make a full recovery and I feel great."
On what has made him and QB Joe Flacco such good friends: "I think we're just similar off the field. I don't know. I don't really understand the philosophy, or the whatever, behind what it takes to make a friend.* (laughter)* I'm at a loss for words with that one. We're just friends. However that process works, it just does. I think we like each other on and off the field. I think it helps us on the field, too, because we're able to communicate so often."
On if it will be emotional for him to return to Cleveland where he last dislocated his hip: "The last time I was on that field, it wasn't the best memory. I don't anticipate really even thinking about it. I'm just excited for another opportunity to be on the field and get a little bit better. Last Sunday was certainly exciting for me to be back out there, [but] it was not perfect by any means, on my end. It was good to get a game feel back and get that under my belt. I hope that I can continue to improve as the weeks go on."
On what he was thinking when he injured his finger in a preseason practice scuffle: "It was frustrating at the time, because I wanted to get a lot of reps in training camp, and certainly in the preseason, because I hadn't done it in a while. It was frustrating from that standpoint, but fortunately, it wasn't an injury that was going to keep me out of the regular season. I was able to operate with that hope still. It's just about working hard, doing a lot of running and making sure I was physically in a place where I could be back Week 1. We were able to do that. Now, it's just about continuing to get the feel and everything down."
On FB Kyle Juszczyk's abilities and versatility: "Kyle is a versatile guy. He's a great football player. He's a very savvy football player and understands what we're trying to do offensively. We're able to use him in a lot of different roles. He's a fullback and good at the point of attack. I think, unlike most fullbacks around the league, he's able to split out and run routes and do some things that create mismatches. It's good to have a weapon like Kyle."
On if friends and family suggested he quit playing after his second hip injury: "Yes. There were doctors that suggested I should quit. There were friends and family that certainly were looking out for my best interest and my health and wanted me to just be smart about it. My wife is still nervous to the day to watch me out there, and she was nervous last Sunday. I think everybody around me … The people that are important to me and matter to me are supportive and understand this is certainly my decision and that I'm smart enough to make an informed decision when it comes to my health."
WR Steve Smith Sr.
On the Browns' secondary: "Some guys have changed. I think they traded away a high draft pick. Buster Skrine left the year before. Honestly, I'm playing catch-up. I watched the games, but I didn't do film study or any of that stuff. They're a fly-around bunch, but I'm still getting up to speed on them. They have a different defensive coordinator [Ray Horton], so that changes [things]. There are a lot of different mixtures to put into the equation. It's too early. Wednesday is too early to really say what back end they have. But with Joe Haden and company, you have to pay attention. You can't go in there and say, 'Well, with their  record and their circumstances, this is going to be an easy day.' You can't go in there and think that or presume that, because you will embarrass yourself if you do that."
On the offense getting adjusted with the passing game last Sunday:"Honestly, for me, I was just trying to get through the game. If I make it through the game it was good. (laughter) Beggars can't be choosers."
On how he felt physically after the game: "My Achilles felt good. Everything else was hurting, but my Achilles."
On how long it takes him after a game to be physically ready for the next game:"Any time after the game. It really depends on the rivalry. Your body adjusts a little different. Some games are harder than others. The surface has a lot to do with it, as well. I think with them changing the surface to the grass – nothing is better than real grass. The synthetic is supposed to do that, but it's artificial. When they changed to grass, it made a big difference."
On the differences he noticed in the grass as opposed to the turf: "Anything real, more than synthetic, is always great. It can be the worst [grass] field ever, but synthetic, artificial grass doesn't give. When you look at an artificial turf and you run, what comes up? The rubber. But the grass doesn't move. When you see a guy plant on grass – when he makes a powerful plant – rubber doesn't come up. What does? Dirt. That means that grass is giving. It's softer. It's better on your joints."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On his shirt, which is a picture of QB Joe Flacco's face with the word "elite" written on it:"I'm trying to get back to the old things. When Joe used to have good games, I used to put a picture of a hip-hop video vixen in his locker. When he didn't have a good game, I would put something quite the opposite. I'll let him tell you about it. Now we are a little mature. He is married now, so I have to be a little more politically correct. He had a good game, so we are trying to get the confidence thing going. When he drops a bad one, I'll have something for him." (laughter)
On if being physical against Buffalo was the key to their defensive success:"You have to understand Tyrod Taylor. We didn't want to let the cat out of the bag with our gameplan. We didn't want him to change the game with explosive plays, and he still got out a couple times. He got away from us, he broke out of some sacks, and he was still able to make some plays. You had to be disciplined in your rush, and we were able to contain him a little bit and get the 'W.'"
On how it felt to see a lot of players back from injury: "It was definitely good to see us out there in real time ball. Like I said before at the start of training camp, this team has a certain look, a certain feel, and we are starting to feel like that. You have your confidence and you are feeling good about yourself, and it starts to cross over into the games, and we like that feeling."
On what he takes from the two games against Cleveland Browns QB Josh McCown last year:"Well, he was successful against us. He had some success. He had some success against us in the past with his other teams, too. That is pretty much it. He seems like he is pretty dialed in. We know they are kind of happy to have him. There you go … From one week to the next, the task is different. We have this [task] of playing against Josh McCown and making sure he doesn't have too much of a big day in their [home] opener."
On how much of a confidence booster the game against the Bills was:"It is just one game. It is good, but we aren't going to start betting the house on it. We need to continue to work. We need to continue to get better. This is the NFL. Most importantly, this is the AFC North. In my opinion, it is a tough division; it is the toughest division in the league. Last week was last week. It was good to get off to a good start. Now, it is on to Cleveland; it is on to the next team. It is their [home] opener, and they are going to be emotionally ready to play. We have to make sure we match that."
On his opinion of the way ILB Zachary Orr is playing:"He is a young kid. He is definitely forced in there. He is capable of making some plays. We like Zach in there. He is going to be big for us this year. But like I said, we are not going to jump the gun; we are going to continue to make plays. We are going to continue to get better and work every week."
On how tough it is to play against a team in its home opener:"You have to understand Hue Jackson. The circus is in town. We are looking at film from three or four years ago of all these funky formations. We are expecting everything. Hue was here, so we have a great deal of respect for Hue. This is his home opener. They are coming off of an emotional loss last week, and they lost their starting quarterback. They are going to be ready. We are expecting everything; we are expecting Hue to throw the kitchen sink at us. We are preparing for everything. They have a receiver over there who was once a quarterback, so we are expecting everything – some Wildcat, Polecat offense; we are expecting everything. Don't be surprised if they come out there with that 'Little Giants' formation, the Flying V. They have something up their sleeve for us; we just have to be able to prepare for it and react for it."
On Suggs' and Hue Jackson's fun interactions:"We did [have some fun interactions]. I liked it, because throughout my history, he was really the only one that could kind of match me going back and forth with the jabs. We have a great deal of respect for Hue. He was at Cincinnati, he went to Oakland, and then he went back to Cincinnati. Now, he is the head ball coach at Cleveland. They think they have something special, and they think he is the guy to lead them. Like I said, we respect him a great deal, and we know we have our hands full this week."
On where fans can get his QB Joe Flacco "elite" shirt:"You definitely can get it at 'TSizzle55.com'. *(laughter) *I'm just kidding. You have to ask Dennis Pitta. We are kind of rallying behind our guy, but he better play elite. We love you '5.'"
On if he is surprised that there is a question of where QB Joe Flacco stands:"You can question a Super Bowl MVP? Hell no."
DT Brandon Williams
On starting the season with a league-leading performance on defense:"It was great – a great start off to the season with the 'W.' Also, a great show out [there] by the defense and having all of our guys there. This is just week one. We're going to get better and better every game, every week. This is a great base to build off of, and we're going to keep grinding."
On rookie DT Michael Pierce: "Pierce is my guy. We call him the 'Juggernaut.' I'm taller than him though! He's short and squatty. He's doing a great job, especially coming in here as a rookie free agent and making his way on the roster. Then, at the same time, [he is] getting reps in. He's doing a great job. Anytime I can help him, I always tell him this or that, anything. I take him under my wing and let him know. I commend him for just working his butt off and getting out here and doing it every day."
On which of them is quicker off the ball: "Me! (laughter) Next question." (laughter)
On if opposing teams are becoming more aware of his ability and avoid his gaps:"It's probably just scheme. They probably know about me, so obviously, I expect a double-team all the time. If I don't get a double-team, I kind of feel bad and upset a little bit, because I feel like I need a double-team. It is what it is week to week, but I always expect a double-team. I always expect teams to scheme or run away or do something. Some teams I expect to get the ball, especially if they're a running team. I expect them to run up the middle and at least try it out. It just depends, week to week. It depends on schemes. It depends on the team."
On DT Timmy Jernigan's potential after a strong start: "Like I said earlier, it's just the first game, and he's already doing his due diligence and balling like he is right now. He's only going to get better and better. Like I've said numerous times before, he's a pit bull. He's going to keep grinding, and he's going to keep coming at you no matter what. He's doing a great job."
On what he remembers about facing Browns QB Josh McCown last year: "We came out with an 'L.' It's time for payback. Third time is a charm, I guess."
On the key to stopping McCown: "The biggest thing is to keep guys in his face and keep closing the pocket. He likes to step back and throw the deep ball. Just crowd him, make sure he's in the pocket, make sure there's a bunch of guys in his face and just don't let him beat us like he did last time."
CLEVELAND BROWNS CONFERENCE CALLS: WEEK 2
Head Coach Hue Jackson
You were here with QB Joe Flacco in his first year. What have you seen in his development?"I believe Joe is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. He has really matured, obviously. He's one of the better players at his position in the National Football League. He has had an outstanding career."
Joe credited you for being a major reason why he's still here. Do you take pride in seeing what he has accomplished?"I have always admired Joe from afar, obviously, after I left there. I will always watch him and want the best for him other than the two times we play him. He's a tremendous young man. He is a father, a husband, a son. He has worked extremely hard to get to where he is. I don't think people truly understand the passion that Joe has to push himself and be one of the best players in this league."
Can you talk about the thought process of taking the job in Cleveland? "My thought process was that it was the right opportunity and the right fit for me. I am truly committed to the task at hand with the people here. With Dee and Jimmy Haslam as the owners, and Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta and Andrew Berry, some of our executives that are truly involved in our football organization. I feel very good about our process and what we're trying to do. I know it's not a glamorous-looking opportunity right now, but I'm not worried about that. I'm more worried about making sure we get our process right so that as we head into the future we become a team that can sustain winning over time, and I think we'll do that."
Were you apprehensive after what happened in Oakland where you only got a year as head coach? And then you look at Cleveland where they've had so many coaches in just a short period of time. "That never was a true thought of mine, because I think this is a people's business. At the end of the day, I think you need to be with the right people. When I was in Oakland, I was with Al Davis, who I think was one of the most outstanding owners in the game. He gave me the opportunity, and I worked side by side with him. I truly believe if he hadn't passed that my future might have been a little bit different. I've always made this about being with the right people. It's no different than when I was in Baltimore. Those were the right people for me [with] John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome and the rest of the great people there. To me, this feels the same. I think the people here are outstanding. There's a result that we're all chasing, but at the same time, you have to make sure you have the right people first before the results come."
Are you saying Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis wasn't the right guy for you in Cincinnati? "No. I was …" (Mike Preston: "I'm just joking, Hue!") "You're about to scare me! (laughter) Talk bad about my best friend? That's not fair." (laughter)
How much did Marvin Lewis play a part in your decision to take the job in Cleveland?"Marvin played a huge part. Marvin is one of my best friends. I think everybody knows that. Marvin gave me an opportunity when no one else would – him and the Bengals. He allowed me the opportunity to come back to Cincinnati and really restart my career, and I thank him for that. To help put me back on the right path for this opportunity, I am so grateful for everything that was done for me by him and by the Cincinnati Bengals organization. I know sometimes everybody says it's tough for you to be in a division where you worked for two teams, Baltimore and Cincinnati, but sometimes that's the way it works. It's just part of it. I understand the demands of the job and the people that I have been with. At the same time those people – I'm talking about Marvin Lewis and John Harbaugh – have been some of the best at what they do in this league, and I thank them for the time spent with them."
Hue, people still talk about how you and Joe had a really good relationship when you were here. What was it about you two that allowed you to hit it off? "I think Joe allowed me to coach him as a young player in the National Football League. All I tried to do was create the right environment for him to be the best that he could be. I thought as a rookie, he played outstanding. I thought the second year, he played outstanding. But I will be the first to tell you, Joe also taught me a lot, too. He taught me how to become a better coach and [how] to really help a young talented passer to be the best that he could be. I just tried to create the environment and he did all the work."
How much were you banging on the table to draft him? "I was banging on the table a ton, because I was a part of the group that went down to work him out at Delaware. He did an outstanding job throwing the football. I've only been around another talented passer that way, and that was Carson Palmer. Not trying to compare the two, but the way Joe throws the ball so effortlessly, it looked like a little bit of Carson to me throwing the ball. There's not a ball that he can't throw. He's so big and so strong. Obviously, like I said, he's had a great career because of his characteristics."
What did you learn from your year in Oakland that you brought with you to Cleveland? Sometimes coaches improve in that second stint when they move on."Yes, yes we do. I think, for me, I've been a lot more patient. I understand that it takes a village to run an organization. That it's not just Hue Jackson and a couple of other people. We all have a part in this in order to get this organization where it needs to be – that I don't have all the answers. There are others that have a ton of input in getting this right. It's about being collaborative and being a collaborative group and working together. It's been outstanding here so far. That's what I took away from Oakland. Because once Al Davis died, it was really me and Amy Trask, and that was tough. You have to make sure you have the right people supporting you to be all that you can be, and I truly believe that we have that structure here."
You have prepared playing for the Ravens' defense the last couple of years. Did you see a different group against the Bills? What are the primary differences you saw from this year's group, compared to what you have seen in the past? "They are playing extremely hard. I don't know if there are true differences as far as schematically. I just think they are playing with great confidence. Terrell Suggs is back to playing. You look at Lardarius Webb; I know he is not playing corner, but he is playing safety, and he is playing extremely hard. You take Brandon Williams; I don't know if anybody can block the guy. That will be a tall challenge. He is as good as there is in the middle of their defense. Obviously the linebackers, we all know about '57' [C.J. Mosley] and how good he is, but watching this young player,'54' [Zach Orr], you have to be kidding me. They are right back to being the Ravens of the old times. They are a very good defensive front; they have some good players in the secondary. I remember playing them in the past, and it used to feel like there were 13 guys out there instead of 11. They are playing with that swagger and confidence again, and they are a very good defensive football team."
Terrell Suggs said that he thinks you are going to pull out all of your tricks on him on Sunday. Are you going to disappoint him?"You never know. I think 'Harbs' knows me pretty well. It is not really about tricks, it is about fundamentals, and he taught me that more so than anybody. The teams that plays with great fundamentals and can do the things consistently over time are the teams that are going to win. I credit John [Harbaugh] for a lot of my success in coaching, and I thank him for the lessons he taught me. But, he didn't teach me a lot of trick plays; I can tell you that much." (laughter)
When you talk about building a championship team in Cleveland, how much can what the Ravens have had serve as a model for you and what you are trying to build?"It serves as a great model for me. Coming from Cincinnati and being in the playoffs the last four years, five years, whatever it was there and then, obviously being in Baltimore and going to the AFC championship game, there are a lot of lessons learned just in that. I understand that is what we are chasing. I have a model in my mind of what that looks like, and we have a model as an organization of what we are trying to accomplish and what it should feel like. We are going to get there. I think we all know that sometimes it is tough when you first start. But I truly believe we will get there. I think we have the right mindset about it and the plan to make it happen."
Clearly, you don't want to lose your starting quarterback in Week 1, but how much does it help having a veteran like Josh McCown, when you do have such a young roster?"It helps a lot. You said it – we do have a young roster, but this is a guy that has played in the National Football League for 15 years. He has a lot of skins on the wall, and he understands how to play. There is nothing like experience. He has great experience, he has great feel for the game, so he understands how to play. I'm afraid to think about what it would be like if I didn't have him. It is very comforting to know that you have a guy that has been through the worst of playing in this league, week-in and week-out. I'm looking forward to watching him play."
TE Gary Barnidge is a guy who has had some big games against the Ravens. He didn't have as much production last week as I know you guys would like. How important is he to your offense and do you think playing with a guy like Josh McCown might help get him going?"He is very important. I think every tight end is very important, no more than there [with the Ravens'] tight ends are to Joe [Flacco]. I think quarterbacks feel very comfortable when they have tight ends that can make plays. We have a guy that we feel very good about. Last week was very uncharacteristic of Gary, and we are looking forward to watching him play this week."
Can you talk about the changes to the NFL kickoffs? I know they were designed to lessen the number of collisions, but by moving the ball to the 25 after the touchback, do you think that increases the chance of guys returning the ball?"It could. Because a lot of people still truly believe you can kick it short and pin people inside the 20. I think there are probably more attempts at that than anything. I'm sure – just me thinking about the question you asked – it is probably more touchbacks. I know as an offensive coach, I love to have the ball on the 25- [yard line], instead of the 20. It all depends … We will get a chance to look back at the end of the year and see if it has evened out and how this has all played out. I would think it all depends on who the head coach is. Some guys would want to kick the ball on there, because they love starting at the 25, and some guys are going to try bringing it out because they have some very talented returners."
How do you feel about that? What is your strategy? Do you prefer kicking it out of bounds or trying to make them to return it?"I can't tell you my secrets. I can't give away strategy. [Special teams coordinator/associate head coach] coach [Jerry] Rosburg will be in there drawing up new stuff, so I can't do that." (laughter)
QB Josh McCown
On what went through his mind when he heard of QB Robert Griffin III's injury:"It's kind of dual emotions there, where you're heartbroken for your friend and colleague who just went down, but at the same time, you have to get your mindset ready to play ball. It's a little bit of both, because you hate to see a teammate get injured, especially one that spent so much time with you in the quarterback room and a guy that you root for. But you have to internalize that and then flip your mindset to, 'OK, I have to be ready to help my team.'"
On if the Ravens' defense looked different last Sunday than it did last year: "I think so. No. 1, obviously, they're healthy again and they've got some of their guys back, and that makes a difference – not only from a talent standpoint, but just from an awareness [standpoint]. They are able to understand each other, make the calls and do what they do inside the system. Coach [Dean] Pees does a good job of putting those guys in the position to make plays. We understand it's a good defense we're playing, coming off of a good win when they played at a high level. We know we're going to have our hands full, but we're going to go out and execute."
On if the Ravens' defense looks faster to him on film: "I think so. They're flying around, flying around and making plays. We understand that, and that's part of what they create, whether it's with scheme or just with their unit speed. You have to account for that for sure."
On the 457-yard passing game he had against the Ravens last season:"It was last year, like we just said for the reasons we just stated. Scheme is the same, but it's somewhat a different defense when you have [Terrell] Suggs and some of the guys back out there that weren't out there last year. I take last year for what it is, but understanding that this is a new year, new defense. Certainly, I think any player draws on past positive performances. It's a new year and different guys out there. We're going to have our hands full, but we will work together and go out and execute."
On how the Browns' offense differs from last year and head coach Hue Jackson's involvement in the offensive scheme: "Obviously, it's been a good effort between [associate head coach-offense] Pep Hamilton, [running backs coach/run game coordinator] Kirby Wilson and Hue, but this is what he got hired for. It's his offense, but it's our offense – it's the Browns offense. That's what we want to make sure we understand. He does a good job of guiding us and setting the pace for our expectations, and then we go from there. It has been fun to be around him and coach Hamilton [with] their expertise with quarterbacks and the guys that they have worked with in the past, and the level of success they had – especially with coach Jackson with Andy [Dalton] and with Carson Palmer and different guys. It's been a real pleasure to be able to work under those guys."