Interview Transcripts: Thursday (9/18)

Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan

On if he had a good bye week:"As Harbs [John Harbaugh] talked about, 'How was everybody's bye day?' No, it was good. It was good. We're ready to roll."

On how head coach John Harbaugh handled the distraction of the hurricane with the players:"We were getting ready to play a game, so our guys were prepared to play. It's just unfortunate for the people down in that area and all that, so those things happen. But we adapted the best way we could: 'OK, guys… This is the way it is,' and that's how we moved on. That's how Harbs moved on."

On how familiar he, as a defensive coordinator, has to be with the offense and special teams:"I like being familiar with the other two. It's been great for me – a great experience this year. Cam [Cameron] and Jerry [Rosburg] and Harbs and myself, we get together, we discuss our game plan, what we think is going to happen in the game. So, you get a great feel for it. You have an understanding of what our offense is trying to accomplish and things like that, and our special teams, so it's really a team feeling. And, we express that to our defense as well."

On having a guy like DT Justin Bannan to fill in for NT Kelly Gregg:"When we brought Justin in, it was to be a starter. So we thought he was a starter in this league and we liked the way he played, and we still do. April came around and we ended up drafting some guy out of Oregon [Haloti Ngata], and somebody had to go on the bench because there's only two spots there. You had the leading tackler, the defensive lineman in the league [Kelly Gregg], at one spot and Haloti Ngata at the other. So, you know, Kelly and Haloti. Justin's an excellent player in his own right, so you are exactly right. We are very fortunate to have him."

On how he plans to face a team that struggled offensively in bad weather this past Sunday:"To be honest, it doesn't matter about them anyway. It's about us, how we're going to attack them. But, we did order up that weather, so we're hoping that we get that wind blowing 60 mph and a monsoon. Quite honestly, I think every defensive coach would love those conditions and every offensive coach would be like, 'Oh great.' And really, every quarterback for that matter. It's hard to throw a ball into those kinds of conditions. Not saying that Pittsburgh never did a great job defensively, because I thought they did. But, you know, clearly, the conditions were pretty tough on both sides."

On if Cleveland's offense only scoring one touchdown in two games is misleading:"They have the same players they had last year – what, five Pro Bowlers or six Pro Bowlers? Whatever it is over there. They miss [Joe] Jurevicius and that's a given, and then, [Donté] Stallworth hadn't been able to play for them. But Kellen Winslow is the top tight end in football, in my opinion, and you got Braylon Edwards as an outstanding speed receiver. Quarterback [Derek] Anderson made the Pro Bowl last year – threw what, 29 touchdowns or something? And you got Jamal Lewis, who, we all know about Jamal. I mean this is an outstanding back and it starts with him. So, it's the same offense that was what, [ranked] seventh in the NFL last year in offense with like we said, six Pro Bowlers? But again, hey, we know who they are; they know who we are. But, we're healthy this year, for the most part. We're missing Kelly, there's no doubt, but we feel pretty good about the guys that we have are going to play."

On how much more aggressive the defense can be when the team's offense controls the ball:"It's great to find out. That's what is fun. We were so good on offense [against Cincinnati] that we never got to finish the game on defense, which was great. I remember that happened against Atlanta a few years ago. But, that was fantastic to see. I think our defense was so fired up on the sideline. It was like, 'Man, look at this. We're just standing here watching.' And, that was a great feeling. But, is that going to happen every week? You don't know, but all I know is you got a chance for it to happen, and that's exciting to me."

On the progress of rookie S Tom Zbikowski:"He's probably right where we expected him. When we drafted him in the third round, it was for a reason. We loved his passion, we loved the kind of person he was, the kind of athlete he is. But that intensity that he brings, we saw that in his fight on national TV in Madison Square Garden. We showed that clip, actually, to the team, or to the defense, and wanted everyone to know why we got Zbikowski in the role we got him in. And, it was pretty obvious. Plus, nobody's going to mess with him anymore."

On if Dallas and Pittsburgh didn't get enough credit defensively in their wins over Cleveland:"Hey, I don't know. I'm not worried about Cleveland, to be honest with you, as far as if they're struggling or whatever. I see a team with six Pro Bowl offensive players on them. They may think they're going to get well against us, but they'll have the best test they've had all year, because I think our defense is better than those other two defenses."

On if he can use the defense more aggressively after coming off a bye week with rested players:"The, 'Are you rested, are you whatever…' We'll be aggressive when that's what we need, and we'll play coverage, we'll do all that kind of stuff. We just want to play well as a team, and whatever that takes… if we need to be aggressive we will be, if we need to back off we will. But, as far as healthy, I think there are easier opponents to play than Cleveland, with the talent they have over there. But again, we're ready to play against them, and we'll see what happens."

On the ways Harbaugh has tried to instill toughness with the team:"It's funny, because the team is going to take on the coach's personality, and with John, he doesn't try to [say], 'We're going to try to be tough.' He doesn't have to say anything. He just has to be himself and that's who he is. I think the team sees that. I think you get the same thing with Cam on offense. The leader of that offense is a coach; they're going to follow that personality. Having the head man we have in place with Harbs, and having Cam over there on offense and Jerry Rosburg over on special teams, I think that's a great combination."

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron

On the Browns' defense:"They obviously improved their defense from a year ago through free agency, and their young players are getting better. So, we've got a heck of a challenge for us, a different scheme than we've seen the first two weeks. But it's a scheme where there's some carryover in terms of what we see from Rex [Ryan] in practice, so that helps us. From a preparation standpoint, this is our toughest so far because it's a different scheme than we see a lot of the times. It's a division opponent, so we need to do a good job. We've got a couple more days of practice, and that's going to be the key for us."

On paying attention to the Ravens' defense and special teams:"I think it's important because, offensively, what we're trying to do is run the offense that wins the game. Winning games in this business, you've got to complement your defense and complement your kicking game. Having had some head coaching experience, I think that helps. At times, you can get too caught up in what you're trying to do on offense. In the back of your mind, you've got to say, 'Yeah, you want to score. You want to be aggressive. You want to do all those things, but the bottom line is you're trying to win the game.' I think you win in this business by complementing the other two phases. That's what we're trying to do."

On how he envisions RB Willis McGahee being used on Sunday:"We really don't know yet. We have two more days of practice. He's getting more reps in practice. He'll complement Le'Ron [McClain]. Obviously, you guys know how we feel about Le'Ron and his ability to play both positions. Lorenzo [Neal] gives us tremendous flexibility. Ray [Rice], you saw him in the game the other day, he's just getting better and better and better and better. On Ray real quick, the thing I've been really impressed with him is he's a guy who made a couple mistakes early in the game and came back and got them corrected. Those are the two backs that we're going with, and Willis' role will increase. I think today's practice [and] tomorrow's practice will really determine how much of a role he has."

On what he hopes to see from QB Joe Flacco:"We just want him to get better. We want him to continue to take care of the football the way he does. That's the most important thing. I think he's growing and he understands – not just him, but our offense in general – you can't turn the football over twice. In this division, you look over time, you're not going to win many games in this division turning the ball over twice, much less letting one of them get picked up and run back for a touchdown. I can't remember the last time that happened. We need to get those things corrected. That's the most important thing. He's got to make sure he gets us lined up. He's got to make sure everybody's on the same page and just continue to grow. We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves here because we're trying to win as a team. Hopefully, it seems like he's got an understanding, back to what you were talking about earlier about the defense, the quarterback's got to have that mindset, too. It's easy to fall into the trap of trying to be the statistical leader as a quarterback and quarterback rating and all that stuff. But the bottom line is we get paid to win. Joe has got to continue to grow and understand what his role is as it relates to the other two phases on our team."

On how much Browns DL Shaun Rogers affects the game plan:"Tremendously. You start attacking any defense from the inside out. They knew the area they had to improve, and they improved it. They improved it to probably the top five in the league in there. He's playing at a high level, playing extremely hard. He's not just a run stopper. Sometimes guys get classified. But, he's not [only] a run stopper, he can rush the quarterback. He's tackling guys on the sideline. He plays that position the way our guys play, to a degree. He plays hard. He plays sideline to sideline, so it creates a lot of problems. It's a heck of a challenge for Jason Brown, but I know Jason. I know he's up to the challenge. Our inside guys are going to have to do a good job on him."

On how issues such as quarterback uncertainty and a game postponement affect a first-year head coach:"It's a good question, and it probably affects different guys differently. I would say you guys have got to know John [Harbaugh]. John's a tough-minded man. Football's not new to him. He's known football since the day he was born. To some degree, it's in him. He's not fazed by that stuff. He's got a plan. I think he's got tremendous self confidence. I think he's got tremendous confidence in the people around him. We're all collectively trying to work our way through whatever issues come up. Again, I have a unique perspective because I've coached his brother and known his dad forever. That's what the Harbaughs are all about. That's just what they are. They know how to adapt. They know how to change when they need to. I think he also senses that this is not a fragile team around here. We've got a lot of men around here. We talk to them like men, and they know once that game is canceled, it was canceled. We went to the Cleveland Browns in a second. We don't really have time [to dwell on it], and John doesn't do that. So, we all do the same thing. He's made for this role. A lot of us saw it coming a long time ago, and you guys are seeing it now. We've just got to all continue to pull together in helping put this team together."

On how T Willie Anderson is adjusting on the field and in the playbook:"Outstanding in both. He's a pro. I think I mentioned the other day, he's come down and fit right in. He's done it in a way like Lorenzo Neal does. Some of these guys have a knack. He's come in, and he's excited. Obviously, he has a role in this game. You'll see him on the field. He's an extremely bright guy. There were similarities in the systems, but they weren't the same. He's picked it up as quick as anyone I've been around."

On Flacco's preparation habits:"He stays who he is. If you're fortunate enough in a draft – and when you know all the scrutiny that comes with this quarterback when you draft a guy – I think the good thing is he's staying what he was. He's always been a guy that's prepared. He's always been a guy who put in a lot of time. He's always been a guy who loves football. He's around. I think that's the most important thing. He's not doing anything [differently]. We're asking a little more of him, but that's why we got to know him. We felt like there was a chance he was a good fit for what we're trying to do. As long as he can continue to do that and grow, we should see a guy get better and better, especially as everybody around him gets better and better."

On the offensive tackles:"We've got three tackles that we've got a lot of confidence in. There could be some scenarios where Adam [Terry] is in there at left and Willie goes to right. With Jared Gaither, it's kind of a three-man situation. We've got goal-line, short-yardage – a lot of situations we can play guys."

On what WR Demetrius Williams needs to do to contribute:"Just to get healthy. As he gets healthy, he's going to play better and better. He's practicing better. I wouldn't say he's 100 percent yet, but he's getting close. In our three-wide package, he's had a tremendous role. He's just got to get back out there like a lot of guys who have missed time, get back and just trust your fundamentals, trust your technique. Don't overanalyze things, and then just get to where he can turn things loose. There's no doubt he's got a tremendous upside, and he can help us. He needs to help us. You'd like to think it's going to start this Sunday."

Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg

On if the amount of familiarity he has with Cleveland makes his job easier: "I'm familiar with them, but I'm also familiar with how good they are. So, I don't know that's going to make the job any easier. They're a very talented group of guys, and they perform at a very high level. We have a great challenge this week."

On how much players are trying to pick his brain for inside information:"Our players are aware of a lot of their players already. But I've had some of the veterans in particular ask about particular guys, what they like to do. And, that's always going to be a part of any team in your division. In particular, if you have any information like that, it's the same way of offense and defense. People want to know anything they can do to help their job easier."

On how the decision was made to put Browns WR Josh Cribbs on special teams early in his career:"He made the job easy. He was the kind of guy that understood that that was his way of getting on an NFL team. As you're probably familiar, Josh was a college quarterback and never played any on defense – or played gunner or returner for that matter – but he was a football player, and you saw that early on with Josh. And, he made sure that he made the most of every opportunity. I recall one particular instance, right after the rookie mini-camp, coach [Romeo Crennel] instructed all the players to call their position coach while they were away. Well, he called me."

On what makes Cribbs so hard to tackle in the open field:"I think it's his strength. He's a strong athlete. He's a big guy, he's a big, strong guy and he's got a great stiff arm. He's a powerful player; he's got powerful legs. He's the kind of returner who doesn't wait for you to tackle him. He'll go after you first."

On if he will try to kick away from Cribbs to limit his touches:"Tactical information. Strategic information. We'll do whatever we can to try to limit his production. He's a fine returner, and everybody tries things all during the year with guys like Josh Cribbs and Devin Hester. They do whatever they can to try to limit him. But he's a great challenge for us, and we're going to do whatever we can to try and limit his production."

On how Cribbs is similar and different from WR Yamon Figurs:"Actually, they're quite different styles. Yamon, as you know, is a high-speed racer, and Josh is more of a power player. They play the game differently, but they both play at a very high level. I'm particularly pleased with the fact that Yamon has now seized the opportunity to play gunner and has been productive in his first contest as a gunner. That's something that we were looking for him to do in the offseason – not just be a returner, but be a productive player in other phases."

On how he felt about the decision to make field goals and extra points reviewable:"I understand why they did it, clearly. I think it was a good decision. As long as they have the equipment available and they're limiting the way that they can review them, I think it's a logical way of using it. You've got the equipment there, you might as well use it, and as long as they're not going to judge whether it was good or not based on the camera shot over the goal post, it makes perfect sense."

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