With the Ravens preparing to take on the Cleveland Browns this weekend, two members of the enemy team answered a few questions about their squad.
BR.com gives you Browns head coach Eric Mangini and running back Jamal Lewis.
Head coach Eric Mangini
What took place in the firing of former GM George Kokinis?
Mangini:"What I can tell you is… I'll share the same things that I shared with our media. Anytime a decision like this is made – especially with George, who I've known for a long time, personally and professionally, and been friends with – it's difficult. And it is a situation where I wish him and his family nothing but the best. I can tell you that anytime you go into a relationship like this, you are looking for it to work out. You never anticipate it not working out, but it didn't for a variety of reasons, and I thought organizationally that it was best to move on. And there is really nothing more that I can add to that."
What are your thoughts of Jarret Johnson?
Mangini:"I knew a little bit about him from just talking to Rex [Ryan] over the years, and he's a fun guy to watch. He can do a lot of different things. He's got – in my mind – some excellent versatility, and just seeing him develop, really from afar initially, and again in conversations with Rex and the things that they were doing with him, it's been fun as a defensive coach to see his development."
Can you say who is going to start at quarterback for the Browns this week?
Mangini: "Yeah, Brady Quinn is going to start at quarterback. When I initially talked to Brady and we made the change, one of the things that I stressed to him was the importance of continuing to work at the same level he had been working at, and he'd been doing a lot of good things. And over this period, he's done that, and he's done the things that I've asked him to do. I think he's had some good weeks of practice. I thought he had an excellent week this past week during our bye practices, and I'm looking forward to him really taking advantage of this opportunity."
Why did you make the switch from Derek Anderson to Quinn?
Mangini: "Well, it's really the same approach. I don't think that offensively, collectively, we've been anywhere near as effective as we should be or could be. And I think that Brady deserved an opportunity."
Where is your team mentally at the half-point of the season?
Mangini:"I've liked the way that this group has worked, and I think that there's been times where we've really understood how we have to play in terms of style of play – not game plan, but style of play. And, we've made a lot of progress in an area like penalties, where last year at this time, I think we were last. This year, we're either first or second. We're right up there, and I think that shows the discipline that these guys have had. There are obviously a lot of things that we can do better, going through the different segments of the bye week. That's what we did, we went through segment by segment and seeing the mistakes that are correctable, and they are correctable. I think any time you're facing that situation, if you do things a little bit differently and improve in technique and fundamentals and communication, and all the different areas that are stressed, missed opportunities become plays."
RB Jamal Lewis
What will it take to turn the franchise around in Cleveland?
Lewis: "I don't know. I think you have the players are here. I think it's just about going out and executing, and as players we need to do our job and just try to go out and execute. The system is being put in, but as far as what you can do to change the Browns? Hey, I'm not sure. I'm not sure; you just have to keep on working. You know, we got a new coach in this season, a new staff and stuff like that. At the same time, I think it takes a little time. But who knows."
Were you surprised when GM George Kokinis was relieved of his duties? "I don't know. It was shocking to me, of course, but it's a business. It's a business, and of course when things aren't going right, there are going to be some losses. And I think that's really what he got caught up in. I think it was just a bad season or whatever, and you know, I'm not sure. I'm not sure. Nobody has talked about it around here, but the assumption is that we're having a bad season and things aren't going the way we wanted it to, and there are some casualties."
What do you think about the Ravens' defense this season?
Lewis: "You have a new coach; you do different things. Things are kind of different than what you [normally] do, and you have changed in your coach. Rex Ryan is not there anymore, but at the same time they're still a physical defense. I still see them doing some of the same things, and that's everybody running to the ball and corralling around ball – playing some good defense up front – trying to bring the pressure and make you make a mistake. So, I think they're doing a lot of the same things. Sometimes there is a twist. I'm sure they'll be OK."
What do you make of the national attention brought to the Browns' losing season?
Lewis:"Really, you don't make [anything] of it. People are going to say what they want to say. If you're 1-7, hey, there's a lot they can say. But at the same time, we just have to keep pushing on and try to build what we were trying to build and put it together, put it all together and go out and execute and play our game. I don't think that the locker room has turned. I don't think that anybody has turned their back on the situation or anything. Everybody's just out here working hard, because we know that we can go out and compete. We just have to put it all together."
What do you think of Ray Rice?
Lewis:"I think he's a good running back. He's a good running back. He's quick, he's elusive, and at certain times he can lower the hat on you. I think he's a special back. He can run it, they can throw it to him, he can catch it. He's very elusive, and he is a threat."