ML: “After watching the tape, there were a lot of positives. Offensively, we kept coming back and answering the bell. We made some positive runs, positive catches, positive plays throughout the football game. There’s a lot of things we can do better – be more consistent in protection, particularly. Our quarterback did a good job of managing the game. He pulled the ball down instead of getting the ball thrown into coverage. He ended up taking some inadvertent sacks, but that was part of not being careless with the football. It gave us an opportunity to play the next snap, and we usually overcame those plays, which was good.
“On defense, after looking at it, we need to play more consistent and we need to play better. We had some wonderful plays, but we didn’t tackle the football very well in the open field. We didn’t execute a few times in coverage, which really hurt us, and we gave up the big touchdown there in the fourth quarter. That put them back in the football game. Then, the two plays in the first half where we don’t leverage the ball and get the ball on the ground. We need to do a better job of that. It’s just doing our jobs, being where we need to do all the time, being consistent. We’re pressing a little bit, and it showed.
“On special teams, for the most part, we did a good job of staying clean, getting off blocks and making tackles. We did some nice things in the return game. There was good execution in blocking, particularly on two or three kickoff returns. There were a lot of things to build upon.
Both Baltimore and Cleveland seemed to be running a lot of max protections against your pass rush. Is that a sign of how much respect your front four has earned?
ML: “That’s part of it. But we still have to respond better in the coverage side, because there are less people out running routes. So we have to do a better job of getting matched up and taking away those throws. And when we make them check it down, be in the right coverage position, then make the tackles. That’s important to do. But yeah, we’re getting a little bit of that (max protections). Every year there’s a certain trend, and you have to react to it and play it, and defend it and move on.”
Do you feel that the receivers did a better job of blocking in the running game?
ML: “Better effort than the first week, but we still can get better. We still can get on the right guy all the time and cut guys off, because we’re going to have guys working in across our faces. We’ve got to get on them and cut them off. We just need to keep going, and they certainly can. Just make sure we’re on the right guy all the time. Do a good job using my hips, staying and finishing with my hips, and staying glued to my guy.”
You had a few different receivers making big plays yesterday, not just
ML: “They made plays when they were at the point of attack, which is what we were looking for when we came out of Baltimore, and we were disappointed with it. When we were at the point of attack (at Baltimore), we didn’t necessarily make the plays. We made some big plays (vs. Cleveland). Armon (Binns) made some big plays. Brandon (Tate) made some big plays. Jermaine (Gresham) had a couple big plays. Benny (
ML: “They did OK. We have to do better.”
What are your thoughts on
ML: “He’s got to make some more plays in the open field. That would be the biggest thing. He’s handling the things he’s doing well defensively, as far as what he needs to do and the interpretation of what we’re doing. But he’s got to make more plays. He can be more productive in the open field in getting guys on the ground. He’s got to play in a little better leverage position, understanding where his fit is and where he needs to be. How to play the block, how to shed the block. If the block is up on him, what are we going to turn the football back to? So mechanically, he’s got to play better.”
Do you have any concerns about him mentally? Is he pushing too much?
ML: “He’s going to push; that’s his nature. At some point he’s got to just continue to relax, take that deep breath and play.”
Is there any news on
ML: “It’s no status that I need to talk about today.”
This is the second straight year that
ML: “I marvel at his abilities in many ways. He is amazing with the ball in his hands. He’s amazing when they do their individual DB drills, and they’re doing a tackling drill and he’s the ball carrier. He’s very, very difficult to get your hands on. He’s done a wonderful job of becoming responsible with the football, and of understanding the schematics of the return game. He’s come light years in that way. He really is a good student of it right now. He’s an exciting guy, he’s electrifying. He gets everybody excited when he’s back there. Some of the things we were more concerned with him with before, he’s really done a good job of proving that he can make the good choices and the good decisions with that. It’s a good thing, and it’s a big positive for us.”
ML: “He does. He has great quickness, and then he has enough speed that he can out-run people. When he can keep some space and they can’t hold and grab him, he can be an effective player. On that play, originally a guy kind of grabs and latches on to him, and he can’t get the guy off of him. Then finally when Andy moves back out of it, he’s able to move away from the guy and run through the grab a little bit and free himself. He kind of got grabbed and pushed inside on the sellout earlier in the game that we overthrew. Those are things that, the more he does it, the more chances he’ll do to keep himself clean. He’s really effective on those things.”
It seems like the replacement refs are letting more stuff go down the field beyond the five-yard zone. Have you noticed anything like that?
ML: “I wouldn’t have an opinion one way or another.”
ML: “It was a nice tackle by Leon. That’s an unfortunate play. It’s a good tackle by Leon. The ball carrier’s running seven yards with the ball. It’s a good tackle by Leon. That’s all I can tell him, ‘I’m sorry.’”
What about the hit on
ML: “Again, that’s not for me to rule on. “
How do you think
ML: “Jeromy did some good things. We’ve got to be more consistent. We allowed a couple of plays to get in that shouldn’t happen. He falls in with the rest of the defense. For the 14, 15 guys out there playing a lot on defense, for the most part, man to man to man, we need to be more consistent.”
You mentioned the defense might be pressing. Can you put a finger on why so early in the year?
ML: “They want to play well and they want to make plays. But we’ve just got to do it through our responsibilities and let it come to us. If it does, it will, and they’ll be in the right spot. I thought the offense took good strides with that this game. The defense needs to take strides with that as we move forward in the future.”
Do you think the Monday night game, with the way that unfolded, kind of snowballed on the defense?
ML: “I don’t know. There’s no way to tell that one way or another. I just know that we need to do better.”
Are you hopeful that
ML: “We'll see. Again, we’ve got another week of time. They both have an opportunity to have a good week of practice and football, and if they look to be ready to go then they'll have an opportunity to play. It will be just a matter of fitting them in on the 46 (gameday active roster). We have to have a good week of preparation.”
What has been the main problem with the run defense?
ML: “The run defense played pretty well, except for one play yesterday. On the draw, they got in there for 30 yards, or whatever it was. But for the most part, we played the run pretty well. We've just got to keep doing it and doing it and doing it.”
ML: “Again, we need to play (better). Each and every guy, they all made some very positive plays, and they all did some things that we need to do better and be more consistent with throughout the football game. That's the important part. Now we've got to shift focus over and get ready this week.
“But as I said, there's a lot offensively in the two games we played, and there's a lot of things defensively and on special teams that we've been able to critique from a positive standpoint and correct and get better with, that will help us in preparation this week, and going out there and playing this weekend. It’s important for the coaches to look at what's going on that’s right, and if you continue to press the point there and know that we've got to make correction and look at how we're doing it. You can't win many football games in the National Football League when you give up whatever we gave up in points yesterday (27). I know that for a fact. It's difficult to score as many as we scored. You have to play better on defense and you can't give up explosive plays like we did. The six explosive plays we gave up yesterday, you can't give those plays up – the run and five (plays) in the passing game like that. You're going to put yourself behind a lot. You've got to play better on third-down defense and third-down offense, in order to do it. It comes back to the same things all the time.”
Other than Jamaal Anderson, you came out of the game fairly healthy, right?
ML: “Yeah. (We had) your normal bumps and bruises you get in a football game. But I think overall, yes. Really the only guy that won't play this week will be Jamaal.”