On Bengals and Freestore Foodbank teaming up this Sunday for the annual Meijer Canned Food Drive at the Browns game:
ML: “I want to remind the fans, as they come out for the game this weekend against the Browns, that it’s the annual food drive that benefits the Freestore Foodbank. We’re asking that the fans bring non-perishable food items or cash donations. Donations will be accepted outside the gates here at Paul Brown Stadium. This drive is over 25 years old, and last year it brought in over 7000 pounds of food and about $11,500 dollars in cash. So it’s a big day, and the need is greater than ever for the Freestore Foodbank. This has the ability to feed almost 23,000 families in our area. So the need is greater than ever, and hopefully everybody will come out and support it.”
On the Browns:
ML: “Moving on to the Browns, as I said the other day, they reconfigured a little bit with their running backs. I’m not sure which guy will get the majority of the work, but their styles are very similar – both players. With their receiving corps, Greg Little has emerged, they still have (Mohamed) Massaquoi on the outside, and Josh Cribbs is playing a lot more wide receiver – he’s basically starting. So they’re a little different than what we faced the first time. They were productive last week running the football. But they’re still going to throw. (Tight end Benjamin) Watson has caught a lot of balls this year, as have their outside receivers.
“Defensively, they’re still playing well in the secondary. They’re giving up some rushing yards, so it’s kind of limiting what people are having to do throwing-wise. Joe Haden is a fine cover guy. They’re going to get after you a little bit with pressure, and they are doing a good job playing man-to-man in the back end. So we’ve got a good challenge.
“With the specialists, there’s (Phil) Dawson, they have a new punter (Brad Maynard), and Cribbs in the return game is as good as there is in the National Football League. So it’s a big challenge for us this week in all three phases.”
Is Chris Ogbonnaya a physical runner, like they’ve had in past years?
ML: “No, he’s more of a dart-cut runner. He was on Houston’s practice squad, they brought him up (to the 53-player roster), took him back off (to the practice squad), then they got him there in Cleveland. But he’s a talented guy, a young guy. On the cutdown day, he was one of the guys I looked at. So I remember studying him and looking up his pedigree.”
The two rookie Browns defensive linemen – first-round pick DT Phil Taylor, and second-round pick Jabaal Sheard – seem to be doing well and being very productive:
ML: “They are doing a good job. Obviously they have come a ways since we played them to open the season. They’ve been in there for a lot of snaps. They reconfigured how the tackles are lining up. They continue to play steady. They are getting good pressure on the quarterbacks with their four-man rushes. Guys are active. They bring good pressures that are well-disguised off their base coverage looks and base fronts.”
How much has LB D’Qwell Jackson given them a lift?
ML: “A great deal. He’s playing very, very well. Very athletic. He’s sudden to the spots. I think he’s a really good linebacker.”
Colt McCoy is very productive when he is moving around and moving outside the pocket:
ML: “You have to really do a good job of keeping him in the pocket. He has made some plays extending some drives, extending some series running the football and getting down. You’ve got to do a good job keeping him hemmed in there. That is very important, to get up in his face and keep him tight in the pocket.”
What has been
ML: “Every opportunity Andrew has gotten, he has taken it and expanded it. He has not disappointed in anything he’s ever been asked to do. He’s a guy who got here right at the second day of camp, when we claimed him. He had to overcome a hamstring injury in training camp, he came back and got hurt a little bit again. He didn’t have as much opportunity maybe as some of the other guys, so we kept him there because we felt like he had this kind of potential. He’s done a nice job of carving out his niche and will continue to get opportunities as we go forward.”
Has he helped add a bit of veteran experience to that room, given that he has a few years of experience in the Canadian Football League?
ML: “I think with his maturity as a person, yes. I hear him just as we go through things, and he picks things up very quickly. He is helpful to other players as far as understanding things.”
Some of the players have mentioned that there is a feeling of anger inside the locker room due to losing the last two weeks, when they thought they could have won. How much does that feeling of anger play into the culture that you want in this locker room? Does it provide a greater sense of purpose?
ML: “There would be a sense of purpose even if things had come out differently the last two weeks. But there is a sense of purpose. We know what things are at stake as we go forward here. This is a big game for us – a huge game. Big players need to play big in big games. That is how you become successful in the NFL as a professional – you show up and play in games like this when it is an important one.”
Looking at Cleveland, is there any difference on film now from the first time you faced them?
AD: “There a few different things, but they’re similar to what they did in the first game. They have made a couple adjustments but they are doing a lot of the same stuff.”
Is there a better comfort level now facing a team for the second time?
AD: “I think so. You kind of know what to expect going in. I think it will be a little different this time because it is not going to be the first game of my career. I’ve played in 10 games now, and I have a little more experience and know what to expect.”
How do you bounce back from a game like the one you had in Baltimore last week? Do you go right to the game film to review your mistakes, or do you just forget about it?
AD: “It just depends. Sometimes I want to go in right away and see what happens. I think it depends on the situation and what happens.”
What are your thoughts on Cleveland DL Phil Taylor?
AD: “He’s a good player. He came in on the one hit on me. He’s a first-round pick and has been playing well.”
Have you seen him progress as you watch film on him from throughout the season?
AD: “Yeah. All the rookies that are playing, you can see are getting better.”
Cleveland is No. 1 in the NFL in pass defense. What makes them so good?
AD: “I think they’re real consistent. They’re playing well and contesting a lot of throws.”
What do you see when you watch Joe Haden on film?
AD: “He’s really good. Against us he had a bunch of pass breakups. He’s a really good player.”
Some players have been saying that there is an angry feeling on the team after losing the last two games. Do you agree, and do you have that feeling?
AD: “There’s a lot of motivation with coming so close over the last two games. We need to go out and play better early on in games where we’re not fighting back. There’s a lot of motivation.”
This team has been getting off to slow starts offensively. Why?
AD: “I don’t know exactly what it is. It’s like when we go on, we don’t worry about anything else. We have to find a way to get it done earlier in games.”
You guys seem to have struggled particularly in the second quarter. Why?
AD: “I don’t know what it is that causes that. We just have to focus and keep pushing.”
What have you taken away and what are you more aware of now, compared to the first game against Cleveland?
AD: “I had no idea what the speed was going to be like or if it was going to be a huge step up from the preseason. I feel a lot more comfortable now than I did (going into the first Cleveland game). I feel like I’m seeing things a lot better. I understand what’s going on and how to respond to certain things. Having played these 10 games is going to help us out.”
Going into the first game of the season, if someone would have told you that you would have as many TD passes through 10 games as Peyton Manning and Dan Marino did during their rookie years, what would you have said? Would you have believed it?
AD: “I don’t think about it. I’m just trying to do my job and help this team win games.”
What do you think of that?
AD: “It’s great. It’s the style of offense – not trying to make too many mistakes and put us in position for our guys to make plays. I think I’ve done it more times than not.”
Do you even remember Dan Marino?
AD: “Oh, yeah. He was a good player.”
How much confidence did it give you for the rest of the season that you guys scored on the first three drives of the first game of your season, against Cleveland?
AD: “I think it was a great way to start the season. We have to come out with the attitude of striking fast. We’ve had some slow first halves, and we have to get it fixed.”
As time went on for you in that first game against Cleveland, did you start to feel more confident and that maybe the learning curve wasn’t quite as steep right away as you may have anticipated?
AD: “As time went on in that game, I settled in and felt like I got a good hold of what it was going to be like, and it helped what we were able to do.”