MARVIN LEWIS (with Cincinnati media)
ML: “Obviously it’s an important week for us. It’s an important week for both football teams. But for us, going on the road, getting back to winning, we really need to have a great week of preparation. The diligence in our jobs is very, very important, whether it be finishing run blocking or getting off on the ball. In the pass game, we’ve got to be exact, precise, and play with great speed and great energy. Defensively, it really is as simple as doing our jobs, being able to stay in the right leverages and tackle. It’s important that we wrap up on the running back, or the receivers if they happen to catch a ball that way, and really apply pressure to both run and the pass.
“It goes to special teams in the same mode. Josh Cribbs missed the game after being knocked out in Baltimore, then he comes back last week and has two big returns – one punt and one kickoff. He’s always going to be a factor. We’ve got to do a great job of containing him and tackling him. He’s a strong, strong runner. So it’s down to those things again that I pretty much repeat every time we go up against the Browns.”
It seems like they’re getting Josh Gordon more involved in the offense, with a couple of big plays last week:
ML: “The one was a good vertical play where he got up the field and ran over top of the coverage, and he got the late touchdown. He’s an effective player with great speed.”
Four weeks is a lot of time to miss. How much rust do you expect to see with Joe Haden?
ML: “I don’t know. I don’t know if he’s been out training in a park, or where he’s been. That’s the thing. It is some time. Just having the experience watching what Dre (Kirkpatrick) has been through and all the running he’s been doing rehab-wise, yet when you go out and start practicing football it’s a little different having to react to other people. The toughest part of playing cornerback is the fact that you’re reacting to the movements of another player who’s very fast. So that puts the stress on your joints and your legs and your wind very quickly.”
What does Haden add as he comes back into the lineup?
ML: “He’s a very good player. He’s a guy who you could say is almost bred to be a cornerback. He’s got speed, he’s got length, he can play the football in the air, he has great ball skills. He’s not cumbersome around receivers. He has a real feel around receivers. You like the way he plays the game. He’s not afraid to tackle.”
Is he a guy that takes chances, or is he pretty sound that way?
ML: “He’s a young player. I see him doing what they’re asking him to do technically. He’s a very sound player technically.”
You’ve gotten something like 15 catches out of
ML: “Jermaine continues to just be Jermaine, and that’s a good thing. He’s had to hear about all of these other tight ends that came out the same year he did in the draft that play in other people’s offenses. He’s doing what we need him to do within our own offense, and that’s the important part. He does a great job of that. We’re still wanting him to improve as a blocker, in both pass protection and in run-blocking.
“We play in a difficult division here with these 3-4 teams, other than Cleveland (a 4-3 team). We face different animals all the time and we do different things, because we’re more a wide receiver-oriented group with the vertical throws. But Jermaine’s really growing into where his role is with his responsibilities. I think there’s a great trust of Andy (Dalton) toward him to be in the right spots. He keeps making big making plays in games. He makes plays and catches in games that set up the next plays, because he keeps the chains moving or he makes a second-and-longer more manageable. Those are huge.”
But unfortunately it seems that Gresham will always be compared with Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, since they were tight ends that entered the NFL the same year:
ML: “Yeah. It is what it is. But if you look at people that really understand players, they think he’s a very, very good player. That’s what I hear from people that know more football than people who talk about it and write about it.”
In comparing the three tight ends, Gresham is pretty complete – he will be asked to block and run routes both split wide and on the inside:
ML: “He does everything. The other guys are really good players, too; I’m not knocking or slighting them. But Jermaine is our guy, and we feel good about him. He’s become one of the leaders of the football team. It’s great to see him emerge into that, because as I say all the time, when you draft a guy No. 1, you’re expecting to get more than just the player – you want to get the person as well. I think he’s really growing into that.”
After some early struggles against the run, your defense has had some success over the last couple of weeks in that area. Why?
ML: “We continue to do more and more – do our jobs. When we weren’t doing our jobs, I told you we weren’t getting our jobs done. You guys (the media) want me to make it sexy (laughs), but I can’t say anything more than that. It is what it is: you play defense with 11 guys playing together. If 11 guys fit together correctly, you’ve got a chance to be really successful, if you’ll tackle.”
Do you see any improvement in Brandon Weeden since the last time you played the Browns?
ML: “Yeah. When you get ready to play a team and they’ve got a new quarterback, and they’ve played preseason games, you work on things for the early part of the season. There were some concepts that they came out and ran against the Eagles, and a couple of those maybe carried over into our game. Then they carried over into Buffalo the week after us, then on down the line. But now you see more of a pattern of, ‘OK, this is what we’re going to be. This is where we see our quarterbacks and what Brandon is going to do for us. This is what Trent (Richardson) is going to do for us. Then we’re going to fit the receivers and tight ends around that.’
“I think we have a little better feel for them offensively than the first time around. I can recall when Peyton Manning was a rookie with the Colts. We played them when I was in Baltimore, I think it was Week 11 or 12, and you could see the progression all the way through. And I think you can see that now with guys. ‘This is what we want to do; this is what we want to be.’ A quarterback becomes comfortable with that, and that’s helpful.”
People always have considered
ML: “You’re talking about a guy who was a top-10 pick. So he’s done it all. It’s great to see him having an opportunity to go out there and play, and play with confidence. That’s been the fun part. He’s a really good player and he’s a great person. He’s great for the football team. He’s got a lot of fire in him for a cornerback. He’s a guy with great experience, and he’s been very successful at a very high level.
“He’s become comfortable being here and with where his fit is within the defense. In practice, when I say, ‘Terence, you need to do this and you need to do that,’ boy, he can take that. Whether it’s myself or Zim (defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer) or Mark (defensive backs coach Mark Carrier) or Hue-J (assistant special teams/assistant defensive backs coach Hue Jackson) giving him correction, he can take that and apply it very quickly, because he’s so smart and has been through so many different experiences playing cornerback.”
ML: “He’s a smart pro, too. At some point, your flexibility keeps you going. More than anything, Nate wants to do whatever helps the football team be successful. If it’s playing him snaps at safety, he’ll do it. I can remember having a conversation with Rod Woodson about that. Rod was saying, ‘If you think it makes us better, then OK.’ With Nate, it was ‘If you think this helps us, then I’m game.’ Nate would play linebacker if you told him it was going to help us win. The guy has a lot of substance to them – both those guys (Clements and Newman) have a lot of substance to them. We’ve got a lot of young players. In my opinion, for Dre (Kirkpatrick) to be around those guys – Leon (Hall) and Jason (Allen) – there’s a lot there to take in.”
How do you think Clements’s adjustment to safety has gone?
ML: “He’s gotten better. He really has had two weeks, because he missed the week in-between (due to injury). I think he feels more and more comfortable, and that’s good.”
ANDY DALTON (with Cincinnati media)
What do you remember most about the first Cleveland game?
AD: “It was a close game. It seemed like it was back and forth and went down to the end. Their defense has done some good things and they’re going to get Joe Haden back now. They didn’t have him last time we played them. He’s obviously a great player and pushes that defense. We have to be prepared. We’ve got a good game plan and it comes down to execution.”
What makes Haden so difficult as a corner?
AD: “He’s quick, he’s good with his hands and comes out of his breaks really well. He’s always around the ball. That’s why he’s so good. We expect him to follow A.J. (Green), and it will be a good matchup.”
Do you expect more man-to-man coverage compared to that first matchup?
AD: “There could be. Put him more 1-on-1. I feel like we’ve got a good plan going in and execution.”
Is it the big key to running the ball well?
AD: “I think so. It’s something that we need to do and we have done some. We have to get it going, and when it does you will open up the passing game.”
How do you get the run game going?
AD: “Like I said, it’s just execution. For us, we have everybody but one guy doing the right thing – missing one block or something. We’re close, it’s just getting everyone on the same page and doing it right all the time.”
When one guy makes a mistake, is it reflected more in the running game than it is in the passing game?
AD: “Yeah, especially when you’re running between the tackles. We have to find a way to perfect it.”
Do a lot of defenses throw in wrinkles during the game that you haven’t seen on tape?
AD: “Every defense has the things they’re going to do each time. It’s about figuring out what it is and counter it. It just comes down to on the sideline, knowing how they’re doing it and defeat what they’re doing. For the most part we have figured it out quickly, with protections and different coverages and knowing when we want to get our single-highs and two-highs. It’s not going to be any different this week. It’s part of the game and how you respond.”
You’ve played on some real good teams, so as you study the Browns do you see a team better than the 0-5 record indicates?
AD: “I think they’re better than their record is. They’ve played hard and been close in games, they just haven’t found a way to get the win. For us, we have to go play our game and good things will happen.”
Are they more dangerous now because they are hungry for that first win?
AD: “They’re fighting for that first win and it can make them more dangerous. We can’t worry about that. We have to go execute our plan.”
What made their defensive front so difficult the first time?
AD: “They play really hard. They’re high-motor guys who don’t stop. We have to understand that and keep getting at it.”
You guys had a lot of big-yardage plays in the first Cleveland game. Does Joe Haden’s return help reduce that threat for them this time around?
AD: “Yeah. He’s going to be on A.J., so our other guys are going to have to step up. We have to do that this week, and we have to hit the big plays.”
What kind of a job has Jermaine Gresham done this year?
AD: “He’s done a good job. He’s gotten a better understanding of the offense now. Maybe his name is not showing up on the stat sheet, but he’s making big plays for us like the fourth-down conversion last week. We feel like we have so many guys we can get the ball to, and he’s another one we have to find ways to get it to him.”
As you watch film and go through practice, how much have you focused on third downs?
AD: “We practice it a lot. It comes down to not being in third-and-longs. We have to be better on first and second downs. We have to get third-and-shorters so that it is an easier conversion.”
How much more difficult is it to throw on third down?
AD: “Third down is when you get the different looks defenses throw at you. It can be a little more with what they’re doing.”
When they play zone defense, does that disrupt your rhythm?
AD: “That’s what they’re trying to do. You have to move around and make a play on the rush and have guys getting into their windows to get completions.”
It seemed like Miami’s defense did not budge on your play-action fakes:
AD: “They covered it well last week, but we have to be better in the run game to open up play-action.”
You are going back to where you played your first NFL game. Do you have memories of that game or did the injury cloud it?
AD: “I definitely remember the game. It was great for us to get the win, and it was a great start to my career. It will be fun to go back there and hopefully duplicate what we did last year.”
Just play all four quarters this time, right?
Joe Haden covering
AD: “It’s going to be a good matchup.”
He’s a little bit different than last week’s matchup with Green, Sean Smith:
AD: “He’s a different type of corner. We match up well, though. A.J. went up against him in college and now here. It’s matchup that we like. We feel A.J. is talented enough that we can put him against anyone. But like I said earlier, the other guys have to step up too.”
They seemed to step up in the first game:
AD: “We had big plays, and that’s what we have to do.
Do you expect any rust from Joe Haden?
AD: “I don’t know. He’s been working out. There might be, but I’m not expecting him to go in and be rusty.”
BROWNS HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR (with Cincinnati media)
What is the mood of the team right now, considering your 0-5 record?
PS: “My guys are battling through it. We focus on the process. Every Wednesday, you try to make it better than the last. We feel like if we get the process better it gives us the best chance to win on Sunday. The guys have been battling. We’ve fallen short, and you can point to the reasons why for each game. If we just clean that up, then we give ourselves the best chance to win.”
After reviewing everything, why did you fall short to the Bengals in Week 2?
PS: “We didn’t get a real fast start. I thought we were generally efficient, but they played well on offense. We had periods in the game where we did, but we need to play better for more of the game. And not to mention the fact that
Five games into the season, how have you seen Brandon Weeden’s progress?
PS: “I’ve seen him progress from being an aggressive thrower to a guy that’s understanding the NFL game better, where you need to be willing to take some checkdowns and understand how important every single play is and how a play early in the game can affect the outcome of the game at the end. There’s a finite number of plays in an NFL game, and it’s very important that we get the most out of each one.”
Is it accurate to say that Josh Gordon had most consistent game last week against the Giants?
PS: “Yeah, he had a couple of big plays in the game and I think he’s making progress to become a productive NFL receiver.”
On Joe Haden’s return to the lineup:
PS: “To get one of our best defensive players back in the lineup will just naturally give us a lift, and I anticipate that Joe will get himself ready and go out and compete and play well.”
How did he look Monday and at walkthrough today?
PS: “He looks great. Joe stays fit. I know he’s been conditioning and keeping his body right away from the facility. He’s a guy that can run all day long. Now it’s a matter of him getting back on the practice field and getting his sea legs back so that he can go out and compete on Sunday.”
Have you seen any changes in the Bengals defense from your first game against them?
PS: “Schematically, I see the same style. They obviously have settled in. They’ve made some changes at the safety position. I see them playing very similar in a lot of ways, but I see them playing better team defense than the first time we played them.”
On the development of Trent Richardson:
PS: “He’s moving along nicely. I think he was in the game 85 percent of the snaps last Sunday. Ideally you’d like to have Trent in there every single play. We all know that’s not always realistic, but he’s handling it well. He’s getting production each game, and I tend to believe that he’s making improvements each game.”
On Frostee Rucker’s contributions to the defense:
PS: “He’s doing a good job for us. He’s playing his position well, but he’s also added some leadership to that defensive line, which is important when you’re playing young guys like (John) Hughes and (Billy) Winn. I appreciate everything about Frostee, and I think he’s been a positive addition to our team.”
On John Hughes, a University of Cincinnati product:
PS: “He’s doing well. Each week he has a role on our defense, some weeks more than others, but we try to rotate our defensive linemen, like most teams in the league now. He’s done a good job, and he’s improving each week.”
He got thrown in the fire a little bit because of injuries, right?
PS: “Yeah, like all of our other rookies.”
What kind of improvement have you seen from Bengals DE
PS: “He’s a top end in this league, and it’s a good battle when Joe and Michael square off. It’s a little bit hard for me to talk about how much improvement he’s made, but he’s a very productive guy. They get a lot of sacks, and they get a lot of pressure on quarterbacks that don’t show up on production. He’s a very solid defensive lineman amongst a pretty darn good group.”
Have things gotten a little chippy for you at times with the Cleveland media?
PS: “I don’t know that. I would say that I’m a very competitive guy and I make all of my decisions on what’s best for our team. I don’t know about ‘chippy.’ That may be one person’s opinion. I try to answer the questions. I try to be honest and up-front about my thoughts and opinions. At the heart of it, I’m trying to make all of the decisions based on what’s best for our team. I do think it is fair to say that I’m very competitive.”
This is Randy Lerner’s final game as Browns owner. Is there incentive for you to send him out as a winner?
PS: “It’s a division game that we’re playing at home. I think there’s enough there to make it a game that’s very important for us to win. I think it’s very important for anybody associated with the Browns to enjoy a victory. I’m sure that would be a good side note.”