Q: Is the offensive line the key to the offense's success?CP:
No, I don't think so. I don't think you can point a finger at the offensive line for the struggles or the successes offensively. It's been a ton of different things. It's been the offensive line. It's been the quarterback. It's been the receivers. It's been the route running. Just looking at last week, we had a new starter and it wasn't because of the offensive line strictly that we were able to throw the ball and move the ball as well as we did. It was a part of it. It's also that we've gotten a lot better with the timing and rhythm offensively as far as the quarterbacks and receivers are concerned. And sometimes you just catch on a roll. We've been rolling a little the last couple weeks. Looking back, we still need to do a lot better job on third down. But it's a number of things that has hindered us offensively. There's no way you can point a finger at a specific position group.
Q: Have you overcome the things that slowed you down?CP:
I think so. I think we've gotten better as an offense and a team. We've done a number of different things to try to get certain people the ball. We've gotten a lot better on first and second down and kept ourselves out of a number of third downs. When we've been in third down, we're still struggling. Now our mindset goes to fixing third down, offensively and defensively. That's something we're really stressing this week. We're playing another good football team. People don't think very highly of Cleveland around this league, but offensively as a unit, we think extremely highly of this team. They're a very physical group. They're very well-coached. They have a lot of guys who've interchanged in and out and played very well.
Just because they're 3-7 does not mean they're not a very good football team. We know we have our hands full. Looking back, I think this is one of the tougher games we've played because of the way they come off the ball. We did end up winning the first game, but looking back, that was one of the more physical teams we played against this entire year. We've got our hands full. I've said it to a number of guys in this locker room that the Cleveland Browns are a couple players away from being a contender. Obviously, Romeo Crennel has done a good job. They had another heartbreaking loss this weekend, but they almost knocked off Baltimore earlier this year. This is a team that in the future is going to be contending for a division championship and the playoffs.
Q: Thoughts on Stacy Andrews:CP:
I thought he played great. Coach Zampese, the quarterbacks coach, asked me after the game, 'How was he? Was there anything going on?' I said I didn't even notice that he was in there. When you don't notice an offensive lineman, especially a guy playing for the first time, that means it's good.
When you notice someone in there missing a block or the wrong read on a run block, that probably means he didn't play well. But I didn't notice Stacy. That means nothing but good things about the way he played. He was in the right spots. He was coming off the ball, with no penalties playing in a loud environment like that. He heard the snap counts and heard the audibles. He understood everything. You can't play much better of a game for your first game.
Q: Is the long pass a function of what the defense is doing, or is it you putting more emphasis on it?CP:
You always try to throw the ball over teams' heads. You just have to pick your times to do it. A couple times the past couple weeks it's been weird. They've blown coverages and been way out of place. There's nothing fancy to it and nothing fancy to what we did. It was just a miscommunication defensively to what they did. We took advantage of it, but we can't rely on that. The teams you need to beat to get in the playoffs and beat in the playoffs don't let that happen.
Q: Do you think Cleveland's game plan is to take away Chad and the deep ball?CP:
You don't know. I wish I did know, going into the game. The way they've played us is to not let Chad get a bunch of touches and not let us throw the ball over their heads. That's something teams haven't done much this year against them compared to other teams, especially with our deep vertical game and the way we've been exposing defenses over the top the last couple weeks. You can expect going into this game they're going to take that away. He always tries to take something away. You can expect that. Hopefully, he doesn't and we get some more defensive guys out of place and get some easy touchdowns. But we're not expecting that against these guys.
Q: Comparing the numbers from 10 games to last year, would you have been happy with them given the injury?CP:
I'm thankful to be healthy. I'm happy to be healthy. But I haven't looked at the numbers compared to anything whether it's because of mechanics or not. I don't think my mechanics have gotten drastically better over the past month. I think they've steadily gotten better from Week 1 to Week 10. Hopefully, they'll steadily get better through Week 17 and through the rest of the playoffs. Numbers are just numbers. I don't think you can zoom in on the numbers. You can blame it on mechanics. Personally, looking back at film, I haven't gotten a lot better in the last couple weeks. I've gotten gradually better and hopefully I'll continue to gradually get better the rest of the year.
Q: With the 60-yard scramble and completion to Chad Johnson, was that uplifting for you given the knee surgery?CP:
Not really. Any time you get a long touchdown, it gives you a lift. It gives you a lift the more you spread yourself. Anytime I look down the field and get a chance to throw the ball over people's heads and get easy touchdowns, it's always good. But looking back at that play, I didn't think one thing about my leg or my health or anything like that.
Q: If somebody came to you and said here's what your numbers would be after 10 games, what would your reaction be?CP:
Nothing. I would want to know what our win-loss record is. I'd be disappointed looking at it now. But numbers are numbers, I continue to say that. The only numbers that matter are wins and losses.
Q: What was the thought process on the quarterback draw?CP:
That didn't exactly work out the way it was drawn up. When I got home, my wife said, 'Who called that play? Was that no-huddle? Was that you calling that play?' I said no. Of course, I put all the blame on Bob Bratkowski on that (laughs). Seriously, we just didn't get the right look. I should have put us in a different play, but I didn't. It didn't work out. Looking back on film, I should have followed my blockers and probably could have gotten into the end zone or at least close to the end zone had I followed my blockers. I don't really know what I'm doing around the ball, so I'll stick to worrying about throwing it.
Q: Were you surprised at that call?CP:
No. That's something we've had in for a number of weeks. We've run it before and scored on it against Pittsburgh, and you always hope for that. I need to do better. Maybe I need to go up in Jim Anderson's meeting and sit with the running backs and learn how to read blocks and follow the fullback through the hole.
Q: In regards to the last couple of weeks with Chad, has it been just blown coverages, or is there some improvisation going on between you two?CP:
We've got a good chemistry together. There have been a number of times we've connected on a play that wasn't the play called in the huddle, whether it was a blown defense or a defensive back fell. So there are instances where there is some improvisation going on and Chad running a route that's not designed, and it ends up working. We got lucky in a couple of instances the last couple of weeks. We got safeties that were playing way out of place and communication errors on their defense. Like I said before, there's nothing fancy about that. It's just a team screwing up and you being in the right play or right scheme to be able to take advantage of it and have enough time to let Chad get outside the defensive back and run 40 yards downfield and throw it over their heads.
Q: Do you think the last couple of teams you've played were unfamiliar with Chad? Was that a factor?CP:
I think it is a little bit. Chad's probably one of the top couple quickest and fastest receivers in the league. There can't be more than a couple of guys that are quicker and faster than him, and unless you're used to seeing that speed, it will surprise you a little bit. On the other hand, everybody knows who Chad Johnson is in this league. It's not like he's Marques Colston from New Orleans, who's a rookie and you don't know much about him. Everybody knows who Chad is. They've seen him play for a long time. They've watched him on film. I guarantee you, every corner that has to face him watches a lot of film that week to see what he does and how he releases in certain situations. So there is an element of surprise of his quickness, but there can't be that much surprise because you know so much about Chad. He's led the AFC for so long and been to Pro Bowls and all that, so people know who he is.
Q: Did he change at all in the last couple of weeks?CP:
Not to me. I don't sit in on his press conferences, but on the field he's still talking. He's still Chad and he still works extremely hard. He still studies hard. He's the same guy to me.