Andy Dalton News Conference
Is it going to be weird to see Kevin Zeitler in a Browns uniform?
"It will be. It will be different. With him being here for so long, it will be different seeing him on the other side."
Have you kept in touch with Hue Jackson?
"We've talked randomly. Obviously not as much as we were. He's a guy I'll probably always keep in touch with."
What do you say to him when you guys talk?
"It's just more of catching up and seeing how things are going, more than anything. There's not a whole lot of football being talked. The random conversations that we've had, it's just been more of 'how's everyone doing?'"
What resonated the most from what you learned from him?
"He gave me a lot of confidence playing the game. He trusted me with a lot of stuff and allowed me to do a lot of things. He expects a lot out of his players. He was obviously a great coach and coordinator here, and it allowed him to get that job."
What can the offense do to get more chunk plays?
"That's part of what we are trying to do now. We need some bigger plays. One thing is that some of the play designs can change, or other things like making guys miss. When you've got the ball in your hands, and if you can make some of these guys miss, especially when it's man coverage, you can turn short gains into bigger gains. We have to find more ways to get more chunk plays and get the ball down the field."
Is some of it trusting the protection?
"Everybody plays a part in it. For me, I have to be more accurate. For receivers, they run the route the right way. The protection has to hold up."
In the past, you and A.J. Green have hooked up on big plays. This year, that doesn't seem to be the case as much. What's missing?
"We haven't taken many shots at it, that's one thing. It's different looks with the way they (the defense) have been playing. When we get opportunities, we need to hit them."
How much does the running game contribute to that?
"Any time you can run the ball, the defense has to change a little bit. They have to add someone else in the box, and it leaves you with one-on-ones on the outside. When you can run the ball effectively, it can change the way the defense plays you."
With Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' defense being high-risk/high-reward, does that open up more opportunity for this offense to get a big play?
"They throw a lot at you. That's one thing when you turn on the film — you see all the different zone blitzes that they have. You have to prepare for everything. Sometimes guys are left one on one, and other times they've got the deep safety. You have to find a way to know the look you are giving and know what you can do against it."
Browns S Jabrill Peppers has been playing unusually deep in coverage. Is that unusual, compared to the other teams you've studied?
"Yeah, their safeties play a little bit deeper than what most teams play."
Why haven't you found a way to win those close games?
"That's what we are trying to figure out, and we have to find a way to get that changed."
Is that a line that you have to keep repeating to yourself, in order to help get those results? Is there a process to it?
"No. At the end of the day, you've got to make the play. When you've got the opportunity and the play is called, and you have the ball in your hands, you've got to get it done. That's what it comes down to. You can maybe find a saying that we've used or I've used, but at the end of the day you have to get the job done."
Does your style of leadership change in these certain situations?
"Obviously what we have done up to this point hasn't gotten the results that we wanted. If you can do something a little different, if you can get something out of what you're doing and get other guys to maybe have a little more focus, or maybe study a little more, whatever it may be, that's what you got to do. The thing is, it starts with one win. If we can get one win, it will put us in a better position. We've played three games, and we're two games back in the division. All you can do is worry about this one. If we get a win this week, it could give us some momentum going into October."
How much confidence did you take from this past Sunday's game?
"It's a step in the right direction. Green Bay is really good team, and they're going to win a lot of games this year. You can take the positives from it, but at the end of the day you've got to win. Winning is all that matters, and it doesn't really matter how it gets done. For us on Sunday, it gives us something to build off of. We didn't get shut out and we did score a couple touchdowns, so we've got that going for us. At the end of the day, winning is all that matters."
Marvin Lewis News Conference
Opening comments ...
"The Browns are playing much better than (what their record is) right now. In the first ballgame against Pittsburgh, they had opportunities to continue to stay in the game. The last two weeks, they've gotten down a little bit and fought their way back (into the game). We have to be very aware. They have good players spread throughout the football team. They have us circled (on the schedule) as well, so we're a target. We have to go play great football in all three phases. They're a hungry team — much improved — and doing a lot of great things."
Do you feel that way about your own team? That you're better than what your record dictates?
"Yeah, but the only (to prove it) is to go do it."
So, you can say it as much as you want, but it doesn't matter what is being said?
"That's right. It's not going to will (itself). You have to go do it."
Where do you think the Browns have improved the most?
"Defensively, both schematically with what they're doing and the discipline of what they're doing shows up (on tape).They're playing very hard and aggressively. The guys are getting to the right spots. You can see how things fit together all the time. For early in the year, they're doing a good job of that. That's part of it.
"Offensively, I think they've settled in to what they want to be with (DeShone) Kizer at quarterback. He's deliberate with the football, strong-armed, and he's going to make good, accurate throws. The stature of their receivers has changed. They have three tight ends now that are very big, capable receivers. So, they've made a real transformation athlete-wise with the football team."
What's it mean to have Vontaze Burfict back?
"He's got to come back and get settled in. He'll add a lot of energy, and that's a good thing."
Any concerns about his conditioning after missing three games?
"No. I mean, you can work out all you want, but you have to get the football conditioning. That will come over the next couple weeks. It's not going to be like he's played three games, like our other guys have done, particularly with what the guys played through Sunday (an overtime game at Green Bay)."
How have you felt Nick Vigil has played?
"I think Nick's done a good job."
What's the next step for him?
"The next step is really being able to apply what we do to the (opposing team). That's the next step a young player needs to take. You're (making) the transition into playing, you're (making) the transition to get your job done, and now applying it to the other side and making the plays — whether it's a ball that got in behind us that shouldn't have gotten in, or missing a tackle, whatever it is. Some of those negative plays he needs to erase. Some of those are his responsibility."
When he was drafted, you guys talked a lot about his speed. Has that shown up?
He seems to understand leverage pretty well, too ...
"He does. He's a good, young linebacker that has great hips and separation. He can strike and get off blocks. He defeats blocks. We just have to be consistent in our assignments all the time."
It's been a long time since you guys have recovered a fumble. Is that something that can be a focus?
"We've got to get more (footballs to pop out), I know that. That's a part of it. We have to get an opportunity to get more of them out. The ball just hasn't bounced our way. There was one on the ground and we recovered it last week, but (the runner was ruled down). To answer your question, it's by chance a lot of times. But, the more (fumbles you force), the more opportunities you're going to have (to recover it). If we get opportunities around the quarterback, it's important to try and strip the football. Our guys did a good job of pulling a ball out of the pile the other day, but again, the runner was ruled down. Maybe I should answer your question differently — maybe we've gotten more out than you know (laughs)."
What do you see out of this revitalized offensive line from the Browns?
"It's obviously a much improved group of players with (former Bengal Kevin Zeitler) and (JC Tretter) from Green Bay. They're fitting in a new tackle at right tackle, but all-in-all, it's a very solid group."
Did you see Jake Elliot's game-winning 61-yard field goal from Sunday?
"No. He's — what? — three-of-five or something like that (on field goals)?"
I was just curious if you saw it ...
"(Laughs) I heard about it. (Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons) told me after the game. We're rooting for Jake. We drafted him and thought he was a good player."
Are you interested to see what Carl Lawson can do this week against a player like Joe Thomas?
"Yes, and he has to keep working. It will be an opportunity to play against one of the more veteran players that he's played against. When we went over to Washington, he played against (Trent Williams), and now this is another accomplished player — the first real accomplished player — that he's played against all regular season."
Is he someone that you just add to the toolbox as you go?
"With young players, the best thing to do is to allow them to do things that are natural to them — things they did before (in college). Then, as they grow, you get more opportunity because of things that have changed, or having to learn the ins and outs that will come."
He and Jordan Willis both played major college football, which probably translates pretty well to the NFL. Are you surprised at all by how they've looked?
"No. Both players have done what we expected. We have to continue to get Jordan more snaps, as we share snaps along the defensive front. It would be good to continue to expand his role and get him to spell the other guys a little bit more. He started the game a couple weeks ago, and we have to keep him going."
You've seen a lot of left tackles in your 25 years. What does Thomas do that makes him one of the best?
"He does a nice job of, basically, keeping his guy away from the quarterback. He's not a 330-pound man, but he's got length to him and he's a good athlete. He's done a good job that way. He's done his job, and that's the most important part. And, he's been a good leader for them as a football player, and as a person, in that organization."
How hard is it to play 10,000 straight snaps?
"It's hard (laughs). It really is. To play that many games and snaps, he's fought through some days where he probably wasn't feeling the best. So, you have to give him credit and take your hat off to him."
His build and size isn't that of the classic left tackle, right?
"Well, the year he came out, he was a great prospect."
For a guy to play that many consecutive snaps for a team that had a lack of success during that time ... ?
"He's dedicated to his team and teammates. It just shows that character of who he is and what he is. That says a lot right there. He's a guy that you want to go down any alley with and go to war with any time."