Initial comments …
"Yesterday after the game, I think Katherine (ESPN reporter Katherine Terrell) had a lot of questions about different things in the game that I couldn't recall. At the beginning offensively, we had a lot of positive plays, but negative plays seemed to set us back. We overcame a couple of them, but we missed the field goal on the first drive, gave them the ball back and allowed them to go back and score again. From that point, we didn't get anything until the end of the first half. We had the interception on the next series, or not long after. We created some space in the running game, but we weren't consistent enough. We had two 'minus' plays in the first quarter, and we have to overcome those, come back and make positive plays. We made the fourth-down conversion, then stalled out down there where we had to try to kick the field goal.
Defensively, we have to stay true to our responsibility and win third down. We got them in third-down situations on the first drive and later on, but they scored the red-zone touchdowns where we didn't plaster (to who we were guarding). We didn't effectively convert and do the game-planned rush to keep the quarterback in (the pocket), then plaster when he did move in the pocket. We have to do a better job in plastering, getting the coverage converted, and getting to the next down. Those were the things that were disappointing — correctable, but disappointing that we allowed the four touchdowns in the first half like that."
Did you get any news on QB Andy Dalton's injured thumb?
"He's going through some exams, tests — whatever you want to call it — here still."
What are they looking for specifically in the tests? Ligament damage?
"He has a thumb injury, so just the severity of it and what the best course of action is."
What about CB Tony McRae, who left the field yesterday with a concussion?
"Tony McRae was here today. It was a concussion, so he'll be in the concussion protocol, I imagine."
Were they just worried with the way he got injured that it could be a spinal thing?
"From what I was told, yeah, they wanted to rule out that it was a spinal injury."
You guys had 13 penalties for 96 yards. In all three phases, it seemed like every one of them was crushing. You guys made several plays that were negated by penalty …
"Unfortunately we had the two holding penalties on defense, and neither one we should have. We had five pre-snap penalties on the offensive line. We get the block in the back, the trip and a hold. Then with the one special teams penalty on the hold, where they also called an illegal wedge. They flagged Cody (Core) for the hold on Alex's (Erickson) first return, where he bounced outside. Cody is blocking one way, and then the ball comes the other way. That's a little bit harder on the player, so it's somewhat understandable at times. We just have to do it the right way."
When you're watching your own film on a day like today, how much are you looking at body language, effort and intensity of guys as the score goes lopsided, to see who's definitely with you?
"The effort and finish is always important to us. It really shouldn't matter what the score of the game is. Our guys fought back into the game, but we can't ever let that waver."
Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor sort of said that you addressed that, so he didn't have to. What was your message in that regard? Were you okay with that?
"You don't ever want to see that waver. Wavering is different in everybody's eyes."
Was it in your eyes?
"You can't ever let it see it waver, no matter what."
Over the years you've had a guy at each position group that was a team leader and showed teammates the way things are done. Do you feel you have enough of those guys on this team?
"We have to keep pushing at that. With injuries and so forth, we have been beaten up a little bit by those things. Your voice is always louder when you're out there and you're playing. We've got to keep coming. The leaders have to rise up, and we have to keep churning at it."
Are you happy with the performance of QB Jeff Driskel after he entered the game for the injured Dalton?
"For the most part, yes. There are some things he would say he would like to have back and do a little differently, like some of his progressions. We had a couple issues with play-calling and cadence issues that led to some of the false starts with him and Billy (Price) being on the same page with that. There's some things that, obviously when you don't get to work with the first offense a lot, is tough to come in and play that much. I think he had 30-some snaps in the game. That's different than normal."
On the long pass Driskel completed to Tyler Boyd late in the game that was called back for an illegal shift, did the guys just break the huddle too late there?
"It wasn't even on our tape what the penalty was. You couldn't even see on our (coaches' video) what it was, and I haven't looked at the television to see. It looked like ten of our guys that were on the video were set. I can't see the eleventh, so I don't know if he was set or not. I think he had a little bit of an issue hearing the play call, and when he got out of the huddle we have to get up, get set and get ready. It's inexcusable either way."
Did the team respond well when Jeff Driskel entered the game?
"Jeff has proven out there on the practice field to the squad that he is a capable player and a capable quarterback. The thing he hasn't done out there on the practice field is put the ball at risk. That's big when guys see that and understand that, when he's working against the defensive players."
Do you anticipate he will be your starting quarterback on Sunday?
"I don't know that right now."
It seemed earlier last week like there was some optimism that A.J. Green was going to play, and then it went the other way…
"I don't think it went the other way, it just didn't happen. Hopefully we continue to get guys back that have missed this last game. We had a slew of them."
How did you feel OT Cedric Ogbuehi played coming off the bench, after Jake Fisher left injured?
"We have work to do."
How do you keep guys from feeling like the season is slipping away at this point?
"They have to do it. They've got to dig out. We dug a little hole. The only ones that can get out of it is us, shovel by shovel. There's nothing else that can happen but the people in this building doing that day after day. That's what counts. There's nobody else. It has to come from that group, and we have to do it literally one play at a time. That's the important part. We have to trust the guy beside me so I can get my job done and not waste any time worrying about that. Just get mine done."
Do you get the sense that the team still believes?
"Oh yeah. They realize it, and we just have to do it. We have to do it. We have to work, and earn the opportunity to work at it and grind at it."
What are your thoughts on Browns S Damarious Randall handing the ball to Hue Jackson after his interception yesterday?
"I don't know what he did."
He handed the ball to Hue…
"You're asking me nebulous stuff. I don't want comment on somebody else's player. I'll worry about mine."