Wednesday transcripts

MARVIN LEWIS

Opening Comments:
ML: "To recap last Monday night, the biggest positive I can find is that we get to move on quickly. There weren't many things that we were pleased with defensively at any point. Offensively, we need to much more precise. That's even true when we did some positives offensively. Be precise. Drives stalled a lot in that way. Really, the same is true in the kicking game – be more precise and be in the right spots all the time.  We need to be where we need to be all the time and be consistent with it.

"So the biggest thing is that we have a lot to learn from, a lot of good stuff to learn from as we go forward. The fact that we'll be able to roll it in and incorporate it in with the preparation this week is a positive. We're excited to get to do that, and Sunday will be here very quickly.

"From the standpoint of the Browns, it felt like they had one of those days where things just didn't break their way very often. The quarterback (Brandon Weeden) is getting a lot of criticism, but really, one ball was tipped up in the air and was intercepted as they were going in to score. The other two were on deep balls that were nice plays by the defensive back on well-thrown balls, and the defensive back becomes the receiver before the offensive guy can. Then he throws one up down the middle late in the game, which you don't want to do. But he was timely with the ball, and the ball was in and out of his hands. They had a lot of in-breaking routes to give those guys that are big and fast a chance to run with the football. (Browns halfback) Trent Richardson didn't get a lot of opportunity – he had 19 carries – but he's a very hard-running player, and he's going to be a good NFL runner. He's got great ability and great strength in his legs and lower body, and you're going to really have to wrap up and tackle him. He'll remind you a lot of a guy like (former Ravens and Browns RB) Jamal Lewis. He's one of those kinds of runners.

"Defensively, I thought they did a very good job. They created a lot of turnovers and they were able to pressure the quarterback. They picked up where they left off last year defensively, when I thought they were much-improved.

"On special teams, it starts and stops so much with what Josh Cribbs can do as a returner. He's still an effective player. He had a lot of yards last week in returns. So we've got to do a great job of staying clean on our blocks, staying on our feet and making tackles."

How much better does Browns LB D'Qwell Jackson look this season?
ML: "He's been a good player. I like D'Qwell, with the things he's done. He's been a good, consistent player for them, and a good leader."

Now that he's healthy, he seems to be playing very well:
ML: "I can't quite comment on his health and when he wasn't or was (healthy). When he's been in there, he's always been an effective player."

The Browns were a top 10 defense last year in yards allowed, and top five in points allowed, but they had difficulty stopping the run. Traditionally, you have had success running the ball against them:
ML: "We have to come out and execute our game plan. As I said when we started, running is always going to be part of our plan in any week. But we've got to be attacking and create space all the time. We've got to be sound in protection. It's an important week for us. Philly created some space last week and had some runs. We've got to maintain the football, though."

How would you assess the play of Andrew Hawkins on Monday night?
ML: "Andrew did a really good job. We know Andrew plays extremely hard. He's great in preparation. When he got the ball in his hands, he made good, positive plays and did a nice job blocking in there. He really contributed in a lot of positive plays."

With what happened defensively on Monday night, did you see any of that coming in preseason? Did you have any concerns about it going into the game, or was that just an aberration?
ML: "We didn't play well enough. We need to play better, and we will. I don't quite understand those words about the aberration, but I think we just have to play. We were tight in coverage, they made some catches. We've got to make some plays. We weren't where we needed to be all the time in position. We've got to be in better position. When we have a chance to turn the football over, we've got to turn it over. We let balls go through our hands. That makes a huge difference. We've got to be in better position in coverage and execute each and every defense the way we need it done. And not press – not worry about what happened last time, or what may happen or 'what I need to do here' – just relax and play."

Was there any reason you didn't challenge the one pass to A.J. Green that was called incomplete, but appeared to be a catch?
ML: "The letter of the rule is that if you go to the ground, you must possess the football. He never completed a football act. If you don't complete a football act as a receiver and you are knocked to the ground, then you have to possess the football."

So it was similar to the play last year where the apparent catch and touchdown by Jermaine Gresham was ruled an incomplete pass?
ML: "Last year is last year. This was that play. The ball clearly came out when (Green) went to the ground. He never took a step with it as a receiver where he could put it away. It was an immediate play, boom. Very similar to the interference call on Leon (Bengals CB Leon Hall). It was a bang-bang play, and the ball is on the ground. That's the letter of the rule. It's similar to what happened on their touchdown. Same thing, in my opinion, but it doesn't matter (laughs)."

The NFL's former VP of officiating, Mike Pereira, tweeted right away that A.J. Green's catch should have been reversed:
ML: "I sit there and have to watch hundreds of these plays each year, so I have a good feel for what's complete and what's incomplete."

Injury-wise, where do you think Bernard Scott and Carlos Dunlap are this week?
ML: "You'll get a chance to look at that today (at practice). They'll be 'partly cloudy.' But that's a step up. That's an improvement now. It's not been partly cloudy with those two lately. They've made good progress, and they're both chomping at the bit to have an opportunity to play, so they'll both return to practice this week and then we'll go from there."

What about Jason Allen and Donald Lee?
ML: "Both will be held today, but we'll see toward the end of the week."

Not much good came out of the game, but the fact that you didn't sustain anything severe in terms of injuries was good:
ML: "There were a couple of things. Going in, you're playing on the road in a loud environment. We had no pre-snap penalties. That's a good thing. We did a lot of positive things. We hated how we finished in coverage on defense, and that set the tone for the game, unfortunately. And we never did really recover. And then when we got opportunities to recover, we had two turnovers offensively that took us out of the football game. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

"All we can do is put it behind us. Certainly the players' memory is way shorter than mine, and that's a good thing in this case. It's obviously a big week for us. The home opener, playing another division team. The fans will be out, it will be great, I think the weather is supposed to be fantastic, so it's going to be a big weekend. Cleveland's coming in there looking for the same thing we are – get our first wins. We know they'll be close football games, but we've got to play great. We've got our home field. We want to keep that home-field advantage and get it going this Sunday. I'm excited for our guys. We're in pretty good health, and we ought to feel good about that. We know we've got a lot of improvement to make, and certainly I feel like we really do have both the ability and the personality to make the correction and move forward and make positive plays throughout the next 15 games."

Between Taylor Mays and Jeromy Miles, where do you see them? It looks like Miles played more in the second half:
ML: "Jeromy came in when we substituted him, and I thought he came in and handled himself pretty well. He still had a play or so that we'd like to do better. He has to do better. The standard is high. We'll keep looking at those two guys. We had some other defensive packages with Jeromy involved, but we'll keep looking at those two guys as we go."

How did Dan Skuta do?
ML: "Kind of like Jeromy."

As far as that safety position, the depth chart remains the same?
ML: "We'll see. I'm not big in depth charts. We'll see who runs out there the first play."

Skuta has been playing well at linebacker:
ML: "Dan's a valuable member of our defensive football team. Just like you mentioned the two safeties, they give us certain things. and the two safeties are young guys. They haven't played a lot of football. The more they play, the better they'll get. They're both physical guys. They're both going to make plays going forward. But we've got to clean things up and make sure we're exact all the time for every play."

So it's good you've got 17 or 18 guys you can put out there on defense, instead of just 11?
ML: "If those 17 or 18 guys are executing everything correctly, then yes."

How much does it mean that the game is sold out?
ML: "That's a huge kickoff to our season at home. To begin the season at home with a sold-out game is big. It's a great reaction from our fans and the people here. With the last two places we've played on the road (Houston in the '11 playoffs and Baltimore last week), we know how effective crowds are and how impressive those last two venues are that way. Our stadium should be just the same, and that's what we've got to get going – get the tradition back and keep it this time, don't let it filter away. That's my job."

What makes Josh Cribbs such a strong kick returner?
ML: "He has such a strong lower body. He has a lower body of a running back, not necessarily of a wideout. He really is a strong runner. He's a strong man. If you look at the history of most of the great kick returners in the NFL, they'll look from the waist down about like that. They really have strong lower bodies. And they run through arm tackles, and with great speed. This guy's a good cutter, but boy, he's a great accelerator. He knows how to make positive yardage, and maybe that next tackle they won't make. He's going to take it and go. He's very confident. He believes in his ability to do things. When you have a returner back there that can take it the distance, I think it helps everybody do a little better at their jobs and responsibilities."

Considering he was out for most of the preseason, how do you think Rey Maualuga did on Monday?
ML: "We need to play better – everybody on defense. I'm not giving anybody, as I said after the game, a real 'atta boy' for the defensive effort. The good thing was conditioning-wise. You never know until you get out there. With the anxiety of the first game and not having played serious football like that – 10-, 11-snap football – that was good to get that under his belt. He tweaked his ankle a little bit and was able to wrap it and come back. We've just got to keep going and keep improving with him and the entire defensive group. He got knocked off his feet a few times, which aren't good things. We've got to play the low blocks better."


ANDY DALTON

When you looked at the film from Monday night, what stood out?
AD: "Missed opportunities. We had just a couple missed assignments here and there and it changed the game. I can't throw that interception; I've got to make a better throw. There's going to be pressure, I've got to stand in there and still make it. I guess the biggest thing is just the missed opportunities. We had a chance to make big plays and we didn't make them."

How important is this week's game?
AD: "It's a big week for us. We've got to bounce back. We can't let the way we played last week affect us going into this week. We've got to come in and play better. We've got to practice hard, which I know we will. I know Marvin (head coach Marvin Lewis) is going to get us ready. So now it's just performing this week like we can. We can't let what happened last week affect us this week."

You moved the ball well for two-and-a-half quarters, then had trouble. Did the Ravens change anything?
AD: "No, they didn't change anything. We knew what they were doing going in, and even out there we knew what they were doing. We just didn't make the plays. They played better than we did that day and it resulted in a loss for us."

Did you want to go for it on the fourth-and-one in the third-quarter, rather than take the field goal?
AD: "You'd always like another shot at it, but it's part of taking points. We were down there against a team where you've got to score every time you've got it. So we took the points there."

Does Cleveland play a different style of defense than Baltimore?
AD: "It's a different style. With the Ravens being more of a 3-4 and them being a 4-3, it is a little bit different. But Cleveland's played really well. They did a really good job last week. They got turnovers. They forced (Eagles QB) Mike Vick to throw into coverage and turn the ball over. We can't do that. We can't give them the ball, can't give them opportunities. We know it's going to be a tough task ahead of us."

Is Cleveland's defense the type that doesn't let you give up a big play and makes you drive the field?
AD: "Yeah, they do a good job of not letting you hit that big play and letting you make drives. But there are chances to make those. You do see on film there's times when you can do it. When you get a chance, you've got to take advantage of it."

You were successful with short-yardage runs and converting third downs. With a running back like BenJarvus Green-Ellis, how confident are you in that part of the game?
AD: "It's big. We put on the film and you see the offensive line moving guys, you see Benny (Green-Ellis) running hard. That's great to see. Also on first and second down – that's why we're able to be in the third-and-one or third-and-two, and not be in third-and-long. So I thought the running game did a really good job."

All of Green-Ellis's carries were for positive yardage. He had no negative runs:
AD: "Yeah, it's big. Like I was saying, first and second down was good for us, whether it's the passing game or the running game. We were picking up yardage and it makes third down a lot easier when you get those third-and-shorters."

Andrew Hawkins played very well:
AD: "He's so quick, and he's good with the ball in space. It was good getting him the ball and letting him make those plays, because that's what he's really good at."

Do you have any thoughts on the job of the officials? Are there any differences from last year?
AD: "No, I didn't notice anything different."

Did you think A.J. Green had a completion on the controversial play that was ruled a drop because the ball came out after he hit the ground?
AD: "Yeah, I thought he did. I never saw the replay, other than the film that we have with us all on the field. But I thought he caught it."

In situations like that, is Jay Gruden telling you to take your time getting the next play off so the coaches can decide whether or not to challenge?
AD: "I thought it was a catch, so when they said 'incomplete,' I didn't know why. But if we are going to challenge it, we will slow it down or something like that."

Do you pay attention to what this year's five rookie starting QBs are doing, given that you were in their spot last year?
AD: "Yeah, I try to follow most of the guys, whether it's a rookie or the older guys. But I do follow the rookies. I know what they're going through right now. I'll definitely follow them."

When you see a rookie like Brandon Weeden have a bad day, do you have empathy for them?
AD: "I think so. You see so many interceptions that some of those guys threw, and there were tipped balls and things that weren't in their control, but when you look at the stat sheet, it shows an interception. But you've got to fight through it, it's a long season. It's just the first game. They'll improve and get better."

How were things with new C Jeff Faine on Monday?
AD: "It was great. He came in and played well. For him only being here a week and knowing everything we were doing, it was outstanding. We were fortunate to get him. It was an unfortunate situation for Kyle (injured C Kyle Cook), but if we're going to have somebody come in that wasn't in camp anywhere, wasn't with the team, it was a perfect fit."

It seemed like he did a good job with protections and communicating the calls:
AD: "Yeah, we did. Faine did a good job making calls with us communicating. It was big."

The QB draw that you ran inside the 10-yard line came close to scoring. It seemed like if you had gotten one more block, you would've had it:
AD: "Yeah, we missed a couple blocks. It was close. It was exactly what we wanted; it was the exact look we knew we were going to get and what the play was designed for. It just came up a little short."

On the corner blitz where you were sacked, it looked like someone should have picked it up:
AD: "Yeah, it should have been picked up. Our guys saw what happened, and they'll get it fixed."

How much more of the playbook are you using now? We saw the QB draw and empty backfield. Have you been able to open things up more?
AD: "We're able to do a lot just because of the guys we have – not only the talent level but how smart they are. I've been saying the whole time we've got guys who understand this offense, understand what we're trying to do. So we can do as much as we want."

You don't want to put too much on this game, but how tough is it to come off the big loss on Monday? What is your mindset going into the game?
AD: "For us to have that showing on Monday Night Football is not acceptable, and we want to come out ... This week's big. I'm glad it's a quick turnaround for us, to get back in practice and get ready for these guys. So we'll be ready to go this week."

You guys had a drive at end of the half for a TD, then had a scoring drive early in the third quarter. At that point, were you thinking you were in pretty good shape? Have you ever had a game that suddenly turned like that?
AD: "Maybe not that quickly. Like I was saying earlier, you've got to take advantage of opportunities. We had a couple of drives in there that were three-and-outs, and you can't have that, especially against a team like that with a very good defense and a pretty explosive offense. It did turn around pretty quick."

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