Joe Schobert's had games where he felt he was playing just as well as he did last week against the Steelers. The opportunities to make big plays just didn't present themselves the way they did in a defense-driven victory over Pittsburgh.
ClevelandBrowns.com caught up with Schobert after the Browns' final practice leading into Sunday's showdown with the Dolphins.
CB.com: This hasn't been your normal week of preparation, especially for the defense. How have the players responded to the adversity?
Schobert: Everybody on the defense this year, there are more veteran guys. They understand the next-man-up mentality a lot better than teams I've been on in the past here. Everybody is locked in and focused. We understand we have to do our 1/11th. It doesn't matter who's here, who's not here as long as everybody who's on the field is making plays. If you're doing your assignment and being accountable, we're going to be all right.
CB.com: There's been injuries in the secondary, a big one at linebacker but not much yet on the defensive line until now. How do you see that group responding?
Schobert: Just looking in the games, Chad (Thomas) the last couple of games has three sacks. Those guys are talented. They're in the NFL for a reason. Chris (Smith) has been around for a while. They know what they're doing. They can get after the quarterback and you see that, it's just going to give them a bigger opportunity to shine. Who knows? Maybe they'll take it over.
CB.com: You're a vocal guy on the field, but have you had to be any more vocal this week?
Schobert: I'm just maintaining what I normally do for the most part, but on the field I feel like I'm talking a little bit more this week, just making sure everybody is in the same gaps. Usually I'm not double-checking with people to make sure they know their assignment on specific calls. I feel like, especially in practice this week, I've been doing a little more of that.
Check out photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Dolphins Sunday by team photographer Matt Starkey
CB.com: Was the performance against the Steelers a long time coming for this defense, especially with the turnovers?
Schobert: Yeah, I think so. We've put a lot into it and obviously a couple of games before, we weren't getting as many turnovers. Early in the season, we had some games where we did. We kind of went through a drought there. I thought we played some good football in those games. The opportunities just didn't come our way or we just missed on a couple of them. We've really got to take advantage of that, and I think in the Steelers game we did take advantage of all the opportunities they gave us.
CB.com: Statistically, it was one of the best games of your career. Did you feel like you played one of your best?
Schobert: I feel like I was playing up there definitely. Sometimes plays come your way. I think I've played quite a few games over the last couple of years where I've felt like I've played just as good, if not better, but I didn't get the ball thrown to me twice. That one was definitely up there and you've got to take advantage of the opportunities. I've dropped some in the past when I've gotten my hands on them. I didn't drop them last week.
CB.com: You've been in a bunch of different defensive schemes since you got here. What makes what you're doing now make you feel comfortable?
Schobert: It's a one-man, one-gap mentality. Everybody on the defense has a specific job and it all plays off each other. In the past, some of the stuff we've had is more disruption based, where you just let people go and play in space and play behind it so there's not as many set rules. Now, you know what you're doing and you can count on the guys next to you. You can work together as a whole defensive unit and, for me especially it works really well knowing your job and knowing your assignment and being able to play fast behind it.
CB.com: How different is it out there now with Mack Wilson as it was Week 3 when he was thrown into the fire?
Schobert: The rookie year is trial by fire. You get thrown in there, you have no clue what you're doing. That's any rookie coming into the NFL the first game starting. He's definitely progressed a huge amount, just with understanding his overall jobs within the scheme. It's one thing to know on paper what you're doing but then when you get out there and you're looking at Tom Brady across the field from you and you're looking to react and play in the moment and do your job, he's been growing by leaps and bounds in that aspect. He knows what he's doing, his athleticism, he can make a lot of plays and he's been doing that.
CB.com: Has there been an added emphasis on penalties this week after the drive Pittsburgh was able to get on you guys?
Schobert: Yes, for sure. Our coaches said to us right after the game, the only thing they got was what we gave them. If we didn't give them that, they don't score any points that game. It's definitely been an emphasis on penalties. Freddie (Kitchens) continues to harp on it, calling guys out that got called for penalties or if you do commit a penalty, go run and touch a goal post somewhere on the field before you can come back. There've been some people running this week but I think everyone's been locked in and understands the message.
CB.com: How important would it be to cap this homestand with a third straight win?
Schobert: We want to go 1-0 this week, and we have to make sure we're going 3-0 in this homestand and right back where we want to be in terms of competing for a division title and playoffs. It's a playoff mentality. You can't really look too far ahead because if you look too far ahead and lose one game, you're out. That's how we're looking at it. If we keep taking the 1-0 mentality and do what we've been doing the last couple of weeks, when we look up at the end of the year we're going to be right where we want to be.
CB.com: What are the Dolphins doing differently now than they were earlier in the season, when they were really struggling?
Schobert: I can only comment on what they've been doing the last couple of weeks, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing at a higher level. He's Fitzmagic from last year for a reason. He's not afraid to stick the ball in there and run around and make some plays, make some things happen. You see those guys -- a good tight end, good receivers -- going up and making some plays on the ball. We've got to really take advantage of them throwing the ball a lot. We've got to try to take advantage of the throws if he puts it in our hands.