JC Tretter’s had a busy offseason.
The veteran center was named the president of the NFL Players Association just before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. That became Priority No. 1 for Tretter in his new role, and he worked tirelessly with league officials to help create a strategy and policies that are helping create the safest possible atmosphere for players, coaches and league employees.
ClevelandBrowns.com caught up with Tretter after Wednesday's walk-through.
CB.com: What have you seen from the guys around you this week to feel confident the team will bounce back from Sunday's performance?
Tretter: It's always tough on a quick turnaround but luckily it's a divisional opponent and you have history for guys who have been here and played them a bunch. A lot of it is just dialing it in. You have two battles in a short week. You have to get healthy and getting your body ready to play, and then you have to get your mind ready to play. You've got to cram a lot of information in a shorter period than you're used to, but I think the guys have done a good of both things this week.
CB.com: How does that apply to you personally this week as you continue to recover from knee surgery?
Tretter: From a physical standpoint, you just rest your knees a little bit and make sure you're getting your body back. Mentally, you just have to dial in to the things you watch over the course of five or six days, and now you've got two or three days to get all the information you like to have going into a game. I think we've done a great job breaking down the film and making sure we've got everything we need going in with their tendencies and our game plan and how it matches up.
CB.com: How do you feel like the offensive line came together, especially with you joining the fray late in the preseason?
Tretter: There's always room to improve, but I feel like overall we played pretty well together. We had to throw the ball a little bit more game-script wise and they were able to bring all their pressures they wanted to. We did a pretty good job of picking things up and giving Baker (Mayfield) some time.
CB.com: What do you like best about this year's offensive line?
Tretter: I think we're really dialed in to our calls and knowing where we're going. I think that's always really helpful when everyone understands exactly what we're trying to accomplish on each of our protections and each of our calls. I think all five of us work hard and continue to fight to the end of the whistle and that's always important for offensive line play.
CB.com: What has impressed you most about Bill Callahan's coaching style?
Tretter: He's been coaching for a long time. He's got an answer for everything, he's seen everything and you can really have good dialogue with him, especially on the sidelines when you get some unscouted looks and especially early on in the season this year with no preseason. You usually have a lot of unscouted looks the first four weeks of the season even with preseason. Now with no preseason, that number is probably higher. Being able to come to the sidelines and talk about what you're seeing, Bill's most likely seen it before. It's great to have that wealth of knowledge available to you.
CB.com: Did the feeling after this first game feel any different compared to previous years because of no preseason?
Tretter: I don't think so. Once the games count and it's the regular season, everything goes a little faster. It's a jump in competition even with preseason. It's just a different tempo, different pace. I think that's always the case. I didn't notice much difference taking that jump into the regular season.
CB.com: What's the first six months been like as President of the NFL Players Association?
Tretter: Obviously, it's been unprecedented times with everything going on in the world. I think we did a really great job of getting things organized to get our season started. We put in really solid protocols that have gotten things moving. In the end, all previous successes don't matter for the rest of the season. It's about doing the right thing every day. You have to make sure you take care of yourself, which takes care of your teammates, which keeps this whole thing running. Everybody in the building needs to do the right thing, follow the protocols, make smart decisions to make everybody safe. If we can keep everybody safe and healthy, we'll be able to crown a Super Bowl champion in February.
CB.com: Who have you reached out to for advice with taking on this kind of role?
Tretter: I talk to Eric Winston, who was the President of the NFLPA for six years, and get his perspective on things. But this is different because there's no blueprint for COVID-19. There's no past example. When you're going through a CBA, you can look at previous CBA negotiations and kind of figure out what's going to happen next. This was a new challenge we were all trying to figure out what's the best answer. There's probably no real right answer because everything you're trying to figure out is on the fly. In the end, I think we got pretty close to the right answer and we'll just continue to work and continue to be adaptable. That's pretty much the answer for everyone with this virus. You have to continue to be able to change, the science will continue to come and help dictate what we're going to do and what's best for us and we'll keep following it.
CB.com: What are expecting atmosphere-wise with a small amount of fans in the stadium?
Tretter: I'm excited to have fans in there. It was kind of a weird experience in Baltimore with no fans, a little eerie. It will be great to have any amount of fans there and get the Dawg Pound going. That will be a nice spark for us.
CB.com: What changes for you as a center with all that silence out there?
Tretter: We'll be able to cadence. At home games we can, but on the road you're usually going to a silent count where the center will have to take his eyes off the defense. Now we're having 16 home games because you won't be dealing with crowd noise on the road. It lets the center kind of sit back and see the whole defense and never have to put his head between his legs or do anything with a silent count. You get to keep your eyes up like it's a home game, which helps with the communication.