Browns veteran safety Donte Whitner didn't mince words about anything Friday when he sat down with ClevelandBrowns.com for a one-on-one interview.
The full conversation can be seen below.
CB.com: What's been the mindset of the defense this week in practice?
Whitner: We're desperate right now. We understand the more desperate team is going to win this football game, the team that feels like they need it most and wants it most and acts like they need it most. We had a really good week of practice. Guys aren't really feeling good. It's that losing taste in our mouth and we have to get it out of our mouth.
CB.com: Why desperate?
Whitner: We understand we didn't play well last week and we left a great opportunity out there on the football field. With the character of the guys we have in this locker room, we're not just going to show up and get paid. We're going to win and we want to win for ourselves, for our families and we want to win for this city. When we lose a game like this, we feel like we let one go. That's what really hurts us. We haven't been laughing or giggling around here this week. It's been all work, fixing the things we made mistakes on and we're going to be the more desperate team on Sunday.
CB.com: What's the key to not turning one loss into two?
Whitner: Taking the football field and being ourselves. Making sure we're on every detail when we're out there. Making sure we tackle well individually and tackle well as a defense. Make sure we swarm to the football and make sure we have some fun on the field. That's what we have to get back to.
CB.com: What was the toughest thing to stomach when the secondary watched film of last week's game?
Whitner: Toughest thing was the easy tackles we missed. Myself is a prime example, missed a few easy tackles out there, one with me and (Tashaun Gipson) hitting each other and the guy went 50 yards on us. It's a routine play for both of us and for something like that to happen, that's the hardest part. Just routine things we're not making plays on and are just easily correctable. We're going to go out there and do what has been said.
CB.com: What's the confidence level of the secondary right now?
Whitner: Our confidence is always high. Whenever you play in the secondary -- any secondary in the National Football League, college football or high school -- you have to understand that things break down in front of you, no fingers are going to get pointed on any of those guys but will get pointed on us. We have to understand if we don't play well, we're probably not going to win the football game in the secondary. If we play well in the secondary, there's a good chance we're going to win the football game. It's been like that the entire time, last year and this year, and we understand that and we want to go out there and redeem ourselves.
CB.com: Do you look back at Week 2 as the kind of performance fans should expect from this secondary?
Whitner: Not even that. We feel like we can play better than that. We had things we wished we had done better in that game. We're not even worried about pressure. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to go out there and be the best. That's why we're going to take the football field and we're going to go out and play Cleveland Browns football.
CB.com: It seems injuries have a problem with one or two members of the secondary since the start of training camp. Now K'Waun Williams is out. How has the group dealt with these?
Whitner: The mentality has been next man up. Tramon Williams, he's in the slot now that K'Waun's out. He's a veteran, he's been there plenty of times, played in big games in the slot, played against some of the best guys that you can possibly go against in the National Football League. We have all the confidence in the world in him. Pierre Desir slides outside, a guy that's been coming on ever since he got here, getting better and better each and every day, long arms, can make plays. We look for him to step up and go outside and make some plays.
CB.com: What can the secondary do to help fix the run defense?
Whitner: We just need to tackle better, be where we're supposed to be. When a guy comes through, tackle him, get him on the ground. That's what we can do to help in the run defense. It sounds simple, sometimes it can be simple, but it's not that simple. We have to go out there and do what we have to do to help in the run defense, tackle guys when they break loose, tackle guys and get them on the ground.
CB.com: What's the key to being as sharp as possible after a cross-country trip like this one?
Whitner: Just make sure you hydrate and make sure you get a lot of rest, make sure that Friday night before we travel we get a lot of rest. That's all you can do. When the game comes on Sunday, you have to be in tune with it emotionally, physically and mentally. That's what we plan on doing.
CB.com: What makes Philip Rivers such a good quarterback?
Whitner: He's a top competitor. This is not one of the guys you can go out and scare or rattle. He's a guy that, whether he throws two interceptions or four interceptions, he's going to keep coming at you. He's going to push the ball downfield, getting it in his playmakers' hands. He's going to check in and out of plays based on what he sees from the coverages and from the secondary. We're going to have to be on our P's and Q's going up against him.
CB.com: Coach Mike Pettine said San Diego has the toughest trio of WRs you've faced so far this season. Why is that?
Whitner: They pose dangers because they can catch and run, they can get deep on you, they can block in the run game. All of them have or has been a No. 1 receiver in their career -- Stevie Johnson to all the guys they have. It's going to be a tough task for us but we're up for the challenge.
CB.com: What dangers do Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead pose not only as runners, but pass-catchers out of the backfield?
Whitner: Melvin Gordon has really been coming along. He's not the biggest guy but he runs hard, he wants to bounce the ball outside a lot and they want to get him in space. Woodhead, he's a former receiver, I remember when he played with the Patriots when I was with Buffalo. He's a guy that just causes matchup problems. They try to get him one-on-one with 'backers, get him in space. He's a guy that wants to make you miss. He's not the biggest guy but he has a big heart. We're going to have to know where those guys are at all times.
CB.com: How ideal would it be for this team to come back 2-2 heading into next week's game at Baltimore?
Whitner: It would feel great to be 2-2 going into a matchup with the Ravens. We have every intention on doing that. Now it's not about saying, but it's about going out there and winning and coming back with a win.