Q: Brian Hoyer, this is your moment. The 2014 season is finally here. What emotions are you feeling right now, hours before kickoff?
Brian Hoyer: Really, just excited. We've worked hard to get back to this point. Me personally, this is what I've worked for, for 10 months now. I'm excited. We've had a great week of practice and who else would you rather play on opening day than our rivalry with the Steelers and a divisional opponent.
Q: Do you feel more pressure because you are a hometown guy and you know how badly these Cleveland fans want to win?
Brian Hoyer: No, I don't think so at all. I think pressure is having to work two jobs and make payments on a mortgage and you have to feed your kids. We probably have some fans out there like that. They are facing real pressure. For me, I get to play a kids game for a living. And I get to be the starting quarterback for my hometown team. For me, it's all about having fun and going out and executing.
Q: Do the Browns have a "Why Not Us" mentality? If there a true belief that the playoffs are possible?
Brian Hoyer: Every year, everyone starts 0-0. Everyone has high expectations and we are one of those teams. If you look at teams around the league, coach Pettine was showing us every year, there's four or five new teams in the playoffs. In one division, there's a team that goes from worst to first. The great thing about this league is that it is so fluid and you can remake your team so quickly. For us, we have high expectations of ourselves. We just have to go out and execute one week at a time.
Q: The complexity of Browns' offense is well known. When you first picked up the playbook, what were the biggest challenges for you?
Brian Hoyer: For me, it's come pretty easily. As a group, it took a little longer for us to come together. The offense is more relatable to things I've done in the past. It's more about executing and having repetition. At this point, we feel really confident about where we are going into the Steelers game.
Q: Name one Cleveland Browns wide receiver who is going to surprise us in 2014?
Brian Hoyer: If I had to pick a surprise, it would have to be Taylor Gabriel. Because everyone else really knows about Miles Austin and they know about Andrew Hawkins. Gabriel is a guy who was essentially a tryout player and he made the 53-man roster. I mean, that's an impressive feat in itself. He's a great kid and he works hard. People expect Austin, Hawkins and Travis Benjamin to do some great things, so in terms of surprise, I would say Gabriel.
Q: You faced the Browns' defense for months now. Without revealing the company secrets, can you give us a scouting report on this defense?
Brian Hoyer: They are tough. You've got great players all across the board. You've got a great scheme in what coach Pettine and coach O'Neil have brought with them. I think when you mesh those two things together, you have a really difficult defense to go against. To be honest with you, it was frustrating for us a lot of the times because our defense is so good. You have to go against them day after day, after day. But I think that made us a better team and a better offense.
Q: The best piece of advice Tom Brady ever gave you in New England?
Brian Hoyer: Oh, man! I don't think I could narrow it down to just one thing. I think for me maybe it wasn't just the advice but the experience I had sitting back and watching the things he approached his craft and how much passion he had about it and how much work he put into it. Every day I wake up and think he's one of the best of all-time. What do I have to do to get to that level? He set such a great example just by being himself.
Q: When Mike Pettine put up the rivalry (?) Steelers slideshow in front of the team this week, what was your response and how did the team react?
Respect is earned, not given in this league. That's fine. But I think also his emphasis was that none of the history has to do with this game. We get to take our own personality into this game and whatever has happened in the past is in the past. That doesn't effect how the 2014 Browns season is going to be. I think that's the biggest thing we took away from it is that we control our own destiny.
Q: Now that you've been around Mike Pettine for seven months, what can you say about his demeanor and how handles himself as a head coach?
Teams try and take on the personality of their head coach and his is toughness – both mentally and physically. Sense of urgency, accountability, those kind of things. I think the whole team has really bought into that. That's really going to help us going forward because there are ups and downs during an NFL season and in an NFL game. You've got to be able to battle through it. It takes mental toughness. It takes physical toughness and handling adversity.
Q: Brian Hoyer, the 2014 season will be a success if ________________?
Brian Hoyer: As long as take it one game at a time and try and be 1-0. And then 2-0. And then 3-0. And take it one week at a time. I think that's the only way you can approach an NFL season. I think we need to change the expectations for ourselves and for the fans.