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Browns coordinator press conference - 9/16

Defensive coordinator Ray Horton

On DL Carl Nassib's production and fiery personality:

"He has been that way since he has been here. You learn their personalities as they go along. Very reserved at first when he first came in. Now, his dry, witty sense of humor is starting to come out. He is starting to talk to me more, and that is how you learn their personalities because I am not in the meeting room with them full time. He is totally different on the field than he is in the room. We like what he brings – passion and energy. We are going to start showcasing him. He will probably start commanding double teams and start watching him. They will all start seeing what he can do and how he plays all out all the time. I was very encouraged by him and obviously, very encouraged that he is going to get more playing time and more snaps. That is what we are looking for. We are trying to develop some young guys and see what they can do. It will be dictated by how well they play on the field, obviously. He has earned more playing time and he will get more playing time."

On DL Danny Shelton's performance in Philadelphia:

"He was impressive. He had a good start to what we want him to become. Like I said last week, we are continuing to show our players Pro Bowl players on other teams. I think that's how you get good. You grade yourself against and you set your standard on other players that are good in the league. We are continuing to show him what All-Pro NTs look like. He had a good start. He can do that. We expect him to do that. He was getting pressured on the line of scrimmage and also making plays down the line of scrimmage is what we want. I think it is part of his maturation process and as he learns how to become a Pro Bowl NT, he will become that I think."

On if he saw progress from the Browns defense as the game went on:

"They were aided. We were set back by two penalties on that drive. It could have got us off the field. It should have got us off the field. We are going to grow as fast as our young guys will grow up. We want to go out and give our offense a chance to not have to go out and score a ton of points to win games. It seems that if this is an anomaly or not but scoring is already up in the league in the first week so I hope that is not the trend. We have to limit points. Obviously, opening drives are huge. It is critical to set the tone early in the game. I was disappointed. I'm sure our players were also. That is something that we have talked about. 'How do we start fast?" That is nothing new in the league for anybody."

On Ravens QB Joe Flacco:

"Good to see him back. We didn't play him last year. I did not play him last year. We did. Good to see him back on the field. The most impressive play for me was when he checked versus Buffalo, when he threw the 66-yard touchdown pass to (Ravens WR) Mike Wallace. He has command of their offense. He is a veteran. He is a Super Bowl winner. I like playing against good competition. He is back and I know (Ravens Head) Coach (John) Harbaugh talked about the running game. He must be pleased with what Joe Flacco did in the passing game. It is a challenge to us every week. They have fantastic, young wide receivers and I am putting (Ravens WR) Steve Smith (Sr.) in that because he is younger than me. They have fantastic WRs. It is going to be a challenge for us. They are a very solid offense that I think Joe Flacco has matured into. He just takes what you give him. Every once in a while, he is just going to take a shot and say, "I have a big, strong arm. I am going to show you that I have a big, strong arm.' He is going to test you deep somewhere in the game."

On if it matters if Ravens RBs Justin Forsett or Terrance West is running the ball:

"Well, also think with Dixon they have three solid backs, which I think is a good change of pace so they do not get tired. They try to wear you down. Listening to Coach Harbaugh, I think we will get some runs and some play action passes because he is making an emphasis on their running game. They have a solid team here though because they have their two starting rookies on their O-line. They have got veterans throughout. What they are trying to do is be what looks like a balanced team. You look at how they call plays. They are really balanced in all situations not just run-pass but situational football, also. It will be a good balance for us because they are going to test you and test you and then take a shot at you."

On how he thought the Browns secondary performed:

"We have to get better. When the ball goes up, we want to come down with it. If they are going to throw the ball up, we want to get picks. I'm sure the DBs in the back will tell you that also. But also, I'm always a firm believer in it is not just not them. It is the amount of pressure you get. I know we only had two sacks last week. I know we could have had a couple others, but we didn't. What we have to do is let our players play. By that, you have to affect the quarterback. I said that when I first came back. You have to. Talking about how Denver did that in the championship run last year. You have to affect the quarterback and to do that, it is not necessarily sacks but it is hits on the quarterback where he feels you. If he doesn't feel you, if he thinks it is 7-on-7, the rules are set up for them to throw. You cannot touch. You cannot hit. You have to move the guy or at least let him know that you are right there."

On what he saw from DB Derrick Kindred in Week 1:

"He is a very aggressive young man. We like him. We have a rotation, we are trying to get all of our young guys in. For his first game, I thought just OK, for his first game. I would have liked to have seen some more dynamic plays that were there that I think a seasoned vet would have made. We blitzed him one time and he was just a half step late, but he's young. He will understand the importance of disguising and moving around and timing and understand what the shot clock is to be ready to go. But very aggressive and he is going to continue to get more snaps. He just is because he is a good player."

On what he saw from LBs Emmanuel Ogbah and Joe Schobert in Week 1:

"To start two rookies is a first for me at the outside backer. What they showed to me is it was not too big. No mental errors, they did not line up wrong and they didn't not cover the correct guy. As they learn what a NFL offensive tackle looks like – the power, the speed that you need to play – they are going to grow in how the game plan changes and the subtle feels of how heavy is the guy, how he is standing in his stance, how he is sitting, what he is looking at. Our players are going to play well for us as they keep maturing and it is going to be probably – I don't want to sound like a broken record as I sit here – but we know we are young and everything is a new experience for these guys. We have to get them where, once they learn it, once they have experienced it…where it is not new and it is not 'Oh wow coach, I did not know that.'

On if he believes the defensive line has the talent to generate a good pass rush and impact the opposing quarterback:

"We better. We are, I think between a mix of young guys playing, pressure – some of it not always a max blitz but disguising and bringing the corners some. We are going to have to be that kind of team where right now we don't have the marquee that everybody is going to game plan for and say 'We better slide our line that way.' So hopefully guys become free and we can get sacks because they are not doubling everybody."

On if he did not blitz Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz in Week 1 as much as he would have liked to because of how young the Browns defense is:

"Well, just because I was not sure what he [Wentz] was going to do I did not want them to throw a bunch of what we call alley screens and boots and to get the kid out and give him easy throws. So we did not pressure him much because we did not have a lot of tape on him. I did not want to say anything last week about what we were going to do, but he kind of did that. He kind of threw short passes and he just took a shot every once in a while, which teams will do. So no, we did not pressure as much as I have but it is not because of our youth. It was just more of I did not want their quarterback to have short easy throws or throw alley screens while we are blitzing them."

On what he thought about Wentz:

"Watching him in pregame warmup and watching him throw the ball in the game, he was a totally different kid. I watched him warmup well before the game, and it was windy, and the kid had poise. He moved around and really what he did, he looked like what he did in college. He was the same to me."

On how to keep the defense fresh even when the opponent is possessing the ball longer:

"The simple sarcastic answer would be get off the field, because we control that. If you get them to a first down or second down and get off on third down, you are not on there. Now the amount of reps you walk back on the field – we don't control that, but we do control how we get off the field. Part of that is giving our offense a short field, getting a turnover to get off. We control that and our guys handled that well. A couple of IVs, but other than that nobody was gassed, nobody called to come out – just normal rotations. That is something that is incumbent upon us to get off the field, not how many times we go on the field."

On what the Browns liked about DL Stephen Paea that made them sign him:

"First thing was position flexibility. For Washington, he played all three positions and he will for us, and then just his overall strength at the point of attack. That's what we are using him for. Obviously, he played in the game for us, played at the end of the game. We rotate our guys. We play every defensive linemen that will be up. To be able to play more than one position helps us. He is multi-faceted, he is smart, tough, center of gravity, good addition to our team."

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor:

Opening statement:

"Baltimore Ravens, another great challenge for us special teams wise. They present a lot of problems. Arguably, they have two of the better kickers in the league in (Ravens K Justin) Tucker and (Ravens P) Sam Koch. Obviously, the return man (Ravens WR Devin) Hester, he is a dangerous guy that can take it at any time. We are going to continue to focus on the Cleveland Browns and build upon some of the good things we did last week and try to fix some of the things that need to be improved."

On Eagles RB/PR Darren Sproles' 40-yard punt return:

"We fanned the field pretty well there. We just need to come to balance out in the open field a little bit. Sproles, he started to the right, and he is a guy that can sell the perimeter and then stick his foot in the ground as I describe him as a human joystick. That is what happened there. We missed some tackles and over ran it. Those are things that we got rectified as the game went along. We can't have those mistakes."

On the failed fake punt:

"Obviously, I need to do better job of getting the guys prepared there and getting them coached up. We didn't execute. It was something that we have been repping. It is a play that we ran a few years ago against Green Bay and got. It is not the first time we have done that. It didn't get done properly and that is on me."

On if the fake punt was due to missing a few blocks or if it was more complex:

"No, it can be. We missed a block on the back side that kind of got things initiated a little bit. Those are risk-reward plays. We are going to continue to be an aggressive unit in all areas. The time presented itself to take a chance there. We didn't get it. Our defense did an outstanding job bailing us out and only holding them to three points. It is. It is a risk-reward, but we will run another one."

On DB Tramon Williams as the PR and if WR/PR Corey Coleman is not ready to take on that role:

"No, they are both ready. Corey is ready. I have great confidence in him. We are going to use both guys. Tramon is a player that catches the ball very cleanly, and Corey has been catching the ball very cleanly, too. Very windy day down there and Tramon, kind of field position sometimes dictates where we play him. I remember when Tramon was in Green Bay. I wrote him up many a time as the returner. He is a very capable returner. Don't lose sight because he has been in the league a while and hasn't done it for a while that he can't do it. He can do it. I'm excited for Corey to get his opportunities also because he is a dynamic player when the ball is in his hands."

On if there were only 10 players on the field during the fake punt:

"There was. Yes. That is on me. That is coaching. I have to get that fixed."

On if he will continue his tradition of taking kickers down to the stadium during the week to practice:

"We haven't done it yet. We have talked about it, but with the way things are right now, he (K Patrick Murray) feels very comfortable in the stadium. It kind of goes case by case with who the player is and where he is in his career and those type of things. He feels very comfortable. We have gotten a lot of kicks down there already. We should be in good shape there."

On if he discusses the Ravens' returned FG for a TD in last year's game with the team:

"No, each team is different. We are well aware of what took place.  I also try to reflect on the fact that we hit the game-winner also the first time we played Baltimore on the field goal. I know what it is, but my glass is probably more half-full than half-empty. The thing that we are doing with unit is that you learn from past mistakes and try to coach them up to the best of your ability to put them in spots to be successful. That is what we are doing at this time right now."

On WR Ricardo Louis making an impact on special teams:

"He got better as the game went along. He is a guy that is continuing to develop. We have to keep developing him. I would say that his arrow is up and looking forward for more improved things from him this week. You could see it early on in the game. The first punt, he didn't get down there. The next punt, he is starting to get down there. Then the third one, he gets down there and he has an opportunity to tackle. We didn't finish it that time, but you could see the steps of a young player. He was going through it. Excited about him. He has worked hard and he is preparing himself like a pro. Real proud of him in all those areas. I hope that will be reflected this weekend."

On if the NFL's new kickoff rules will encourage teams to kick touchbacks or try to pop up the football to tempt returns:

"I think it is case by case. To be honest with you, I think it is case by case and it is play by play – What is the situation in the game? How is the wind blowing? How do we match up with them? There is a lot of uncertainty on it. They have (Ravens K Justin) Tucker, who obviously has been traditionally a guy that bangs the ball out of the end zone, but we are more than prepared for him to kick it short to us and match their coverage units versus our kick return units. I think that will be the case with every team. I was just watching all the kickoffs throughout the league – there is a lot of variance on it, but then when you look back at the situations, you say, 'OK, that is why they did it.' You just have to be a little bit more honed in on the deal."

On Ravens KR/PR Devin Hester and if he looks like 'the same old Hester:'

"He does to me. He still warrants a lot of respect. I have a lot of respect for that player. I know him inside and out. This is a great challenge for our guys. We need to rectify giving up a big return to (Eagles KR/PR) Darren Sproles last week, and now, here comes Devin Hester this next week. That is what we are working hard on. We have to focus in on our coverage, coming to balance out in the open space, getting off blocks and all of those things, but he is still a dynamic player."

On if OL Joel Bitonio is ready to chase down Hester on special teams again, as he did at Atlanta:

"We hope we don't have to go down that route (laughter), but Joel says he is ready to go at any time."

On if he ever thinks back to Bitonio chasing down Hester to save a TD:

"Sure, oh yeah. Anytime you are attempting long field goals at the end of the half, you are opening Pandora's Box to that play being run against you if the kick is short. Once again, it is the risk reward. You would not want to walk off the field and say, 'Well, we didn't try to get three points because we were afraid that they were going to run one back.' At the end of the day, you have to say, 'What helps us win the football game?' That is how you are basing your decisions."

On Bitonio's effort on the play:

"Unbelievable effort. In fact, when we install and we talk about field goal coverage, we always show that play. That was a great play by him, and it is good for younger guys to see that."

On if he is surprised that the new NFL kickoff rules seem to be having the opposite effect of what they were intended to do:

"I'm not surprised. It is kind of unintended consequences is really what is taking place on it. I think that the kicks will get shorter and shorter. Obviously, as the year goes along the weather changes, but I also think that as teams get more comfortable with their personnel and how guys are running down and kind of getting to know their players, I think then you will maybe even see it begin to increase. It was not as high this past week as what I anticipated, but I do see it beginning to increase."

On RB Isaiah Crowell's tackle on special teams in Week 1 and if there is any concern for having a starting RB on special teams:

"Not for me. I think that is the dilemma that… At the end of the day, it is going to be about winning. It was a time in the game that one of our players was down with an injury and (RB) Duke Johnson (Jr.) had gone in and replaced him on the previous play. Then Duke was in on the previous series for all three plays so we needed a fresh set of legs and Isaiah has trained at that spot. That is why we train a lot of guys during OTAs and training camp for situations like that. Our guys have bought in to how important special teams is. (Head) Coach (Hue Jackson) preaches that. He goes down and makes a great play for us. You will see teams from throughout the league that play their starters. At the end of the day, you have to think about this: there are only 46 players up, and when you start subtracting the specialists and the O-line and the D-line, at the end of the day, you are probably looking at maybe 26 players that can possibly play on special teams that have that skillset so starters are going to have to play. It is an important part. In our world, and we preach it, there are no second chances. If we make a mistake – for example, we made a mistake on the Sproles play – we don't get to line up again and say, 'Let's re-punt. We are going to try to do better.' That is why we are going to put our best players out there and let them make plays. I was really proud of his effort, his willingness and his toughness to get it done."

Running backs coach/run game coordinator Kirby Wilson

On establishing the run game with RB Isaiah Crowell:

"We would like to get in a rhythm as a team that wants to run the football. You do that by controlling the line of scrimmage early. A runner has to be aggressive and attack the assigned hole and make sure that he has the proper reads. Coming into this ball game, that is one of the things we want to establish early is controlling the line of scrimmage and our runners being violent and physical as they attack the line of scrimmage."

On Crowell's production:

"He is better. He is a lot better. We are not 100 percent always there but no running back is. You will always have some misreads in a game, but he is much better in terms of understanding what he is looking at and why he is looking at it."

On the Ravens defense:

"These guys are outstanding. They are a very aggressive front seven. Their defensive backs have a great awareness of their run fits. Obviously, it is a defense that is well coached. They have been for a number of years now. When you look at tape, you are always trying to find out how are we going to gain any yards versus this group? They have done a good job over the years. They are still salty. They are still physical up front. We know going into this game it is going to get real physical and ugly very early and fast."

On getting RB Duke Johnson Jr. involved in the passing game:

"He is doing a very good job right now. We think Duke brings a very vast ability to the table for us. He has got a lot of things he can do really well. Obviously, in the passing game, blitz pickup. As a runner, he has good skills. He is tough. He is smart. He understands what we are trying to do offensively, so we expect him to get off early for us in this game and have some big plays for us."

On using to the wildcat formation:

"We are always searching for ways to get the football to our best players. Coming into this game, it is no different. We have a nice game plan for all of our key playmakers and we want to try and exploit all the things that they do real well within a football game. You will see a big variation of things we want to do Sunday.

On how game planning and preparation is split up between Wilson, associate head coach – offense Pep Hamilton, and Head Coach Hue Jackson:

"Well we are all delegated things that we are supposed to do and have ready when it is time to meet. That is what you do. Once the game is done and complete on Sunday, you come in the office Monday, you grade the game film and then you start immediately preparing for you next opponent. It's no different across the league. We try to have all of our things and areas completed by the time we meet with Coach (Jackson), which is early afternoon on Monday. You want to have those presentations ready to talk about, backed up by video evidence, in terms of here is what they do well, here is what they don't do, here are our opinions about it. Then we move on and start game planning."

On if he personally comes up with the running plays the Browns will use or if it is more of a group decision:

"It is a group decision, but it is all driven through our head coach because this is his offense that we have all learned. He has done a good job of coaching the coaches up on what he wants, and we take it from there and just try to make sure everything is the way he wants it."

On why the running game could not get into a rhythm Week 1:

"Well, when you play behind the chains, it kind of will affect the play caller and how he wants to call things. We had some foolish penalties early in the ball game, and we kind of got unsettled a little bit. When we did attempt to run, we did not exactly blow them off the ball and we did not exactly put the ball in the right spot as runners, and so therefore you have to go to another plan or you go to your second thought because it is not as efficient as you would like it to be."

On having new guys on the offensive line this season and the impact that has had on the running game:

"It has not been a problem. We understand that it takes 10 people to make it work, including the runner. We are trying to make sure everybody is on the same page, everyone is stepping the right direction, everyone has their eyes, their hands where they are supposed to be. We are trying to go from there. We know that it is one step at a time. We are trying to be the most violent runners in the National Football League. We are trying to control the line of scrimmage. We are trying to knock people off the ball, and it takes time. It's a process, and our players have really bought in. We are trying to become the most physical team in this conference, and we are taking baby steps. We have a young group, they are trying to do things exactly the way we want them to do it, and we are getting there but it is step by step."

On what makes Ravens NT Brandon Williams so good:

"Number one, he is the biggest man in the National Football League. At least, he looks that way on film. He is a good player, no doubt about it. Obviously he has talent, he is agile, he is tough, he is physical, he is aggressive, he moves laterally, he uses his hands, he does a lot of things extremely well. Then when you take his ability with the coaches that they have and what they do with him, he is extremely effective. He is going to be a handful Sunday. We have to know where he is at all times."

On FB Malcolm Johnson:

"He is doing a good job. Malcolm understands that a fullback in our system has to change our offense when he steps on the football field. He has to come in the game with a fullback demeanor that he is aggressive, he plays with aggression, and that he is the first one to strike people. I need a dirty truck driver out there. I do not need a guy who wants to catch a lot of passes and who wants to touch the football. Although he has to do some of those things, we need a guy who has an appetite for destruction, and that is his role. He knows it, and when he gets his opportunity he has to be willing to go mix it up."

On if Malcolm Johnson has done all of the aforementioned so far:


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