Browns coordinator press conferences - 11/25


Defensive coordinator Ray Horton:**

Opening statement:

"Good morning. I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I did. We had a good practice yesterday and went home. There was no traffic on the road and watched a little football and fell asleep so it was good. I felt like an old man (laughter).

On if there are distractions associated with Thanksgiving week to overcome:

"Possibly. I just always try to associate things with things that I have been through or something. When we get good next year, it is going to be a really good week because it is a short week and the players get to see their families. In my experiences, from actually playing on Thanksgiving, is it is a huge advantage for you. As far as the week, it is different. The game is a little different because usually if you are playing at home, you have family and they tend to stay for the game. Then the actual day itself, you know what the day is and there are three football games on now. It is a time to go home, and I challenged our guys on defense when you go home, we played Pittsburgh, we played Dallas and we played Washing. We played three of the teams on. I said watch what happens. Watch how the play. You will be able to call plays out from formations and everything. One of our coaches came in and goes, 'Did you see the Dallas first play of the game?' They motioned (Cowboys WR) Lucky Whitehead down in motion and they handed him the ball that we had prepared for. My message to them was you will be able to call a lot of the plays, understand what you see on Thanksgiving and then just apply it on Sunday. There are a lot of things about the Thanksgiving week that I think are cool. Is it a distraction? It is only a distraction if it becomes one, if that makes sense. It is really not. Everybody knows how to play. Every team plays a Thursday night game now. You don't necessarily play on that game on that day, which I think is special, but everybody plays a Thursday night game now so. No, I don't think [it is a distraction]. I don't think so."

On if he was happy to see Steelers WR Antonio Brown score three TDs against another defense and not the Browns:

"I fell asleep early. I saw two (laughter).

On if Brown's production made him feel better about Brown's performance against Cleveland's defense:

"Yes and no. I think (Redskins QB) Kirk Cousins threw for almost 500 yards. In this league, anything can happen on any Sunday. The thing I keep telling our guys is to keep working your tails off. It is hard to see maybe from the score and the record, but we are getting better. Our guys are getting better, and we are going to put this together. I go back, obviously, most people go off of their experiences because you can't experience something through someone else's eyes. Being in this as a player, I know you can get better. I know we will. I am encouraged every day because our guys are getting better. They are understanding more. They are seeing more. They are getting live action out there. Hopefully, as I talk to them about experiencing things through other teams, what we are saying is true, it is NFL football. I am encouraged by what is going on and watching the growth. We tend to talk about (DL) Danny (Shelton) a lot when you talk to national reports and when you talk to coaches on other teams, they see it. A lot of times, it is hard to see the forest through the trees, but we have some guys that are playing very well that are going to be the foundation of our team. They are going to be the ones that help us get over the top. Going from plays, talking to Mr. Rooney at Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh had a long history of losing and then winning. I asked him. I said, 'Who is your best player?' because they have had Hall of Fame players and Super Bowls and all of that. With all of their players, going from way back when, he said (Pro Football Hall of Fame Steelers DT) Joe Greene. It was interesting that it was a defensive player versus all of those studs on offense. Sometimes one player and one play, whether it is an Immaculate Reception or something, can get you over the top. I am hoping that our guys sense that somewhere it is going to be one player or one play that go, 'Wow, I get what you are saying coach, we can be pretty good'."

On evaluating DB Joe Haden's season, given he has missed games with injury and also played hurt:

"He missed [11] games last year, and then he did not practice, I believe, until the third preseason game maybe. He has always for the most part been on the team's top receiver. Would you say that he is 100 percent healthy? Probably not but nobody is. I think he is having for him, he would probably say an average year. He would probably expect a little bit more from him. I think the league leader in picks has five – it may be the kid from Kansas City (CB) Marcus Peters (is tied for NFL league with two other players) – Joe has three. I would say for him average just because we expect so much more out of him. I am sure he does, too. He knows he can play at a very high level. He has done it – the accolades and the respect that people have for him. Obviously, when you go against the (Steelers WR) Antonio Browns, the (Giants WR) Odell Beckham Jr.'s, the (Bengals WR) A.J. Greens and all of the guys that he has been against, they are going to catch some of theirs just because of the way the league is, but we and he expects a lot more out of him, meaning he expects himself to be one of the top players in the league."

On the challenge Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. presents:

"Every week, it really is every week there is a guy for the other team. It is a marquee matchup. It is what you want. It is really what it was last night when you watch NFL football. There was a matchup in the Dallas-Washington game. There was one in the Pittsburgh(-Indianapolis) game. I didn't get to see the Detroit(-Minnesota) game. There is always probably a marquee matchup of somebody because everybody has that (Cavaliers SF) LeBron (James)-type wide receiver that is a dominant guy, which is good because I am sure for Joe he knows every play it could be coming to No. 13."

On DBs Derrick Kindred and Ed Reynolds II playing significant snaps at S last week after rotating in previous weeks:

"What we are trying to find obviously is consistency of play back there. It gave us a little bit. Derrick probably had his best game tackling, command of the huddle and command of the defense and how they are setting and how they are run. Last week, I said something about breathe and just breathe. For him, I hope he took a deep breath and understands that 'I can play in this league' but there are a lot of things that are demanded mentally and physically to play the position and the responsibility that position holds because he is the deepest guy or one of them. For him, obviously, it is can you do it two weeks in a row? Can you do it three weeks in a row? Now, can you be a pro. For Ed, the same thing, just command of the defense and understanding the awesome responsibility of being the last guy in the line of defense. If you respect that authority and that responsibility and you can do it, you probably help us look a little better because you don't get big plays."

On reports that he may be on the hot seat and if he feels any pressure as a result:

"The old 'unnamed sources.' That is why I love talking to you guys and using my name on things because I don't hide from anything. I don't live that way, I don't want my kids to live that way and I don't want my players to live that way. I would think, man, what an awful life if you have to worry all the time about stuff. You do the best job you can in life with what you have, meaning personally. Do I worry that way? I think you guys know me very well. I try to be very honest and very fair. I don't live that way. I have been in this business a long time and I go back and you look at whether you pull up (former Cowboys Head Coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer) Tom Landry's record when he first started, you pull up (former 49ers Head Coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer) Bill Walsh's record when he first started, you pull up (former Cowboys Head Coach) Jimmy Johnson's record when he first started – you can pull up a lot of records, and I am not comparing myself to them, please do not think I am – but you go through things in this business. Locally, you look at the Cleveland Cavaliers. They had (Cavaliers SF) LeBron (James), LeBron left and LeBron came back. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle, and to answer your question very bluntly, I don't live that way. I never have, and hopefully, I never will."

On Giants QB Eli Manning and if the Browns defense approaches the game thinking they can force Manning into some turnovers given the 10 interceptions he has thrown this season:

"I was going to say, I think he has 10 interceptions this year so you look at one a game so how many do you think you are going to get? On average, you get one a game. I have said for us the key for us to help our team win is tackles and turnovers, meaning we have to tackle the guy with the ball or the catch, however you want to look at that and somewhere we have to produce turnovers to help our offense get a short field or score. Every week, we go in that way. Eli has two Super Bowl rings somewhere. I don't know if he keeps them in a safe deposit box or at home or he brings them and he wears them or what he does with them, but he has two of them. I respect anybody that has that hardware with him, and he has complete control of the huddle. You can tell the coach has allowed him to – they never change personnel, and whether he calls them on the field or not, he has the ability to. I respect Eli because of what he has in his pocket I guess."

On Manning's 193-game start streak:

"I believe it is probably (Pro Football Hall of Fame QB) Brett (Favre) or his brother (former Colts and Broncos QB Peyton Manning) somewhere in there, meaning healthy games started. It is a testament to the linemen that they have had and his ability to throw the ball and not get hit, and probably something that a lot of people – you don't look at him and go because he is not a big-frame quarterback – is his toughness and his will to finish a game and start them. That is quite a testament when your quarterback does that to say it doesn't matter what is up front or how many hits I get, guys I am going to be here for you."

On coaching points from the end of the first half of the Steelers game:

"It was what it was, and it would have been a big boost for us to go down – it was [14-0] at that time – to go in that way and not to give up a touchdown. It was just an unfortunate set of circumstances that kind of surprised me but then kind of did not knowing (Steelers Head Coach) Coach (Mike) Tomlin with him going for all the 2-point plays to have no time on the clock to kind of go for it. We had told our players they had gone for a zero-second play basically against San Diego in San Diego and they ran a wildcat play. Not surprised that Coach Tomlin would do something like that but you think you might want to take the sure points and it could have been a huge momentum swing in the game and probably it was a little bit for them going in at halftime. I know our guys were fired up coming out of halftime."

On viewing the Steelers early long drives only resulting in FGs as a positive and negative:

"Yeah, for us, there are a lot of statistics and whatever you want to say. The bottom line is for us as a defense, our job is to keep the game close and help our offense win. That is what we want. Games go so weird. Points, sometimes you win 37-35. Sometimes you win 17-16. The bottom line is keep your team with a chance to win in the fourth quarter, and for the most, part we did that. Really as a team concept, that is what you want. You want somewhere to have a chance to win the game and off you go. The long drives, I think if you said 'Can you hold (Steelers QB) Ben (Roethlisberger) to no touchdown passes – and I think (Steelers WR) Antonio (Brown), it was a run that they got in – you would think you would have a pretty good chance to win the game that way, and you do not always want one thing skewed too far left or right but each week is different. If we can do the same thing this week to help our team get a chance to win in the fourth quarter, I would sign up for that right now."

On DL Carl Nassib has been challenged to step up his play:

"We always do, and the thing I said yesterday, and the players probably laughed at me but you guys will know this or not, I don't know if another NFL player has ever sacked his brother (laughter). That is kind of our goal is – you talked about 193 for Eli – is to get Eli out of the game and let (Giants QB) Ryan (Nassib) come in and see if Carl can maybe, whoever picks up the bill tonight or tomorrow night for dinner, maybe that will give him a little incentive to get after his brother (laughter)."


Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor:**

Opening statement:

"New York Giants, their name fits them perfectly. As you look at them on tape, they are gigantic. The personnel is big, downhill, physical players. We will be challenged with respect in all phases but in coverage with the (Giants WR Dwayne) Harris kid. To be quite honest with you, he reminds me of a young (former Browns and NFL WR/KR-PR) Josh Cribbs. He is going to bring the ball out. If it doesn't go out of the back of the end zone, it is coming out. He takes chances as a punt returner, and then you see him playing gunner making plays. You see him on the kickoff running down and making tackles. He wears No. 17. If he was wearing No. 16, he would look like a young Josh Cribbs. We have our hands full, but we are going to keep concentrating on our guys and trying to get them better and let the chips fall where they may."

On the number of missed PATs last week:

"Twelve of them. Just all across the country, the wind, she was blowing. I said it that if you were worried about your hair, you shouldn't come to the game. I think that was probably at a lot of the stadiums. I think was kind of a culmination of that. I'll be honest with you, everyone says 'extra point' and kind of, 'Oh, they missed an extra point.' It is not an extra point. It is an extra field goal. If a guy misses a 33-yard field goal, you say, 'Well, he missed a 33-yard field goal.' When he misses an extra point, everyone goes, 'Whoa! An extra point?' No, an extra field goal. It was kind of a freak day really."

On if the conditions on Sunday were eye opening for K Cody Parkey:

"No because when we played Philadelphia – he has been a cold-weather kicker coming out of that division (NFC East) – the first game of the year and you walked their stadium, it has a unique wind pattern. On one end, you feel like it is going one way. On the other end, it feels totally different. You can't figure it out. Our place, it was blowing hard, but in my opinion, it was somewhat consistent. At least you knew where it was blowing. It was just kind of one of those days. He is ready for it. He will bounce back this week and have a good week."

On if there is frustration the Browns kickoff return unit hasn't produced a big return:

"I am. I am frustrated to be honest with you because we have always hung our hat on being a return team. We are still going to do that. The guys are working hard. I am still seeing signs. We haven't had a lot of opportunities. The balls are going out of the end zone. (Steelers K Chris) Boswell, I think those were really mishits on those squibs and that disrupts some things. Those kicks, you are hoping to get passed the 20, and we did a decent job there. Just with regards to coming out and pressing the coverage, we haven't had a lot of opportunities there. Hopefully, we will these last few games as the weather changes."

On his role in keeping Browns players focused with the team's record, given his tenure in Cleveland:

"My role is I am just doing my job and trying to coach them to the best of my ability, see if we are getting better and challenging them that way. As a coach, as a teacher, you are always trying to challenge your students to make them better. There is not one guy that doesn't want to get better. In my opinion, it is an easy challenge. At the end of the day, we are all professionals here and your résumé means nothing. Only your tape is the story for you. As you impress that upon young kids, you say, 'Hey, you have to put good tape there. You have to play well. You have to keep getting better.' We have really good guys in the building who have accepted that challenge. (Head) Coach (Hue Jackson) has led us all the way. I know we haven't seen the results in the win column, but in my area, I see some players playing better when you study the tape. That excites me. That is what keeps you going because once they get to a certain level, you want to challenge them to another level, and that is what we are doing."

On his appreciation for Browns fans' loyal support:

"Our fans are unbelievable. I know that it is frustrating. I get that because obviously, we want to win, we plan on winning and we are going to win. I believe that. There is no doubt about it. As I have always stated, the fans of Northeast Ohio – I feel like I am Northeast Ohio now – they are tough, they are gritty and they just keep coming back. That is the mark of them. It is going to be the mark of our team. We are going to grind through it, and when we get to the wall, we will pull ourselves over the wall and we will win. I believe that is going to take place."

On if he sees any signs young Browns players have hit the rookie wall on special teams:

"I don't. I don't. There are guys, thinking about the young guys to answer your question, (LB Joe) Schobert last week played really well in our area – knockdowns, holding people up at the line of scrimmage. (Steelers WR) Antonio (Brown) had one return for 7 yards, and here comes Schobert filling his lane just like he is supposed to do. Those are the things that I see that I am impressed with. If they were hitting the wall, I don't think you see those things. They like playing football, and they will keep playing."


Associate head coach - offense Pep Hamilton:**

On the impact of multiple changes at QB, given QB Josh McCown will start Sunday:

"Josh, he has a ton of playing experience. The challenge is more so the fact that he is still working to develop some continuity with the receiver group. Both Josh and (TE) Gary (Barnidge), they have played together a ton, but once again, it is just a matter of re-familiarizing himself with (WR) Corey (Coleman) and (WR) Terrelle (Pryor Sr.) – he has played with (WR) Hawk (Andrew Hawkins) – and some of the other younger receivers we have. Just getting those reps with those guys are really important for our continuity and our ability to execute and be successful on gameday."

On if switching QBs impacts the offense's timing and chemistry:

"Yeah, timing, chemistry, just the rhythm of our offense. It is imperative that the quarterback can trust that guys are going to be at certain spots, as well as when you get enough reps together, you tend to learn the body language of your wide outs with regards to when they are running routes, when they are about to make a break and so on and so forth. Those things matter. It matters. It matters for our offense line to hear a quarterback's voice and the command of his voice at the line of scrimmage when we play situational football. The continuity, the ability to troubleshoot certain issues together, the more guys play together, the more effective we should be at doing those things."

On what stands out on the Giants defensive line:

"The obviously guy is (Giants DE Jason) Pierre-Paul, but they have two really good edge rushers. Not just Pierre-Paul but (Giants DE Oliver) Vernon is a really good pass rusher, as well. Traditionally, the Giants have always had a really good defensive front, in particular their edge rushers, but they always have really big guys that play the defensive tackle spots that get a pretty good push in the interior of your pocket."

On his level of confidence with the Browns' pass protection after the Steelers game:

"We have worked hard to address some of those issues. I think you have to look at it this way: it is not just our pass protection. We have to be able to run the football. We have to be able to run the football. We have to be able to throw some body punches early in the game, wear those guys down and make it tough on them to just pin their ears back and rush our quarterback. It has a compounding effect when you can run the football early in games, especially on first and second down. I shouldn't just say first and second down in the first and second quarter. You invest in those body punches. They play tremendous dividends in the second half. We have to be able run the football. That will take some pressure off our pass protection, as well as we have to more effect on the first and second down in the general sense. We have to be a lot more effective executing our offense on early downs so that we can stay out of third-and-long situations."

On why the running game has not been as effective in the last few weeks:

"We have to do a better job. It starts with myself. We have to do a better job of making sure that we find creative ways to get Crow (RB Isaiah Crowell) the ball and to get (RB) Duke (Johnson Jr) the ball. We expect that teams are going to come in at times and just really focus their attention on stopping us from running the football, but that is still no excuse for us to just not be able to run the football. We have to do a better job that way."

On if Crowell is hitting the running lanes:

"Oh, he is hitting holes hard. Crow is an explosive playmaker at the running back position, and we all know that he can create his own yards. He has had probably the longest two runs in the National Football League, the longest rushes from scrimmage this season in the National Football League. We know that he can make the big plays. We just have to do a better job of finding ways to get him into the secondary."

On development of Browns rookie WRs, outside of WR Corey Coleman:

"They have gotten better at practice. They just have not had a ton of opportunities in games to go out and make plays for us. Unfortunately, we have not run a ton of plays in the last four or five games. I think we are only averaging low-to-mid-50s as far as the number of plays in games. We have not had many opportunities in games to get those guys involved, but they are working hard. (Senior offensive assistant) Coach Al (Saunders) and (offensive quality control) Coach Bob Saunders, they are doing a great job of working with those guys. We have seen those guys make progress over the week of practice."

On how to convince QB Josh McCown not to do too much, to play within himself and not press:

"I don't know that he has done anything more than what we have asked him to do. We have to do a good job of making sure that we run the football to take pressure off the quarterback. We strain in our pass protection, which our guys do, they work hard. They try hard. We have to make plays. We have to get first downs. We have to sustain drives. We have to start to wear down our opponents more so. We can't expect that with any offensive line in the National Football League, when you give those defenders a full charge – what I mean by that is when they are fresh throughout the whole game and they are just pinning their ears back and rushing the passer in obvious passing situations – it becomes a tremendous challenge. Josh is a heady player. He has played a long time in this league. It is just a matter of everybody around Josh does their job, as well."

On the Browns establishing their offense overall:

"Like I said before, we have to be more effective on base downs, on first and second down. We have to stay out of the third-and-long down situations. For whatever reason, whether it is a penalty or an incompletion or a tackle for a loss, we have to be able to eliminate those negative plays on early downs because if you go back and you look at the statistics, third-and-long is a tremendous challenge in the National Football League. It is hard because their pass rusher, the different blitz packages that you see, it puts a lot of pressure on your pass protection. Then they end up dropping more guys in coverage than you have receivers running routes. That has been more of the challenge. We just have to play better football on first and second down."

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