Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams:
On DB Denzel Ward:
"He has done well. I am proud of him. We all should be. It is just the tip of the iceberg. He has a lot of improving to do, but he fits right in. I am very happy on how well he has acclimated to the NFL and to what we do, and to his teammates. That is good. He has to fit into the locker room and he does. He gets an opportunity to play the ball game the way that it is supposed to be played. I say this with a smile on my face, the things that you cannot coach are instincts. You either have that or you do not. He has instincts. We have several other guys that are in that room, too, that do have some instincts that are rare instincts. We just have to continue to improve. He is just a rookie still and will continue to improve. Every day is an interview. When he goes out onto the practice field and he comes to the meeting rooms, he responds favorably. I am very proud of him."
On disguising defensive schemes against Chargers QB Philip Rivers:
"It is hard. We have had an opportunity this year and last year to go against some of the top quarterbacks. I have a lot of respect for him. I have gone against him a bunch of times. He is one of the best at figuring things out. He has a competitive spirit that you can see why he is such a good leader because of how hard he competes every time, even practicing against him a long time ago. He competes that way every single day. He leads his team well. He understands the methods of operation on how to, if he can, knock us out of disguises or show up for him. He does a really good job with that. You guys can watch this in a ball game – watch how many times Philip Rivers has the feel of taking the play clock down to one until you get a chance defensively to tip what he is going to do. That is one of the things that I have been talking about in our room. I talked about it last year when we went out there last year and played. He did a great job of that last year out there. Not very many quarterbacks will take it down into five seconds on the play clock. He will take it down to one. He will take it down to two. He knows how to still get the ball snapped because he knows that the defense is going to declare. If you declare a fraction of a second, he has it processed. I have a lot of respect for him. He works hard at his craft. He is playing very well right now. He is playing at a high level."
On LB Joe Schobert making more 'splash plays' this season:
"He has. He is not over-thinking. Let's go back to one of the things I said back in June, the first time that Joe Schobert had a chance to play inside linebacker in the National Football League, high school, college, is all of a sudden here in minicamp last year. There is a lot of processing to go on with that. He is a really, really good athlete. I am talking about an excellent athlete. On top of that, he is very smart. He is very prideful. He does not ever like making a mistake. On top of all of that, the stuff that I pile on the middle linebacker. Our middle linebacker is the quarterback in and on the defense. What we just talked about with Philip Rivers, that is what Joe does. I have just a huge smile on my face talking about this. You can't believe the difference in just last year to this year in just talking football with him. He is a football junkie. He listens to every single thing that goes on. He is ahead of coaches in certain areas. All of the really good players that I have had, especially that play that positon, that is what they do. They are a coach on the field. He has to be an extension of me on the field. One of the things that it took a while for people to understand here, the defense that we play on a particular rep is not what Gregg Williams calls; it is what Joe Schobert calls. Now, lots of coaches can't do that because of their ego. 'I have to be in charge,' No, no, no, no, no. On gameday, I just have to help out. They have to be in charge. How do you go about getting the players to understand how to have the power to do that and to lead the team? He more than handles that. On top of the things that I just talked to him about, now he is not over-processing. It is coming so fast to him. Now, he can go make plays. Now, he is going in athletically and making plays. I tease him about once I week that if he will not show up on the injury report with poor hands, he could be leading the National Football League as a middle linebacker in interceptions because he can get around the ball. He has taken a lot of strides in that, and he is doing very well."
On Schobert seeming personable but quiet:
"That is natural. He is a natural person in that way. He appreciates when I say this: leadership is not by voice, it is by actions. You can quietly respond. You can loudly respond. Now all of a sudden when you talk, they are going to listen to you because of your actions not because of your words. We have guys around who are all talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. We just, 'I do not want to listen to that stuff. You are not doing it.' They constantly will push them to the side. The respect that he has in the room is outstanding. The respect that he has on the field during the game is outstanding of his teammates. There is really no way that I could really make you understand how much he actually does during a game on controlling everybody out there. He is as good as I have ever had."
On the matchup between Schobert and Rivers:
"It is very good. That is a great question. As soon as we left the game last year, he got on the bus and wanted to talk about that. We have gone back and revisited comments and notes that we were talking about last year. There is some experience factor there. Now, what you felt and what you heard and what we were doing, how is that going to be this year? Is this going to be a competition between you and him? It is. He learned a lot. It is harder when we were playing them at home because Philip could listen to everything that he was saying. Now, with the way that our crowds is going right now, which is fantastic, it reminds me of the days that I was coming up here with the Houston Oilers and how loud it was in the old stadium. I am telling you, in both games here, the last two home games, this is what we want – Joe Schobert can't hear the call I am giving into the helmet. He can't hear it. It is so loud. Guess what? The offense can't hear Philip Rivers either. That is what we want. We have a mechanism of how we get the call in even when you can't hear the communication process. That is what we want. There is not as much of a battle to be going on in this game because Philip can't hear and Joe can't hear because of what is going to be going on in there. Last year was a great learning experience for him."
On the Color Rush uniforms, the team's 2-0 record in them and response from fans and players:
"I love it when the players are happy about that. I really do not get involved with it. I wear the same gear every week so it really does not make a difference what they wear. It is meaningful to the guys. That is a big part of society today and all that kind of stuff. I smile and laugh back at the old uniforms that I was a part of back 30 and 40 years ago. Those are kind of cool when they start coming back. I like some of those things when they start coming back. I really do not even know the rules on how many times they can or can't. I just show up and put on whatever is hanging up in the locker."
On the 'Rally Possum' at FirstEnergy Stadium:
"I thought that it was funny. I just saw it a couple of days ago. I grew up hunting those things and had to eat them (laughter). I grew up on a farm, and we had to do those types of things. There is a special way that you have to cook them if you are ever going to eat them. I will not go into that."
On not having a Color Rush outfit in his locker:
"For whatever reason, (head equipment manager) Brad (Melland) has not put one in my locker yet. I get all kinds of static and texts and jokes from former players and coaches that I have been with at other places too when they see me in different color stuff, a new team and all of that kind of stuff. I can only imagine what it would ever be like if I ever got caught up in the [Color] Rush stuff."
On deciding to transition Schobert to MIKE:
"Do a lot of research on everybody when we come into a place. More than just the normal film of a normal scout. I am talking about going back to high school days, junior high days. Those are just one of the niches that I believe in. My son, (Blake Williams) the linebacker coach, is even better at that. We went back into all different types of things that he has done in his life on how can we mentor, how can we coach, how can we lead and help him in different ways. We kind of spotted some things early on. If you have never seen some of the videos of him playing basketball. All of a sudden, you see that space play and say he ought to be able to get behind the ball and play in space, too. I do not know why they only let him play outside linebacker in college. Why do you not put him back there, too? There were some thoughts going on with all of that on how different sports transition and help you athletically in the sport that you are in. When we put him out here and got a chance to in the offseason with not much pressure still put him in the situation to see if he could respond, he was responding daily. One of the things that I wish – I need to do a better job of – is he is a very good outside linebacker rusher. Maybe I have not rushed him enough. I think about that each week in my checklist of things of how we will trick the package to where all of a sudden, he has ended up and he is out there where (LB Genard) Avery is, he is out there where (DL) Myles (Garrett) is or he is out there where (DL) Emmanuel (Ogbah) is because he has a very good pass rushing ability himself, too. The more that you can do, the better that you are. That is what we do schematically is I try to fit the scheme to them not them to the scheme. We are going to try to do things that are best. We have morphed even into this year into the kind of guys that we have this year. There are some subtleties differently this year schematically to what we are doing because these are the guys that we have this year and this is what they do best. He can do a lot of things. I think that we are just scratching the surface with him."
On improving to 15 takeaways through the first five games from 13 total in 2017:
"I thought that we were allergic to them last year. I think it is ability first. One of the things when you look back – this is another thing from a scouting thing that if you look back – if a guy in high school and in college has never taken a ball away, what makes you think that I can make him do it? It is easier at the other two levels, then all of a sudden they get here and it is harder. You have to have some ability and some instinctiveness to be able to do that. You also have to have some hand skills to be able to do that. Then, the confidence that you have to understand what we are doing. Another year, you are not thinking as much about technical scheme stuff, but you are thinking about making plays on the ball. There are lots of different factors. More importantly, it is the confidence factor. I tell them all the time, you know that takeaways are these three things: attitude first, population second and technique third. What does that mean? You have to make sure that it is the highest priority of what you have going on defense, get as many people around the ball as you can. Now, I will teach you as much technique as I can and we as coaches will teach you as much technique to finish he play. They are doing a good job with that. They get irritated with me is that we could have a lot more than we have. I think that I have counted 13 times, 13 balls that we have had two hands on the ball – 13 more. We just have to keep going."
On Takeaway Thursday:
"We have a philosophy of how we prepare. I started doing this back in the '90s. It was funny, (Seahawks head coach) Pete Carroll came by the Redskins a long time ago when I was doing it there, too, but we have a philosophy for each day of preparation. The routine of preparation, you do not show up on Sunday and be shocked because you are playing well. You do not show up on Sunday and be shocked that you are not prepared. There is a preparation process. Each day, there is a philosophy or some type of theme for the day. Thursday, because it is 't' and 't,' – Thursday and takeaways – Takeaway Thursday. It is just another way to emphasize that. We have been doing that for really about 25 years. Wherever I have been, we have been doing that. How do we teach? Back to my special teams coordinator days, once we possess the ball, turn it into a return. You turn it into a schematic return. We need to score. We are taking the ball away and when are we going to score. We need to put points on the board. We have to do that type of stuff. I have been blessed to have been on a couple of teams in years past that are just dominant with that. When we start separating the score, now watch Myles rush. Now, watch Avery rush. Now watch some of these other guys rush the passer because you are separating the score. We have to do that better."
On if Week 5 was the best he has seen DB Jabrill Peppers play:
"He played well. Off of the top of my head, I thought that he played some really good games last year, too. I think he was around the ball really good last week, too. I see it every day in practice. Some of the things that you guys do not get a chance to see is how smart he is. His verbal communication skills on what he does, similar to Schob's (Schobert), it goes from the middle linebacker to the safety core, and the safety core are the second-team quarterbacks of the defense on how they have to communicate and get alerts and stuff. He does a great job with that. He is very vocal with that. It is starting to show me how much more confident he is and understanding what we are doing because you can't shut him up at practice. That is what we want. Good defenses are vocal. They are telling everybody so what if you know? Stop us. That is the confidence and the swagger that you have to have at those positions."
Special teams coordinator Amos Jones:
On DB Denzel Ward's blocked FG:
"I take a lot of pride in that. 1983 was when we developed a drill to teach guys off of the edge – me and a guy named (former Temple defensive coordinator) Nick Rapone at Temple University. We have always had great edgers. Fortunate to have guys like Denzel. It is ironic – last week in practice, he had the same play. He did not block the kick, but he had the same side and the same technique. He perfected it a little bit between that practice and the game. Just a big, big time play. A guy that is capable of making those types of plays. He listens. He works. Now, you have one to teach off of. That is the great thing about that from that standpoint is the fact that now we have it here, and we have the opportunity to continue to use other players off of that tape. Validity is what I look for, as a coach, on plays like that, and he validated one and the techniques that the player has developed. We were able to use it. That was a big play at a big moment. Congratulations for him and to the team for making that stop right there before the half because really, that is a double-score situation. We have the ball in the second half so you are looking to rob points and get points. Really proud for him. Blocked it with the inside hand."
On developing the drill to block off of the edge at Temple:
"You are always looking for a guy that can crank off of the corners. You just get a crash pad, use a snapper and you have teach them not only the footwork but you have to teach them to lay out because you are not going to get it if you run by it. You have to get the length off it. It was really nice to see. Again, he had that same play in practice last week so we had the chance to coach him off of that play, which was a time that he did lay out. We had a few conversations with him about that play and showed it on the tape. He was able to take that and master it himself into getting himself around the corner."
On if the left side of the Browns FG protect unit was overloaded by the Ravens on the final FG:
"You are going to always have a numerical advantage on defense because people are going to load in this league. You can't put but six on the line of scrimmage to one side of the center. That rule changed a few years back. If you put six on one side, you are either going to play with a four-man surface on the backside or a three-man surface. You have to have one player stacked. It is kind of one of those deals. We rep that. You are either going to get a three-man surface or a four-man surface somewhere in or head up on the tight end. That is not any kind of scheme that is unique to anybody. We all use the same stuff in that respect."
On how to improve protection in that FG situation:
"The biggest thing is protection is always inside out. You have to shore up the inside from the A gap out. When you have guys like (DL) Myles Garrett that can rush inside, you better be protecting against those kind of guys. That is kind of who sets the standard for you is the guys that can rush inside, and then you add that guy like Denzel on the outside. It is all about eyes and trusting your footwork and technique. Protection always has to come from inside out. Whether it is four guys or three guys, it does not matter because you still have to have the ability to protect inside and a little bit outside from the standpoint of how you finish. You just have to do a better job on the inside. That is where the breakdowns can come to."
On if the Ravens jumped offside on the final FG attempt:
"They had called it earlier in the game. It was the same player, same ball key or hand key, whatever they were using. I thought that it looked like the same play to me. They did not call it so that is a part of the game, too."
On if a potential offside penalty could have been reviewed by the officials:
"That would have been a re-kick situation had they have called him offside. I do not know. Good question. I am not sure on that one. I would hope so in that respect if I was the kicking team."
On changing gunners on punt team last week:
"We felt like (DB) Denzel (Rice) when he was playing, he was playing fast. He has to finish better. He has to make tackles. That was a big time focus for him. Last week, (Head) Coach (Hue Jackson) made him inactive. Sometimes standing on the sideline, you can kind of see the game a little bit better. Maybe that helps. Whether or not he will be active this week, it will be up to Coach. We were glad that (WR Rod) Streater came in and played well – No. 13 for us. He showed great speed. He has size. He has a little bit of experience that some of the other guys do not have. Having had the luxury of playing and coaching Pro Bowlers before, I think it is always better to have two or three guys. Hopefully, we can get a rotation down where we have got some depth out there, some guys that can play and get off of the press and guys that finish down field. You would lie to rotate them, match them up sometimes based on who they are playing against. For the most part, you have to always have a backup ready in the game. We work a bunch of guys out there on the perimeter."
On if RB Dontrell Hilliard was elevated to the active roster to return kicks:
"Dontrell was elevated to play and to have a better chance to play on the 53 and on the 46 (active). All of those things will kind of come down to a coach's decision on game day. The biggest thing with him, we liked him in the spring. We liked him in training camp. He had a great game in Detroit. There is a little bit of a measuring stick on him in how he played in the preseason games. A talented guy. He has been good in the classroom. He worked hard when he was on the p squad. He has had a good week of practice. That would kind of be a game time decision, I am assuming, based on what Coach wants to do."
On if Hilliard could be an option at returner:
"Oh yeah, because he did it in the preseason. You can never have enough returners, particularly in this league now where you can only have three guys back there. Whatever configuration you use, whether you use two deep or a single high as we call it, you have to have guys that can catch the ball. Having another running back type guy that handles the ball more so helps us."
On if Hilliard could return punts and kickoffs:
"Punt I would say would be a work in progress. We are playing a lefty this week so that will not be his option this week. The biggest thing is that he is a guy that can do it. Does not have a great résumé obviously in this league, but in that preseason game, he had some production."
On K Greg Joseph handling missed kicks last week:
"I think that the biggest thing is that he is a guy that went into the game not having a miss so you really did not know how that reaction would be. His pregame needed to be better. That kind of set a little bit of the bar for being able to handle that. We talked about that. From a standpoint of getting to him on the sideline and deciding on what we wanted to do to put the ball somewhere, we had good communication. He went back out at halftime, and ironically for us, he kicked into that end of the field. We were kind of preparing him for being ready to go into the locker room side because they had the option of which way they wanted to kick coming out of the second half. We were kind of at their mercy in that respect. I thought he handled it well. He obviously made a statement of what school he went to (laughter). I saw his press conference just to check him out. Anytime that you are a young player in this league and you have a chance to end the game, boy, I wish he would have ended it earlier. We told him that. That ball was a ball that he aimed right where it went, and it was a good kick. The last one, he lined up, I think that he had his mind right. I do not think that was a factor."
On which end of FirstEnergy Stadium is easier to kick FGs:
"(Former Browns and Cardinals K) Phil Dawson would probably be able to answer that better than me."
On if he has spoken to Dawson about kicking at FirstEnergy Stadium:
"Oh yeah, many times when I had him in Arizona and it was comfortable. The biggest thing is that anytime you are kicking into the Dawg Pound you know that they are not going to boo for you unless you miss it. I think that both ends have to be mastered. I think that was one of the things that made Phil so successful here was the fact that he was able to master both ends of the stadium. I think Greg is going to have a good opportunity to try. Last week, he came back and made one on the end that he missed one on. That is overcoming that obstacle. Hopefully, we will continue to see him grow in that respect. Each stadium is different. Ours is unique because you have a big body of water outside. You have to just kind of learn to play it. I was fortunate for me to have all of those years in Pittsburgh when we would come up and play so you knew a little something about the stadium itself and how sometimes the wind plays and factors in."
On if he spoke to Dawson about the stadium factors when he received the job in Cleveland:
"I had (former Browns P) Dave Zastudil in Arizona so he had Phil's insight. When Phil came to Arizona, we talked about multiple stadiums. This one has some earmarkings that Phil could help you with. Special teams coaches, kickers and punters, we are always kind of talking about stadiums and stuff like that. Believe me, I always pick the brain of a player because they have the best perspective. They are on the grass. They have to do it."
On if he has instructed DB Jabrill Peppers to take a knee in the end zone on some kickoffs:
"Last week, he did not do that so we talked to him. The biggest thing is on a coupe of times, when you look at it realistically, he has had a couple of balls now that were right at the edge of the goal line, as well as one that he should have downed. You have to trust him and you have to line him up correctly sometimes. Sometimes, they have to make sure that they line up exactly where they need to because it goes back to the stadium question – sometimes you have tilt them a little bit more. Sometimes, you have to do stuff like that. I think that the Oakland experience was good for us. The learning curve that both sides of the return stuff –even with (WR Antonio) Callaway catching the ball over top of his head, which we talked about before – all of those things factor in. Nowadays, you want to try to line him up where you think the ball is going to go and play the rule. If the ball is going over your head into the end zone and you are going backwards, it is not advantageous for anybody. I do not care if you had any great returner back there. The numbers and percentages are not with you."
On the blocking on return units:
"I think that anything could be better in terms of that. In the preseason, we were doing it with a few different players. Now, we have added some guys that we have got to get them up to snuff in terms of what we are doing. The biggest thing for us is we need to be sure that we finish our blocks. Juts blocking is one thing, but when you have a guy that is running downhill as fast as Jabrill can, you have to finish the block. You kind of have to get the guy out of the way. That is the biggest thing we try to teach these guys is that your feet are going to be the ultimate factor in whether or not you get holding or not, unless you completely bear hug the guy. We have to be better on all accounts in that respect and try to finish the blocks better."