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Browns coordinators press conference - 9/24

Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo

Opening statement:

"I thought it was a great win this past weekend. The best thing about this win was that it was a total team effort. Offense, defense and special teams contributed to our victory. Those are the best types of wins. It was really, really good to see. It was really good to see us run the ball with some success. It is a lot easier calling plays when you can run the football a little bit. I thought we played much more physical up front. I thought our backs' tracks were much better, and they broke tackles, which was great to see. We started fast again and that is a credit to our offense. They have bought into what we are doing in terms of the openers. They study the openers. They know what to expect, and hopefully, we can continue that on Sunday.

"Big thanks to the Dawg Pound. Huge thanks to the Dawg Pound. For a millisecond there, I felt sorry for the Titans offense in terms of having to deal with that crowd noise knowing what that is like. It lasted for like a millisecond. We need that again on Sunday from our fans. I thought they did a great job. They were a huge, huge part in our victory."

On how vital it is to have a player like WR Travis Benjamin who can stretch a defense:

"That is huge. Not only is he a threat to go deep, but when you are a threat to go deep, you get a lot of soft coverage so it opens up the routes underneath also, which gives you opportunities to catch and run with space. That is a huge part of having a guy with that type of speed on your offensive side."

On the decision to start QB Josh McCown over QB Johnny Manziel:

"It was something that we thought about for a while. We felt that Josh's only play time was a 19-play, 90-yard drive on the road against a defense that as we saw the other night, we can all agree, that is a pretty good defense. Right now, we feel that Josh gives us the best chance to win. It is a long season. I told both guys yesterday we are going to need them both. It wasn't a quick decision. It was something that we did think about and it was very deliberate. Right now, we just feel that Josh McCown gives us the best chance to win."

On how much Manziel's fumbles factored into the starting QB decision:

"It had a factor. It definitely did. I am not going to lie to you and say it didn't. It did. It was a piece of the decision, though. It wasn't the whole decision. When you look at Johnny's last seven quarters, he has done some really good things, also. That definitely factors into it. The No. 1 thing when you play quarterback is you have to protect the football because if you don't protect the football, then obviously you're re not giving yourself the best chance to win."

On Raiders DB Charles Woodson's longevity:

"First off, if you watch the tape, you would never know Charles has played as long as he has. I used to go up to him the last few years and tell him how fun it was to watch a pro. He is a pro's pro. The guy doesn't say a word when he shows up. All he does is work, studies tape. I compared him this week to (former Buccaneers S John) Lynch to our offensive players. He has seen every route. He jumps routes. He knows route concepts. It was fun being able to get to know him and watch him go through his weekly routine. I think a lot of players in this league, if they just watch how he conducts himself on and off the field, can learn a lot from Charles."

On seeing what is needed from WR Dwayne Bowe in practice:

"I don't think Dwayne is 100 percent yet. I don't. I think he is getting better, but I still don't think Dwayne is 100 percent. It is hard. It is hard to go out there and perform at this level when you are not 100 percent. It is hard enough on a good day when you are 100 percent. We need to keep – I don't want to say force feeding Dwayne – but limiting what he is doing. That way, we don't aggravate that hamstring again."

On if he was surprised Raiders QB Derek Carr was available in the second round of the 2014 draft:

"I was. I was definitely surprised. I thought he was – I don't want to say what team I thought he was going to because there was a lot of speculation before the draft. I gave Derek a first-round grade, and I thought Derek was a first-round quarterback."

On how TE E.J. Bibbs has looked in practice and he needs to do to be active on Sundays:

"I think E.J. is doing everything he can do. I think those other three guys are playing well right now. The unique thing about our tight end position is that all three guys serve different roles. None of them are deficient enough to where you don't feel like you can't put (TE) Jim Dray in a passing situation or (TE) Rob Housler in a running situation or (TE) Gary (Barnidge) in any situation. I think E.J. just needs to continue to get in the book and continue to have his weekly plan on getting ready for a game plan. He is further along than most rookie tight ends I have been around. We are very, very pleased with his progress."

On if he believes the Browns were one of the teams interested in drafting Carr last year:

"I don't want to get into that. I just knew the four or five teams in the first round that were looking for quarterbacks. I knew the Browns were one of them. I don't really want to get into that right now."

On what he knew about Benjamin before coming to Cleveland:

"I really didn't know much to be honest with you. I did not know much about Travis at all. I knew him more as a special teams player. When we got here in the spring, I just noticed this guy that had really good hands and could run fast. I was like 'There is a place on the field for this guy somewhere.' We sped him along. I forget what he injured, but he injured something. He may have been a hamstring in the spring. He didn't even have a full allotment of OTAs and the installation. It is a credit to him how far he has come as a receiver. He has worked his butt off."

On being more certain about Manziel having tremendous physical attributes as he stated earlier in the season:

"Yes, more so. I am so proud of Johnny. I said it in front of the offense yesterday. I couldn't be prouder of a young man and how far he has come, not only talking football but from a life standpoint, how far he has come. I wasn't here last year so I don't know the ins and outs of what went on here. All I know is what I have heard and what I have seen from when I got to know him in the draft process. The kid is a different young man. He really is. Obviously, the way he's improved his life off the field has definitely translated to his life on the field. I couldn't be prouder of the way Johnny has progressed, both on and off the football field."

On the future looking bright at QB:

"I think so. I definitely think so."

On the difficulty of Benjamin's first touchdown catch against Tennessee:

"That play has a couple different options on it. They were in quarters coverage. It is what we were hoping they would be in. Quarters coverage is when each DB has a quarter of the field. When you hard play-action on a quarters safety, he has to come down in run support. Travis had the option if it was quarters coverage to run right past them. The safety is going to be down in the run support and you saw the heavy play-action fake right at (Titans DB Michael) Griffin. Our landmark is right up the hash. That is where we want that ball thrown and caught is right up the hash. As soon as I saw quarters coverage, I knew. I said over the headset, 'This one has a chance.' Obviously, Travis made a great play. I wouldn't even say a hands catch. He finger tipped it when you put it in slow motion. He made a great play for us and Johnny made a great throw. Talking about home-field advantage, I haven't heard a crowd erupt like that in a long time so that was really cool to see."

On what the original plan was offensively on the play that resulted in Benjamin's second touchdown:

"Well, what happened was we had a little bit of protection breakdown, not a little bit but a lot of a protection breakdown on the left side. We weren't supposed to have a man free on the left side there. Johnny made a great play. We were running a three-man flood to the right. Sliding the line to the left max protection and flooding the right side. Safe throw on third and long there, but a chance to get the first down. We had a protection breakdown, and actually, Travis came all the way from the backside and Johnny found him in the scramble drill. It was a great play by both of those guys."

On Manziel as a passer, based on Sunday and what he needs to do to become a good NFL passer:

"I would say he is a good NFL passer right now. I think there is always room for improvement. I don't want to say Johnny lacks any athletic traits that you need to be a quarterback. He has those. The thing that he just needs is experience and playing in an NFL system and experience in playing in NFL games. I think the more he concentrates on being in this system because that is the one he is in right now, the better he will get."

On being cautious with the offense and Manziel against Tennessee with a 21-0 lead:

"I wouldn't say we were cautious. To me, our defense played lights out the other day. The Tennessee Titans are a well-coached offense, and our defense shut those guys down. Our defense played awesome and was getting to the quarterback. We didn't want to put our guys in the situation of possibly making a critical mistake. That is the way we chose to play the game at that time."

On his confidence that McCown can pick up where he left on in the preseason and first drive of the regular season:

"Just knowing Josh. Nothing tells me that he won't pick up right where he left off. To drive 90 yards on that defense on the road, Josh will be fine on Sunday."

On the NFL trend of more deep passes:

"I think it is a combination of, I would guess, I have never coached on defense, but you don't tackle as much in the preseason and during practice in training camp. Probably a little bit of it is, I want to say, poor tackling. I haven't done a study, but I am just guessing here. I would say receivers around the league now a days are big men. Those guys are big men that can run fast, going up and making plays and the next thing you know the DB falls down jumping up for a ball and it is a walk-in touchdown."

On McCown handling the pressure of playing with Manziel playing behind him:

"Josh and I have been in this situation together actually in 2007 with (former Raiders QB) JaMarcus Russell. We drafted JaMarcus No. 1 overall, and we traded for Josh on draft day that spring, that same day we drafted JaMarcus with the first pick in the draft. He has handled that situation before. He will handle it like a total pro. I pulled him aside yesterday and told him, 'Just go out and be yourself.' A quarterback cannot go out there and play tight and afraid to make mistakes. You have to go out there and cut it loose. I think he will be fine with that. He is one of the most mentally tough people I have ever met in my life."

On what would have happened on Benjamin's first touchdown catch against Tennessee if the safety had not bitten on the play-action:

"We had (WR) Brain Hartline as the second progression, running what we call a drift, which is 12-yard in-cut. Then we had (FB) Malcolm Johnson on a collision flat out onto the left. I am sorry, it was (TE) Gary Barnidge. We were in 12 [personnel]."

On if that is an example of Manziel growing and reading:

"Sure, absolutely. Absolutely. Again, that was a huge, huge alert for us this week. If you see quarters coverage on this play, we are throwing the deep ball. I had a good feeling that we would see that and we did. Our guys did a great job executing the play."

Defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil

Opening statement:

"I want to start out by giving a shout out to the Strongsville 7-and-under soccer team. They're undefeated. My wife's doing a hellacious job with the defense, and my son's kicking some butt so they're doing a great job.

"As far as we're concerned here, it was great to get the first win. I thought the guys did a great job starting fast. The Dawg Pound got into it, and that energy is awesome to play in front of. We have to do the same thing this week. Oakland Raiders are going to be a challenge for us. We have to start fast, get the Dawg Pound into it and get those guys rocking like they were last Sunday."

On how may goals his son has scored:

"He's a defensive guy. He's got a defensive mentality just like his dad so we've got the O'Neil connection back there on the defensive side of the 50."

On the Browns defense's performance last week:

"It was good. I think we got them into some obvious pass situations, and we knew if we were able to do that that we could so some stuff to try and confuse [Titans QB Marcus Mariota]. I thought our guys did a great job up front winning, and I thought our blitzers did a great job getting home when we did send guys so it was encouraging."

On Raiders QB Derek Carr:

"Very confident, he's got a very strong arm. They're moving him a lot. It's a totally different scheme than what they did last year. He obviously got some new toys on the outside to play with, but he's playing really well."

On what it means for Carr to have dynamic receivers:

"Sure, it's big when you have guys that can make plays on the outside"

On Carr's performance at home compared to on the road:

"That's something that we look at. Their three big games so far this season have all been at home, the third preseason game and then both the first two games. He was a guy we went against last year, but like I said, it's a new system so you don't know exactly how they're going to be on the road and how the noise will affect them and what their plan is with silent cadence and some of that kind of stuff. Again, we do go back to some of last year's stuff, we do study some of the stuff that the offensive coordinator did when he was in Philly. You can only put so much stock into that stuff because it was last year, different team and different system."

On what is impressive about Carr's stats:

"The scheme, like I said, they do a good job of getting him on the move. They give him a lot of quick outs in the pass game so if he's getting pressured very similar to what the Jets did with (QB Ryan) Fitzpatrick Week 1. They have a lot of hot throws built in for him, and he's doing a good job seeing them. He's doing a great job reading the defenses, getting the ball out – got a quick release. It's a good group, it is. It's going to be a challenge for us."

On DB Justin Gilbert:

"He's back. He's healthy. He's had a good now week of practice. I'm hoping that continues. If that continues the rest of this week, I'm sure in (Head) Coach (Mike) Pettine's mind, he'll be in the running to be up. He's in that competitive battle with some of those other guys. Right now in the first two weeks, he's been a player that's been down for us. If he continues to practice the way he has been, he's making a case for himself. If he's up, we'll use him."

On the challenges a player like WR Travis Benjamin presents to a defense:

"It's hard because you probably have to put a safety over the top to protect them a little bit deep. Then if you're doing that, you're usually lightening the box in the run game. Our offense is doing a good job also moving Trav around, and that creates problems because if you don't know where a guy's going to be, you can't always say, 'Hey, we're just going to have a safety over top of him.' It definitely presents issues when you have a vertical front guy that has made plays like Trav has so far this year."

On what he likes about DL John Hughes:

"John Hughes the belt winner this week? Rock solid technique wise. We talk about Play Like a Brown, and he embodies all of those attributes that we talk about. Great person. You can just always count on John to fill up the grade sheet with pluses. Does his job and allows a lot of other guys around him to make plays. John obviously made his plays this past week. He did a great job for us."

On if Hughes will be used to set others up to make plays:

"I think John is going to make the plays that come to him because he's going to be exactly where he's supposed to be. A couple of his tags last week came because he got great knock 'em back and cut the play in half or he took two at the point of attack in the run game and allowed a linebacker to run through for a TFL. John's going to cause production for himself and for other people."

On if the Browns scheme to overcompensate for the lack of good edge setters:

"We need to be better. To me, it was really two plays we were bad on this past week that accounted for over 60 yards. One of them was probably not a great call. I was chasing a play and I didn't put the guys in great position. Then, we had a couple guys that weren't very good on that play. That was the 40 yard run. Then on another play, we had a new coverage in that we busted and we lost the edge. I don't know if you can sit there and put that on the guys that are playing outside backer right now and say that we don't have great guys to set the edge. I do think that we're doing things this year that we weren't doing last year in the run game. I know that the numbers don't support that, and I get you guys on that one, but I see us going the right way with it. I see things on tape that are going to lead to us having a successful game against the rush. We don't want to let anybody rush for over 100 yards on us. That's our goal. Again, we have to take away those two or three big plays out of each game, and if we do that we'll be damn good."

On if plans for pass rush change facing a second-year QB this week:

"Every one of our gameplans is going to be a gameplan specific to what the offensive scheme is, what the offensive personnel is, who the quarterback is. We want to be a team that puts pressure on the quarterback. It doesn't matter who it is. We don't want to let quarterbacks sit back there and be able to identify 'theses four are rushing every time' or 'these three are rushing every time' and feel comfortable in the pocket."

On Raiders WR Amari Cooper as a rookie receiver:

"I don't want to compare them, but he's very good. He doesn't look like a rookie. He's got very good level one skills, level two and level three. He's got very good change of direction, very good catching the ball, high pointing it. He's a good one. He's going to be a very good player in this league."

On Raiders DE Khalil Mack:

"Athletic ability, how versatile he is, pass rush ability, he was a three-down outside backer. We liked him a lot in the draft. A prototype outside backer in a 3-4 defense."

On if drafting LB Barkevious Mingo had anything to do with not picking Mack:

"That's a good question for Pett or Ray Farmer."

On Mingo's lack of snaps:

"I think when we looked back on it, we wished we would have played Mingo a little bit more. We probably played (LB) Paul (Kruger)) too much. I think when your best pass rusher is on the field for 70 plays throughout the course of a game, that's probably a little high, especially when you get into those critical drives at the end of the game. You want those guys to be fresh. Paul's a guy that we're going to count on to make big plays for us at the end of the game so we have to do a better job as a coaching staff taking some reps on him in some of those early drives, early quarters."

On LB Armonty Bryant at OLB:

"I think the kid has done a great job with the transition. I think (defensive line coach) Anthony Weaver and (outside linebackers coach) Brian Fleury who is now coaching him is doing a great job developing the talent there. He's got a very natural ability in pass rush just to slip the soft shoulder and get skinny and make plays. I think he's shown great improvement in the run game. I think that that'll continue to come. I think that playing the run on the edge is easier than what we were asking him to do last year, when we were lining him inside and he was fighting double teams. It's something we identified as a coaching staff when we went back last year in the offseason with the cutups and thought that he could be a better player for us on the outside. We made the move, and he's still has some inside-outside flexibility for us. If we ever got in a pinch in a game and a guy got injured outside, we could slide him or if we want to take advantage of a mismatch and slide him inside in passing situations. He's one of those versatile guys that we like in our defense that it's a problem for offenses because we can align him in a lot of different spots."

On DB Joe Haden's performance last game, as well as Titans WR Dorial Green-Beckham's TD catch:

"Yeah, balls over the middle, we're in zone coverage; rush has to get there. Quarterback threw a really nice ball high. That guy is huge, but Joe had a really good game for us. He had an outstanding game. There were times where Joe played so well at level one when he's pressed on guys that a wide out never even got into his route because Joe did such a good job right at the line of scrimmage on them which was great to see. I really like how he came back Week 2."

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor

Opening statement:

"Good afternoon. Another day of preparation for the Raiders. They pose some challenges for us. They have a lot of good [players], just typical Raiders. They are long. They can run. They have size, and they have a nice mixture of older players and younger players. We have our work cut out for us in the special teams' area, but once again, we are going to try to concentrate on the Cleveland Browns and try to get a little better today, and hopefully, that will carry over for Sunday's game."

On if he expected these types of performances from WR Travis Benjamin:

"He is playing well. He is catching the ball real well. His decision making is very quick and he is right on right now. I am not surprised by it, but at the same time, you are only as good as your next game. Here comes the next one so we will see what takes place."

On believing in Benjamin as a great punt returner:

"I just believe in the player. I have always stated that he is a good football player. I see him every day. I see him work at his craft. When you see a young man do that, I have confidence in him, and I thought what he is doing right now, I am really happy for him."

On how many return men he's seen where the punter routinely punts away from the return man:

"There has been some. I think there is a lot of factors that go into if you want to kick away from a return man. No. 1, can your punter do it? No. 2, what kind of cover guys do you have? I think there are a lot of factors in there. Right now, he is doing a nice job handling the ball and he is giving us good field position so hopefully that will continue."

On if each team will now gameplan for Benjamin:

"I think people notice him. Once again, it will go back to matchups and those types of things. I can tell you this with regards to this matchup here. The Raiders are good. It will be interesting to see how they play it. I think that we are working on our plan right now and we will see how it goes on Sunday."

On K Travis Coons:

"He is very steady. His personality is kind of how he approaches kicking. He is laid back but at the same time very aggressive and takes to his craft and works at it at a high level. He is doing a nice job for us. Hopefully, that will continue and we expect it to continue."

On if the Browns front office or he was responsible for bringing in Coons:

"The front office. We brought in some guys on the last day, just like it happens with a lot of teams. After the Baltimore game, we brought him in the next day and worked some guys out and signed him to a future contract right there. Front office did a nice job on that one."

On comparing Falcons WR-KR Devin Hester and Benjamin:

"There are some similarities. I think they are both fast. Both of them catch the ball well. They are both elusive. They are built differently. Devin is a little thicker than Travis is. With regards to big-play making ability, they both have that."

On the design of a punt return and how a returner's mindset works within that return plan:

"You set the return up. Once again, the matchup deal. We always tell returners that you start the return and then let your instincts take over. I think when you deal with a player that has great potential or is a good football player, you don't want to put them in a box. You want them to be a football player. Give them some parameters, but when his instincts kick in, let him play."

On the similarities between former Browns WR Joshua Cribbs and Benjamin:

"Josh was more of a, obviously being a thicker guy, a bigger guy, I would describe him more as a north-south returner. When he was younger, I remember when I was in Chicago at the time he had the ability to get to the edge, and then obviously, as the years went on, he was catch, get vertical, make a guy miss and then he could break tackles. Travis right now is using the whole field. The other day he went to the field, he went to the boundary and he went to the middle. He is using all the field zones right now, and I think that is really good for him."

On if he knew Benjamin could be the type of receiver he is now:

"I always thought so. I made the comment the other day watching practice, and he made another nice play out on the practice field. I have been here since he was drafted. I have seen him get better each and every year, and I just think he is at that process, that stage right now where he is taking the next step, and it is a credit to him. He has worked hard at it. I still think the sky is the limit for him."

On Benjamin not letting his punt return duties sit on the back burner and solely focusing on being a receiver:

"I think that No. 1, I do think he is fully healed. We always said we would never use that as an excuse last season. I think there is a chip on his shoulder. He is working hard at his craft. Every day when he is not catching the ball out there, if another returner is catching the ball, Travis is standing right behind and following him and getting the ball read. He has worked hard at those things and it is showing up for him. He has set the standard for himself, and we are going to expect him to exceed that standard."

On where Benjamin's speed ranks among guys he has coached:

"He's fast. Devin (Hester) was awfully fast, also. I will say those two guys as punt returners are probably the two most dynamic guys that I have been around. Josh (Cribbs) was too, but Josh is kind of a different animal. It is like a bear and a tiger type deal. They are two different animals."

On P Andy Lee's performance:

"Andy is doing a great job for us. He is flipping the field for us. He is giving us punts that I don't know if he is flipping the field, but he is giving our cover teams opportunities to get down there and cover. I think the guys as a whole have done a nice job on that. There are still some areas we have to clean up, and this week will be no different. We always rate our coverage on the next opponent, and the Raiders, the (Raiders CB TJ) Carrie kid, who played at Ohio, he is only averaging about 6.5 yards (per return) right now, but last year, he was off to a good start and he has big play ability. We will see where we are at after this game."

On Lee's hang time on his punts:

"Andy is going to be anywhere from the 4.6 (seconds) to the other day he hit a 5.3, which is enormous. I didn't think the ball was going to come down. I thought some planes weren't even going to leave the airport because they were afraid the ball was still going."

On how the Lee trade in the offseason occurred:

"I think as on any roster, it is always fluid. I'll say this: I think our front office does a great job with regards to communicating with the coaching staff what their thoughts are, and that process was the same. It was discussed, and then if they feel the need to make a change, then they do. It has been nice. We are never blindsided by it."

On managing Benjamin's reps and hits that he takes due to his size:

"He has been really good about that. The other day when he caught one and went up the sideline, he steps right out. He is not taking any unnecessary hits. I think he has been really smart with that. Also, his experience has helped him when to go down or when to break a tackle. Even though he is a smaller and slighter guy, Travis broke some tackles the other day, also. He is stronger than you think."

On what an average punter's hang time is:

"Usually the average goes, if it is a 40-yard punt, you want a minimum of (four seconds). Then it just kind of keeps increasing. Anything think over 4.6, then you say 46-yard punt, but a 4.6 if it was 53 yards, you can cover that. I just always look – those guys still have enough time to get down there and go. To ask a guy to hit a 53-yard punt at a 5.3 is unrealistic. We just them above 4.5, the (WR) Marlon Moore's and the (DB) Johnson Bademosi's of the world are going to get down there and cover it for us."

On when Lee had a punt with a 5.3 hang time:

"That was in a practice."

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