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Browns coordinators press conferences - 11/12

Defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil

Opening statement:

"Wanted to start this week by giving a heartfelt thank you out to our number one defense in the world, our military. I think the NFL this time of year does a great job recognizing the men and women that put their lives on the line for our country. I personally just wanted to take some time to recognize our past and present soldiers for sacrificing their lives so we can be here today talking about football. We honor you, we respect you and we appreciate you. I thought yesterday what the Cleveland Browns did having 100 servicemen and women out at practice was awesome. I think it's good for our guys to see that. It was good for our coaches to see that. That was pretty cool."

On expecting to play against Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger or another Steelers QB:

"I can't say I would be surprised if it was Ben, but we are prepared to see Ben if he decides to play. I know he's played through some significant injuries in the past in his career. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw some (Steelers QB) Michael Vick. We are prepared as a defense to see all three if the Steelers want to go in that direction."

On how the Steelers offense has changes with Steelers QB Landry Jones:

"I thought it changed a lot when they played Kansas City. I think as he' gotten more [reps] – he got in there in Arizona. He was in there obviously last week in the fourth quarter of that game – it didn't change much. It's probably more offensive coordinator driven than Ben at the line of scrimmage. I think he'll probably have more freedom to do some things off what he sees on the defense than maybe one of the other quarterbacks, but I don't see it changing too much."

On why the Browns are preparing for Vick:

"Because he is a different element if he is out there playing. Just what he bring is so different than what the other quarterbacks can bring."

On the Steelers not using Vick a lot this year:

"Sometimes we tend to over prepare (laughter). I think that that's just in our DNA as coaches. Just in case, you don't want to get caught off guard if all of a sudden here's a package in there for him."

On Steelers WR Antonio Brown and his ability to have big games:

"I think they did a great job scheming stuff up to get him the ball. He's a playmaker. I have been going against this guy since I was in college football. I can't get away from him. He's a heck of a football player. Some of the stuff he does on the football field, you rewind it and 'How did he do that?' He's got unbelievable ball skills. He runs great routes. He's a playmaker. He's explosive. He's dangerous with the ball in his hands. Trying to convince A.G. (assistant secondary coach Aaron Glenn) to come out of retirement for one more game and see if he can help us this week. I think we have a good plan. I'm excited. I'm excited for Sunday."

On how good Brown was in college:

"Oh, in the MAC? Nobody could tackle him. Nobody could tackle him. We did beat him, but we couldn't tackle him (laughter)."

On if the Browns will continue to play man coverage if DB Joe Haden is out:

"Yeah, that's who we are. We're going to mix our coverages like we do every week, but yeah, you have to be able to play some man. You can't be in light spacing. We're not a Cover 2 team. We have to have the ability to mix it, and we will."

On how often the Browns have played man coverage this season:

"We've had to adjust some in the secondary. If you talk to (secondary) Coach (Jeff) Hafley, he would say we've probably had more starting lineups in the secondary than we have uniform combinations. We've adjusted as the year has gone on to try to take advantage of whose out there for us and what they do best. We identify guys that can play man coverage. That's what we look for in free agency and the draft. I'd be lying to you if I could give you an exact number right now. Usually, our gameplans start with man and then we compliment it with zones. I couldn't give you an exact percentage right now. It's probably over 50 percent."

On if the biggest difference in the defense's performance this year is injuries:

"I'm not going to go down that road and use that as an excuse. We need to coach better, we need to play better and we need to execute."

On coaching players to stay home and do their job to avoid big runs:

"You practice it. You explain to them the big picture of if you get wide angle away with a run and I'm the backside player, you're not needed over here. You just continue to try to coach it, show guys big picture or how guys' examples of other teams not doing it the right way and how they got hurt or how we've gotten hurt on stuff. Just reps in the system. Guys starting to get a feel for it and understanding it."

On LB Paul Kruger not being as involved in the defense as much last year:

"He is involved in what we're trying to do. I think in the last couple weeks, he has rushed the passer well. Again, everything to me isn't about sacks. We played a lot of teams this year in the first half of our schedule that haven't given up a lot of sacks. The quarterbacks do a great job getting the ball out. It's not something that I worry about. We put guys in position to make plays. Paul has made a lot of plays that don't show up on the stat sheet. He has gotten a lot of quarterback hits and hurries that have affected some throws. To get his fist sack against Cincinnati, like we talked about interceptions and everything else, they come in bunches. Hopefully, these next two, three or four games, he keeps getting some more. Paul is a big part of what we're doing defensively."

On the Steelers running the ball effectively, despite injuries at RB and OL:

"I think they have got a really good scheme up front. I'm sure some teams are a little worried about some of their explosive playmakers on the outside. They have good running backs, and the offensive line, they have a group of tough guys that are really good for the scheme that they run. They're able to knock guys off the ball and create some lanes, and the running backs have done a good job exploiting defenses when the lanes are there."

On DB Ibraheim Campbell's first start:

"I thought he had a really solid game for his first start in the NFL. I think he was five-for-five on opportunities. I thought he made some really nice plays in the open field. They smoked a screen out there, he was the unblocked guy in the alley and he had a really good open field tackle. He came downhill and made a great physical tackle. Picked a guy up and slammed him in the alley on another time. I was happy. He fought through a hamstring injury. He had to leave the game – I think it was on the second or third series. That's when Pop (DB D'Ante Saunders) was in there. Pop came in the game for eight or nine plays, and then he came back and battled through it so I was happy with his first performance."

On DB Justin Gilbert receiving more reps against Cincinnati:

"Just like you guys have been asking me the past few weeks, I thought he earned them. Just the kind of way we work. If you earn them in practice, we're going to try to get you some in the game, and if you perform well in the game, we're going to try to get you more. It's up to you to do with whatever opportunities you have. I thought he was a little inconsistent. He made the nice play on the one vertical ball. You could see his ability to recover speed wise. There's somethings he still needs to work on but he did some good things. He did some good things, and he did some things he needs to get cleaned up."

On DB Charles Gaines returning from injury:

"He's in great shape. I think our people in the building have done a great with him. I think he's lost about 12 to 15 pounds. He's back to his weight which he was at the combine. He looks faster, looks leaner, quicker. He's going to be a part of our game plan this week. He's a guy that I hated to put on that IR/designated to return because he was playing so well at the end of training camp. He had a really good practice yesterday. We're going to see what happens today or tomorrow, and that will determine how big or how small his role will be in this gameplan."

On what Gaines does well:

"He can blitz. He can play man coverage. He's got inside and outside versatility, meaning he can play outside corner or he can play inside at the nickel so he gives us some depth at both those spots. He's as competitive as a guy. You like his attitude. He just brings something. He's charismatic. He's not scared to talk a little trash and put himself out there. He just brings a different element to that group."

On giving LB Nate Orchard more opportunities, including as a pass rusher:

"Right now, Nate's probably playing the best against the run in that room. I do think Paul and (LB) Armonty (Bryant) are doing a really good job on the edge rushing the quarterback. We have gotten some opportunities. It's hard to give him a lot when you have Krug and Armonty rushing the quarterback as well as they are right now. I don't want to say he's settled into his role, but we want to get him some more opportunities rushing the quarterback."

Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo

Opening statement:

"It is good to see everybody after a couple weeks. Tough game this past weekend. We need to do a better job offensively. With these last couple weeks of finishing games and we have kind of all season, with the exception of a few games, it has been a tale of two halves. I am not going to buy into the notion that we don't come out in the second half with adjustments or whatever because when you look at our scoring over the season, I can't tell you exactly, but I look at it on Monday, and it is really a three-point or a four-point differential throughout the whole season in terms of points per halves. The thing we need to do is come out and be focused to play a complete football game, not a great game in the first half or great game in the second half. That is our main focus this week with our players that I have addressed. We need to come out with the mental mentality that we are going to put the complete game together.

"We are looking forward to going on the road and playing the Steelers. Obviously, it is a huge divisional game for us. Very similar atmosphere to what we faced in Baltimore. Hopefully, we will come out with the same success we had there."

On needing to make more of an effort to get RB Duke Johnson Jr. the ball:

"Yes and no. Against Arizona, we were trying to play three tailbacks and trying to see three guys. That is hard. It is hard. That is why last week against Cincinnati I went to Coach (Head Coach Mike Pettine) and said I think it is the best thing for our football team if we rolled with two backs. I think the product of Duke not seeing a lot of action in the second half was kind of what we did as a unit and me, too – I am part of it – of not having a lot of plays. Then, we went to put Duke in for the two-minute drive, but he was getting re-taped because I think he had tweaked his foot or ankle. It was a product of a couple of those things."

On WR Travis Benjamin not having a TD in the past few games after several in the first few weeks:

"People have done a good job of covering Travis. We have tried to format him in different areas. There have been some times where we missed him. There have been some times where we had a few breakdowns. I need to do a better job probably of formatting plays for Travis. We go into each week trying to get Travis targeted as many times as we can. Some teams have done things to take him away."

On Benjamin recording receptions but not scoring TDs:

"The last few weeks, (TE) Gary (Barnidge) has been making plays for us in the red zone. (WR) Brian Hartline made two plays for us. It is just kind of the way each week is different in terms of play design and who you are trying to attack. A lot of teams have been putting their best corner on Travis. You want to exploit the other options that you have, if that is going to be the case."

On approaching the uncertainty of the starting QB Sunday:

"We have a plan for both situations. I think we will know a lot more today after watching (QB) Josh (McCown). With him being limited today and taking a few reps today, I think we will have a better feel on what direction we are going at the quarterback position. I am looking forward to seeing how he feels today."

On if the uncertainty at QB situation complicates putting together a gameplan:

"I don't think it is the same, but I don't think you deviate from your base of what you do. Are there 10-12 plays that you may change if Josh McCown is our starting quarterback or if Johnny Manziel is our starting quarterback? Are there a couple different formations? Are there a couple different ways you move the quarterback? Yeah, there are probably 12-15 things or concepts you do with each guy. To me – I have said this all along – I think if you deviate too far from your core in what you are good at and what you believe in, I think you are doing a disservice to the offense."

On why the Browns got away from the run in the second half against Cincinnati game:

"That is a good question. Three of those passes we had in the second half were run/pass options where we ended up throwing the football. I was trying to get us in a rhythm. I was trying to do anything to make sure to get us the first down. There were a couple situations where I tried to just put the ball in play with a boot, with a roll out pass or something like that and just put the ball in play. It didn't work out in our favor. Looking back on it, maybe instead of giving a run/pass option, maybe you just run the football. Every play I call, I have what I think is going to give us the best chance for success. It is not like I am just saying I'm not going to run it. Every play I call, and there are a lot of them, I think that is going to give our team the best chance for success."

On Pettine and Manziel stating Manziel missed a few throws and how that challenges an offensive coordinator:

"You keep working. You keep working with him. You keep being positive because he is still a very young quarterback. You show him what he missed. He sees it, and Johnny has done a fairly good job of being not a repeat offender in terms of not making the same mistakes twice. With a young quarterback you show them. On the roll out to Gary (Barnidge) on the first down play, let's play second-and-4 here. Just throw the ball in the flat. It is just a part of the piece of playing with young quarterbacks. You are going to have some of those growing pains. I have been there in the past with a guy (Raiders QB Derek Carr) last year that is having a lot of success right now. He did the same type of stuff early on as a young player. Just have to keep grinding with him."

On if there is a consistent reason Manziel missed so-called 'easy reads:

"I think later on in the game as we were struggling a little bit, any quarterback, whether you are a first-year, second-year or seventh-year player, you do naturally start to press a little bit and you try to make a play. I think we got caught up in a little bit of that."

On how difficult will it be the break Manziel's habit of escaping the pocket to make a play when that is where he has had his most success as a QB:

"I have said this all along, also: I don't want to take Johnny's athleticism away from him, but at the same time, if there is a play to be had in the pocket, we need to make it. If there is not, then we need to use his natural, God-given ability to make a play outside the pocket, whether that be running with the football or throwing on the run. There needs to be a consistent progression of plays where if you are in the pocket and he is open, we need to deliver it. Use that, what he has, to an advantage for our football team."

On Manziel's comments about physical limitations:

"I have not ready what he has said."

On Manziel statins he wasn't as tall as other QBs and needing to make 'faith throws':

"We can do a little better job of helping him out by moving the pocket a little bit more and helping him. There are other quarterbacks in this league that are his size that are having some success. It is a team effort. I need to do a better job. We need to play better around him. I think as time goes along and he gets more comfortable that he will play better and see those things a little bit better."

On 'faith throws' and how often QBs throw the ball and not be able to see where the receiver is:

"There are different types of faith throws. We talk about faith throws a lot in the red zone. Say you are throwing a post in the redzone you are having faith that that receiver is going to cross the corner's face. You are throwing it to a spot. Faith to me – I don't know if he meant it this way because I didn't read his comments, but I don't if 'faith' means that he didn't see the guy or I was throwing to a spot to where we are coaching guys to be. There is a big difference between those. I would have to talk to him to see what he meant about that."

On if the Browns and Manziel have prepared enough to be successful against defenses comparable to the Bengals, who kept Manziel in the pocket in the second half:

"Yeah, I do. I'll be honest with you: looking back at the game and I have watched it a bunch, the Cincinnati Bengals are a heck of a football team. They are a really good football team. We missed some throws and Johnny got outside the pocket some in the second half. There were some plays we did not make. Some plays we dropped. Some plays we missed. To me, he has the athletic ability to be able to move around and get outside the pocket, no matter who we are playing. Credit the Bengals. They are well-coached and that is one heck of a football team. At the same time, I am not sure that it was a whole containment thing. I think it was a little more of a self-inflicted thing."

On if a QB more likely to want to call a pass play when given a run/pass option to call:

"Another good question. If the look is there, yes. We were three-for-three on those. There is a point where you take that option off and you just say run the football. There definitely becomes a point where it becomes overboard, absolutely. As of right now, (Manziel) was three-for-three in those decisions. We were good on those."

On OL Cam Erving getting his first start against the Steelers defense:

"We are very fortunate in a couple ways. No. 1: We are fortunate that (OL) Joe Thomas is on our football team, but at the same time, he doesn't practice on Wednesdays so Cam has been getting first team reps for the whole season and throughout training camp. I am not sure you gameplan to protect him. We have certain protections in mind on when we are going to slide to him or when we are going to have to have him block man-to-man, mano-y-mano. I have all the confidence in the world in Cam. Cam is ready to go. I am really excited to watch Cam play. Our staff has all the confidence in the world in Cam."

On how hard is it for a QB to face the Steelers, no matter the QBs' experience:

"The Steelers pose a huge, huge challenge for us. You watch the Arizona Cardinals, who are a darn-good offense, and they got after them pretty good. This is a tremendous challenge for us. I think whoever, whatever quarterback, whether you are a (Arizona Cardinals QB) Carson Palmer who has been in the league forever or you are Johnny Manziel who is in his second year, that defense is going to pose a challenge for any quarterback."

On why it didn't work out with former RB Robert Turbin:

"It wasn't anything that Robert did or didn't do. I think anytime you are a player and you come in late and you don't have spring, you don't have summer and you come in midseason, it is tough. I think that is hard, hard deal to fill. It is nothing that Robert did or didn't do. It was just a matter of we really feel high on (RB) Glenn Winston, and there was a spot that needed to be made."

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor

Opening statement:

"Just another preparation day for the Pittsburgh Steelers, a really good unit. Just a typical Steelers team: physical, big, fast, strong. Obviously, they've increased their returners. Obviously, they have (Steelers WR) Antonio Brown, but picking up (Steelers WR) Jacoby Jones always presents a unique challenge. We have our work cut out for us, but I think our guys will be up to the challenge and look forward to playing them."

On if DB Justin Gilbert has become more tentative returning kicks:

"I don't think so. Sometimes, we give him parameters. I think he's been very good with regards to his parameters. There are also other things – we call a return one way and they kicked it the other way, and he knows that logistically it's not a good set up for him to bring it out so he's playing smart football. The outside eye might say, 'Wow, he should probably bring that out,' but really in reality, it's a smart play by him. I think his time will come. I'm still excited about where he's going and what he's doing. We'll see. The weather is changing – obviously, quite a bit today."

On K Travis Coons not kicking the ball as far as during the start of the season:

"Actually, I think he's improved in that area to be quite honest with you. If you look back at it, the last three, four games, I think he has four touchbacks. We've covered six kickoffs in that span, and I think we've got three tackles inside the 20. That's also due to his hang and his placement. I think with a shorter approach and the way that he's able to move the ball, in some ways, it's more effective than just banging touchbacks."

On WR Marlon Moore's blocked punt:

"Great effort by Marlon. The guys did a nice job executing. He just kind of kept coming. The thing that I was really pleased about is he took the ball right off the foot. Had he not blocked it, there was going to be no chance of roughing the punter or running into the punter. I thought he did an excellent job on that play. Fortunately, we got the block and gave us an opportunity to score."

On if Moore will return kickoffs:

"He's definitely in the mix. Got a whole host of guys, whether that be (DB Justin) Gilbert or Marlon Moore, (RB) Duke Johnson (Jr.). There are a lot of guys I think that we can go to. Like I said, as the weather is changing here, this is kind of the time of year for special teams returners to get it going a little bit."

On preparing Coons to kick in windy or rough weather conditions in Cleveland:

"We'll go out there today. I think the gust they said it will be anywhere from 30 to 35 (mph). I can hear it blowing outside my window. I thought there was an airplane on the tarmac that landed in the wrong spot, but it was just the wind. It's something that we're going to have to deal with. I think the only way we can do it is trial and error. When we have these days, we want to get out there and kick in it. The thing about him, he kicks a straight ball. If he can find his line and stay true to his ball, he'll give himself a chance."

On if a special teams coordinator makes as many in-game adjustments as an offensive or defensive coordinator:

"We do. You're always looking at the pictures at the end of the play. There might be a subtle matchup that maybe we have to switch. There might be something that they're doing. There's a lot of game within the game in the special teams area, but we're always making adjustments because in our world, let's face it, if we make one bad play, everybody notices it. Offense and defense, if there is a bad play, there are 74 more plays to go so you can hide that mistake a little bit. We're always adjusting, making sure that we can hopefully stay one step ahead."

On finding players brave enough to block a punt:

"It's a skillset, and it's something that we work on going all the way back into OTAs and winter conditioning when you can work with the players. Some guys have a natural knack for it. Some guys have great hand-eye coordination. What Marlon did, he's one of those guys so when you identify those players, those are the players you want to put out there when you're going for a block."

On if P Andy Lee has lived up to expectation:

"Oh, no question. I think and even more. I think he's played really well. I think he punted the ball – I want to say the stats say something like 44, 45 times. I think he's definitely had a lot more really good punts than a couple bad punts here and there. He's definitely lived up to what we thought he was, and we still expect more out of him as does himself. He's a true pro's pro, and I'm glad that he's on our team."

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