Defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil
"Hope everybody had a great thanksgiving. I enjoyed the rare holiday off. I don't think that's ever happened in my NFL career. I know it's nice for all of us in the professions we're in to have a day to spend with our families and enjoy the holiday. My wife killed it. She fed 15 people. She did a great job so it was a great day."
On goals for the final six games of the season:
"Our goal hasn't changed on defense. We want to play dominant defense. It was good over the bye to go back and study ourselves – what we're doing well, what we're not doing well, what we can do better, what we have to do better – but the mentality in the room hasn't changed."
On what the Browns defense needs to do better from those evaluations during the bye week:
"A bunch of things. First, start with me, things I could do better in specific situations to help the guys make plays, some scheme things that maybe we thought were good that maybe weren't as good as we thought just going back looking at the win-losses throughout the first 10 games of the year. Just some guys that maybe were better suited in different roles than maybe what we were playing them in. We learned a lot about ourselves throughout the course of the bye. It's always good to step back when you're not in a mode where you have to work at warp speed and figure it out because you have an opponent coming up. It was good."
On if other teams have figured out the Browns defensive scheme as it has been more successful in the past:
"Our scheme changes every year. I think that the foundation of the scheme remains there. There's a lot of teams in the NFL that are running the nuts and bolts, the core concepts of the scheme. Each year, you tailor it to your personnel and you tailor it to what you feel like you do best."
On how DB Justin Gilbert has responded to being inactive against Pittsburgh:
"Up until the day off, he had a good practice. He had a couple good practices last week during the bye. Our corner situation is (DB) Tramon (Williams) is going to start. If (DB) Joe's (Haden) healthy, obviously, Joe is going to start for us. If Joe's not healthy, we have four guys that are in a battle that's new every week, and whoever performs the best that week of practice are the guys that are going to go out and play for us."
On DB K'Waun Williams:
"K'Waun has had a great year for us. I don't know the numbers, but there haven't been a lot of footballs caught on him in the slot. He's done a great job for us. We are continuing to find ways to put him in the harder downs in passing situations, meaning we are trying to put him in some more (Cover) 0 situations and find jobs that we typically did for Joe (Haden) on the outside, ways to do that similar stuff with K'Waun on the inside. He's been that kind of player for us in our system – excellent blitzer, has really grown up as far as the meeting room is concerned and the questions he asks and his attention to detail. I can't speak more highly of K'Waun."
On DB Tashaun Gipson:
"Gip has done a great job. He was dinged up a little bit early in the year. I think he's done a good job playing within the structure of the defense, getting his job done. He's showed up in the run game. He's had some big hits for us running the alley and supporting the run for us this year. I think that some quarterbacks are avoiding him a little bit down the middle of the field, but those opportunities will come for him."
On if K'Waun Williams is too small to play outside CB:
"We've thought about that as a coaching staff. We talked about it, and we just feel he is better suited for us in the slot right now."
On continuing to play man defense without DB Joe Haden, one of the team's best one-on-one defenders, particularly against challenging WRs at Pittsburgh:
"Against Pittsburgh, we actually played a lot more zone than we did man. We didn't play much man in that game at all. We have adapted as the year has gone on to suit what we have back there. A lot of our zones still have man principles within them. We do play a lot of zone."
On how much zone defense the Browns played against Pittsburgh:
"It was probably more zone than I've called all year."
On worrying about DB Charles Gaines' confidence after his performance in his first NFL game:
"Not with Gaines, I don't worry about it. It's with some guys, but that was his first NFL experience. He did some good things. He had some plays I'm sure he wishes he had back, he had some plays I wish he had back, but that's just part of being a young DB in this league. It's baptism under fire and that's just the way it is. If you can't respond from those situations and getting beat deep a couple times, you're not going to make it in this league as a DB."
On strengths of the Browns defense after evaluating it during the bye:
"The one thing we learned is there wasn't one major schematic thing that jumped out on us. It was we were in this defense, we got hit for a long one; we were in this defense, we got hit for a long one; we were in this personnel group, we got hit for a long one. You wish it was you go back and every time we called Under Cover 4, they're averaging 8 yards a play and we gave up 12 explosive plays on it so that's easy, that's out. That wasn't the case. The one thing that we did find was most of our mistakes came when we might have had a breakdown in communication. What we're really trying to emphasize with our guys is we have to communicate at every level of the defense. Most of that falls on our safeties and our inside backers. It starts with the safeties, then goes to the inside backers and the inside backers have to get it to the front. That was the first thing that we discovered that we need to get better at. When our guys are out there and they're communicating and we're executing as a defense and I'm doing a good job putting them in a position to make plays, we've played really well at times. We're just trying to build on that, keep executing, keep playing together, keep playing good team defense, trust that the plays are going to come to you, you don't have to break structure to make plays. I like how the guys have come back after the bye. We had some great practices last week. We had a great practice to start the week. They're into the meetings. I'm excited for the last six weeks of the season."
On DL Danny Shelton saying he has not played up to his own personal expectations:
"I've been happy with Danny. He's done a good job for us in the middle of the defense. I like that fact that he's hard on himself and that he has very high expectations of himself. We have very high expectations of him. He's got that edge that we want in defensive players. I think that he's only going to continue to get better and better the more he plays in this league."
On if the number of passing TDs allowed is due to lack of pressure on the QB:
"I'd have to go back and study some of those – the 22 we gave up last year to the 21 we've given up this year. I don't want to sit here and say that they're all a result of us not putting pressure on the quarterback. When you're playing great in the secondary, the defensive line probably doesn't get enough credit. When you're not playing good in the secondary, is some of it on the D-line? Sure. Sometimes, if you make mistakes or you bust a coverage, if somebody gets a great rush, that ball never gets completed. It works both ways. To play great in the secondary, you need to play great up front. At times, we have. At times, we wish we would get some better pressure.
On LB Nate Orchard as a pass rusher, given an external analytics site has credited him with one QB pressure:
"Nate is out there on early downs for us right now. Most of the pass rush situations – what I talked about last week or two weeks ago with you guys – you have Krug (LB Paul Kruger) out there and you have (LB) Armonty Bryant so he hasn't had a ton of opportunities, but I'm happy with where Nate is. You watch him in practice, he's developed a couple good pass rush moves. You can see him growing as the years gone on just watching him in one-on-one drills, watching him win against our offense in practice situations. He's been close. I wouldn't agree with whatever that site is you're talking about, I rarely do anyway (laughter), but he has been close on more than just one rush this year."
Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo
"I hope everyone had a really nice Thanksgiving. It is good to see everyone after a couple weeks here. (Head) Coach (Mike) Pettine has talked at length about the quarterback situation and which way we are going with that. I am going to keep all of our conversations that we had making that decision between Coach, myself and (quarterbacks coach) Kevin O'Connell, (General Manager) Ray (Farmer) and (Owner) Jimmy Haslam. The decision has been made. I support that decision 100 percent. We are really looking forward to playing our division rival the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football, a grand stage. It is going to be a great atmosphere in front of our fans."
On his disappointment in the situation with QB Johnny Manziel, given the time the Browns and he have invested:
"It is disappointing. I am not going to lie – it is disappointing. You have a player that, I think we can all agree in this room, has come so far from a football standpoint in the product he put on the field from a year ago to go out and play that way on the road against a very good Pittsburgh Steeler defense. It is very disappointing, but at the same time a decision was made, and we are going in that direction."
On needing to adjust the gameplan for the Ravens as it initially included Manziel starting instead of QB Josh McCown:
"Obviously, Josh has played a lot of football for us this year. We know what Josh does well. It is not like we are saying our No. 2 quarterback at the time, which Josh was, and we don't know what he can do and we haven't played with him. We are in a situation where Josh has played a lot of football for us. We are confident we know what Josh can do."
On reports that Manziel lied to the coaching staff:
"I am going to leave those conversations between myself and Coach. I am sure you guys can appreciate that."
On if Manziel can dig himself out of this situation:
"I think all of us as people, myself included, we all are a work-in-progress every day. Some of us are dealing with some different issues than others. We know Johnny's issues and we are working with him every day. There is no doubt in my mind that Johnny is going to bounce back."
On Manziel as a football player going forward, given the Browns now do not have the opportunity to evaluate him during the final six weeks of the season:
"I like what I have seen. I really do. Even the jump he made from the Cincinnati game to the Pittsburgh game was a huge jump. I think we would all agree on that, as well. I think Johnny has played enough football where we know what we have in him, and as well we all know, a six-game season in the NFL is a long stretch, a very long stretch. We are a long way from the end of the season. You don't close doors on anything. You never say never in this profession. To say that Johnny Manziel will not play again this season, I am not ready to say that."
On if the Browns will have three active QBs Monday night:
"That is a good question. I am not sure yet. We have some guys on the fence in terms of whether they are going to be active or not. Coach will decide that as we go along here during the week."
On if Manziel could earn his starting job back in the final six weeks, assuming McCown stays healthy:
"Like I said, each week is its own season. Anything that really happens in this league doesn't surprise me. I have been in this league long enough. Josh could play for the rest of the season or we could make a change. You just don't know. All I know is this week, and we are really fortunate to have Josh and a guy that has played well for us and played well against this football team that we are playing on Monday night. We are really excited for Josh to go out there and play."
On if he still believes Manziel can be a starting QB in the NFL:
On how he can have faith that Manziel can be a starting QB if he doesn't play in the final six games:
"Just by knowing the person. I know the person more than a lot of people. We all make mistakes. We all hope as an organization that he has learned from some of the mistakes he has made. Like I said, we all are a work in progress, and we are going to keep working with him."
On OL Cameron Erving's first NFL start against Pittsburgh:
"I saw a guy that was running around trying to be physical but not always doing the right thing. To me, that is kind of what you expect for an offensive lineman in his first start. I was glad to see when they tried to push Cam around, he fought back. He had a bad play before halftime where he got bull-rushed a little bit. He went the wrong way one time. He had a couple mental mistakes, but from a physicality standpoint, we can fix that, but you can't fix a guy that wants to go out there and be physical and try to knock people off the football. I pulled Cam aside this week and told him, 'Hey, Cam, we will get your right. Just keep working. Keep playing with that excitement and physicality that you are playing with.'"
On the impact of losing WR Andrew Hawkins and WR Taylor Gabriel:
"A good deal. It does a good deal. Those guys, even though they don't show up on the stat sheet – I take that back, they have gotten the ball a lot this year. What they do doesn't show up on the stat sheet a lot in terms of the blocking part of it, in terms of even when they don't get the football, they are in the right position. To lose guys who have played a lot of football for you, it is difficult. It is. I am not going to sit here and say it is not. At the same time, we are confident that the guys we have that are going to play on Monday that are going to be out there and do the right thing and be in the right spot."
On if the hit where Hawkins suffered a concussion was unnecessary by the Steelers player:
"I have to be careful with what I say here. I was a little upset after that hit."
On if the hit Hawkins sustained is the type of hit the NFL is trying to eliminate from the game:
"I get – 'annoyed' is the wrong word – frustrated at times when people think they can do my job. Believe me, I am the last guy that can be a referee. I do not want to do that job. I am going to stick to coaching and try to do that to the best of my ability."
On respect existing between players on opposing teams:
"I think there is a respect. When you are between the lines – I played in college; I have never played at this level – but at the level I played at, there is a mutual respect, but at the same time there is an aggressiveness to this game. There is aggressiveness to this game, especially when you see an opposite color jersey on the other side of you and you have a chance to take a lick at them. From a rules standpoint, it wasn't called. I am not going to go there and say it should have been called. It wasn't [called]. This is an aggressive game."
On if Hawkins ducked his head prior to sustaining the hit:
"I am not sure he saw him. I would have to go back and slow-mo it. I know the play happened so fast, it was in the redzone in a tight red on a fourth down, must-have play. Johnny is trying to throw it in a tight window. The last thing you are going to do is throw a ball out of bounds on fourth down. It just happened so fast. I think the ball was caught, and by the time Hawk tried to adjust to the ball, the defender was on him. I can't tell you if he tried to duck his head or not."
On the Steelers player having an opportunity to hit Hawkins lower:
"Again, it wasn't called. It is what it is, unfortunately. We are going to miss Hawk. He is a heck of a football player."
On if the Browns need WR Dwayne Bowe to play Monday, given the injuries:
"Could be. It could be. If the game dictates that Dwayne is going to be needed, Dwayne has had a good week of practice. Dwayne is ready if he is called upon."
On if McCown's 457 passing yards against Baltimore in Week 5 was a breakthrough game:
"Obviously, I thought Josh played very, very well against the Ravens. The Ravens are a very good defense. I know from an offensive standpoint they are beat up a little bit, but they have everyone healthy on defense. We are going to have our hands full again with this guys. I like our plan. We should play with a lot of confidence on Monday night at home in front of our own crowd. I expect Josh and the other 10 guys to play well."
On how McCown has handled all the activity surrounding the QB position this season:
"From a guy that has been in the league as long as he has and been in some of the tough situations that he has, Josh is a pretty 'take it in stride' type guy. Whatever is dealt his way, he deals with it with a lot of confidence and poise, and I am proud of the way he handled this."
On the comfort level with McCown returning from injury:
"From everything Josh has told me and from everything I have seen at practice, I have noticed, to me, he looks very, very healthy. We are going in with a no-holds-barred mentality. We are going to try to attack this defense like we try to attack defenses every week. I am not going to hold anything back. I think he is healthy and ready to roll."
Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor
"I know I say it every week, but statistically you can look at these guys, I think we have them ranked either as the top special teams unit in the league or their at second, depends on what you're looking at. They're No. 1 in net with (Ravens P) Sam Koch. They have great cover players. I know they're banged up offensively and defensively, but their core [special teams] has remained intact and they're playing at an extremely high level. Monday Night Football, we have a big challenge ahead of us, but we're looking forward to it."
On comparing P Andy Lee and Koch:
"I would say two guys that have been playing in the league a while, tremendous pros, really have mastered their craft. Sam, he has some different kicks that he has kind perfected over the last couple of years, which has made him really tough to figure out. Guys that understand where they need to put the football so their coverage can get down there. I think both guys do a great job of that so we'll see how it plays out this weekend."
On what makes the Browns coverage units so good:
"I think guys have accepted the challenge of trying to play at a high level. (DB) Johnson Bademosi is playing real well. I'd hate to not mention a guy but (WR) Marlon Moore, (LB) Craig Robertson, (LB) Tank Carder, all those guys. (LB Christian) Kirksey is playing well. (LB Barkevious) Mingo is playing well. It's kind of one of those deals where fortunately the injury bug hasn't hit us too bad and we've been able to remain our core intact. I think obviously just like anything, the more reps you get the better you're going to get. Playing Baltimore, they have a good core; we like our core. This will be a good old AFC North battle. Our guys have to step up to the challenge, and I think they will."
On how the Ravens have been able to block four kicks this season:
"They're aggressive. They've had four blocked kicks the last four weeks so they're getting one a week. They've actually had three of them in the field goal area. They're doing a nice job with their penetration getting their hands up and getting their hands on footballs. What we need to do is we just have to execute our fundamentals and play at high level knowing that but not changing anything. We still have to be who we're going to be, but at the same time, we're well aware of that and just have to do a good job."
On K Travis Coons missing two PATs but remaining perfect on field goals:
"Just the ball didn't go through the upright on the deal. I looked at it statistically, a lot of teams – I want to say, and I could be wrong; I'd have to go back and check – but there are only five or six teams that I think are 100 percent on extra points. A lot of teams have missed one. Some have missed two. We're in that two [missed PAT] category. We've challenged Travis – no more misses on that deal. I have great confidence that he can get that done. I think there's a stereotype that we say 'extra point,' and I think back last year it's a 'gimme kick.' Really, they should just say 'extra field goal' is really what it is, and that's how we approach it."
On if the new PAT rules and the potential of missing the extra point impact his gameplan:
"I don't think so. At the end of the day, regardless, we're still going to be charged with making that point. I will say this: now that we're at the end of November going into December and January, the weather is now really going to change and the wind is really going to – you saw it last night in Green Bay and Chicago there. That was a tough night to kick the ball at Lambeau (Field). I think this is where you're going to possibly see more misses. The thing that I like about our guy I've always said is he hits a straight ball. He just has to remain confident, which I think he will. When those present opportunities for us, we have to make them."
On the weather's effect on FG distance, particularly at FirstEnergy Stadium:
"It's been talked about before. (Head) Coach (Mike Pettine) makes those decisions and we supply him with the information. Obviously, my job is to tell Coach how the wind is going, especially when you're kicking towards the Dawg Pound. There's a wind down there that – I'm not for sure where it comes from – it does change, but just making him aware of those things and where we think that we can definitely make it. There are a lot of other factors – how you match up offensively and defensively against the team you're playing, all those things. Those are things that we give coach and he makes the decision and we play it from there."
On RB Duke Johnson Jr.'s performance as a kickoff returner:
"I thought he did a nice job. He got that first one out there to the 28 or 29(-yard line). He has good vision, obviously, as a running back. He has good ball security. He is a guy we have been developing, and it presented itself that we needed to use him right there and he was up to the challenge. He has been very good for us of even wanting to play more things. That is the thing I really respect about him that he comes to work each and every day and he always grabs me and says, 'Tabes, I can go out and I can play that spot. I can do that spot.' He has been very willing to be a special teams player. That has been nice because obviously, he has been very successful as an offensive player."
On what keeps him focused during the week, given the Browns' record:
"I like coaching our guys. I like coaching football. At the end of the day, that is what I am in charge of doing and to help our guys be successful. Each and every week, regardless of win or loss, I just say we are trying to get to 1-0 and build from there. When you turn on the tape of Baltimore, not to have coach speak, but they are an awful good football team on special teams. That is all I am studying. When you watch them, you are saying this is one of the best teams in the NFL. How can you not get excited as a competitor and not want to play one of the best teams in the NFL? That is how I look at it. When you look at it that way, you get excited about it. Then, you try to translate that to your unit, and hopefully, put a good product out there that can give them a chance to be successful. That is how I look at it, and I am not going to change, regardless of what our record is and those things. To me, this is another great opportunity to play a really good special teams unit and to see where we match up and see how we can play. I like our group and I am excited to watch them play Monday night."