Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams:
On the Browns defense forcing six takeaways:
"It was pretty nice, but you know the thing that the players are always ribbing me about is I was not satisfied because we touched three other ones we should have had, and they were three simple other ones. They made some difficult plays, though. Some of the ones they did not make were pretty rare on what they did. That is a huge part of our improvement for this year. It has been a point of emphasis since I got here last year. At times last year, we were allergic to them. Now, we have been on a roll doing that. We have to continue to do that to be a top defense in the league, and help our offense, help this team."
On DB Denzel Ward's contributions:
"It was nice to see him make plays, and it was also a big smile to my face of how comfortable he felt playing in the game. He has some things he has to continue to improve. Some things he has not been asked to do before because the college game is a different kind of a game than we play at this level. Making plays at the ball and on the ball was very good. He has to do a couple more things in the run front, a couple more things that corners on other teams and other systems do not have to do, but it was a very positive way for him to get started in the league, and how proud he was of now knowing that he belongs or that he becomes closer to belonging because a rookie has a hard time being accepted by his teammates for quite a while. It was good to see his teammates celebrate with him, too."
On Ward expressing disappointment that he should not have allowed Steelers WR Antonio Brown's TD, despite his strong performance:
"We call that play – I am glad you said that – an earned play. That play was highly earned. He was as good as you can almost be. Just a small percentage point that he is usually able to separate the ball at the very end of the play. It was well thrown and well earned. I am in the same situation on the situation of calling the coverage in that point in time. I wanted to go back to some man to man because of my trust in him, and I still have high trust in him. Those are throws that teams have to earn, and they did."
On Ward facing Saints WR Michael Thomas:
"Each week, we are going to have those battles, and what I think is good for us right now as take a look at the guys who are going against him in practice every day. We have those kinds of guys that competing against in practice every day. We know that we are going to have those match-up things, be it from a favoritism of the quarterback or the skillset of the receiver. It is just another week. We are going to have to do a good job of doing that. I think that the thing that you see with that good of a receiver and then how good the quarterback is, too and that synergy that they have with each other. We have our work cut out for us."
On what makes Saints QB Drew Brees one of the best to play:
"People have no idea about this young man's work ethic. He has been an overachiever his whole life. On how he grew up, a coaching family. On how he grew up in Texas. He was not offered tons of scholarships. He had one. He goes to Purdue and outshines everybody else and comes into the league. The smile on my face is one of the relationships with me and him was that I wanted to take him in the first round when I was a head coach for the Buffalo Bills. Got over and got pushed away from that. This is a true story, he gets picked one pick before we are going to pick him at the Bills by the Chargers that year. I was hoping to have the chance to be with him for a long time as a head coach. I had a chance to go back with him as an assistant coach. He is at the office before anybody else gets there every morning – 4:30, 5:00, 5:15. When other people in the organization by the end of the week are starting go home and see families, he is there on Friday night at 11:00, 11:30, midnight still watching. The gameplan runs through him. One of the things in the Super Bowl that is one of my fondest memories of him is I was walking through the hotel right before the curfew the night before the Super Bowl. I wanted to make sure there were no scraps of paper, stuff left around, gameplans laying around. I come by the quarterback room, and it is 10:55 p.m., and Drew Brees has the video going on up there and has all of the chairs out of the room. He is going through the first 15 [plays] visualizing and stepping through throwing, checking and doing all of these kinds of stuff. I do not think he ever saw me standing there in the dark looking in the door watching him do this at 10:55 p.m. before curfew that night. He outworks everybody. Not only is he an intelligent quarterback, but he outworks everybody. It is amazing how luck follows those people that are more prepared and outwork everybody else. He is very special. He really is."
On if Saints Head Coach Sean Payton ran up the score last time they met:
"No. No, no, no. Sean and I are very good friends, and there are still a lot of people in that organization [I know]. I think Sean is, if not one of the best, the best coach I have ever had a chance to work with. He and I are friends for life. We will walk together for life with a Super Bowl trophy. There are still several guys on the staff that were on my staff down there, too. The thing about Sean is Sean is looking to score the ball every time he has the ball. That is our job, and there is no 'run the score up' in the National Football League. No. That is not what the games are about, and I guess all of the college games now. It is hard for me to watch. People want everybody to take a knee. They do not do that. This is our job to play defense, and their job is to do what they do. No. A good situation, have a lot of great memories down there, living down there in the French Quarter. This country boy, growing up on a farm and everything and I lived in the French Quarter when I was down there. A lot of good friends still down there, but inside the white lines when we are playing on game day – OK, it is us against them and that is how we have to play."
On DL Myles Garrett making plays that make an impact, especially late in the game:
"One of the things that we talked about last week with Myles is when you guys asked me about him being voted as a captain, and I talked about his leadership example and I talked about how hard he works and how important it is for him to be better than anybody else. Myles wants to be in the upper echelon of whatever he does, whether it is academics, whether it is hitting the speed bag, whether it is shooting baskets or whether it is playing football. He has prepared hard for this. I am very appreciative of how hard he has worked and how smart he has worked on keeping himself healthy. I said this back in June, one of the things that I had to do with Myles, is we have to pull him back at times because of how hard he works, but he has been smart about how hard he works. He also has been smart about how he has prepared to play more plays, and one of the things that we were doing in the ball game – little that I know until the end of the game he played every play – but between series I go check on him. I check with all of those guys because that was one of the things that he and I talked about long and hard in the offseason was about playing more plays. In order to do that, you have to show that you deserve those plays because of your conditioning levels. I am not going to play you when your condition in struggling in those situations because one, it is less productive; and two, that is where injuries happen. He rose up and played, played, and played and you never saw any fatigue out of him at any point in time. We have to be smart and I have got to be smart on how we do that for the whole year, but in that particular game, especially with the stakes of in the fourth quarter of coming back and being in those games, you want him to be there to do those types of things, and he did. His teammates trust him and know that he is going to be in a position to make those kinds of plays, and we have to rally around him. There have to be some other playmakers out there, and there are. It was fun to see some of those other guys make really difference-making plays."
On LB Genard Avery's first game:
"Great, great smile to my face. I think selfishly for myself, I have taken great pride in my coaching career on coaching guys, finding guys, tutoring guys and mentoring guys that other people do not think are quite good enough. The chip on his shoulder and the intensity of how much he wants to succeed, it was great to see him play. He is going to have to battle through his health issues, too, because he works so hard at it. It was fun to see him make those plays that we see every day in practice, and all of a sudden you guys have a chance to see, too. I think we have just scratched the surface with him. I think you guys are seeing me utilize a different form or package on how we utilize him, too. That is my job. My job is to coach to his strengths and have him play to his strengths, and when he can do more, we will let him do more."
On if he addressed not scoring on LB Joe Schobert's fumble recovery in OT when blockers were available:
"Yes. In fact, I have addressed it. Would you be talking about 95 (Garrett)? Yes. We did. We have in all of our takeaways. I thought we had two legitimate chances in those takeaways of scoring with them. One of the things that we do is we have a scheme. We have a way that we practice. I think that my special teams background helps me. I was a special teams coordinator, years that I did all of that stuff. I thought that we had it set up pretty good. We could have turned and blocked one more person. We did not. Then we blocked in the back, affected field positon and made it a longer field goal. We can't do those things. We over-emphasize that. I thought that the head coach did a good job with that today in our film work that we did today with the team. We had already covered it defensively, and we had a chance to re-cover it again because we talk about how that type of a play can be the reason that you win or lose a game. It was one of the reasons that we tied the game."
On if the team would have scored on Schobert's fumble recovery if a Browns player blocked Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey:
"He would have scored. I really do believe that. That is how we have it schematically understood. Especially when a guy is trailing a play like that and you know that you can't make a legal block, you do not block him. You do not block. You turn and find other work, but do not block that person and lose field position because of it."
On how to contain Brees:
"The biggest thing is to present different pictures. It is harder when you present unusual pictures or unusual schemes or unusual disguises. The more veteran you are, the more you have seen, and it becomes harder. The biggest thing is for us to trust our own eyes, trust our own techniques and play the way that we know we are supposed to play and do things the way that we know, schematically the way we are supposed to do schematically and also from a leverage and team concept. We have to do it as a team and not as an individual. A team has to stop him, not one person."
On DL Emmanuel Ogbah being ruled out Sunday and LB Christian Kirksey listed as questionable:
"One of the things that I do take great pride in too is in our playbook and the things that I have passed down to all of the young coaches that I get the chance to coach with me – I have got now over 150 out there that are in the NFL, NCAA, high school, guys that have played and went ahead and coached and guys that have coached and that are now on their own – is the philosophies that are in our playbook. One of the 32 philosophies in our playbook is next man up. That is how you go about coaching things. The next man up is now he has his responsibility to fit into that role. Then we have our responsibility and I have that responsibility of tailoring things to what is more suitable for that person. Maybe he can't do the same things that Emmanuel is doing, Kirksey is doing or whatever. We have enough guys on this team that next man up – it is time to play."