Six months in the making, Josh McCown's first official start with the Browns is finally here.
After Friday's practice, ClevelandBrowns.com caught up with the veteran quarterback to see what was going through his mind as he eyes Sunday's season opening showdown with the Jets.
CB.com: It's been months in the making leading up to your first start. What's going through your mind?
McCown: Obviously, the Jets first and foremost are on my mind. We've been diligently preparing and getting ready for Sunday. I felt like we put together a good plan, coach thinks it's a good plan. Now it's time to go execute. The work has been good and now it's time to put it all together. That's my mindset. You balance the emotions of getting excited because it's the first game, but you control the emotions and allow yourself to go through the week and get good work and hopefully peak on Sunday.
CB.com: Has the buildup to this game been any different than your season openers of the past?
McCown: Each one, each year, especially the older you get, it's more special because it's this one right now. It's special because of these guys and the work we put in. Just being a part of this city and how much this team means to this city. All those things considered, it's going to be a fun opening day.
CB.com: How can this offense build off what it accomplished against Tampa Bay in the preseason and ride that momentum into Sunday?
McCown: It's just the same mindset. Remain calm and trust in what we see with what your film study has shown you and then executing the plays. That was what we did in Tampa. It allowed us to do some good things and we've got to do that again coming out Sunday. The week of preparation has wound down but there's still time to look over things, make final notes and thought processes. We'll do those so we can put ourselves in the best shape to go out and win Sunday.
CB.com: How have you felt about the installation of the offense working alongside John DeFilippo?
McCown: Flip's done a great job from Day 1. I think we see the detail throughout the practice week and how we're going to attack this team and how the plan's coming together. I like where we're headed. That's the thing: At the end of the week, you want a clear picture of how you're going to attack a defense and your mindset. Obviously, we know how our team is built, so the running game's always going to be a huge part of that. Within that, what are you going to do in the passing game to take advantage of some of the different looks? Obviously, this is a new group. We've watched Arizona tape and you mix it up with how you've seen versus the preseason and what (New York Jets coach) Todd Bowles has done before and you try to put that together as best as you can to understand what you're going against. I feel like the coaches have done a good job with that.
CB.com: DeFillipo has talked about the benefit of having wide receivers with diverse skill sets. How does that help you?
McCown: It's hard to key on one guy. You have an array of weapons. You can put a guy in one spot and say, 'hey, this is what we're going to do with you because this fits your skill set.' You really feel within that play you're getting the best you have. I've played with different guys that may be a really good talent all around but there may be two or three routes that they don't run as well as others. Sometimes you just leave those routes out of a game plan. We can move them in and out and interchange guys. We've got the whole gamut of plays. We can say, 'let's run this play because this guy can specialize in that' and so forth. That's what having guys with different skill sets allows you to do.
CB.com: What makes this Jets defense so tough?
McCown: This is a good defense all the way around. Their front's outstanding. Obviously Muhammad Wilkerson is a heck of a player and David Harris and the linebacking corps is really strong and the back end, you're talking about (Darrelle) Revis and (Antonio) Cromartie and you've seen Buster (Skrine) here last year. They're good players. They're really, really good players. This is a stout defense. We're going to have our work cut out for us. We're going to have to be smart with the football and protect it. Take our shots when we get them but allow it to come to us a little bit and be patient. That's the deal, especially when you have opening day, first time out against a defense and a new head coach. They can give you some different wrinkles. We're going to have to be patient with what we do and be smart with how we go about it.
CB.com: What do you personally have to do to for the Browns to win?
McCown: First and foremost is protect the football, make smart decisions with the football, getting us in and out of the right plays and completing throws. Those are the things I know if I go out and do that, we'll have a chance. Allow (DeFilippo) to call the game the way he wants to and just execute those things to the best of our ability. We've just got to make smart plays. We understand they're a good defense, they're going to get their stops even though you don't want that. You want every drive to end in a touchdown. At the end of the day, there's going to be ups and downs. Just riding that wave and staying consistent through that time. I think at the end of the game, we'll be happy with the outcome.
CB.com: How confident is this offense?
McCown: Very confident. I think we're excited about what we can do and what the group can do together. I feel like every time we walk in the huddle, everybody feels this next play is going to be a good play. We know that the coaches are going to put us in a situation to succeed and feel like we have the skills to execute it.