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Press Conference

Hue Jackson press conference - 10/24

Opening statement:

"Looking forward to this matchup. Back in the division. This is a big opportunity for us this week. Our division is extremely tight right now. We have an opportunity to make it even tighter if we can go play really good football. The focus this week remains on the work that we need to get done on the practice field and in the meeting rooms. We have a lot that we need to accomplish and improve on. We get that. We all want the same results on Sunday, which is winning. Obviously, the Steelers are a really good football team – playing well, coming off of a bye. They are first in the division for a reason. They have good players. They are a good team. There was a lot to learn by us in the season opener. It was a disappointing result, but we are going to have to go show how much we have improved since then. It is a big ball game for us, and I think that we get it. We are back in the division. We have played this team already. We have payed Baltimore. We get to see this team a second time so here is another opportunity.

"Injury wise, we have had a couple of guys with some bumps and bruises that were able to practice so we feel good about them. We held out some guys. (DB) Damarious Randall with his groin and his ankle, he was out today but hopeful that he can make it back for the game. (DB E.J.) Gaines is still in the concussion protocol. (WR Rashard) Higgins still has the knee. (LB Joe) Schobert still has the hamstring. None of those guys practiced today. They are likely to probably be out this week. (OL) JC Tretter, ankle, was not able to go in practice, but I still feel good about him being there by the end of the week as he has shown this past week. That is kind of where we are injury wise and how we are looking forward to this week."

On who might not be able to play in Week 8:

"To me, the guys that I think probably will not make it are Higgins again; there is a good chance that Schobert probably will not make it either. Those are the two guys right now in my mind. 

On Gaines' status:

"Obviously, something would really have to happen fast for him to be there."

On if the NFL should consider adopting the NCAA targeting rule:

"I do not want to get into too much that, but I will say this – I just think that we have to officiate it the right way. We have to see it for what it is and make the call. I think that the league and the officials want to get it right so to me anything that is questionable in that way, I just think that you take a real good look at it. Let's not just move on from it. Even if you have to review it, let's make sure that those things are correct as those calls are being made when it is something that is that vicious, that kind of hit, especially on a quarterback."

On if reviewing the possibility of a penalty is the easiest solution:

"I just think that those particular things, you see them and everybody goes, 'Ooh.' I think everybody is saying, 'Hey, look, let's make sure that we get this thing right.' I think the league as we move forward has every right to call down and say, 'Let's look at this and make sure that we know for sure what the penalty should be.'"

On the NFL acknowledging it made an incorrect call provides any satisfaction:

"It doesn't. I can't say much about what the league has said. I just know this – I like the dialogue that we have had. I like the conversations that we have had. I like how we have been able to talk about certain things back and forth. I think that the most important thing for the league, for teams for coaches and for everybody, we just want to get it right. Games are won and lost on these things. Jobs will be on the line because of these things. I think that is important. We just want it to be right."

On if he believes most coaches do not want the NCAA targeting penalty to be adopted by the NFL:

"Absolutely. I think that we all stand united in that way that we do not want to see anybody lose a player because some young man is targeted and then all of a sudden, he is out for a while."

On if having coaches with experience on AFC North teams gives teams an advantage in division games:

"I know that we all feel that way, but obviously, they are going to do some things differently. They did. They have. We will too. I am sure that they are looking and saying, 'Hey, we know (offensive coordinator) Todd (Haley), as well.' You play these games, and it comes down to the players. We try to prepare them. We give them little pieces of things, little pieces of information that we can. At the same time, between the white lines, it is just football. Let's go play ball, and the best team will win."

On how the Steelers have improve since Week 1:

"The first time that we played them, obviously, the quarterback threw us quite a few balls. He has been very stingy since then. They have gotten the ball to their playmakers. They have made a lot of play. Their offense is one of the higher ranked offenses in the National Football League. Defensively, they have made some huge plays to help win games. I think they have turned their season around. These guys are first in the division. They have gotten better. They are playing good football."

On TE Pharaoh Brown:

"He is athletic. He is strong. He is tough. He is another long, big athlete that we are going to see if we can fit him in somewhere and give him a chance. We are steadily trying to improve our special teams and will continue to do that. If he carves out a role on offense, then great. That means that he is doing better than some other guys. We just have to continue to find ways to get these guys up there. I like the guy a lot. He has done a really good job, and I think that he deserves an opportunity."

On how he has been more involved with the Browns offense this week:

"I just have been being me. Just looking at things and getting a real good feel for how we are doing things. Hey, we are moving in a great direction. I think that we have done some really good things, getting better. Just have to continue to grind on the little things as we continue to move forward."

On if he had more input on this week's offensive gameplan:

"I have done everything that I normally do. I have total confidence in Todd and what the staff is doing. In those situations for me like I said after the game – fuming like I was after losing – I had a chance to sit back and see it all. I just wanted to make sure that as an offense we were crossing the t's and dotting the i's, and making sure that everything is moving in the right direction. If there is anything that can help, I will assist – whether is it Todd, (defensive coordinator) Gregg (Williams) or (special teams coordinator) Amos (Jones) – any way that I can, that is my role, that is my job. That is what I have done."

On how the Browns offense can start faster:

"That is one of our goals. We know we need to turn that around. That is one of the things I think we are all looking at very closely on how we can get started much faster and try to take that mentality that we have in the second half and put it in the first half. Whatever that is because if we can, we feel like we will be knocking on a lot of doors that gives us a chance to win. I think that is the challenge. I think that is what we are trying to accomplish and what we are trying to figure out as we continue to move forward. I think our players understand that, too. We have to play better in the first half of games that way so it gives us a chance in the second half to really, hopefully run away with some games if we can continue to do what we have done in the second half."

On if RB Duke Johnson Jr needs more touches:

"I think Duke is obviously one of our better players and has had a heck of a career here. He has the opportunity to make plays. Trust me, we are always trying to find different ways and different avenues to get him the ball. Sometimes you call his number and maybe he does not get it and sometimes he does. We just have to continue to find ways and look at different options for him because he is one of the better playmakers on our team." 

On if it is challenging to get Johnson more touches because he is not primarily an inside runner:

"I think that is part of it, and I think we just have to continue to look at… Sometimes it is how other teams are looking at you and how they see you when he is in the game. I think people know when he is in the game that he is in there for a reason, and he is not in there for nothing. I think part strategy, part creativity and I think all of it needs to come into play to keep finding ways for him."

On if trading RB Carlos Hyde to Jacksonville created more carries primarily for RB Nick Chubb:

"No, I think it is that way for both [Chubb and Johnson]. We are saying what it did (laughter). Carlos is not here, and obviously, Chubb carried the ball 18 times last game so he carried it more than anything. Duke had some targets and had a couple rushes. I think these guys before the season is out, you are going to hear from them both. I think they both are going to have to contribute to our football team and our offensive football team being good."

On DB Damarious Randall and his versatility after playing multiple snaps at CB last week:

"He has been outstanding to me. That was one of the great finds for our football team. Not only can he play safety and played extremely well, you said it, the guy went out there and played corner last week for the first time for us this year, and he got it done. He competed and played extremely well in my opinion. It is really, really good to have a guy with his versatility because there are a lot of different things you can do with Damarious."

On if Randall will continue to play more CB:

"We will do what we feel we need to do based on matchups and based on who we are playing. Obviously, he didn't practice today so we will continue to monitor that and see what role he will play this week for us."

On if it is too much to ask Mayfield to lead game-winning drives now:

"It is not too much. I think you said it, whether it is the start [of games] or overtime, we have to find ways to make those plays. That is something we have to continue to work at, too, and that we have looked at extremely hard because that is a chance to close out the game. I think we get it. Start faster, finish stronger is kind of our mentality right now. It is what we are working through."

On Brown being the fifth TE on the roster:

"No, we have four tight ends. You guys see (TE) Orson Charles as a tight end. I do not. He is a fullback."

On facing three playoff teams from last season during the next three games:

"This is the last game in the second quarter of the season. We have a chance to have an even record if we can go down and win this game this week at 2-2 in the second quarter before we head to the third quarter, and that is all our guys talk about. We do not go beyond that. As I told you guys, we break this thing up into four quarters. We are in the second quarter right now, and the next game happens to be Pittsburgh. That is all we are focused on."

On DL Chris Smith not practicing today:

"It is personal. Chris will be fine. There is nothing wrong with him. He will be back."

On how to balance the pass rush from Steelers T.J. Watt and the rest of the defensive line:

"It is a chess match a little bit. Obviously, the last time we played he has a tremendous game, a really good game. Obviously, we know that is something we have to get squared away, but there is (Steelers DL Cameron) Heyward, there is (Stephon) Tuitt and there is (Bud) Dupree. They have a lot of guys that know how to rush the passer. They are one of the fastest pass rushing teams in all of football so we get that. It is a challenge, but we have to do a better job than the first time we played them."

On teaching points for Mayfield on scrambling and sliding to protect himself, specifically referring to last week's hit:

"I thought he played it well. I thought he ran and got as much as he can. He started to slide and he got hit, and that is unfortunate. There has to be protection for him there, and that is what we all felt and thought so we have to continue to work through that."

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