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Hue Jackson press conference - 9/13

Opening statement:

“Another day of practice. Excited about a big game. Go to New Orleans and play a really good football team. This is the second day of our process so we will keep going.”

On if this is a significant game for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams:

“Just me knowing Gregg, every game is a big game for Gregg, and it should be. I do not think he is thinking anything other than preparing the defense to play a really good offensive football team and compete that way. That is who Gregg is. He loves to compete – we all do – and that is what we are going to try to do.”

On the last time Williams faced Saints Head Coach Sean Payton:

“I heard about that. 49 points? You wanted to tell me that? Is that what it was? I am sure it is all coming.”

On if Williams’ past game against Payton and his time with the Saints serves as extra motivation:

“I think he is motivated just because [of the game]. I think we need to continue to play better. Like I told our defense the other day, I was very excited with the six turnovers, but there were kind of some other things that were very uncharacteristic of how we play. The rushing totals were high, and obviously, they threw the ball for a lot of yards last week. We have some things we have to shore up and get better at. Love the effort, but we have to do some things better.”

On how OL Desmond Harrison has handled the past week of preparation:

“He has handled that part well. Everything every week is going to be new for him. Now you are going into a dome against a different type of rusher, different other things now to be concerned about – Crowd noise, those types of things and on turf. This will be different, a different challenge for him, but he is in his process every day as the coaches as we prepare him for Sunday. He has done a good job this week.”

On extra value of potentially beating a team considered among the top of the NFL:

“It would be great. It would be awesome. Obviously, last week, we let one slip away. Here is the next opponent. This is the National Football League. Every week is going to be against somebody who is good. Here is another opportunity for us to show that we are getting better in a lot of different areas, and the key to all of this as I said before is winning. We have a tie on our record right now. That is what it is. We need to get to winning. I will keep saying that, and that is what we are trying to do.”

On how DB Denzel Ward adjusts facing Saints WR Michael Thomas, comparted to Steelers WR Antonio Brown:

“I think we will try to put him in the best position to handle that. You said it, it is going to be different. (Steelers WR) Antonio Brown was a smaller, faster, quicker guy. This guy is big, fast, strong and has a big catch radius. It is going to be a different challenge for the defense and the defensive secondary in general. I think we have to handle that. Then there is (Saints WR) Ted Ginn (Jr.) on the other side, who runs really fast, and (Saints RB Alvin) Kamara coming out of the backfield – sometimes they displace him. We have to know where all of these guys are because they can make plays.”

On if Ward is ready to shadow the opponent’s top WR:

“I still think we play our defense. There are times in games where we feel like he needs to match up, and we will. I still think we play our defense and let’s get him truly understanding of how we play and what Gregg is asking those guys to do. Obviously, he did a really good job last week. He has to continue to grow every week. Just like for Desmond and for him, here comes a different challenge for him. As you guys have mentioned and with Michael Thomas and a quarterback (Saints QB Drew Brees) who is deadly accurate who knows how to get their offense up and running, going and those players. This is another challenge.”

On QB’s remaining confident with TE David Njoku following dropped passes:

“I think the quarterback goes and has a personal conversation with the player because he needs him. He is throwing it to you because you are open or that is part of your progression so you got to make those plays for him. Just me knowing (QB) Tyrod (Taylor) a little bit – he is a veteran player – I am sure he had conversation with David, and I am sure David is excited about playing this week. He wants to put that game behind him, let’s go play in this one and see if he can be consistent in catching the ball.”

On if rookies are evaluated differently when considering playing time compared to veterans:

“Definitely. Environments are different, and what I mean by that is these are grown men. I owe the locker room. Before you put a guy out there, you have to feel good that he can handle that, and to me, the locker room wants to win. They are not here for us to be testing players out and see if they are worthy to be playing. They want you to put the best guy out there that gives us the best opportunity to win. I think that is first and foremost. Then as a coach, you are trying to determine can a guy handle the pressure of 65-70 plays. God forbid, we played 93 last week on offense. Can a guy handle that over a period of time without making critical errors that will really hurt the football team? All of that is thought through and talked through, and you try to put them in as many situations in practice and preseason as you can. If guys can do it, great. There are some that can and some that can’t and they are not ready yet for that many plays in a game having to do it right all of the time. Hopefully, once they start to understand the environment, understand what you are asking of them, they grow to that level and then they start to play and become pros.”

On if it is a goal to motivate DL Myles Garrett to have an impact like Week 1:

“Yes, again and again and again. That is all I talk about with him. He was outstanding last week. 84 plays, did not come out one play, and that said a lot to me.”

On if Garrett needs motivation to play at an extremely high level:

“I do not think he needs it. That is what he wants to be. I think that is who Myles Garrett is. When we drafted him, I knew that about him. That he wants to be one of the best to ever play, and that is just what his motivation is. He does it on the practice field every day, and we expect him to do it every week in every game. I think now that his teammates have seen it, they expect it, too. That is other part of the peer pressure from your teammates saying, ‘Hey look, we need this from you. To win this game, this is how you have to play for us.’ That goes a long ways.”

On if Garret can continue to play every defensive snap:

“No, I do not think he can play every snap. He probably would not last too much longer if he did that.”

On seeing Garrett’s status when playing every defensive snap:

“Yeah I did, but we need him. There are times we need him, and as he saw last week he can impact the game so we need him. We need him to be as fresh as he can be, but also, we need him out there and I think he gets that. I think there is a fine line on how that works. For us, we will be mindful of what it is going to take to get him through the 16 games more so than just week in and week out.”

On WR Antonio Callaway lining up to return one punt rather than more:

“I think the trust. Again, young players, put them in situations and there is no question that Antonio is going to be returning punts before the year is out. He might even return them in this game. At the same time, I think (DB) Jabrill Peppers has done a good job and there is trust there. Antonio has got continue to gain that trust of us as coaches so we can stick him back out there. Those are the plays that turn a game really fast, and he has been doing some good things. He has been working his tail off back there, but obviously, Jabrill has shown us that he knows how to do it and he can do it consistently.”

On if Jets QB Sam Darnold’s success in his first NFL game caused pause for consideration of QB Baker Mayfield playing earlier than originally planned:

“I like our quarterback. I like our young quarterback a lot, but it did not change my mind in anything. Baker has been really good in practice. I have done for him what I said what I was going to do, getting him some reps at the end at times. I think he is still growing. The thing that I love, he is so engaged in what we are doing. That is a fist bump to him. I am sure that it is tough. I am sure that he wants to play. Any competitor wants to. At the same time, I think he is ready. He is preparing himself week in and week out on what it takes to play. When his day comes, he is going to go out there and play well. I keep saying that. Do not know when it is, but when it does happen, he will play well.”

On Saints QB Drew Brees saying that Mayfield ‘could be better than him’:

“I think all of those guys respect each other. Obviously, they were both born in Texas so there is a little bit of history there. I know that they are not friends or anything like that, but I think Drew wants to see Baker do well, like we all do. I think when Baker plays, he will start carving out his career for himself. I have said is since the day we have had him, he is going to have a great career here in Cleveland. Now what that turns into, hopefully, it turns into what Drew Brees has done and then we will be able to talk about it. Until that happens, I do not think that we can.”

On if there are different philosophies on rookies starting different positions and skills or if it is based on need:

“Sometimes it is about need. Sometimes it is about what is there – what do you have on your team? You have to play the best players that you have available at that time. We are fortunate to have a veteran quarterback who has played in the National Football League so we do not have to put our rookie quarterback into that situation right away. Let’s let him learn, grow and know exactly how this thing works before we ever stick him out there. I think that helps him. Desmond Harrison, like you said, it is a need, and he is the best guy. I think it is a combination of both of the things as you make the decisions on what is best for the team.”

On how RB Nick Chubb can earn more carries:

“I just said it the other day, I think it is the flow of the game. Sometimes, he is going to get three carries. Sometimes, he may get 10; he may get 12 – I do not know. It is going to change. It all depends on the flow of the game. I was excited that we put him in there. Sometimes, when you have guys like (RB Carlos) Hyde and (RB) Duke (Johnson Jr.), young guys do not get that opportunity. Regardless, I know it was not a lot, but it was something. I think he got a taste of playing in a real game. Obviously, he wants more. He will earn more as we go. I think we have to let that thing unfold over time. We are in Game 1. Let’s see what happens in the last 15 games.”

On Chubb missing a blitz pickup in Week 1 leading to a sack:

“He did, but nobody lost confidence in that. That is going to happen to young football players. I coached running backs myself before. I had a player miss a corner blitz. First game, playing against a real good opponent, the anxiety of playing, sometimes that is tough. The game is going to continue to slow down for him. We have to keep putting him out there because he is somebody that we believe in. We think that he has a lot of talent.”

On Taylor completing 15 of 40 passes:

“I would not want to live with 15-for-40 for a long time because I do not think that we will be that again. I really do not. I understand the question. I think that is a non-issue. First game, chalk it up to what it is. I believe that Tyrod will play better. My thing about Baker, as I said to you guys before, I think that when we do play him, we will make a decision as an organization before we put him out there and do what is right. The most important thing is that he is our future. If he is, we do not have to rush this thing. When everybody saw the numbers last week, everybody wanted to go, ‘OK, Tyrod is out. Let’s go the other way.’ Let’s slow down a little bit here. Let’s get this thing going. Week 1, here we go to Week 2. Let’s see if we can improve on offense and play better. Let’s let this other young man keep growing in the National Football League and understanding how to do it. He is growing every day in my opinion. I am appreciative of his work ethic and what he is doing in the building. We all have to let it all play itself out at the right time and kind of go from there.”

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