Brian Hoyer: A win like that brings the team closer together
- When he looked up at the scoreboard in the second quarter and saw 28-3 in favor of the Titans, there were two strong emotions from Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer -- anger and perseverance. How could this be happening again? But on the flip side of the coin, because of the Browns' resurgence against Pittsburgh during Week 1, the leader on offense knew his team was capable of orchestrating something heroic.
- "I'm not going to lie to you and tell you I knew we were going to come back and win the game," said Hoyer. "But I knew we would fight until the clock said zero."
- Hoyer is quickly building a reputation for being clutch. On the final drive, Hoyer completed all three passes for 35 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown to Travis Benjamin. His 292 passing yards were a season-high. Four games into the season Hoyer's quarterback rating is a 97.7. He hasn't been flawless, but it's been pretty dang near close.
- "His poise, his demeanor, the way he handled himself – it's easy for the guys to rally around him," said coach Mike Pettine about Hoyer.
- The video of the Browns dancing in the locker room has gone viral, and Hoyer is one of the stars with the groovy moves. The electric atmosphere after the win is helping the Browns build a stronger bond.
- "It brings you together even closer," said Hoyer. "And just knowing that 53 guys fought their butts off to accomplishment something that's never been done in NFL history. I think it's definitely something special."
- "That's the type of group that we have," Pettine said, beaming with pride. "It's a tight group. A lot of the guys do stuff together outside of the building. The relationships run a lot more than professional…When you [dance and celebrate] like we did yesterday, that's evidence of that."
- Hoyer did acknowledge the Browns need to put together 60 minutes of solid football for their psyche moving forward. Going down to the wire each week is stressful and mistakes, mostly correctable, on offense and defense have put the Browns in bad spots.
- "It is [living dangerously]," Hoyer said about the close games. "This league is about that. When it comes down to it, it's about who makes more plays. There were times where we were lucky when we got a call or the ball bounced our way. When it's all said and done we're 2-2. We could've been 1-3, but we just made one more play than they did."
Pettine: Defensive issues are still a concern
- The combined score of the Browns' two first half games on the road? Opponents 55, Browns 13. Pettine pinpointed the issues boil down to the Browns being inconsistent.
- "It is frustrating. You look at the tape – it's little things. Foot work, hand placement, it's awareness, it's gathering pre-snap information," said Pettine. "All of those things add up to determine whether a play is going to be successful or not…We are not going to be good until we can get those little details cleaned up."
- Pettine said he and the staff will meet late Monday evening as a "think-tank" to try and figure out a way the Cleveland defense can correct the "little things" listed above, and hopefully throw the first punch on defense like the team did Week 2 against the Saints.
- To some extent, Pettine indicated, the coaching staff is still learning players' strengths and weaknesses. Practice can only tell you so much about a player. There is no replacement for real-game experience.
- Those blaming defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil for some of the woes on defense are not keen on how the Browns call plays. Pettine and O'Neil create the game plan in a flow chart and they meet on Thursday, Friday and Saturday to determine which play calls work best for certain situations – say third-and-13 just outside the red zone. O'Neil isn't scared to ask for help during a game either, which he did on Sunday against Tennessee.
- "I don't think there's been many situations where there has been an inappropriate call," said Pettine. "We've done every game plan together and every call sheet together since we started in New York (with the Jets) in 2009. The way we react the certain situations and handle personnel groupings, this area of the field, this type of offense, these pass concepts – we really share the same brain that way."
Undrafted rookie Taylor Gabriel leads the Browns in receiving
- When Taylor Gabriel first started turning heads in training camp, reporters and fans didn't even realize it was him. Because of his similar height (5-foot-8) and number (18) to Andrew Hawkins, Gabriel was more often than not mistaken for his veteran teammate.
- Those days are long gone. Gabriel's been the recipient of two of Hoyer's longest passes of the season. His 49-yard reception against the Titans on the first play of the second half stretched the Titans' defense, who had been keying in on Ben Tate and the running game. Gabriel finished the day with 95 yards on four catches.
- "Me and Brian [Hoyer] are gaining a good chemistry," said Gabriel. "We were just hungry to bring a win back to Cleveland. Everybody just came out of the locker room focused…I'm just out there having fun and enjoying myself."
News and notes
- The status of Phil Taylor (knee) and Joe Haden (hip) won't be known until at least Wednesday.
- Game balls went to: Brian Hoyer, Ben Tate, the entire offensive line, Travis Benjamin, Armonty Bryant, Ahtyba Rubin, K'Waun Williams and Tank Carder.
- Christian Yount bounced back on Sunday, with a flawless performance and even made a tackle on special teams. He weathered the storm of incoming competition and rose to the occasion.
- "Christian showed the type of character that he has," said Pettine. "He had one of his best games snapping that he's had in a long time."
- A reporter asked Pettine an interesting question about the Yount situation: How does that make other players feel, knowing that the coaching staff rode through some turbulent periods with a player? Pettine says it's always been his policy to be up front.
- "We're in the business of putting guys on the field that give us the best chance to win. If a guy is underperforming, we'll look him in the eye and we'll let him know that. [We're] not going to do it in a disrespectful or a demeaning way, but when we need better, they'll know it."