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Mike Pettine press conference - 10/14

Opening statement:

"Very much looking forward to another opportunity to play at home in front of the Dawg Pound against a very impressive Broncos team. For us, our success and our confidence, as always, will come through our preparation. That is one thing that we have emphasized this year: confidence through prep. It will especially be true this weekend. Anytime you go against a quarterback like (Broncos QB) Peyton (Manning), who has seen everything, you have to be on point with every little detail because he is certainly paying attention to all of it and get their guys in the right places.

"Defensively, we have not gone against a defense like this, one the rushes the passer like they do, get off the ball, very good in the secondary. I think they are No. 1 in a bunch of categories or at least top five. I think No. 1 overall defensively. It is for a good reason. (Broncos defensive coordinator) Wade Phillips has them playing at a very high level.

"As much as we feel good about what we did this past Sunday – we gave the guys Monday off and came in this morning and talked about it a little bit – I made it very clear in the meeting that once we reached a certain point that Baltimore was behind us and we were looking forward, as always. We always use the word' compartmentalize.' We have to put this one, as significant as it was and as much meaning as it had, that it needs to be behind us because Sunday will come up quick.

"Getting back to Denver, it is a group that will challenge us in all three phases. I know there is word of them being a little banged up, but they have tremendous depth so I don't know how much of a factor that will be in the game.

"Special-teams wise, it is a challenge. Two of the better kickers in the league. I don't think (Broncos K Brandon) McManus has missed, and (Broncos P Britton) Colquitt, I believe he has been to a Pro Bowl. He is a very good punter, very good directionally and can also kick them deep if he has to.

"On the injury front, (QB) Josh (McCown) will be out there working today. The only players that will miss – (DB) Joe Haden is in the concussion protocol, (LB) Scott Solomon, (LB) Craig Robertson and Gip (DB Tashaun Gipson) will not be out there, as well."

On QB Josh McCown's ankle:

"He is sore. He is sore. We'll be mindful of that. The game is not until Sunday. He has logged enough reps. We might scale his reps back today. He'll be out there."

On what McCown is doing best:

"One, he is very prepared. He understands when a play gets called, the play from A to Z, he understands it well, the formation, who needs to be where, the timing of any particular motion, the spacing of the wide receivers and then what the read is. If the route is built to where we have a blitz-beater on one side and a zone-beater on the other, he can recognize a defense. He is decisive. The throws that he has made for the most part have been extremely accurate. If you are going to have a quarterback play that well, you have to be doing something good around him. For the most part, we protected well on that many pass attempts. I know we gave up some hits and some sacks, but I think overall the protection was there certainly when we needed it. We ran good routes. The receivers were where they were supposed to be and caught the football and we broke tackles and got some positive yards. I just think he has a great understanding and a great command of what we are doing. When you are accurate and on time on top of that, you are going to get those types of results."

On if DB Tashaun Gipson will play Sunday:

"It is too early to tell."

On if it makes him more uneasy that Manning has not played to his full capability yet this season, given his past success:

"You see flashes of it on tape that you could make a cut-up where you could make the argument that he is [playing to his full capability]. I know statistically he hasn't been, points wise he hasn't been, but we are preparing to see the best. He has a great command of what they are doing and understands the intricate details of defensive football. We have to be real good at what we do and know that he has some playmakers that he has done a nice job getting the ball to."

On if he believed Dolphins TE Jordan Cameron was going to re-sign in the offseason, given reports he signed with the Browns:

"Did we think we were getting him back? I just remember back to that day where he was down in Miami and there was some back-and-forth with his agent. I know it got reported that he was coming back. I wasn't really at the front lines of those discussions when all that was going on. Jordan Cameron is a good player that played some meaningful reps for the Browns, but he is not here anymore. We were confident when it all went down that we know the type of player that Gary is. Gary showed it last year in fewer opportunities. We saw Gary as a complete tight end. He is a more than adequate blocker, which sometimes is hard to find in today's NFL at the tight end spot. A lot of these guys come in and they want to be more of the receiving type. Gary, one of the reasons he is good is we can have him out there in downs where teams can't say, 'Oh, their receiving tight end is on the field' and adjust it accordingly. I think that is one of the reasons that he has gotten some good looks is because teams have been more in a vanilla-type defense than something geared to stop the pass."

On explaining his comments that Manning has command over the offense:

"I think if you watch their film from the beginning up until now, I think you see it is progressing. I am not in that building. I don't know what their discussions are, but anytime you install a new offense, right in the beginning there are going to be some hiccups, even with someone of his caliber. You can see it when you look at the amount of gun snaps, and when they are throwing the ball, that is when I see him, especially the third-down stuff, the two-minute when they have gone no-huddle is when you see the vintage Peyton. I know the numbers weren't there. Like I said, if you watch the first game to the Oakland game, it is very different. You can see that they are feeling their way and still trying to figure out who they are, but that doesn't diminish to me what he does as a quarterback and his ability to change a play and get the ball where he needs to get it."

On if the gameplan is to not allow Manning operate in a two-minute situation, given his past success in those circumstances:

"If you are going against that type of quarterback, you never want to give him the ball at the end of the game with the chance. We just went through that a couple weeks ago. To me, he is one of the best, if not the best, in those types of situations."

On if he worries about the McCown's durability due to his age, specifically when he hit his head on the turf at Baltimore:

"Fortunately for me, I didn't have a good view of that. I heard that it happened, but we were all looking down the field at the ball. That was one of his poor decisions of the day. I thought we caught a break with getting the penalty because he didn't throw it hard enough to get it out of bounds. To answer your question, this has come up before. It is a certain style of play and you add to the circumstances his age and this is the first time he is just out there – not firs time, but he is playing all the reps as opposed to over the course of his career, sometimes it was in backup duty. He played a lot last year and played a lot in Chicago. That is always a concern. That is why it is important for us to emphasize the pass protection, but part of it is Josh, too. There are times where – just throw the ball away. He is so competitive and so wants to make a play, but he has to understand that he is not 24 anymore."

On if QB Johnny Manziel is still preparing as if he is the starting QB:

"That room, they're all prepared. (QB) Austin (Davis) prepares to be the starter. If you have that mentality, that's not only good if something does happen but just for down the road to mentally take those reps, to get as many as you can during the practice and then to watch it go out and implement it. I think that's two part because one, Johnny's been great; he's been into it. He prepares each week, just like Austin, even (QB) Connor's (Shaw) in that room. Then (quarterbacks coach) Kevin (O'Connell) and Flip (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) just make sure that they're relentless on those guys as far as how they prepare."

On the secondary continuing to play well after Haden left the game at Baltimore:

"Somebody told me after the game – I guess they didn't complete a ball to a wide out in the second half. The rushing defense was discouraging in the second half because we had only given up, I think, 34 yards at halftime, and they ended up with a significant number, but the back end guys, to me, it's similar to we talk about guys preparing like they're a starter. (DB) Pierre Desir was a function of his preparation. We try to get those guys as many reps as we can, and also when we put them on the scout team, they understand that 'Hey, this is a chance for me to a quality rep, even though I'm playing somebody else's defense.' A lot of time we can equate it to technique that we're playing. Those guys need to be ready to play, and I thought Pierre did a nice job stepping up and filling in for Joe."

On the rotation at OLB and some players receiving fewer reps than in the past:

"One of the problems that you end up with and that we tried to do in the first couple games is you're subbing guys in and out and teams are either not huddling. We got to the point where it was hard, the guys coming in and out and we had some close calls, so we just assigned guys personnel groupings. 'Hey, when we call our subgroup, these are the two outside backers on the field. When we call our base group these are the two guys out there.' We have two different versions of base defense and there's some overlap in calls with them but there's different emphasis based on the skillset of the guys that are in there. Jimmy (defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil) has the ability to control that with the personnel grouping that he's calling. When you look at the way the game went, we ended up in those groupings that had Ming (Barkevious Mingo) and Paul (Kruger) on the field less and (LB) Armonty (Bryant) and (LB) Nate (Orchard) were out there more and obviously (LB) Scott (Solomon)."

On why Manning is so difficult to defend and his memories playing Manning:

"You're tearing some old wounds open there, Pat (laughter). To me, he's the equivalent of having an offensive coordinator that can play out there against you and who's also – we talk about quarterbacks and what makes them special. One of the biggest things for us is processing speed, the ability to take information and know very quickly 'this is the play we want to be in.' Then, they build their offenses around his ability to do that. Add on top of it, there are some quarterbacks that have that but aren't as physically gifted. He's a guy that's the size that he is and has the quick release and the ability to be very accurate with the football and place it where he wants to place it on time. That's the reason that he's first-ballot, no-brainer in the Hall of Fame. It's just such a chess game when you go against him. I always talk about when you go against quarterbacks and you let them know what you're in before the snap, you're in trouble. He and (Patriots QB Tom) Brady are right up there with the elite of they know where to go before the snap. You don't have a chance that you have to be able to do some unconventional things and to make them think that you're doing something different. You have to change that week and just understand that the last 10 times he's played against our system, whether it's looking at the Cleveland tape, whether it's going back to Jets, I promise you he's even going back to some of the Baltimore tape and looked at how we defended him. You have to almost try to use that against him say, 'Listen, we have to be different from things that we've done because something we've lined up in maybe five years ago against him, he'll recognize it and know what to do against it.'

"The tough memory for me was it '06 when I was in Baltimore. We were pretty special defensively that year, and we held him to five field goals in a playoff game. They didn't score a touchdown. It was a 30 rating and we got after him pretty good, but just the way the game went, we ended up losing 15-6, and it was a crusher. If I have to rank my toughest losses of all time – ones that people say, 'You'll get over it in time' – I haven't gotten over that one yet. I don't think I ever will. Unfortunately, very not many positive memories. We did beat him in New York in a playoff game, which was significant, but he's right up there. It's a shame it's potentially winding down for him, but he's clearly in the discussion of the greatest of all time."

On the Browns only having one interception this year:

"I think they're a function of a lot of things – down and distance, obvious passing situations. I know we've had some that we've dropped. We have a saying in our room, 'You have to catch the ones that are thrown to you,' and we've gotten our hands on some and haven't been able to come down with them. Then it's also a function of the pass rush and getting hands up. A lot of interceptions come on tips and overthrows. We have to do a better job effecting the quarterback or maybe get a hand up to tip a ball or to force an overthrow. If a quarterback feels like he has to throw it out of a well, then a lot of times the ball will sail. It's a function of a lot of things. I know they typically come in bunches, and I know we haven't had leads for significant portions of time in games. You look at a lot of your sacks and turnovers come in the fourth quarter when a team is trailing. We have to do a better job putting teams into those situations."

On if McManus is from his former high school:

"He is, he is."

On what he knows about McManus:

"I know a little bit about him. He's a good – I still keep in touch with Dick Beck, who's the head coach at North Penn. He was quick to remind me that I was going up against him this week and that he was 12-12 and 4-4 over 50 yards, and I'm like 'Who are you cheering for this weekend?' (laughter)."

On former Browns DB and Broncos safety T.J. Ward signing with Denver and his performance:

"He's playing at a high level. The decision was made right when I got here. I know a lot was made of him and (Colts LB) D'Qwell (Jackson) as guys that have been here for a while. He's playing at a high level. He's very much a complete safety. When you talk about guys that are free or strong, he can really do both. That makes it tough on an offense when it's hard to identify what he's playing because some teams that have a true free or strong, you can gather a lot more information pre-snap. They do a good job moving him around, and then they have a package where he comes down and essentially plays linebacker in a dime grouping. You could see, he's in a good place. He plays with great effort, great energy and he's extremely productive."

On the Broncos successful pass rush and how it has led to key turnovers:

"I think it starts with their edges, and it's not just (Broncos OLB) Von Miller. We're not sure of (Broncos OLB) DeMarcus Ware's status, but just what those two have been able to do, when you add a (Broncos OLB Shaquil) Barrett and a (Broncos OLB) Shane Ray – I mean they were rolling four pass rushers on the edges – that's tough because that speeds up a quarterback's clock. We were watching a cut-up the other day, I asked Flip, 'Is this the sack cut up?' He goes, 'No, this is just a normal 11 personnel cut-up that we're watching.' Not only do they sack the quarterback, they're hitting him, too, and that has an effect over time. We're aware of that. I think we have to do a good job of – we talked last week about running the football and lack of it and that we would have to change our thinking. Anytime you can rush the passer the way they do, you have to be able to establish some type of run. That will be important to us. Part of it, too, is to get ahead of the sticks to not be in those situations. Anytime you can tell a Von Miller that it's second-and-10 or its third-and-11, they are playing the run on the way to the quarterback. We have to be in as few situations like that as possible."

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