Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer:
"Good morning everybody. I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving. Obviously, our weekend could have gone better, and I thought it should have goner better. We let that one get away from us as fast as we started and we just did not keep the pressure on against a good team at home. When the stakes are that high, you have to keep playing play after play after play and get things done. We obviously did not play well enough on kickoff and kickoff return to win. I thought we punted and covered punts well. I thought we covered one kickoff well. I thought punt return was solid. (K) Austin (Seibert) had a great kick there to pin those guys deep late in the game down by seven. I thought that was a huge play for our special teams. Overall, we have to play better against a team like Pittsburgh on the road to help our team win, and that is going to be the focus this weekend against Cincinnati. They are one of the if not the best special teams unit in the NFL. They play hard every week. You would never know they are 1-11 by the way they play on special teams, which is a tribute to (Bengals special teams coordinator) Coach (Darrin) Simmons, his staff and the way those guys play."
On if the Browns need to change personnel on kick return:
"Thought about that to be honest with you because of the dropped kick and that was a tough play to make, but he has got to make that play and I talked to (CB) Tavierre (Thomas) about that. I do not want to give up on him yet because it is so important to him. He has gotten better. He has improved in practice. You do not see it as much in the games. We have not had a ton of opportunities, but we have to make smarter decisions back there and he just has to keep fighting. I am not one to throw in the towel on a guy quickly. I am going to keep coaching him. Part of that is on me, and that is the way that I look at things. If they are not developing as quick as they need to, part of it is coaching. Part of it is playing obviously, and we have to keep working together to keep getting him better, and quite honestly, we need to block better. Pittsburgh, they covered extremely well. We knew they would. I am going to give a lot of credit to the kicker (Steelers K Chris) Boswell, who did a phenomenal job kicking. That is tough to do in that kind of [environment]. It was not that windy and obviously, it was not that cold, but when you kick the ball off that effectively – at home, he should because he knows the stadium better than anybody – but he made it very, very difficult for us to return kicks. We just have to do a better job fielding them, make better decisions and quite frankly we need to block better."
On if Thomas will remain the team's kick returner this Sunday:
"Maybe. I will let Coach Simmons guess on that one. We have got other options. (RB) Dontrell (Hilliard), we can put him back there. He still has a good average. (RB) D'Ernest Johnson is a guy that we could put back there, and then as the weather gets colder, too, you can put some bigger body guys back there, too, and get after it. I do not know what the weather is going to be like. I have been told that is not going to be that cold again on Sunday, which is amazing. God's country – Cleveland, Ohio baby."
On if Thomas should have tried to allow the fumbled kickoff to go out of bounds:
"I do not think so. I thought about that initially, but when you watch it on tape, he had to field that ball because it was close. You never know what you are going to get on a bounce and that is kind of risky when you do that. We teach our guys that if you are close to the sideline, you can establish yourself out of bounds with one foot in and all you got to do is touch the ball, as you guys probably know, and your body is an extension of out of bounds. Therefore, we are getting the ball at 40, but it was not close enough to the sideline to do that, and he was not in position to make that decision any way because he got there fast, but he to square up. He had time to square up. At the end of the day, it did not really hurt us, but if we get better field position there at the end of the half, we might get a field goal out of it because we did drive the ball a little bit there at the end of the first half."
On if one goal on kickoff is to make opponents decide to kneel or take the ball out of the end zone based on kick placement:
"He has done a really nice job with that most of the year – the one out of bounds against Miami, and he had the one to the 10 yard line to start the second half against Pittsburgh, which is not what we wanted there because we gave good returner time to get up on the ball. For the most part, he has done a really nice job, and we have a pretty good kickoff team. We have done a good job all year line, which we need to do this weekend because (Bengals S) Brandon Wilson is probably having the best year out of anybody, at least in the NFL. He is the best kickoff returner in our conference and certainly our division. I know Baltimore has got a good one. Pittsburgh, he did a good job the other day. They are playing with a lot of confidence on kickoff return so we need to make it very, very difficult for them to get something going. If that means higher and deeper kicks or higher and shorter kicks, whatever the case may be – we have line-drive kicks – we have to keep them off balance so their timing does not get going because they have a ton of confidence on kickoff return. Wilson is a big part of that because he has great vision, speed, incredible body balance. He does a great job with lateral movement in the hole. He has good vision for a guy that does not play running back. He is a very good returner. Austin has done a good job for us most of the year. We take a lot of pride in our kickoff team. It is going to be a good matchup on Sunday."
On if the Browns practice pooch punts with Seibert every week or if it was specific to Heinz Field:
"Are you talking about the field-goal punt there in the fourth quarter. We actually worked on it a little bit in the spring a little bit in training camp. In Austin's background, he was a four-year starter as a punter, as well as a field goal kicker and a kickoff specialists. He has the ability to do that. We introduced it in practice for the first time last week because of the time of year to be honest with you. I think that was the perfect time for us to make that call, and (Head Coach) Freddie (Kitchens) did a great job of being on top of the situation. We made the call and we out and executed a really good play. It was close. The way I understand the rules that (TE) Stephen (Carlson) got two hands on the ball and downed it before he let it go. If I am on the other side, I probably do not like the call because his knee was touching the ball, but I have seen that call before on similar type of play. It worked out in our favor so it was good."
On if Pittsburgh should have challenged the play:
"They did challenge. They did challenge it. He did one of these deals here and kind of dropped the mic type moment. I watched it. It was kind of cool."
On if it was evident on the replay that the ball did touch Carlson's knee:
"It did. I did not know that he had the second hand down until I saw the TV copy the next day. He got the right hand down then on the ball, left hand on the ball downing it and then he let it go, which was smart because if he takes it in the end zone it is a touchback. It did touch his knee, but the rule was – the officials, good for them were on top of it – that is the rule. It was kind of a cool play. I thought you guys would be a little bit more fired up about it (laughter). I was."
On if Carlson's presence of mind to let the football go prior to entering the end zone:
"It was a great play. As he is going in to the end zone, the momentum is taking him in to the end zone. He did a great job of letting it go. (P) Jamie (Gillian) – you hear the TV copy, and I think (CBS Analyst Dan) Fouts said something like he did not know what Jamie was doing – Jamie did a great job of not kicking the ball in the end zone. He kind of dives over Stephen and then (LS) Charley (Hughlett) is right there to down it at the 1-yard line. It was a well-kicked, well-executed play and gave our defense great field position. I thought was a cool play. It does not happen very often."
On it being unusual for a TE to make the kind of play to down a punt inside that close to the goal line:
"He was the left wing and that is his job is to protect and then get out of there to down it. I thought everybody executed well. It was a great snap by Charley because it is an unusual snap by him. The only thing that we did do was we did not block it up right with Jamie because they came off the edge, and Jamie is supposed to chip that guy on his way out. You would of thought he was in Scotland playing rugby again for a second because he just wanted to get out of there and go down the ball."
On Carlson's performance on special teams:
"Done a nice job for us. He is reliable. He did a good job on the hands team play against Miami. He has been starting now on three phases. He did a good job on field goal when (TE) Demetrius Harris went out, and Stephen did not even practice that field goal punt last week. Demetrius was the guy that was out there with (RG Wyatt) Teller, and Stephen knew what to do because he is a smart, conscientious young man. He has done a nice job for us."
On frustration when there is a good opportunity to pin an opponent inside the 10 and it results in a touchback:
"It is a huge change of field position, and you are going back to the Thursday night Pittsburgh game when we did not have to down the ball and we touched it after going out of bounds. Those are huge mistakes. I looked at our punt team, and I think this is kind of cool because they are playing pretty well – we have six rookies starting on the punt team, and no one else has that. Not that I know of and not to anybody that we have played. As I told the group yesterday, I said, 'Fellas, you have enough reps under your belt now. You are no longer rookies. Not on special teams. You might be on offense or defense, but you are no long rookies on teams and we have enough reps under our belt.' I am not going to let them use that as an out and say, 'Oh well coach, I am just a rookie. I do not have enough reps.' No, we have had enough practice reps, we have had enough preseason reps, we have enough regular season reps that the guys that we have out there are doing a nice job and they are working hard. They are getting better every day. It is kind of cool for me to see the growth of these guys. I know a lot of times you guys do not see it unless you are watching for it, but I am really proud of the way that they have developed this year and I like our group. There are some good young players out there that we have a good future with."
On how Browns players are approaching this week and final four weeks of the season:
"That is what I was looking for yesterday when they walked in the building. Monday they came in, everybody, we were pretty down. I was down obviously. We watched the game, we put that one to bed and we correct the mistakes and then they come back Wednesday, and I thought the locker room was outstanding. I thought the attention to detail, even though we slowed down practice a little bit because we got some guys that are banged up, the attention to detail was there. The mental part of it was there. I think guys are excited to get back on the field. It is a divisional game. It is an interstate rival. It is going to be a fun game. I do not care what their record is, it is Cleveland-Cincinnati. Being from this area, I know the tradition of that game and what it means. I think the coaches and players are reenergized. Like Freddie keeps talking about, going 1-0 this week, and honestly, it sounds simple but that is the exact mentality that we had to have, no matter I do not care the records are. We just have to get after it Sunday and go get a win."
On the Browns' approach to taking a touchback or making a return for kicks that reach the end zone:
"I have been asked that a lot lately. I think you guys know me by now how aggressive I am by nature on every phase and believing in our guys. We need to make some different decisions – maybe better decisions is the right word. There are times when we need to take a knee 2 or 3 yards deep in the end zone. Whether if we got a left return on and they kick it right, we have to be smart enough to understand the situation. That is part of the growth of young returners to be honest with you. I have to do a good job of continuing to remind them as they go out to the field. 'Hey, this is what we are looking for here. We want the best field position possible.' In Tavierre Thomas' mind, he goes, 'I am going to score every time I touch the ball,' which is a good mentality to have, but we have got to make better decisions back there and we will going forward. That was a good question."
On not being happy with the kickoff coverage last week:
"We had a missed tackle. We go up 3-0, and we call our kickoff team the momentum team. We have momentum. We had to keep the momentum like we have been doing all year long, and we have a missed tackle at the 20-yard line and another missed tackle at the 25-yard line. One guy dove, and they get out to the 41. I know he is a good returner, he is a good young returner. I get that. The scheme that we have, we had two guys unblocked at the point of attack. We have to make those plays and that was the frustrating part. You get out to the 41, our defense held them, and then we start the second half and we do not kick it well enough and they get out to the 31. That is two plays that is across the 30. I think we have only had one besides the kickoff out of bounds all year long that have gotten out past the 30. My math could be wrong, but I think I am pretty close. We typically get tackles inside the 25 or 20. That is what we pride ourselves on. That was my frustration in that phase."
Offensive coordinator Todd Monken:
On the inability to win close games or produce game-winning dives and QB Baker Mayfield's TD-INT ratio in those situations:
"I guess I had not really looked at it that way or really seen that. Obviously, we have to do it better collectively. Last week we started fast. We were up 10-0, had everything in front of us and obviously, could not continue offensively to score points when you need to score points and keep the momentum, matching scores when they score, which we did not do a very good job of that. Like I always say, you can't carry over points or things you did last week. It is a new week, and it is on to the Bengals."
On if he senses Mayfield is pressing at all in those late-game situations:
"Pressing is probably a stretch. I think anytime you get to the end of the game and you need a score, you have to make some plays down the field, if we are speaking about last Sunday. He was just trying to make a play. We had to push the ball down the field. We needed a touchdown."
On Mayfield's interception late against Pittsburgh:
On similarities between the endings to the Pittsburgh, Seattle, Denver and Los Angeles games with opportunities late in the game:
"Yeah, we did not execute. That is the way it is. It is a game of execution when you are going against the highest level of competition, against really good coaches and really good players. The team that executes best usually finds a way to win. We have not executed at the level we need to at times. At times we have, and at times we have not."
On if the inconsistency in late-game situations is the most frustrating part:
"Sure, in the 30 years I have been coaching, it is always frustrating when you do not score and when you feel like you are doing things that are counterproductive to put you in the best position to be successful or they do something that takes you out of rhythm. It is always frustrating when the amount of time we put in, players and coaches, and it does not show up on the field. At times, it does and at times, it does not. That is part of this league, though. It just happens that we are talking about us, and every team goes through it at times. You are just trying to make sure that in those critical moments, one we are on the same page and one we are ready to go and give ourselves the best chance to find a way to score every time we have it and then especially at the end."
On why WR Odell Beckham Jr. has not had as many highly productive games as past seasons:
"I do not look at it that way. First of all, I think he is an outstanding football player so let's start with that. I think it has just been certain circumstances that have stopped us from being able to get him the ball. As I go back, we only have one football. You get (RB) Kareem Hunt, you have (WR) Jarvis (Landry) and you have got (RB) Nick (Chubb). Obviously, we would like to get him the ball more and the moment we get the ball to him more, then we will be asking why we do not get it Nick more and then you give it to Nick, and you need to get it to Kareem more. Obviously, we are always trying to get him involved."
On why Beckham has not seen the ball as often in the red zone compared to other receivers across the league like Patriots WR Julian Edelman, who are also expected to get the ball in those situations:
"First off, let's start with this: we are pretty good at running it. I would put our running backs and our ability to run the football up against anybody once you get in the red zone. That would be one answer. Two is they play different spots for what Edelman does for them and what Odell does for us. That does not mean you can't use them there. It is a fair question whenever you have a really good players is how do you get him involved in all areas of the field – third down, red zone, run downs. That is fair. There are times in the gameplan where we have it, a plan for him to get the ball and sometimes we have not gotten to those spots enough, which is part of it."
On if the Browns OL's protection at times has impacted opportunities to get Beckham the ball downfield:
"Some of that. Two of the last three weeks, we have played some pretty good ends – (Steelers LB Bud) Dupree and (Steelers DE T.J.) Watt. That will stress you in terms of your protections. At times, we are fine and others when you get behind in the game, that is going to put you at a little bit of a disadvantage against any good edge rushers when you have to throw it. Bottom line is that may be part of it, but we just have to find a way to do it better. That is some of it, but not all of it."
On if opponents' defenses have covered Beckham differently since Hunt returned to the offense:
"I think with every week, depending on how you utilize a player, determines what you see. In the last few weeks when Odell is not getting utilized nearly as much, you are not seeing as much from that from a coverage standpoint. You are in the red zone when teams will bracket and even on third downs, Pittsburgh did it a few weeks ago when they bracketed him and Jarvis. They look at where your targets are – who you are throwing it to? – and then work from there in terms of who they are trying to take away. Obviously, with Kareem, what you end up seeing is teams are treating him, especially if he is in there with Nick, they are treating him like a wide out. They are going nickel or they are going dime. I do not care if you have a tight end there or not. They are matching him to make sure they have got an athletic player that can match him in terms of his route-running skills, which is fine. That is normal. It gives you a chance to help your run game some when you get a small player in there, but that is how most people adjust. Just like when we talk about New England when you get their running backs, you have to make sure you do not get an unfavorable matchup in terms of who you put out there defensively."
On Bengals DT Geno Atkins and Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap:
"They still have it. They still have it in the tank when they want to let it rip. Geno inside has been a powerful, explosive player that if he is singled up enough, he is going to disrupt and he is going to shed and get off blocks. Same with Dunlap on the edge. He is long, athletic and on third downs, they really get it dialed up, get to an edge and really force you to get an idea of where they are at."
On if he knows Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor well:
"I do not."
On having a group of TEs step up at different times compared to one consistently producing:
"We would like someone that is that, and you are always hopefully, it doesn't matter where a player is in his career, we would be doing a disservice to that player to not think that they can still improve, that you can find what they do well and put them in the best positon to be successful, not only them individually but us on offense. We have tried to do that. I still think you are always looking at any position for a guy who can be a three-down player that can not only block but can do the things down the field that you want. Those guys are becoming more and more rare, though, in terms of the guys that are physical at the point and yet matchup problems on the perimeter. You are always looking for what is a player's dominant trait, What is it about any player that you have, what role do they fill in terms of a matchup issue? You are always looking for that."
On if he knew TE Stephen Carlson had that kind of stiff-arm in his arsenal:
"Did not. That was pretty impressive, and the catch he made battling for the ball in that under route that kept us from a turnover."
On T Greg Robinson's performance in recent weeks after not starting at LT in Week 8:
"We are talking about such a short turnaround here. We are talking about from playing to not to the bench. It is week to week in terms of every player, not just Greg. Greg is not the only one that way in that we all have a job to do. It is week to week with us. We all have a job to do to put the best product we can on the field. That is an assessment of every player. Now, certain players that have played well over time have a little bit longer leash, if that makes sense, in terms of their productivity in what they do weekly, but Greg is no different than any other player. If you do not produce, if you do not do the things on the field that give us a chance to win, then as an organization and as a team, you have to look to do something because that is what we are paid to do. We are paid to fix the puzzle and figure out the best way it is for us offensively to score, no matter who that may be."
On if Beckham's absence from OTAs, preseason games and some of training camp has carried over to a lack of ability to produce in the red zone:
"I would not say that. I would not say by now, no."
On G Wyatt Teller's development this season:
"I still think he is a young, developing player in terms of what he can be. We are still working through that. I think he has had his moments of playing really good football for us. He really has. We got him late towards the end of training camp. Initially, Kush was playing guard and he was a swing guy for us and now he is out there. I think you can continue to see his improvement and I think he is going to continue to improve because he is a powerful young man. He is a powerful young man, still learning and developing. That is what we hope each week that he is going to continue to grow."
On if Mayfield's statistics this year misrepresent the kind of QB he is and his potential:
"There is no doubt and like you said, that is a picture of for instance any statistical evidence that you have in an area you want to look at has its holes. Obviously, we have to do it collectively as a group better, but I think he is a tremendous, tremendous football player – competitor, smart, tough, has a rare competitive quality and a rare want to be great. That is the thing that I think is going to continue to push him and for him to push the rest of our offensive group. There have been some moments where we have not played as well around him and we have gotten behind a little bit, and he is competitive. He is a guy that over his career, I will be stunned if he is a guy that turns the ball over a lot. He does not have that in him. He does not. He is not careless with the football. If you look at it, one of his interceptions is a shovel pass at New England for God's sake. That is not his fault. It is our fault, my fault for the way we designed it and the way it turned out. There are certain things. Sure there are others ones, but in my mind, we have the right guy going forward."
On if Mayfield is dropping back slower than previous years and if that and his weight factor into some of his struggles:
"I do not think so. I do not see that as the issue. It is a little bit more difficult when you are in gun in terms of the quickness in your drop. You are already almost at the top of your drop. You would have to talk to him in terms of his vision and how he sees it from there because I can't speak to that, but I have not seen that be an issue up to this point in terms of his weight or in terms of the speed of his drop. I have not seen that be an issue where would have said those thing, no. Collectively, we have to do it better and that is always the case. It is not as if I look and say, 'Boy, it feels like over a certain amount of time the velocity is down' or in terms of going through a progression. I do not see that. We have to do it better. That is a fact collectively, and when we do that, then we will continue to see our growth in consistency. That is what you are looking for is just the consistency against the best in the world, and that is what it comes down to is everyone doing their job consistently so that you are not choppy. That has been the big issue. It is just when we stop moving it, it is because we have been inconsistent and been choppy in terms of everybody taking their turns."
Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks:
"Good morning. You guys would not get offended if I got up and left right now, would you (laughter)? Dan (Labbe), Scott (Petrak), I appreciate your support [during last week's press conference].
"Last week was definitely disappointing, particularly with the climate of the game, a divisional opponent, the opportunity to continue to get on the streak. We did not finish, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. I thought we did some great things early. We have to learn how to sustain it, particularly at the end of the half keeping those guys out of the end zone. At the end of the game, we had an opportunity. We gave the ball back to the offense, but I wish we could have given it back to them sooner. A couple of third downs, miscues there, not executing, but the guys are focused. They are back this week. As (Head Coach) Freddie (Kitchens) has talked about time and time again, just looking to be 1-0."
On if Steelers QB Devlin Hodges was able to get comfortable towards the middle of the game based on something the Browns were doing defensively or just due to a natural progression as the game continued:
"That is a really a question, I guess, you would have to ask him. I would say this, I thought we were in position to make plays on the ball as we were in the first game when we played them on Thursday night. Just so unfortunate we did not make the plays. I thought the guys were in tight coverage. We played a lot of man that particular game and were trying to create some pressure. They did a good job of keeping six and seven in as far as protection and trying to help them out. With that, we have to make plays when given the opportunity."
On if opponents are adjusting their approach with the absence of DE Myles Garrett:
"Myles is definitely a special player so we all know that. We know teams really scheme around him. He is not here. I would say definitely yes in regards to your question, but we still have to find ways to make plays. Just trying to generate things up front, moving guys around, trying to create different pressures. We are never going to make any excuses, but when you look at it, we have maybe four or five guys that are here on the 53 that were not a month ago. We are not cancelling games. We have to find a way to get our guys in position to be successful, and that starts with me."
On the difficulties with new personnel on the Browns DL:
"I am not going to use the word difficult. I think we have to be creative in what we are trying to do. I think the guys have a lot of energy as I talked about before. I thought we came out playing fast. You look at what (DE) Chad Thomas is doing, Chad Thomas created a spark for us early with that sack. I think (DT) Sheldon (Richardson) is playing well, we are moving him quite a bit inside and out, and he has generated some pressure. We just have to continue to try to mix it up a little bit, and guys have to find ways to execute and finish."
On if it is unusual to have so much turnover within one unit like the Browns DL:
"It is tough, but it is part of the league. I have been a part of it before. I was in the same situation last year in Arizona – shuffling guys in and out and guys coming in on a Tuesday and playing on Sunday. We can't sit here and make excuses. We have to find ways to get guys in position to make plays."
On DBs having tight coverage but not looking back to ball and how much of that is a teaching point:
"Quite a bit of it is teaching and quite a bit of it is just really natural instincts, as well. I put everything back on me, back on us as coaches to try and get our guys to understand when in certain situations what we need to execute. I thought (CB) Greedy (Williams) and (CB) Denzel (Ward) had great coverage. We just have to find ways to turn around and make plays on the ball."
On S Sheldrick Redwine's performance last week:
"I thought he played well. When you look at our run fits and how he fitted the run, I thought he came up very physical making tackles and getting off blocks, and you can see his range and speed in the post, particularly on that one play. I thought he had the opportunity to get over there. He just misjudged the ball a bit."
On why NFL CBs do not look back at the ball more often and the instinctual components to it:
I think it is just repetition, and naturally, some guys have it. When you scout guys coming out of college, that is something you look for – guys who can really have that natural feel of the flash of the ball when they can just see it and play it. Great ball skills, everything is different when you look at the makeup of a player. I always say there is no utopia. A guy may have great ball skills, but he may not be that fast. He may be physical, but he does not really have the range and the speed. As coaches, you take in these guys with different talents, and you have to find ways to make them a complete player."
On if players are born with good ball skills and ability to locate the football:
"Naturally, yes, but as coaches, you have to find ways to continue to improve that skillset and that is what we are trying to do. Really working on the flash of the ball. Trying to work on deep balls when in position going up. If I can't make a complete catch on the ball, I have to play through the guys hands and rake his arms."
On how LB Mack Wilson has played in comparison to his first week starting at WILL:
"He has improved each and every week. I am excited about No. 1, his work ethic and just his ability to really try to study the game. This guy is in here early. He is meeting with his coaches getting extra work in. You can see the improvements and things that he may have messed up on two weeks ago, that is not an issue anymore. The thing with a rookie is it is always something new, which is great. We are not talking about the same mistakes over and over again. I am excited with his progress and the things that he is doing."
On LB Sione Takitaki's progress:
"I think Taki is performing well. We have created certain looks for him within the packages that we put in. He is getting in there and getting a lot of what I call game time experience now. Probably averaging between 15-20 plays a game. He is doing well. He is progressing."
On how Williams has handled other teams throwing his way:
"It is the nature of the position when you are out there on the island by yourself, and it is always that short-term memory we talk about, trying to hit the reset button. I think he is doing great job to understand that I can't relax, and when in position, I have to make sure that I finish. I think everything he is doing up to the end of the play, he is putting himself in position to be successful. Now, we just have to work on the finish part."
On Bengals QB Andy Dalton's performance against the NY Jets:
"I think he was in rhythm. For a guy that has been out for a minute, you can tell he is back in rhythm. Those receivers that they have are pretty good, starting with (Bengals WR Tyler) Boyd, No. 83. They move him around quite a bit, and I believe (Bengals WR John) Ross is going to be back this week, as well, a vertical guy that can take the top off and of course the perimeter screen game. A lot of things that you see out of them are the same thing that we faced really against the Rams. I am sure they have been looking at that film as well as we have.'
On how much playing multiple Ss impacts the Browns CBs:
"Overall, I would say that sometimes the continuity that you are looking for may be a little inconsistent, but the guys do a great job of communicating. I think that is the key to make sure that we all see the formation and we are executing the call the same. When you look at where we are defensively, I believe we are like sixth in the league as far as pass defense. Those guys to me have been doing a great job. We just have to find ways to make plays on the ball when we are in position. We have to come up with some game changing plays as I always say."
On if the Steelers appearing to break more tackles than the Browns have previously allowed this season:
"That is a fair question, and I would say that the answer is definitely true. We did a good job early stopping the run and what happened – we talked about it on the sideline – is you start seeing guys to me start pressing. They were going for the ball before they ensured the tackle, and we have to make sure that we limit the YAC, yardage after contact, with these running backs, particularly (Bengals RB Joe) Mixon and (Bengals RB Giovani) Bernard, good backs that are going to run hard, physical. We are going to have to make sure we secure the tackle first and go for the ball second."
On having coached under former Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera and what Rivera meant to his career:
"Definitely disappointed, but we all understand that this is part of the business and what we are in. I would not be where I am today without him. He definitely had a major impact on my career. I spoke with him yesterday, spoke with him this morning. He is doing well and is excited about the opportunity."
On what Richardson has meant to the Browns DL, given new personnel:
"He has meant a lot, even before those guys went out. Just a veteran guy that brings a lot of leadership in his performance, as well as his play. Since those guys have been out, he has definitely stepped up and really tried to take the reins of being that sole leader. You have seen it in his performance, the way he not so much gets off players but really that accountability and trying to encourage guys to do things the right way. He is definitely an extension of myself and other coaches in the locker room and on the field."
*On how difficult the decision was for S Damarious Randall to not play last week: *"I am not really going to elaborate much on that. I know Freddie has touched on it. As certain things come up that we try to keep in-house, we are going to do the same thing with that. It happens. He was out for us with injuries, as well. We have to step up, and other guys have to perform and play. I am glad he is back this week, and we get him back in the mix. He is practicing hard, and hopefully, he can go out there and make some plays for us this week."
On if a situation like the one with Randall could carry over into the next week:
"No, I do not think so. We are all professionals in what we are doing and understand right now that last week is last week. He is locked in and focused. I like where he is now. Very attentive in meetings and focused in meetings. He is practicing the way we want him to and being vocal. I am excited about his leadership and the things that he brings, so we are good."
On Vernon's return from injury at the Steelers and not necessarily looking like himself:
"He did not, and I commend him for trying to go out there and try to do the things that we were expecting him to do. It is a process and he is going to have to be able to fight through his pain tolerance, and really at this point in time of the year, not a lot of guys are feeling great. He is getting his treatment. He is doing well. He is out there practicing. We will see exactly how much he can give us this week."