Adam Gase – September 23, 2016 Download PDF version

Friday, September 23, 2016

Head Coach Adam Gase

(On who the starting running back will be this week) – “I don’t think I’ve narrowed it down as far as who’s going to actually start the game. Obviously, it’s going to come down to what we’re going to do for the openers. We’ve got a bunch of different packages as far as who can go in when and certain things that we can emphasize with them. So, I don’t really have a great answer for you right yet.”

(On whether the starting running back will be package based) – “It’s probably going to be package-based as far as what we’re going to do.”

(On what the team has done in practice to address starting games fast) – “The start of practices have been good. Guys are executing the way we want them to as far as practice goes. Now we have to translate it to the game. We’ve got to be on our assignments. We’ve got to make sure that we don’t have any kind of mental errors or any kind of hiccups going on across the board. We need 11 guys doing their job together, and that’ll give us our best chance to get that first, first down and get going.”

(On RB Arian Foster) – “He’ll be out this week. We’ve kept him inside and done, obviously, some rehab stuff. We’ve been trying to work with him and didn’t really want to bring him outside. We’ve been doing some strengthening things. We’re going to hold him out for this one and reevaluate after this week.”

(On WR DeVante Parker) – “He looks good, but he’s still … It’s just not 100 percent yet. It’s probably going to be like that for a little bit. He’s going to have to keep gaining strength, doing the little, tiny things right – as far as after practice, before practice – making sure he’s doing our activation-type things with our strength staff. He needs to make sure he stays on it as far as hydrating, making sure he’s doing the right thing as far as eating, make sure he’s sleeping. If he does all those things, that’s going to give him his best chance to recover day in and day out. I feel like he has been really making a point of emphasis to himself to try to do things right, so he can be as healthy as he can on Sunday.”

(On an update on DE Jason Jones) – “It was one of those things where … I personally didn’t find out until after practice. (There was) a little bit of a scare there as far as we weren’t sure how bad it was. We felt like holding him out today was our best chance for him to be able to play on Sunday. I think things look good. It’s going to be … Does anything set him back over the next day and a half or whatever we’ve got left?  I think we’re going to be alright, but obviously we’ll always have a backup plan as far as if for some reason he couldn’t go, we’re going to have to have the next man up, and then we’re going to have to make sure that we have some things taken care of as far as what we’re doing schematically.”

(On the philosophy of practicing on the indoor field) – “That was something that we’d brought up with Mike (Tannenbaum), and he has done a great job as far as trying to research, ‘Is there something wrong in there? Is there something we can do better?’ I know Mr. (Stephen) Ross is always trying to figure out ways to (do) what’s best for the players. No matter what the dollar amount is, he wants to try to make sure that they’re taken care of and we’re staying healthy and we’re giving them the best resources possible. A few of them have been some oddball injuries. I think a little bit of it is we really don’t practice in there a whole bunch, so I think when we get in there, the speed does pick up. When guys are playing faster and all of a sudden one little thing is a little different, it seems like somebody is getting caught or somebody is getting rolled up on. When we get in there, we have to probably be a little smarter as far as what we’re actually doing. I know a couple times we’ve made some adjustments to practice to try to make sure we’re not putting ourselves in bad positions. A couple of them have been fluke things. That one yesterday (with Jason Jones), I’m not really sure if it’s fluke or it’s because of the turf or what. I know a lot of teams practice indoors a lot and play on turf. We just don’t do it a lot, so I think when we do go in there, it changes what we’re doing as far as how our guys are playing. It is a faster surface.”

(On whether practices are faster on turf) – “I’m not sure. It feels like when we look at our data with our sports science guys it’s like the intensity picks up. You’re not working in the heat, so obviously, when you work in it here you get drained as practice goes on, which is a good thing for us, because that’s getting us in shape. And then when we go (inside), it’s like we’re fresh the whole practice and they’re not as tired, so that intensity and speed maintains throughout the entire practice. When we come out here, that’s like a conditioning drill almost. You guys have stood out there long enough during training camp … Just standing there, it’ll drain you a little bit. So, it changes our practice. At the end of practice, it’s different.”

(On whether any adjustments have been made to get WR Kenny Stills more involved) – “I feel like we’ve had some good things in for him. We’ve had some opportunities, and we’ve missed a couple, and we’ve hit on a couple. I think it’s going to be a matter of time before we get all these guys into the right places and doing the right routes specifically to certain guys. A couple times his number has been called, and the ball has gone somewhere else due to coverage. I wouldn’t read too much (into) the numbers, especially right now, because it’s one of those things where one guy might have eight (receptions) one game, and the next game he might have three and then somebody else has eight or 10. Every game is going to be different. Somebody is going to try to dictate to where you go with the ball, and that’s when somebody else has to step up. Obviously, he’s a guy that I have a lot of confidence in, and he has really impressed me since the spring.”

(On whether QB Ryan Tannehill is doing a good job with what defenses are showing him) – “He has been really good as far as the decision making goes. There have been very few times where I’ve really thought, ‘Are we just trying to get the ball to this guy?’ I don’t even thing that’s really happened in a game, yet. He has done a good job of sticking with what our progressions are, what the coverage is dictating. It can get tough. If you ever have one of those games where one of your better players isn’t getting the ball and you try to force one to him, the discussion I’ve had with him is, ‘Every time I’ve ever tried to get somebody the ball, it just never seems to work out.’ When you kind of let it happen naturally, that’s when it usually starts building as the game goes on.”

(On how much he thinks the touchdown pass that TE Jordan Cameron caught last week build his confidence) – “I think anytime you make a play like that in a game like that, that has to be a confidence builder. I’ve never really spoken to him about anything like that because he keeps showing me improvement in practice. I thought (in) training camp he got better and even after we had a little rough spot there in the Atlanta game … You’d love to be 100 percent on these things but tight coverage in the NFL and the ball’s coming in there hard, sometimes you drop the ball. It’s about really the guys that can come back the next time and just keep attempting to make plays. He doesn’t say much and he just goes back to work. Which that, for me, I appreciate because that helps him get the right mind set. If he’s not thinking about what happened before and he can move on and get the next thing right. That’s really what you’re looking for in your players.”

(On TE Jordan Cameron saying at one point it was a confidence issue and what a play caller has to do to get him out of that rut) – “You keep going at him. You work him out of it. In practice you try to script things to keep throwing the ball at him. Putting him in some situations where you have to make a play. To me, that’s the best time to do it – in practice.”

(On the Patriots winning last night with their third quarterback and this being a no excuses league) – “As long as I’ve been here, I’ve never heard anybody give the pass to you on any game, no matter who’s playing. As a coaching staff, you just try to put the best plan you can together for that week, that team, that you have going to the game and obviously they did a good job of operating in that game to where they used their strengths as well as you could do it. They dominated the field position game, obviously. Just seeing how they took care of the football. – they got takeaways. That was a very impressive performance by that whole team, which shows you this is such a team sport, and obviously everybody’s trying to do the same thing. You’re trying to make this as much about everybody instead of just saying its one or two guys.”

(On how to slow down a guy like Browns Duke Johnson) – “You just try to be careful with your matchups. You pick your timing when – whether it be a linebacker or safety – if you’re ever worried about those kind of matchups. You try to pick your spots situationally to where possibly it may not hurt you so much if that guy ends up getting shaken free. When you have a running back that is multiple like that, you do have to be very careful with your calls and, offensively, you’re always trying to expose that matchup. Defensive coordinators, that’s what make it tough sometimes, especially in this league right now. You’re starting to get all these guys that can do different things because they’re being trained like that in college. It seems like you get a lot of these guys that were running backs and then they’re wide receivers or wide receivers to running backs. So now all of a sudden, they’ve got these multiple skill sets, and now defensive coaches are trying to figure out, ‘Well, what’s the best way to stop this guy?’ And a lot of times we’re looking for man coverage and hoping we can get linebackers on running backs.”

(On why CB Jamar Taylor was traded during the draft and what he brings to the table as a Cleveland starter) – “I think for us, it was probably both sides. I felt like he was ready to maybe start over. I don’t have a great answer for you as far as what the exact, I mean it feels like 10 years ago that this happened; but I know it was only six months ago. But for him, being able to go over there and there and getting that starting job and going out there and competing every week, I know for him it has to be an exciting, just kind of fresh start for him. Anytime you can walk in the building and you feel like you’ve got a clean slate, whatever happened in the past, you move on and then you just go out there and you sell out. You try to put your best foot forward and just constantly keep working hard to get better.”

(On if he watches all the game when the Dolphins don’t play) – “Last night, I mean I watched a little bit of it. I had it on in the background and then I turned it off after a while. I just didn’t want to watch it anymore. Monday nights a lot of times I don’t get to watch it.”

Jarvis Landry – September 22, 2016 Download PDF version

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Wide Receiver Jarvis Landry

(On if he wants to lead the league in receptions) – “Of course, I want to lead the league in every category. Tackles if I can. (Laughter) Any category there is, I want to lead the league in it. But obviously, me being a receiver, I want to lead the league in catches, yards, touchdowns, all of that. But at the same time, I want to be able to have W’s to go along with those accolades or numbers.”

(On the ceiling for the receiving corps if WR DeVante Parker is healthy) – “I don’t think there is (a ceiling). I think that there’s so much potential in every guy, especially on the offensive side of the ball. You just look at our room, having DeVante on the field, having a healthy DeVante, having Kenny Stills out there – guys who pose different threats – it allows us to attack teams. Kind of almost like pick your poison. Having guys like Arian (Foster) back out there and stuff like that will help us a lot.”

(On how does the team not allow two losses become more) – “You don’t look into it. You just go one game at a time, focus on that game and attack it. But for us, I can say on the offensive side of the ball, we need to start faster and just play a complete game together – offensive, defensive and special teams.”

(On if he is looking forward to playing in the renovated stadium, with the crowd being louder with the new canopy) – “Yes, I’m excited. (I’m) excited to have the opportunity to really play in there. (There’s) nothing like trying to get a W. We get to start the new season with a W at home.”

(On has there been any talk about his comment earlier this week about ‘We can’t be an almost team’) – “No. Honestly, I think it’s something that kind of goes without saying. It’s something that we understand. We understand what we have as a team, as an organization. It’s boiling down to a mindset thing for us.”

(On how important it is to get a quick start in this game) – “The last two weeks, we’ve played tough opponents and you give them credit for that; but at the same time, we’ve shot ourselves in the foot with turnovers (and) a couple of three and outs. It’s things like that. We have to find a way to get that first, first down and move the ball effectively and play the first half like we played the second half.”  

(On if the pass opens up the run and does the team need to run the ball better) – “I think they complement each other. You can’t pass the ball effectively if you don’t have a running game (and) you can’t run the ball effectively if you don’t have a passing game. They complement each other. We’ve just got to find a way to do it effectively, especially on the first drive of the game. (We have to) find a way to get that first, first down. That’s the critical part.”

(On avoiding trying to do too much) – “(We) just (have to) stay within ourselves. Like (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase always says, ‘Play the play. Don’t think about the score. Don’t think about the next play or the play before that one. Just play the play.’ And that’s something we have to take to heart.”

(On what he thinks attention to detail means to him and the wide receivers) – “Just fine-tune things. I think a lot of times, just looking at the grand scheme of our offense, it’s predicated on details. It’s predicated on outside releasing if the play is demanding you to outside release and not just going vertical. Just little details like that, that allow certain guys to get more separation or allow the offense to open up the way that we want it to. I think that’s kind of what he was talking about right there.”

(On how much WR DeVante Parker’s presence means to the offense and himself) – “He’s a major key. He’s a major key to this offense and we see that every day. Just having him out there and having his presence, like you said, it gives us an opportunity again to pose another threat. Any time we can go over the top and him being a bigger body to be able to box corners out and still make contested catches like he does for us, it’s something that this team needs. It’s something that we count on, for him to make those type of plays.”

(On how much of the offense has yet to develop) – “A lot of it. We’re a building group. We’re building more and more chemistry every game. Again, like we talked about earlier, we can’t be an ‘almost’ team or a second half team. We can’t leave the defense out there for 50 plays in the first half and we only get 15 and expect them to stop people – after they’ve been out there for 75 plays – on the last drive. We can’t put it in their hands. We have to complement each other.”

(On some of the young players getting their chance and if he is excited to see what they can do) – “Man, everybody gets a shot. I think the thing about our coaching staff is, they get every guy ready. Every guy is treated as if he is a starter or as if he’s a vet. That’s something that, in this organization, it’s allowed the young guys to really come along early.”

(On the flyer in his locker) – “It’s a little motivation. Out of the 100 best NFL players, I was 98. So I fail to believe that 97 players are better than me. For me, it’s a little motivational tool that I use every day to come to work.”

(On him being the No. 1 receiver right now) – “That’s fine. We have a long season. We still have a long season. (There are) a lot more numbers to go.”

Mario Williams – September 22, 2016 Download PDF version

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Defensive End Mario Williams

(On New England getting the ball out quickly last week and if it’ll be different this week with Cleveland) – “Every game is going to be different, for sure. I think the biggest thing is, we’ve just got to take care of our responsibilities, play sound football and get off (the field) on third down.”

(On going against a quarterback that has never started an NFL game) – “We look at it like going against anybody. Each and every one of us, individually, we’re in the NFL for a reason. You don’t go in and take situations lightly or overlook things. You go out and execute your game plan. The biggest thing with that is taking care of our responsibilities and not worrying about other stuff. If we do what we need to do right, we’ll be fine.”

(On the biggest challenges of going against a running back like Browns RB Isaiah Crowell) – “Obviously, he’s a heck of an athlete. It’s just one of the things that we’ve got to do, and it all just goes back to the same situation of taking care of our responsibilities – tackling, (being) fundamentally sound, not letting things spread out further, no yards after catches, runs, whatever. Just stop it right there and then get off the field on third down.”

(On the challenges he faced last week not practicing and then going into a game situation) – “It was difficult. I didn’t realize it until being out there; but definitely not doing anything for a week, having to go through the protocol for the safety of myself or anybody in this situation. Having been in the protocol, I mean you can’t do anything. You know, wind and actual physical activities (were) gone for a week, pretty much. So it was kind of a shock; but getting back into things and physically. you’re running around and everything like that. So it’s getting better. I’m good.”

Vance Joseph – September 22, 2016 Download PDF version

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph

(On his relationship with Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson) – “That’s my man – Hue Jackson. He’s a brilliant coach, brilliant offensive play caller, very aggressive. He has got some tricks that we won’t know that’s coming, that we’ve got to prepare for. But (he is a) good football coach and a good friend.”

(On whether he has spoken to Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson) – “Not this week. (laughter) A couple weeks ago we talked a little bit, but not this week.”

(On DE Cameron Wake’s snap count) – “We want Cam to probably have 25 to 30 rushes a game. He had last week probably 14 to 15 plays maybe (that were) all passes. The first week, the game, it was a little whacky with Mario (Williams) being hurt. Last week, it turned into a four-minute game. We’re down by three scores within the first quarter, so that game changed also. If we get into a normal game, I think the plan for Cam is to play 25 snaps on pass rush downs. (There) can be a time where he can play more. He probably should have played more last week, but it was more four-minute – it was double team – so we didn’t want to put him out there. It’s week to week, but our plan is to play Cam 25 snaps on pass rush downs. That’s the plan. It hasn’t worked the last two weeks, obviously, because it has been two different games. But that’s the plan.”

(On whether DE Cam Wake will not play on running downs) – “No. If Jason (Jones) is tired or Mario (Williams) is tired or (Andre) Branch is tried, he can definitely go in on running downs. But we prefer not to do that with Cam.

(On whether the vision is to have LB Donald Butler have a couple series in relief of LB Jelani Jenkins) – “I think going forward, yes, that would be ideal if he could steal two series at Sam or Will (line)backer for Koa (Misi) or for Jelani (Jenkins). He has played a lot of football in this league at a high level. If we get him caught up, that’s the plan.”

(On whether LB Donald Butler will likely play two series per half or per game) – “Probably per half if he’s ready to go that way. Per half.”

(On what makes it difficult to coach against Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson’s offense) – “You’re not sure what you’re going to get each week. With a young quarterback and a young football team, they should simmer down some. In the past, he has been a multiple guy. He has run zone read. He has run speed option. He has run counter plays. He has run outside zone plays. It’s multiple with Hue. It’s a vertical pass game – always has been – so we’re expecting some vertical shots and a lot of run plays that we haven’t seen in the past. Obviously, the crack toss, we’ll see that play after seeing it last week three or four times. That’ll come up in all personnel groups.”

(On whether playing a young quarterback changes the way the defense goes about things) – “Not really. This week is about us. We’re 0-2 trying to get a win. We’re going to play sound this week, and hopefully get them in the third-and-long and rush the quarterback like any other quarterback would face. It wouldn’t change our package that much.”

(On how he would assess CB Xavien Howard’s play) – “He has played really well for a rookie. (To) miss an entire training camp and play in one game in the preseason, he has played really well. He has covered his guy, and that’s what you want from a guy.”

(On DT Ndamukong Suh’s snap count in the final series against New England) – “Most d-lines have a rotation going. Once it gets past five or six snaps, it’s tough for those guys to play at a high level. So, we usually rotate those guys six snaps for two and put them back in the rest of the series. It was a six-play sequence where he came out for two and went back in. He has played really well first of all, and he has played the most snaps in the whole league as a d-tackle inside. So, I’m not concerned about that at all. We’ve got guys that are NFL players. They should go in there and do their jobs. I’m not concerned about that.”

(On the defensive backs pressing during last week’s game) – “We’ve seen a lot of cut splits or reduced splits. We’re, obviously, a press team, and that’s what (Byron) Maxwell does really well is play press coverage. But he has seen a lot of cut splits where they’re cutting the splits so he can’t press the receiver. It has been quick glances. It has been play-action over routes. So, it has been tough for him to chase those routes. He has got to do it, because he is a press corner, so that’s what’s going to happen on game day. He has got to get better at chasing over routes. I’ve got to help him with more shell coverage. That stuff is happening to him. It’s definitely an issue when you’re a press coverage team. They reduce the splits and run away from you. I’ve seen it in the past.”

(On whether LB Donald Butler can play in the middle when LB Kiko Alonso is not in the game) – “Right now, Kiko is the Mike (line)backer. Donald is working Sam and Will. If something would happen to Kiko, (Butler) can always play Mike, because that’s his natural position. But right now, he’s working Sam and Will.”

(On being strong defensively in the middle because of DT Ndamukong Suh, LB Kiko Alonso and S Reshad Jones) – “Suh has played really well. He has been a dominant force inside. Kiko has played really well at Mike (line)backer, very productive. Our problem in the run game has been the edges, not setting the edges, being sealed and being cracked on the edges. We have to do a better job at defensive end of setting the edge, and that has been an issue. That (was) an issue (in the preseason) against the Cowboys, and we fixed it against Atlanta, and it came back last week. That’s an issue that we’ve got to rectify quickly.”

(On how important it is to maintain effectiveness in base packages) – “Absolutely. Being good in your base package is very, very important. Sometimes you have matchups where the wide receiver is the guy you want to take away, and you have to put a (line)backer on a tight end and keep a safety in the hole to help the nickel player. It’s weekly. But you’re right, if you’re going to be good on defense, it has got to be out of your base package. Most of the time, we’re in our base package playing in our base defense. If we feel good about a matchup with a tight end versus our (line)backer, we’ll do it. But most of the time, it’s a safety on a tight end that’s a nickel in the slot, and that’s what we want to play.”

(On the defensive backs causing turnovers) – “They have been fine. We’ve had some moments where it wasn’t great, but overall, they’ve punched balls out, they’ve picked balls off. We had a chance to pick off two or three balls on Sunday that we didn’t do. We were close Sunday. We didn’t make those plays in Sunday, and that was the gist of the game – not making contested plays at all on Sunday. But overall, they have been a good group.”

(On the defensive backs’ play against New England) – “We were a step off on four or five plays that we didn’t make on Sunday. That’s disappointing. We had a good week of practice. It was sound. We had good pressures. We had free blitzes on the quarterback, and the ball is gone, and the guy wasn’t covered tightly enough. We had guys there, but it wasn’t good enough.”

(On whether the defensive backs needed to turn their heads on plays against New England) – “Absolutely. We had two or three of those where it was a vision defense, and guys weren’t playing with vision. So, you’re right (with) what you saw.”

(On defense staying on the field for 80 plays against New England and Head Coach Adam Gase blaming the offense for that) – “That’s our fault. Third downs are key. First of all, first downs are key. If you win first down and they’re in second-and-long, you’re probably going to end up in third-and-long. If you lose first down, (and) you’re in second-and-4, you’re probably going to be in first-and-10 again. So, that’s our fault. If we’re playing 80 snaps, we’ve got to do better on third downs. The first week was a different kind of game, but last week it was solely on the defense to get off the field. In the first half, they were four out of six on third downs, (a) nine-play drive, touchdown. That’s on the defense. That has nothing to do with the offense. They played good enough to win the game last week, and we didn’t.”

(On the defense’s morale) – “They’re fine. We watched the film, and as a group we can see there were plays to be made that we didn’t make (like) not staying high in the zone, not covering a guy – simple stuff that we hadn’t done in a while here that we didn’t do last week, and I’m not sure why. But we’ve got to fix it and go play better. That’s the truth.”

Darren Rizzi – September 22, 2016 Download PDF version

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi

(On if we will see RB Kenyan Drake on kickoff returns this week) – “Yes. Obviously you noticed he was back there last week. This new rule has really affected (things), as you can see, as we kind of talked about all preseason. This new rule has really affected things. It’s funny. We were just watching, just literally before I came down, I was watching the kickoffs throughout the league – not just ours –and more and more teams are just going to try to kick it high and short. The more options we have back there, the better. You’re seeing teams really starting to adjust formations, getting more returners back there – more guys. So if you noticed last week, we had Jakeem (Grant) in (and) Kenyan (Drake) back there. Every week is going to have, whether it’s two guys, three guys, one guy. It’s going to be a week-to-week thing but we have to have options. Kenyan (Drake) obviously has a good history in college of doing that although I don’t think his decision (to take one out of the end zone) was a great one last week. He’s looking obviously to make a play there. But yes, (Drake’s) a guy, for sure, that’s going to be, we’ve got him doing both now – catching kicks, catching punts. And he’s certainly in the pool of guys that can do that for sure.”

(On what your returners should be looking for) – “That’s a good question. Really, on a week to week basis, a lot of it has to do with the game plan, a lot of it has to do with the game situation, a lot has to do with the depth of the kick, a lot has to do with the hang time of the kick –there’s not just one factor. There are multiple factors there. If we look at last week’s play in particular, that ball where Kenyan (Drake) was lined up, he was moving backwards on the catch. The two biggest things about kickoff return, really, are timing and spacing. We drill that into our guy’s heads from day one that if your timing’s not good and your spacing’s not good, most of the time it’s not going to be a great play unless the guy makes four or five guys miss on his own, which we all know can happen. But generally speaking, your timing and spacing have to be in sync. Last week our timing wasn’t in sync there. Now, to make matters worse, Kenyan (Drake) fell down. We did have a little bit of a crease. We might not have gotten to the 25 (yard line, but) we certainly would have gotten more yards than we did had he not fallen down. You can’t put your finger on one thing and just say ‘Hey, it’s this reason.’ (The) direction of the returns, so for example, if you have a planned or a schemed return to one direction and the ball gets kicked all the way the way the other way, it’s going to be an uphill play the whole time. It’s like running an outside zone into a blitz, if you would. So again, kickoff return is like an offensive play. so there’s going to be, again, ‘Who are you blocking? Where’s the play designed to go? Where is the ball kicked?’ So again, there are many factors and now, more than ever, I don’t think I’ve seen this many, some people call it mortar kicks, some people call them pooch kicks, whatever you want to call them. I don’t think I’ve seen this many in a two-game stretch. Certainly in my time in the NFL, and really in my 24 years of coaching, I don’t remember seeing this many pooch kicks or mortar kicks in this two-week stretch. So we’ve got to be prepared. Everyone’s got to be prepared for it. And again, all those situations will play into it.”

(On how gratifying it is to see that S Walt Aikens is on top of the kickoff return rules and the factor he has played on special teams through two weeks) – “Let’s talk about the play first. Most of you guys are familiar with the rules. So basically, on a punt play, if the punt team touches the ball, it’s not automatically downed at that spot. So for example, if they tip the ball, the ball is still a live ball. The return team can then advance the ball without any risks. So what I mean by that is, you can run the ball back 90 yards, fumble it, lose the ball and now you have the option – the result of the play or where it was first touched. We tell our guys if you’re 100 percent sure that the ball is touched, meaning you physically saw the ball being touched by the opponent, then by all means, try to pick it up and gain yards because every yard you gain, every inch you gain, is a bonus. So yes, Walt saw, I think it was 81 for the Patriots, touch the ball. He was smart. Now flip the side of the coin. Jakeem’s (Grant) rule is, as a returner, if you see that we are not going to field the ball and our blockers don’t know we are not fielding the ball, you need to communicate to them. So what Jakeem (Grant) was trying to do was get our guys away from the ball so it didn’t hit one of our guys. So Jakeem (Grant) was doing his job and Walt was doing his job, as well. It’s a little bit of a strange play, which you see a lot in special teams obviously. It’s really great for Walt. Walt saw it. (It’s) great that he knew the rule and that’s why he went in. So Walt actually did go in and touch the ball and the Patriots ended up with the ball, but at that point it doesn’t matter. That’s not a fumble because they had touched it earlier. It’s a first-touch rule. (The) second part of the question: you know Walt, really since OTAs has started, has really taken kind of a leadership role on special teams. I don’t think there’s anybody that had a better offseason than him in our room, in our special teams room, in terms of just being that leadership guy with the gunners and the jammers and kind of the DB room. I’ve seen a lot of maturity out of Walt (Aikens) since he’s been here, not only physically but mentally. You can see when, to me, it’s one of the biggest compliments when teams start to game plan against you. And you could see teams game planning against Walt Aikens. They want to know where he is on the field. He’s going to get, a lot of times, two blockers on him. Things like that. That changes the game plan. We’ve had a few guys like that but certainly Walt (Aikens) is one of them.”

(On when the offensive is struggling with three-and-outs if that impacts his coverage unit or punt unit) – “I think it depends on your personnel. Some teams are going to have different offensive guys, defensive guys or just core special teamers on their punt unit. If you look at our punt unit, we’re made up mostly of defensive players. There are some offensive guys: Damien Williams, Jay Ajayi, Kenyan Drake. What we’ll do in those situations is kind of look and see where we are. We’d like to have 10 fresh bodies plus the punter out there, for sure. In some cases we will substitute, if that’s what you’re trying to say. Those defensive guys that are on there are mostly core special teamers. They’re not defensive starters. We have one or two mixed in; but hey, that’s the way it goes. You’re going to have stretches of times, where you said that whatever it was, 10 punts in that amount of time (the first half). Then you may not have a lot of punts for a stretch. I don’t think we punted in the second half last week. You never know when they’re coming. We’ve just got to be ready for it. We’re always prepared for the personnel changes if we have to, and all those guys stay ready. But you have your nine core guys besides the snapper and the punter, and then there’s always going to be three or four guys that are ready to go in case someone is playing a lot on offense or defense, to help.”

(On if he will send sub on special teams units if the defense is on the field for 80 plays) – “Potentially, yes. No question. And I think we did last week a couple of times. We had a couple of subs. Like one example, Bobby McCain we’ll use. Bobby McCain plays on defense in the nickel packages and sub-packages. So for some reason, if Bobby’s playing a whole lot of plays, we’ll have another gunner ready to go in his place. That’s just one example to give you. But yes, we’re definitely cognizant and aware during the game of the number of reps guys are taking. We’ve got to be aware of that because you really want, as we know, those are game changers. You want fresh bodies out there, for sure, in your coverage. No doubt about that.”

(On if he lined up differently on the missed opponent field goal and did it help) — “Good catch by the way. Good job. So we have multiple formations on our field goal block unit. We have different ways we can line up. We can line up 6×4. The rule is you can’t have more than 6 on the side. So we’ll have a bunch of different 6×4 alignments. We can have six on the left, six on the right. We can have boundary rush. So with all of our defensive linemen, they could be in any particular place: right side, left side, left guard, right guard, right tackle. So we have multiple schemes in that. It depends on what the block is. I’ll say this about our field goal block team. If I’m not mistaken, we were number one in the league last year in field goal percentage against, meaning the kickers against us were the worst in the NFL. So we were number one. I think a lot of that is, you watch us on film, we get tremendous effort, even dating back to last year, out of those guys. That shows on film. Another kicker watching it, you know, we may not get every one, and obviously it’s hard. It’s hard to get there and get a hand on every one; but they know the effort that we’re going to put forth. You look inside, you mentioned Jones, (Jordan) Phillips, (Ndamukong) Suh, (Julius) Warmsley, Chris Jones, all those guys had a hand up and a hand in the kicking lane. I think what you know right now is when you’re going against that unit, and I’m going to give ‘Moof’ (Assistant Special Teams Coach Marwan Maalouf) a lot of credit. That’s Marwan Maalouf. (He) kind of handles that front group with that unit. We get tremendous effort out of those guys and I think certainly, that’s going to be in the head of the opposition, the opposing kickers. Now am I saying that’s why he missed it? No. There are other factors involved for sure. But if you look at that picture – I saw a still shot, actually someone send me a still shot – and to see six guys busting their tail off the ground with their hand extended, it’s impressive. Yes. So to answer the first part of that is yes. We do move those guys around. It depends on the game plan, personnel, those type of things.”

Clyde Christensen – September 22, 2016 Download PDF version

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Offensive Coordinator Clyde Christensen

(On if it is unrealistic to expect TE Jordan Cameron to have the same kind of production in this offense that he had in Cleveland in 2013) – “I don’t know that. I don’t know the answer to that. I do see the improvement that you’re talking about and (he) made a big catch and helped us get back in that thing last weekend. He just keeps improving. The one thing that’s been amazing to me about him is he works. He works. He’s a steady worker. Things just haven’t gone smoothly for him here and he just keeps working. I’ve been really impressed with that. One thing probably all coaches, but me especially, if you stay out there and you keep practicing and you keep working, you get better. You do get better. That’s the rule of thumb and I think that holds for him. He’s playing a lot better than when we first got here. We’ll see how far he comes. We’ll see where the ball goes; you never know how that’s going to happen but we’re in desperate need of playmakers. He’s one of them who is a good matchup and we’ve got to get big plays out of him, which we did. We got one the other day. It’s important. That’s really important.”

(On how he feels about QB Ryan Tannehill running and lowering his shoulder as he did in the fourth quarter of the New England game) – “I start holding my kidney. It’s a recurring nightmare. It really is because it’s the hardest teaching, working with quarterbacks, and especially with guys like Ryan (Tannehill) and Andrew (Luck), and of course you didn’t have that problem with Peyton (Manning). It’s hard. No, you don’t want to see that. You appreciate him throwing his body around. You love that. It’s a hard teach because it’s what they do (as a football player). That’s what you sell. ‘Throw your body on the barbed wire and let’s go.’ But then you’re also grabbing them, ‘Hey, let’s be smart when we do. Let’s not try to hit the middle of the barbed wire.’ There’s a qualifier on the thing. I think the take is, we have a better chance to win if he’s healthy. You have to play the percentages. Sometimes on third down, you take some extra chances. That’s how I’ve always sold it. Goal line (and) third down, sometimes there’s a time to take a chance. But overall, the bottom line is we have a better chance to win if he stays healthy and you have to be smart with that. One thing I do know also, from experience, is you start running around these defenses in this league and it’s a matter of time. They’re going to get you. I mean they’re going to get you. They’re too fast. They hit too hard and sooner or later, they’re going to get you.”

(On if he is worried about the run game) – “I wouldn’t use the word worried yet; but I feel anxious that we get it going. It makes everything easier. It’s really, really important. It’s important for our defense. I think we have not supported our defense. I know (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) said the same thing to you, but you almost can’t judge the defense in the fourth quarter because we haven’t done our part in the first three quarters to keep them rested and fresh so they can play that fourth quarter. That’s where the team concept comes in and the bottom line of these first two games is we haven’t done our part on our side of the ball. I talk to you guys a lot about keeping people fresh, keeping a player fresh, having them in the fourth quarter, having them in December, (they are) really, really important concepts and even on a smaller basis than a game – just having the defense fresh. We haven’t done that part of it. That’s where the run game is a huge part. It takes some time of possession. It gives them some rest. Third down has been a problem. We improved a little bit last week. We have to keep improving on that thing and you have to stay on the field. You just have to have an ability to stay on the field.”

(On if his mindset has changed from having a workhorse running back to a running back by committee) – “Yes, it probably has by necessity. It’s just kind of been an odd deal between injuries and different things coming up. I still think there’s nothing like continuity. We all know you have to be able to plug people in and go; but I think it still starts with continuity. The more guys can play together, the more looks I think a running back – kind of like a hitter in baseball – the more looks you get at it, the more you get in a game – the more throws a quarterback gets, the more into it he is. I think right now it is going to be by committee. We have a bunch of guys who have a unique set of talents. Would I love for someone to jump out and have a huge game and just grab the position and grab the lead role in that thing? Sure. That would be the ideal thing, I think. I am thankful that we do have some depth and it showed up last week. The rookie (Kenyan Drake) had to go in there and he made a couple of big plays and a couple of runs. That is important too. But I think the ideal thing would be continuity and someone to emerge as the man.”

(On who is the best run blocker upfront) – “Who is the best run blocker up front? I don’t know that because we ask them to do all different things. Who is the best run blocker on double teams? Who is the best run blocker pulling? Who is the best run blocker on base blocks? They all kind of have some different strengths. They’re all asked to do different things. We ask the center to reach nose guards and the tackles may have down blocks. I don’t know. I’d have a hard time answering that. (Mike) Pouncey I think is the best at his position in the whole league. When he is healthy, I don’t think anybody does it like Pouncey. If you pin me down and said, ‘Hey, by position, where are they rated?’ I’d probably say Pouncey is the best run-blocking center in the league, or certainly one of the top three or four in the upper echelon. But it’s hard to say because we ask them to do different things. Who (are) they (going) against? Some weeks you’re going against a guy who is extremely difficult. The nose guard this week will be a hard guy to block. (Anthony) Steen will have his hands full with him. That’s probably dodging the question a little bit but I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know.”

(On if you can make an offensive line a good run blocking front when you have three current or former left tackles playing across the line) – “Sure. I would say this, what trumps it is, if you’re a good football player, you’re a good football player. You could stick Andrew Luck in at right guard and he’d figure out a way to do it. Football players play football. I don’t think that you could over-qualify it that far on that thing. I don’t think that’s the case. (Laremy) Tunsil is going to end up being a really good run blocker. Is he going to be a talented left tackle? Sure. He’s very agile and all of those things. And he’ll probably benefit from having played left guard because all of a sudden, he’ll take that aggressiveness and tight quarters blocking and carry it on. It may benefit him that way.”

(On if saying that three left tackles on an offensive line makes it difficult to run block would be overthinking it) – “Yes, probably a little. It’s probably a little bit hard to put it in a clean box and say that left tackles aren’t good run blockers and guards are real good run blockers. You could have a right guard that is a really good pass protector but that doesn’t make him a left tackle just because he is a good pass protector. So I would be a little careful on boxing them up quite so clean.”

(On a study that showed RB Jay Ajayi had poor blocking on the majority of his carries last year and if that is the case this year or if Ajayi needs to make the most of it) – “I think one of the things that I sell, and it’s kind of like receivers and defensive linemen are the same thing, you don’t know which one it’s going to be. One thing about the NFL is you’re not going to have a game where there’s gaping holes for the whole game. It’s hard to run the ball in this league. I think (Vikings RB Adrian) Peterson, I saw his statistics and he didn’t get loose before he got hurt. So it’s hard. But I think the guys who do it well are the ones who you don’t know, and it’s hard to do. It’s hard to keep running routes and you’re going to play 1,200 plays and get 75 catches but nobody told you which 75 players it was going to be or else you’d rest those other ones. (It’s the) same with a running back – you don’t know which one is going to pop. I do think that you just have to keep banging up in there and the good ones just keep doing that and don’t get off the reservation and start trying to do something that isn’t there. I think that’s the biggest thing that we’re stressing. I think the biggest thing with the run game right now is just opportunities. This last week, we’ve run the ball decent. But there hasn’t been a game that’s just went conventional where you’re converting some third downs and you’re getting enough snaps. The biggest problem is the snaps. If you’re playing 52 to 55 snaps, it’s a lot harder to get your runs and get some continuity in the run game than if you’re playing 82 snaps. Now you just have a quantity of reps available where now all of a sudden, you have extra carries and guys can get into a rhythm. Everyone can get into a rhythm. The play caller can get into a rhythm and you’ve got more snaps. All of a sudden you shrink that down and I think the two first halves we’ve had extremely low numbers of snaps. (It’s) self-inflicted but (it’s a) low number of snaps. And now all of a sudden, everything is tight because every run, every pass, it’s hard to call plays that way. It’s hard to play football that way because you don’t have enough to get yourself into a groove. I think that’s probably been our biggest problem. Jay knows that he can’t lay it on the ground. That’s the first drive of the last preseason game and the first drive of the second half of this game. Those are big drives. Those are deflators. Those are turnovers plus. There’s no good time to have a fumble but the first drive of a game and the first drive of the third quarter, as the young guys say, a buzz kill. They are a buzz kill.” (Laughter)

(On if RB Jay Ajayi is making the most of his carries aside from the fumbles) – “I do. I think he is. We haven’t looked and said, ‘Boy, he’s missing the hole,’ or ‘he’s taking a play off.’ The answer to your question is yes, I think he has made the most of his carries. I think he’s just kept humming and the same thing, nobody is getting enough carries to get themselves going. Again, that’s self-inflicted. That’s our fault as a unit. No, I haven’t thought that. I haven’t thought ‘Gosh, there’s stuff there. He hasn’t gotten out of the situation or the play.’ I have not thought that. I think we’ve felt like he’s running well and when he gets his opportunities, he’s running well.”

(On how realistic it is to see the second-half offense at New England for a real game) – “Yes. I really think it is. I think that’s what we’ve based the thing on. I think for the last whatever number of years that I’ve been in this offense – 15 or 16 years – that one of the neat things is that you’re never out of a game. That would be one characteristic of (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase in Denver and I think myself in Indy. You’re never out of it because that’s what you do – two-minute offense, getting up-tempo – that you can make that transition pretty darn smoothly. When you’re humming, there are periods of time in the first half that feel that way.  That’s the ideal thing. All of a sudden you get into a rhythm in that first half and you play with a lead and give our defense a chance to play with a lead, which would be a pleasant change to be up 17-0, to be up 14-3. I think it is, and I think it is kind of what this thing is based on. There is a rhythm with this no huddle that makes it easy to jump out on someone, and if you’re functioning like we were in the second half, it also makes it so that you’re never out of a game. I’ve always believed that, that you’re never out of a game. There’s times when you are built a different way and all of a sudden you see someone down by 10 and you’re like, ‘It’s over. They don’t have the ability to score two scores in the last five minutes.’ I don’t think you’ll ever think that about this offense, past, present or future. I think that’s one of the real assets of the style of play that we’re trying to adopt here.”

(On RB Kenyan Drake in pass protection) – “I think he has come a long, long ways. I remember (Running Backs) Coach Danny (Barrett) had (to take a personal day) right at the beginning of training camp and miss, so I had the running backs for I think the first couple of live days of pass protection. So I can tell you first hand that Kenyan has come miles with that. He hasn’t arrived, but he has gotten better and better and better, and that room has adopted a little bit. I think we’re getting better there. That was impressive. It wasn’t completely clean, but going (with) a no-sack game at New England isn’t easy. You’re on the road, the snap count, all of that stuff, good defense, etc. That’s good. That’s a positive to grab from this thing. I think the (running) backs did a good job. That’s one of the hardest games on (running) backs because, as we talked about last week, it’s because those (Patriots line)backers  are so big and physical that they’re a physical mismatch for a running back, and that’s part of their style. You don’t know which one of them is coming and it’s hard to hide them in that New England scheme. You’re going to end up having to block (Patriots LB Jamie Collins) or (Patriots LB Don’t’a Hightower), when he is healthy. Those are hard jobs. I think that was one of the positives that we did take out of last week, that the running backs are improving protection-wise, have embraced it, and are sticking their nose up in there, which is all you can ask.”

(On if it was willingness or technique that improved the running backs in pass protection) – “Both. I think the first ingredient of pass protection for a running back when a bigger guy is running at you is willingness. You see a 250-pound guy coming at you and you’re 210 pounds, you’ve got to have willingness. Otherwise you’re going to try to chop them or try to find some other way than stick your nose on him. You examine all of the alternatives before you go try and take him on with a running start. So I think willingness first, but I think technique always, always, always puts you above the crowd.”

(On where QB Ryan Tannehill needs to continue to get better at) – “We gave one up there (an interception) at the end of the half. It was kind of unit wide; it was the same symptom. We had the turnover. That was a big turnover. They’re all big. All of those possessions are big. So probably eliminating that, giving them an easy one and points at the end of the first half right there. Then, ultimately, at the end of the day, you have to find ways to win football games. That’s what we have to do. You have to win. You have to win games. You have to find some way. It’s not always conventional and it’s not always pretty, but we have to find some way to win games. That’s our job as coaches, that’s his job as the quarterback, that’s the unit’s job. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. I think that’s what we’ll all get measured by. We could lead the league in offense and if we don’t figure out a way to win football games, then what’s it worth? Then they’re just numbers. At the end of the day, you have to find ways to win football games. I think he’ll get measured just like the rest of us. ‘All of the rest of the stuff is okay, but did they figure out how to win? Can we get into the playoffs? Can we win playoff games?’ All of those things. That’s the bottom line measuring stick. It’s not yardage. It’s not leading the league in passing, quarterback ratings and all of that stuff. They’re all fun, when you’re winning, to look at; but they don’t mean a whole bunch if you’re not winning.”

Adam Gase – September 22, 2016 Download PDF version

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Head Coach Adam Gase

(On if there is any update on RB Arian Foster) – “Right now, we’re still kind of going through the process as far as trying to figure out how bad his injury is and doing some rehab stuff. We’ll kind of see the Friday, Saturday thing. Obviously with a veteran player, it gives you a little more of an option. Obviously any time you can get a guy out there practicing and you get through a practice, it makes you feel better as a coach, knowing that a guy’s active (and that) he’s going to make it through the entire game. We’ll just keep going through our little deal here and we’ll make a decision towards the end of the week.”

(On if he would consider playing RB Arian Foster on Sunday if he doesn’t practice at all) – “I would but with two games so close together, and just thinking long term as far as this season goes, I would have to feel really, really good about it.”

(On explaining the cause of RB Jay Ajayi’s fumbles) – “This last game, it kind of got away from his body a little bit as he hit that hole which, it’s something that we’ve emphasized since the beginning, as far as keeping that tight to your rib cage (and) as soon as you start going through contact, make sure you get that other hand over the ball. And he didn’t do that on that one particular snap. Just going back to that preseason game, it was close to the same thing, but it was just a little different. With him going down, that thing getting swiped out and it’s something where you really have to focus on it because you’re trying not to take away from a guy’s running skills, but you’ve just got to understand where you’re at within the bodies around you. He’s done a good job as far as up to those two moments. I mean he was, and really our entire running back corps, have done a good job as far as holding on to the ball. (We) just kind of had that one incident in (the) Tennessee (preseason game) and we had a couple of balls slip out in Seattle and one in New England, that they said that they were down, or the New England one they said they were down. So we just have to make sure that we’re constantly thinking about ball security. We want to make sure that we’re not giving cheap turnovers, like not even big hits –just guys tapping at the ball and then all of a sudden you lose it. So you’ve got to keep it tight and obviously we try to address that as much as possible. (If) you see it on practice film, you address it. If you see a ball away from a guy’s body, you bring it up in front of your entire group because you want to make sure everybody hears that so they know we need to do this right every snap.”

(On CB Byron Maxwell saying the biggest thing for him to take away from last week was tackling) – “Last week it probably wasn’t his best game as far as that’s going. Historically, he’s really been a solid tackler. He’s been the kind of guy that’s stuck his face in there and he’s actually had quite a few turnovers as far as stripping the ball. When he was at Seattle, that was one of the things that I know we were aware of with their defensive backfield was, it’s almost like they’re tackling the ball. That’s why they get so many fumbles and you see so many turnovers up there. I love anytime corners are hard on themselves like that, that’s what you want. You want guys that are willing to go in there and just get the guy down. At that point, if they’re getting to either one of those corners or the safeties, the biggest thing is to just get them down. Just so we have a chance to fight for another down. If we can improve in that area all around, that’s what we’re looking for.”

(On what you can do about a back jumping over a 6-foot-2 corner) – “Jump on his back and try to get him down. I mean you just have to do the best job you can as far as putting yourself in position. I know that (the defense) had talked about a certain way that they needed to make sure they tackle him because they showed some clips of him doing that in the past. (Defensive Coordinator) Vance (Joseph) had a good plan as far as how they needed to make sure that they approached that, as far as tackling him and getting him down. It had to be a team effort quite a few times because that is a big man running at a pretty good rate there.”

(On the offense in the second half at New England and how close that is to what he wants to see every week) – “I think some of it is just going back and watching that tape. You see the execution was very, very, very high. Guys were in the exact same spots that they needed to be in. It was more of how we practice a lot of times, where guys were very exact in what they were doing. When we have little tiny slipups, that’s when mistakes are made. We seem to have that going on too early in the game and that was part of our problem here this last first half. They made some good plays. We throw a ball behind a guy and then, like I said before, probably the quarterback sneak wasn’t the best idea by me; but if we just clean up a few of the execution things, maybe that second half will be more consistent for us.”

(On QB Ryan Tannehill playing so much better in the 2-minute no huddle offense and what the downside to beginning a game with that approach) – “For the most part, that’s kind of what we’ve been but if you’re not in rhythm, if you don’t get it going really quick, then all of a sudden you start having three-and-outs and you’re looking up and you’re like, ‘Well, we burned 30 seconds off the clock,’ and now you’re putting the other side of the ball in jeopardy. You just want to find a way to get that first, first down. You want to make sure you’re getting completions. I think the one thing with us is a lot of those plays that we had in the second half were down the field throws and intermediate throws. It shortens up the drive quite a bit; but at the same time, you just better make sure you’re executing, you’re getting the first down and then you’re getting points on the board. If you’re getting points on the board, the time of possession really is irrelevant because it’s going to be tough for the other team to keep up with you. We just have to find a way to, when we do huddle, when we do slow it down a little bit, just clean up a few of our details (and) keep the mentality of playing fast when the play starts. That’s going to be the biggest key for us.”

(On it being noisier with the stadium renovations and if he is curious to see how loud it really is)  – “Yes. For us, it’s going to be more about making sure we do our job, and then the fans will have something to cheer about. That’s going to be what we are looking to do. We need to play well. We need to make sure we give them a reason to be loud, whether it be getting a lead or making some big plays on defense or making something happen on special teams, that’ll keep our fans engaged and get them involved in the game.”

(On C Mike Pouncey’s status) – “Every day seems to be a new adventure for us as far as a step of possibly getting him back. We’re just going to keep talking to the doctors and keep progressing him as far as how much he’s doing and how much more we can do. Obviously, he is very aggressive in the way he goes about rehabbing. He is driving me nuts as far as, ‘I’m ready to go, I’m ready to go.’ We just have to make sure that we have all of our boxes checked on that.”

(On there being a minimum amount of time he knows that C Mike Pouncey will be out)  – “I don’t. I really don’t. Every day when I talk to (Head Athletic Trainer) Ryan (Grove), and when I talk to the doctors, it’s a wait and see thing for us and we just need to figure out when the right time is to say, ‘Okay, now we can move on to the next step.’”

(On should the sense of urgency change throughout the season) – “No. You can’t think like that. When you walk in this building on Monday, you’re 0-0. Until somebody tells you that you’re out of it, then that’s when it changes because it’s tough. When you know you’re out of it, that changes the attitudes of a lot of guys. Right now, I really feel like with our guys, there is that 0-0 mentality every Monday that we come in. And when we get to Wednesday, the same thing. We just need to go back to work. You fix the things that you had issues on in the previous game and then you start over. Because when we hit Sunday, nobody talks about the week before. You move on and just keep figuring out a way to get better.”

(On Browns WR Corey Coleman breaking his hand at practice and if that makes him change his game plan) – “I’m sure we’ll kind of have those discussions as far as what we need to do defensively, if we do need to make any minor tweaks. But, just being on the other side of that, when you do lose a player of that caliber, it’s harder on the side of the ball that it actually happened to because now you had one thing planned going into Wednesday, and you have an idea maybe of certain plays for him, and now you’re trying to figure out a way to maybe change some things around or retool or who is going to do – whether it was his job or do we have to completely dump things. There may be things that they won’t do now because he is hurt. It’s kind of like both sides trying to play that cat and mouse game again – trying to figure out what can they do since he’s not in there, and the same thing for us, do we have to do something different? Or do we have to change anything that we had in?”

(On if C Mike Pouncey practice today) – “No.”

(On if there is a running back he feels comfortable that he will do his assignment no matter what play is called) – “I feel pretty good as far as, the majority of our playbook, there are a few things where I may lean on one type of protection scheme with one guy compared to another – just through either experience or what they’ve had success in, in practice. I kind of always try to keep an eye on that. If I feel like a (running) back can’t get out because he’s looking around and he’s not sure who he has to block on a certain protection, I may stay away from that certain type of protection and lean on something else to where I feel like he was good at that. It’s something that … you really as a play-caller have to focus on who’s in the game and I know this is what his strength is protection-wise. In the running game, it’s a little easier. Like we talked about yesterday, you can always create boxes of ‘these are his favorite runs, or these are his favorite runs.’ In the passing game, I feel great about all those guys as far as what they can do, with what we do. And then protection, it’s just kind of sorting it out, who’s in the game and what I like doing with them.”

(On the protection being the biggest issue for him with the running backs) – “You just have to make sure that … Every guy is different. Every protection hits a guy a different way. Sometimes with the way that defenses have all of these exotic pressures, there are certain protections that are tougher than others. It’s just about how do certain guys see things. You just have to be on it as far as, what does this guy know? What has he practiced? What reps has he gotten in walkthrough compared to the actual full speed deal? Because it changes so fast when it’s full speed compared to the walkthrough. Walkthroughs are easier, right? ‘I got this guy.’ And then all of a sudden guys start moving around, and things start happening fast, you short circuit. So you have to be careful. If a guy doesn’t know the protection, you’d rather go to something else and you can make some adjustments there to where the route concepts (and) protection all kind of fit together.”

(On what went into the decision of RB Damien Williams not being active last game) – “That was just my decision as far as Jay (Ajayi) ended up being the guy that I wanted up for that game and obviously, Damien brings a lot to the table. Moving forward, I think what he’s done as a running back, what he’s done on special teams and what he does in practice, he keeps forcing my hand. I need to get him in the game, I need to get him involved, not only on special teams, but on offense as well. That was something that I did last week. Looking back at it, we’ll see how it goes forward. I really like it when he is active. I like what he brings to the table. He keeps proving to me that he has earned being on the active roster on game day.”

(On if he could see all four running backs being active) – “It’s a possibility. Obviously, with the youth we have, it could happen. I mean we’ve got to see where we are health-wise with everybody. That’s why you kind of go with the initial (active roster) when we talk about it on Monday, just so we can start formulating a game plan, and then there’s a couple of moving pieces throughout the week. Like last week, we had a couple of guys where we thought we were going to go to the game; but we changed our mind at the last second. The same thing with this week, we’ve already had one guy who was going to be inactive but then we flipped it around with somebody else. It’s a constant dialog. You just have to make sure that you don’t put anybody in a bad spot to where they’ve repped a guy the entire week in one thing, and then you pull the rug out from under him – whether it be (Darren) Rizzi, the offensive coordinator, the defensive coordinator and they’re going, ‘Wait, I had all this stuff in for him,’ and now you just made him inactive.”

(On telling the Cleveland reporters that he needs every guy to pull their weight and if he thinks that has happened thus far) – “I think we are just taking our turns to where, whether it be a missed assignment, dropped ball (or a) protection issue. What happens is – and you know when we were talking about the quarterback – what happens is when you play that quarterback position, you’re counting on 10 guys to do their job before you can even do your job. That’s what makes that position so tough. That’s what makes that position the highest paid position in football. You’re counting on 10 other guys to do their job so you can try to do your job well. My point is, when we get all of those guys doing the right thing, then that guy can do his job. That makes that position easier to evaluate. I feel like right now, Ryan (Tannehill) is doing a good job. Have we had some mistakes? Yes. Same thing around the board. We’ve taken our turns. The problem is … It will be nice when we’re all heading in the right direction. We’re all right. The more times we’re right on certain plays, the better you start feeling. I feel like that second half last week, that was more of what we were looking for as far as an execution standpoint.”

(On if it was execution and not a lack of desire) – “No. No. It’s just getting the little tiny details right. That’s why when you play a team like we just played, you better be on it, because the slightest misstep, all of a sudden it’s 31-3. Just one play, and then the drive gets going, and then everybody feels like they’re reeling, and then all of a sudden a touchdown and three-and-out, touchdown. So you have to make sure. That team, you can’t do that. You can’t have those mistakes.”

(On why S Isa Abdul-Quddus and S Reshad Jones present challenges for opposing offenses) – “I think the fact that they’re interchangeable as far as who is down, who is back, who can go out and cover – whether it be a running back or who can cover a tight end. The fact that they both can do all that stuff, it makes it nice for us because now you don’t create that tendency of Reshad’s always down, Isa’s always in the middle, or vice versa. Or Reshad always blitzes. If you can eliminate the always and nevers, that’s the biggest thing for a defense. You want to make it to where you’re kind of guessing, ‘Well, they’ve done both so what can we really tell our guys?’ When you can do that, that makes it that much tougher to prepare for.”

(On what his threshold is on QB Ryan Tannehill’s running style and on how important something has to be for him to not slide) – “I just want him to play. I don’t want him to think about it. I know he’ll do the right thing. More times than not, he goes down. Last week he had to do what he had to do.”

(On if he has a philosophy on change of possession and if he wants his quarterback chasing down the ball) – “Yes, I guess. (I’m) trying to think of any examples. I know there were a few times when, whether it be a fumble or an interception, I just remember when Peyton (Manning) started chasing and I’m just like, ‘Just fall or something.’ (Laughter) It didn’t concern me until I saw (Jay) Cutler break his thumb the one year he tried to chase down a turnover. That probably was the first time where I was really aware of, ‘Well that’s not a good thing.’ Last year he pulled his hamstring chasing down an interception against Arizona. That affected us because we lost him for a game and then he came back the next week. But that was where you’re kind of like, ‘Listen, you make a smart decision as far as if you can get the guy down and prevent a score, great. If it’s out of range, be smart as far as what you do.’”

Ryan Tannehill – September 21, 2016 (Conference Call) Download PDF version

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill Conference Call with Cleveland Media

(On what he sees in the Browns defense when he studies them on film) – “I see a defense that does a good job of pressuring when they want to pressure. They’re able to get after the quarterback a little bit. They’ll mix in some Cover 0 looks when they’re really trying to heat it up and get pressure on the quarterback in critical situations. They’ll mix that in with their zone coverage as well, so you have to be ready for everything.”

(On if Browns CB Joe Haden looks like the old Joe Haden to him) – “Joe is playing well right now. He had a couple of great plays in that game last week against the Ravens. Obviously the two interceptions, but he played really well and had some other breakups besides that. (I’m) really impressed with how he is playing right now.”

(On how he feels about Browns Senior Offensive Assistant/Wide Receivers Coach Al Saunders) – “I love Al. He’s a guy that’s been around the game for so long. (He has) so much football knowledge. (He’s) been around so many great players. To have him here for a brief time last year was great for the receivers that we have here. I’m sure he’s definitely making an impact up there, as well.”

(On the team’s morale) – “I think morale is as high as it could be at this point considering the situation that we’re in. (We’ve had) two tough road games (against) two top opponents, and we had our opportunities. We had opportunities to win both games, and we didn’t get it done. There’s a little bit of frustration, or we’re upset a little bit that, obviously, we didn’t get it done when we had opportunities to. But at the same time, we have 14 games in front of us. We have guys in the building that are working to do everything they can to make a correction and execute when it counts in a game. (We are) really excited about the opportunities that are in front of us in the next 14 games starting with Cleveland this week.”

(On TE Jordan Cameron’s athleticism) – “We’re trying to get him involved a little more. He is such a talented athlete, talented football player. He runs extremely well, has good hands and can do some really good things. It has been a work in progress trying to get him involved in the offense. I think last week we saw that (he) had a touchdown catch down in the red zone, and it’s something we’re going to be looking for more of as we move forward.”

(On facing the Dolphins’ defensive line in practice) – “(I am) definitely glad that I don’t have to see them in live action. (Laughter) We had a grueling training camp against those guys, battling every day (with) our guys up front, battling against those quality players and quality pass rushers. They kept the heat on us the whole camp, and I think it really made our offensive line improve and get better quickly, because of the quality of the rushers. Now we’re getting into the season and seeing those guys disrupt the run game a little bit and get after the quarterback, it’s a lot of fun.”

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