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Eric Mangini press conference transcript

By dan Published: September 24, 2009

Below is the transcript from today's press conference with Browns head coach Eric Mangini:


(Opening statement)- “Good morning everybody. Yesterday was a normal Wednesday practice. We were really focusing on the first and second down things that we need to get done. We incorporate some things on a Wednesday’s practice that we want to get a little bit of extra work on or want to emphasize, and I thought there was some good work done in those periods. Today the emphasis shifts to third down, and playing a team like Baltimore who is historically very good on third down. Defensively, you have to be that much sharper. They have a combination of pressures and coverages that they bring, and it is a very creative group. The creativity isn’t just in, say a new blitz that you face, it could be an old blitz that you faced where they moved people around. Some of it is IDing what they are going to do, as opposed to who exactly is doing it. That’s a little bit unique and that’s something that we have to adjust to. Defensively, I think that third down is something we need to improve on, and they’ve done a nice job. Cam (Cameron) always does a nice job of creating some packages that cause difficulty from a coverage perspective.”


(On if Baltimore’s defense is a notch above others)- “They have a lot of really, really talented players, and with Ray (Lewis), he is a special guy. Then you factor in Ed Reed, the things that he is able to do and the way he is able to combine his instincts with some of the chances that he takes. What is it 43 career interceptions or something like that? He’s one of the few guys or maybe the only guy in the NFL that has returned a punt return, fumble return, interception return. Any way that he can return it he has, and he’s dangerous at all times. You can’t exactly pinpoint where he’s going to be because of the way that he plays, and some of the freedom that he has back there.”


(On if it is tough to neutralize a player like Ray Lewis)- “It’s tough when you take into account all the other people that you have to block in that front group. It’s not one of those situations where you say, ‘I think we can take care of these guys this way and then we’ll really emphasize taking care of him.’ You can’t do that with this group, you have to deal with them collectively.”


(On how Baltimore’s defensive line will affect Alex Mack)- “I think that they’re big inside and especially in sub, they’ll use a combination of guys inside and outside and looks and things like that. For a young guy the first time seeing it, there’s a lot of stuff to analyze, to process, and you have to sit down. He’ll spend some extra time, not just with the coaches, but also with the other players. I think it’s important as group for the offensive linemen to spend extra time going through and really understanding what they’re going to do and what they’re going to see, and how those variations can come into play.”


(On if he thinks Mack is putting too much pressure on himself)- “With Alex, he’s driven to be as successful as he can be and I don’t think the pressure that he puts on himself is any different than what he’s done throughout his career. He’s a guy that wants to be right, he’s a guy that wants to be successful and he’s always going to push himself to do that, and I think that’s a positive thing. I don’t think he takes it to a level of where it becomes detrimental.”

(On if Mack had any problems with shotgun snaps in college)- “Dealing with a young center in the past, there are some things that you work through and you improve. Nick (Mangold) had to work through a lot of those things early on, and we had a game against Cincinnati, I think it was ’07, kind of the same thing where it was snapped at the wrong time or too high, I can’t remember what it was. Its first things first, and the most basic part of the play is getting the ball to the quarterback, and you have to take care of that first and then you move on to the next thing. It’s similar to a receiver, who looks to run before he has the ball into the tuck. You have to just take care of securing the football first and then you move onto the next thing.”

(On Coye Francies)- “He’s made some contributions on special teams and he’s worked in all of the different packages. What’s important for him is to improve in those different packages and really carve out a role in one area or the other. I’ve liked the way that he’s worked at it, but now he has to continue to make a case for himself to get that extended playing time.”

(On if the base offense is two tight ends)- “In both games, we’ve mixed in quite a bit of 11 personnel, which is three wide receivers, one tight end, and one back. That has consistently been mixed in and not just on third down, on first and second down. I feel very comfortable using that, and I feel comfortable in 21, as well, with (Lawrence) Vickers in there. A lot of the time what we try to do is in the different personnel groups, is to be able to run the same concepts out of 12, that you’d run out of 11. The same concepts out of 12 that you’d run out of 21, because you can flex a tight end out like you would if it was three wide receivers. The other tight end is in line and that would be like 11, or you could take one of those tight ends and put him in the backfield so that it’s very similar to 21. 12 is one of those groups that you can create the plays from the other packages, where 11 the carryover isn’t as great, and 21 you don’t traditionally build those 11 tight packages.”


(On if using two tight ends helps the quarterback with protection)- “Not necessarily, Tony (Grossi), because you can block seven in 21, where the fullback and the tailback are both in protection, the same way that you can block seven with the two tight ends. There’s the same combination of people, you just replace the fullback with the tight end.”


(On how Jamal Lewis is doing and if he will practice)- “We’re going to have to see with Jamal. He approaches everything the same way so he’s working at it and we’ll just have to see where we go through the week.”


(On if he would feel comfortable playing Lewis on Sunday, if he does not practice this week, because of his familiarity with Baltimore)- “It’s not going to be a function of the opponent, necessarily, it’s going to more be a function of how well he can operate in the game, how well he can contribute. That’s usually the approach that we take, as opposed to who we’re playing, it’s can a guy contribute if he goes to the game and will he be ready to play in that game?”


(On how he feels about players playing in a game who have not practiced all week)- “You try to set a protocol to make sure that the most important thing is that they’re healthy. That they’re ready to play physically, but you also want them to be ready to play mentally, as well. Without being able to see it, or have some sense that they will be able to do that, it makes the decision more difficult. We talked about in here before, where we had a situation in New York where a guy really looked like he was going to be able to play. We activated him. He ended up playing two plays in the game and that really leaves you short and takes out a lot of stuff that you anticipated being able to run. You don’t want to get in that situation either.”


(On when Jamal Lewis got hurt)- “I’m not sure of the exact point where it happened.”


(On if James Davis will be prepared for the speed of the game)- “I think he’ll be more aware of it. It really is hard to convey to rookies the change, the dramatic change from preseason to the regular season. You talk about it, you show it, but you have to go feel it. That usually is a wakeup call.”


(On Davis going against Minnesota and Baltimore’s run defenses)- “They are both fast. They’re both physical. They’re both tough. I don’t even know how old he was when Ray (Lewis) came into the league.”


(On how he keeps the team from getting discouraged because of last year’s season)- “One thing is, a lot of guys weren’t here last year. A lot of the coaches weren’t here last year. A lot of the veteran players understand that it isn’t about what happened last year, it’s about what you do in that given season. Every single year you see radical shifts in what a team was the year before versus what they are the next year. I‘ve been a part of those both ways. In a good way and I’ve been a part of it in a not as good way. If you look at the Dolphins last year, they were coming off a 1-15 season, they were 0-2 at this point. They go to New England, who had won however many games straight, but they consistently worked at what they were doing. They corrected the mistakes that they had and things changed. We were 0-2 in New England in ’01, I think we were 0-2. We were 1-3 after four games, I forget exactly what it was, but you work at it. You’re consistent with it. You correct the mistakes. You’re diligent. Things change, but you have to do those things. You have to be able to correct those mistakes, otherwise the outcome’s not going to be different.”


(On how difficult it is to get the team to progress when they are in a tough division)- “I felt like the division I came out of was pretty tough, too. There were a couple Super Bowl winners in that other division, too. I had to face them twice a year. I’ve only really been in two divisions. I’ve been in this division and the AFC East, two pretty formidable divisions. I think the thing that I’m going through the process of now is, you have such familiarity coming from the division that you’re in. You know those teams. You’ve seen those players. You’ve game planned it multiple times. You understand the coordinators. You understand the head coach. Things do change, but you’ve seen it. You’ve studied it. I’m working through that process and the coaches are working through that process of really understanding, in depth, the division the way you need to understand the division. You do work in the offseason, you do all those things to get to that point, but it’s also playing the games and going through that part of the process as well.”


(On if divisions have separate identities)- “Sometimes division change dramatically. They may start out one way and then, depending on the turnover in coaches, or types of players, it changes. Buffalo’s transitioned to more of a no huddle system, which is something they hadn’t been doing, historically, in that situation. New York (Jets) obviously has elements of Baltimore defensively. Where that had been three predominantly two-gap 3-4 teams with New England, New York and Miami, when Bill (Parcells) went there, some variations there. It changes based on who’s there.”


(On what the right side of the offensive line needs to do to tighten up against the pass rush)- “It’s really the whole group. We talked a little bit about this yesterday, when a sack happens, you usually look at the person that was blocking that player, but there’s other components to it as well, based on where the help should be, based on where the slide should have come, based on where the quarterback should be. I think as a group, we need to do a better job. Just like sacks defensively aren’t a function of, all the time, one pass rusher, I think it’s the same thing offensively. Typically, you look at one guy and say, ‘Alright, that’s the issue,’ but there are other things that go into it. It has to be coordinated.”


(On if Brett Favre offered to pay for his fine from the NFL)- “With that issue, that’s closed for me. In terms of what Brett has to say, it’s closed for me.”


(On if the receivers are open too infrequently)- “I think that it’s different each play. I think there’s been a lot of plays where receivers have been open. There have been some plays where, maybe, those options weren’t there. The first or second option wasn’t there and then you have to go to your check down or your third option. Sometimes, the answer is just throw the ball away, similar to what Peyton Manning does really well. You assess it, if it’s not there, instead of taking a negative play, you throw it away and you live to fight another day.”


(On if they have talked about tweaking the scheme to get receivers open)- “What I’m saying is, I think that there have been receivers open. I want them open every single game, I really do. You want them wide open and to be able to get to the ball. There’s going to be challenges. Sometimes you have to fit it into a tight spot, sometimes it’s an easier spot.”


(On if he thinks the play calling has been sound)- “I think that Brian’s (Daboll) done a good job with creating formations, with the plays that we have going in, based on that opponent. Collectively, we can do a better job of executing it. I’m sure we’re going to do a better job continuing to improve all aspects of the coaching as well.”


(On Jerome Harrison)- “He’s practicing. I think each week he’s gotten better and better. I’m looking forward to him getting more opportunities and see where he goes with those.”


(On how much work he put into looking at Mark Sanchez before the draft)- “I was at USC, spent a lot of time with all those guys. I spend a lot of time with him. I think he’s a great guy, smart guy. I think any team’s success is, as we all talked about, the quarterback gets a lot of credit and a lot of blame if it isn’t working out, but it’s a cumulative thing.”


(On if a team’s draft is affected by trying to not let your divisional opponents draft a good player)- “Whenever you go into a draft, you look at what you think is going to be the best player for you. When you make your pick, that’s how you make your pick. You’d love to be able to look at all drafts after the fact and say, ‘Okay, we’re going to draft him because he’s going to become a hall of fame player, or we’re going to draft him because he’s going to be this,’ but you go based on the information that you have. You make the best decision that you can. You don’t get the benefit of seeing how they’re going to play four or five years down the road prior to making that decision.”


(On letting a divisional opponent draft a quarterback)- “Tom Brady went through six rounds with nobody taking him. He’s worked out pretty well. I’m sure if we held the draft today, he’d probably get drafted pretty high.”


(On when David Veikune will get on the field with the defense)- “I think both he and Kaluka (Maiava) are moving forward a little bit each week. They’ve gotten work with the defensive unit through the course of practice. He’s been up for those games, so he has to be ready to play. When that opportunity will come, or when he’ll get reps, there will be some times when we may cycle those guys through, to try to distribute the reps.”


(On if there is something specific Veikune needs to do to get on the field with the defense)- “He has some versatility, which is positive. He’s worked outside. He’s worked inside. He needs to keep improving with his overall understanding of the defense, of that week’s opponent and contributing on special teams. Sometimes, you go to the game and you may not get any defensive reps, or offensive reps, but you make a real impact on teams. What we’re look for, ideally, is everybody that goes to the game has an impact in whatever role they’re asked to play.”


(On how much of the run offense does he attribute to the offensive line)- “I really look at it as a full package. I think that as you look at the last couple games, defensively, where the ball’s gotten through the line of scrimmage and we had some opportunities to make the play down the field, where the run could have been 10 yards or 15 yards, as opposed to 60 yards. It looks like you’ve given up 60 yards of rushing. They did a nice job in some of those situations, blocking on the perimeter. It’s the same thing offensively, if you break a run, and you can block on the perimeter and the run goes for 30 instead of 20, that’s a big difference. If it goes for 60 instead of 10, that’s a big difference. The tight ends are involved with it, the fullback’s involved in it, the quarterback’s involved in it. Everybody’s involved in making that work, the right read by the running back, when to cut back, when to press the hole. It’s a group thing.”


(On if Brian Robiskie has made any progress on special teams)- “He’s working through with the groups during the course of the week. When we’re making those decisions for the inactives, we have a group of guys that may not have a core role right now on offense and defense. You look at what spots they can play on special teams, who had the better week of practice and then you make the decision based on that, taking also into account what their role could be offensively and defensively, in conjunction with what the plan is.”

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