Here is the transcript from today's press conference with Browns head coach Eric Mangini
(Opening statement)- “Good afternoon. Today what we’re going to do is, we’ll go back and review some of the things that we did on Monday, that was pretty much core versus core. Then, we’re getting into the game plan specific things on Minnesota, having a little bit of extra time this morning to work on that and get a little bit ahead on some of the situation things that typically you start on a Thursday, be able to at least introduce that today and expose the guys to that.
“In term of the Vikings, I’ve known Brad (Childress). I got to know him better when we both became head coaches. I really respect how smart he is, the things that he’s done in Minnesota and the team that he’s built. He’s always been very creative offensively, playing against them when he was the coordinator and he creates those same challenges there with the Vikings.
“Defensively, I think this is an impressive group, stout, against the run. Three years in a row where they led the NFL in rush defense. They’ve been able to complement that by producing a lot of pressure on the quarterback. I think it was 45 sacks last season, guys like Jared Allen, Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, they can create some problems. They’re complemented by a lot of other good players, and not just the guys that are in when the starters are in, but also the subs that are able to rotate through. I’ve known Antoine Winfield for a long time. He’s an impressive guy. I dealt with him in Buffalo. He was what some people would consider to be an undersized corner, but he plays big. He plays aggressive. He’s tough. He’s tough in the passing game. He’s tough in the running game. He really is a good example of how guys of all different sizes can be extremely effective over the years.
“In terms of their offense, you look at their running game, and with Adrian Peterson, he’s impressive. He’s impressive, the things he can do. Anytime you can get 296 yards rushing in one NFL game, that’s hard to do. He carried the ball 363 times for a 4.8 yard average. Usually the numbers will bring an average down. It seems like the numbers bring his average up. You give him the ball in space, whether it’s a screen or a check down, he can make people miss. If there’s a small crack, he can hit it. It’s also a testament to their o-line and their receivers. I think they do a nice job opening those holes up for him, the tight ends, it’s a good complementary system from that respect. With the passing game, knowing Brett (Favre) and I really enjoyed coaching him. That was a lot of fun, in terms of that experience. It’s not as much fun getting ready for him. He’s a guy that can hurt you in any part of the field. What I mean by that is, it’s not necessarily the traditional reads that you have to cover on any given play. He can make something happen where he buys some time and gets it back across the field. He has great arm strength. He has really excellent awareness of what you’re doing defensively. It may be a running play and he throws it out there, gives the receiver a little signal and picks up 10-15 yards on a slant, even though everybody else on the offense thinks it’s a running play. It makes it tough. You add in the things that he’s able to do from a cadence perspective, from an operation perspective, it’s challenging. They have some big play guys, look at (Bernard) Berrian, averaging over 20 yards a catch, right on down the line. There’s a lot of work to do in those two phases.
“I think on special teams, they changed quite a bit since last year. I think they have a really good group of core cover guys, as well as the ability to hurt you in the return game. With Percy Harvin being added this offseason, he can hurt you as a returner, then they mix him in on offense as well. He’s a guy that any time he touches the ball, he can make a lot of people miss and go a long way. We have our work cut out for us. We’re going to build on what we did on Monday. I think everybody’s excited to get back into that process here today.
(On when he informed the quarterbacks who the starter would be)- “I talked to them last night.”
(On if one quarterback took it harder than the other)- “They both took it exactly the way that I’d expect them to take it, as pros, as good teammates. Based on the way that they’ve competed and handled this whole situation, it’s really not surprising.”
(On if he told the rest of the team who the starter would be)- “I think they’ll be able to figure it out.”
(On if there was one announcement to the entire team concerning the starting quarterback)- “No.”
(On if the quarterbacks are put in an awkward spot trying to keep the secret)- “I don’t think anybody is in an awkward spot trying to maintain a competitive advantage. We all do that. That’s all of our goals. We’re trying to do everything that we can do to win the game on Sunday. I think everybody’s excited about doing that.”
(On if Hank Fraley or Alex Mack will start at center on Sunday)- “They’ll both work in there. Hank’s done a good job working in different spots. I think Alex has made a lot of progress. I’m excited for both of them to play.”
(On if he could play Fraley and Mack at center on Sunday)- “I think it will probably more one than the other, but I wouldn’t have any hesitation playing either guy.”
(On the run defense)- “It’s important, Jeff (Schudel), really for us to be coordinated. At times, I thought we did a really good job with that. When we did that, I thought we played pretty good run defense. There were other times where you’re just slightly out of a gap and it makes such a huge difference, because everybody has to do their job and they have to take care of that first. You have to trust that the guy next to you is going to take care of his job. That is something that is emphasized constantly and can’t be understood too much, can’t be worked on too much. That’s how you play sound.”
(On why the previous Browns’ coaches have said the same thing about the run defense)- “They say it because it’s the truth. We’re not breaking any new ground. I’m sure they’ve been saying that for years. It’s what works. Anytime you go out of the scheme and you’re working to make a play and you’re doing something individually, the other 10 guys don’t know that. They can’t anticipate that. The things that you practiced don’t look the same. The reads aren’t the same. That’s why I stress it. I’m sure every other head coach stresses it as well. You have to be in your spot and it goes down the line.”
(On the challenges he dealt with last season after acquiring Brett Favre)- “In talking to Brett, and getting got know him prior to us acquiring him, I felt really good about the person that we were bringing into the building. What was important to him was that he was treated like everybody else, that he worked like everybody else. When he came to New York, that’s exactly what he did. He wasn’t looking for any kind of special treatment. He wasn’t looking to be anything but part of a team. That’s what makes him a special guy. He likes hanging out with the o-linemen. He likes being with everybody. He’s a fun guy to have around, not because he isn’t serious, but because of the way that he treats everybody, the way that he approaches things. There was never anything but a real ‘team first’ attitude from him.”
(On if he had to manage Laveranues Coles being upset that Chad Pennington was released last season)- “Things change quite often and one thing I’ll tell you about Laveranues is, he is another guy that I really, really like. He is a great guy, great team guy. When we first started, we didn’t quite have that same chemistry, but as I got to know him and he got to know me. I love Laveranues Coles. You talk about a tough guy. He’s just physically tough, mentally tough, intensely competitive, passionate, all those things.”
(On if it easier to prepare for Brett Favre after coaching him last season)- “I don’t know. You guys need to ask him that same question. I’m sure he’ll talk about my fingerprint, something we talked about quite a bit. I’d be curious to see what he says. It’s like anything else, when I went to New York from New England, I knew the things that they were going to do, but we were running a similar system, so they could anticipate the things that we were going to do. You went into the game doing things that neither one of you do, because it’s just back and forth. It just adds to the strategic part of it.
(On if Favre still has an elite arm)- “I didn’t really get it until I saw it and until I heard it. You hear the ball fly out of his hand. It’s not like a ‘poof,’ I mean, it flies out. I know Jerricho Cotchery, one of the first days, was running a slant off of a running play, like we talked about. It came in so quick, and Jerricho has quick hands, it’s not like he’s a slow-handed receiver, this thing hit him in the forehead. I think he was dizzy. I mean, you hear it. It’s not necessarily traditional. It may be across his body, it may be off his back foot. That thing is loaded.”
(On the type of camp Jamal Lewis had)- “I think Jamal had a good camp. Jamal is a guy that you know over the years from watching him play, but you don’t know the guy until you actually work with him. He’s that term that I use to describe guys that take their job very seriously and approach it the same way every day, that are consistent. He’s a pro. What I’ve liked about him, too, is, and this is another characteristic of guys that are pros, is they work with the young guys. He’s always open to answering questions, whether it’s for Jerome (Harrison), or James Davis, or Vick (Lawrence Vickers) or anybody else. Sometimes the questions aren’t just running back based. It could be, what’s your recovery routine? How do you watch tape? The older guys, the guys with experience, can really help a team by sharing the things they’ve learned, hopefully preventing some of the mistakes they made as young guys. You’re always looking for that as a coach.”
(On if he still sees Lewis as a 1,000 yard running back)- “I think overall, in terms of the running game, there were a lot of things, offensively, that we could have done better. Different guys got different amount of yards, various points in the game and at those different points in the game, sometimes it was the ones, sometimes it was the twos, but there are a lot of things that we can work on. If we’re coordinated, the flipside of what we talked about defensively, I think we can do some positive things there.”
(On the challenge the center faces against Minnesota’s defensive line)- “Their front four, and the guys that they bring in on a rotational basis, all present challenges. You add that to the fact that you have two guys that are really stout inside that, as well, can create some pass rush, whether it’s through push in the pocket or through moves. You have two guys on the edge that have very good speed, very good take off. They have three linebackers that can run and read the blocking schemes well, and penetrate and disrupt. There are a lot of challenges internally. I push that even further to the tight ends and the running backs, understanding where the holes are. Understand that the hole you see right now could be filled very quickly by one of those fast middle linebackers and that new hole is going to open up. You have to be able to take advantage of that and anticipate, by the way we’re blocking, where they’ll fit.”
(On why Brett Favre’s game declined in the last five games of last season)- “I don’t think any of us played as well as we could have. What I do think is, I could have done a better job coaching. I think the staff could have done a better job coaching. I never look at success or failure as an individual thing. It was cumulative thing. We won games together. We lost games together. There were things that we could improve during that stretch that would have really helped us.”
(On if he knew anything about Favre’s biceps injury)- “I was aware of the different challenges that everybody on the team had. I get that update every day.”
(On if he considers Favre to be a friend)- “I consider him a friend. I talked about early on, I would have happily had him come visit camp and spend some time here. I think it would have been fun for him and fun for us. He could give some good insight, too, to the things that we’re trying to get done and to the quarterback group. We talked a little bit in the offseason. I consider him a friend.”
(On if Favre spoke to him about playing in Minnesota)- “We didn’t really talk in depth about it. The only conversation we had, what I told him is, whatever decision you make, you’ll make right. If you want to stay retired, you’ll make that decision a good decision. If you want to come back, you’ll make that decision a good decision. There’s going to be challenges with either one and that he should do whatever he wanted to do. It should be his decision. Either way, be comfortable with it.”
(On if he named his youngest son after Favre)- “No, middle name. All my sons, their middle name is football related, based on different things, different time periods. It started, actually, with Jake. Rodney Harrison and I had built a great relationship and he said some nice things. At one point, Julie and I were trying to figure out names and I said, ‘Oh, we should name him Rodney.’ We laughed about it and she said, ‘You know, I really love the name Harrison.’ I said, ‘Oh, okay,’ so we went with Jake Harrison. As I was leaving New England, Bill (Belichick) had a huge influence on me and my professional development. There were so many things that I was able to learn from him. That’s when Luke, my little, he gave me a scare last night, my little man, he’s a little different than Jake, but we went with Luke William. When we were talking to Brett, that’s when Zack was on the verge of joining us. I said, ‘You know, I always have a middle name that’s related to things that are football related and I really think that you have a big impact.’ I said, ‘If you come, the middle name will be Brett.’ I didn’t know whether he’d hold me to it or not, but I was comfortable with it and he held me to it. Actually, Zack was born on Brett’s birthday. Stranger than fiction.”
(On what Brandon McDonald showed him during training camp)- “One of the things that I really like, and he goes by B-Mac, so I call him B-Mac, but I like about B-Mac is, as we go through squad meetings and things like that, I’ll ask the players a lot of questions. It’s important that I know they know, the group knows they know and I believe in that. He’s been really outstanding with the information and the things that I’ve asked him. That shows a commitment, not just in the building, but outside of the building, where he’s spending time in his book, he’s spending time studying the opponent. Sometimes those questions start before they even have a scouting report. You want to see, have they gone out and taken the initiative and started studying their opponent, which is really important. He was impressive on Monday.”