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Transcript from news conference with Browns coach Pat Shurmur

By Nate Ulrich Published: September 29, 2011

Browns coach Pat Shurmur met with reporters today. Here is a transcript from the news conference:

(Opening statement)- “Good morning.  I have nothing new to add as far as yesterday as injuries go.  We have as many players out there practicing now as we’ve had since the beginning of training camp, which is good.  Some of them on a limited basis, but they’re all dress and going, which is good.  Other than that I guess D’Qwell (Jackson) had a nice honor, AFC Defensive Player of the Month.  I lead that into everything he’s done through training camp.  It doesn’t surprise me that he’s playing at an extremely high level.  I expected it based on what I’ve learned about him in the last few months.  Normally when your MIKE linebacker is playing well and doing good things, it adds a huge boost to your defense and I’m glad for that.”

(On his approach to learning NFL football and becoming a coach without the experience of being an NFL player)- “My approach to learning, number one I wanted to try and become the best teacher I could become at his level.  There are probably so many things similar to coaching in the NFL as they are in college as they are in high school.  You try to encourage and empower the players and help them with the details of what it takes to be good at their position.  I was fortunate enough in my first go-around in this league to work for Andy Reid who is a tremendous teacher. I worked amongst a bunch of guys that were tremendous teachers.  I took notes, I’ve got cabinets full of notes back from the late 1990’s.  I just tried to learn as much as I could, I’d write it down, I’d review it and I think that was my approach.  Fortunately, we were in a position where we found a way to win games, we were working with tremendous players.  When you work with good players you learn things from them, when you’re around successful coaches you learn things from them and then just by the shear nature of the amount of games that you’re involved in, you learn something every week.  At one point, one of the balls I cherish, Andy gave us a ball for our 100th victory together, our years in Philadelphia, then you start adding up the games.  That’s what I tried to do and I just tried to learn as much as I could every day, I tried to ask more questions, I gave comments and I still try to do that.  I learn something every day from the guys that I work with here and I think that’s the best approach.”

(On what he’s learned about D’Qwell Jackson since taking over as head coach)- “When it was allowed, I had a chance to visit with him in the offseason, but when you watch him compete, when you watch him prepare what I learned about him was basically during training camp when I watched him take care of his business.  He made very few mistakes, he helped get guys lined up and he was very good at stopping the run as well as playing the pass.  Just being around him you see those things and you get a feel from a guy who gets things and he gets it.  The world makes sense to D’Qwell and he understands the process of being a pro and he’s a talented guy.  When you tie all that together then I’m glad to see he’s having the success he is.”

(On when they decided Jackson would be a good fit at MIKE linebacker in their 4-3 defense)- “We did that before we decided where everybody fit.  We went into this thing knowing he was going to be our MIKE linebacker.  There’s enough evidence of him on tape where he has the skill set necessary to play that position.  There was never a doubt, he was our MIKE linebacker.”

(On if Jackson has more of a hunger after missing the last two seasons)- “Maybe.  Again, I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I do know this, he’s a fine football player and there’s value added with him because he does all the other things necessary to help the team.”

(On if it was a gamble to rely on Jackson knowing he’s had injuries in the past)- “That goes on that list of things that can become concerns or you just don’t worry about it.  I think we have a lot of situations, rookies playing, guys coming back from injuries.  I feel confident in the schemes we’re teaching, I feel confident in the players on this team and you line them up and let’s go play.  I’ve got other things that keep me up at night, I’m trying not to worry about that.  Then you deal with injuries as they come, unfortunately, guys that have been hurt are maybe more susceptible, but I’m trying not to worry about that.”

(On if Chris Johnson is a guy who will break it outside or run between the tackles)- “He’s a slashing style runner.  They’re a zone team if you would categorize their running game. They’re pretty much a zone team.  Typically, zone runners will slash it into the B or C gap or outside and get your foot down and run it up the field.  Then depending on how tight the zone angle is sometimes you can cut it back.  That’s the type of runner that he is, I know in the past you’ve seen him running counter plays and lead types plays, but that’s what I think I’m use to seeing from him and the types of runs that they’re trying to run I think fit his style.”

(On if there’s an area of the defense that Johnson stresses more than others)- “He’s obviously a guy that if he gets to the perimeter, I don’t think that’s good for the defense because of his shear speed.  You’ll find in the NFL it’s very hard sometimes to run the ball to the perimeter.  Number one, the guys on the inside of the defense can run so fast and they can catch it and the outside of the defense a lot of the times does a good job of cornering it and turning it back.  I think if he can get to the perimeter or he can get through the line of scrimmage to the second level then I think he’s extremely dangerous because if he gets squared up and he’s running fast through space, he’s a hard guy to tackle.”

(On who’s responsibility it is for keeping Johnson from reaching the perimeter)- “It depends on what we’re playing defensively.  Depending on whether you’re one deep, two deep or quarters, there’s all different elements of how you take care of the perimeter of the defense.”

(On Chris Gocong has done for them so far)- “I think he’s a steady guy.  I’ve known Chris from when he was drafted in Philadelphia.  He came in primarily as a pass rusher out of college and has developed into a linebacker that can play off the line of scrimmage.  He’s got very good instincts, I think he understands the game and we feel like he’s played at a high level as well so we’re glad he’s going to be here for an extended period of time.”

(On Gocong not really being a flashy player)- “No, just a steady guy and I think when you add a bunch of steady guys that are good players then you start talking about team defense and I think that’s what we’re trying to build here.”

(On if Artis Hicks would start if Tony Pashos is healthy)- “No, if Tony is up then he starts.  That’s what we’ll do there.”

(On if he’ll leave Jason Pinkston at left guard or if Hicks and Oniel Cousins will see some action at left guard)- “We won’t disrupt the left guard.  We’ve got one little area we’re working on and we’ll try to stick with that.”

(On if this system defensively is like the one Gocong played in in Philadelphia)- “It’s very similar, very similar type set up.  He played the SAM linebacker, but they’re both off the line linebackers, in theory.  One’s the SAM and one’s the WILL.”

(On if Gocong moved around a lot in Philadelphia)- “He did and we tried to use his pass rush ability coming out of college in nickel situations and from that standpoint we saw elements of what you’re seeing here.  I do think for him coming out of college as basically a pass rusher, he had to learn how to play bubble or off the line linebacker, like he plays here.”

(On what makes Tennessee a top-ranked defense)- “In some of the categories they’re playing extremely well, in most actually.  Again, when I watched their defense I feel a lot of the same elements that I’m seeing from our defense.  Guys are being where they’re suppose to be, they’re very talented guys and if you match them up one-on-one long enough somebody’s going to break free and make a play.  I think that’s what we’re facing.  You’re going to see two defenses that play philosophically very similar.  The coverages at times are a little bit different and the fronts are different at times, but when you look at it philosophically the way we’re teaching our defense and the way they’re teaching their defense, I see two very similar blue prints.”

(On what concerns him the most as an offensive coordinator going against the Titans’ defense)- “You’re always looking for things that you can exploit on a defense, but they really play real well.  You don’t see a lot of big plays, you don’t see guys out of position, you don’t say, ‘In this situation we can go after this guy and we’re pretty darn sure we’re going to get him.’  If a run breaks out or a pass breaks out, instead of it going the distance they get them on the ground. ‘That was a bad play let’s regroup.’  You just don’t see some of that wild craziness that you see from some teams where its feast or famine and I can appreciate that.  When you’re playing good team defense that’s what happens.  I think they’re a defense that makes you work for it.  This is going to be another one of those battles where everybody is fighting for a five-yard gain.  Then, that puts pressure on the offense because you’ve got to stay out there for a longer number of plays and you’ve got to string a lot of plays together as opposed to tricking them and throwing one over there head.”

(On if it’s a game where Peyton Hillis can turn a five-yard gain into a to 15-yard gain)- “Sure, but I think that can be said for every skill player and we’ve talked about all of them.  We’re going to find a way to play two linemen and all those good people we’ve been talking about. I think when you get a run you and you carve it out for a four-yard run, the fact that he could get six or eight, the same thing with the pass, if we check a ball down or we throw an underneath route for four or five then the route runners have to get us some yards as well.  Anybody that touches the ball it’s very important to secure it, get your pads turned and try and get more out of it.  There’ll be times when we launch it down the field, there always it.”

(On Hillis and Montario Hardesty playing together)- “We’re going to try to. Again, we have plays in the offense where we do and we’ll see how they show up.”

(On who the fullback is if Hillis and Hardesty are in)- “Typically, if we line up in the I, it would be Peyton, but if we line up in two backs, we’ll line up split where in theory they’re both halfbacks.”

(On if he talked to his two rookie defensive linemen about the quarterback head issue)- “Yeah, we talk about it constantly. I find a way in my meetings with the players or if something specific comes up through the play of the games last week. We try to keep track of things that come up, situations and penalties.  We just constantly remind them you can’t hit them in the head and you can’t hit them with your head.  They’re aware of it, we practice it, we coach it.  Much like all of the rule situations that come up that tend to be league business, we make sure we review it. Just like anything, normally you get what you emphasize and when things happen it’s a reminder to reemphasize it.”

(On if he knows the amount of the fines the players got)- “I don’t know. I’ll try to keep that private, that’s league business. A lot of times when it gets reported, things could happen, they get appealed, things can happen.  I’ll try to keep that internal.”

(On if it’s a learning process for the rookies to learn the different rules of the NFL)- “I think that’s part of what you’re learning to be an NFL player.  I want them to sack the quarterback and hit them as many times as they can.  But, how you hit them, there’s a little style to it.”

(On if the wide receivers are getting yards after the catch)- “We’re getting some, I think that’s another area you can always improve on.”

(On if there’s somebody that seems to be doing well with getting yards after the catch)- “We saw on that last drive Greg Little broke some tackles, Greg can do it.  The big physical type style runners or the real fast guys tend to either run away from the defense or get turned and make a guy miss, those types of things. Tight ends, I thought Ben’s (Watson) done a nice job with that.”

(On if accurate throws help in getting yards after the catch)- “That goes back to when we’re grading the quarterback.  Typically, accurate throws gives you the best chance for yards after catch.”

(On if Titus Brown will be ready to play Sunday)- “We’re going to have to evaluate him.  He did well yesterday. With his ankle though, we’re going to have to see how well he does today because he hasn’t practiced in a while. Remember, when guys are coming back sometimes too much is worse than not enough.  We’ll have to see where we’re at with that and see how he does today. We haven’t decided on him, he’s a guy we’ll have to decide on.  There’s a solid chance that he won’t play though.”

(On if Titus Brown will play a major role on special teams if healthy)- “No question.  He backs up D’Qwell and he’s a four phase special teams guy.”

(On if inaccurate throws is what is hurting the offense)- “I don’t know that. I watch every play and every play stands on its own.  I would say this, early in the game last week there were some inaccuracies.  I think as the game went on, not so much.  I’m not discounting that, but I think we have to find a way.  But, now early in the game there were also some other things that contributed to that lack of a fast start, that’s one of the pieces.”

(On defenses getting closer to the line and more physical with the receivers because of their short passing game)- “No, we had some gimmes the other day that we didn’t take advantage of where the coverage was loose enough.  I wish I could say the reason we’re starting slow is, this, but really what it is is we just all have to be better.  When you talk about the throwing game, it’s the decision making, the timing with getting the ball off on time and then the accuracy of the throw. That’s from the quarterbacks little piece. Now up front, we have to block them, the quarterback can’t get disrupted and have to move and then the receivers have to catch it. There’s a lot going on there and it starts with me, we just have to be better.”

(On if their team is tough to game plan for because they have two good running backs)- “I’m not sure about that, I think defensive coordinators will draw down on what we do and try to get some tendencies. I do know this though, the healthier, talented guys you have there at your disposal the better I feel about it.”

(On if Hillis and Montario both playing opens more options for him offensively)- “I think so, and I think the ability to play Peyton and play Montario where you have at times a little fresher Peyton at the end.  I think there are elements of that that are good as well.”

(On if McCoy is getting more pressure and hits than the average quarterback)- “You want to eliminate hits on the quarterback. Sacks are the big no-no, you can’t have sacks.  As I mentioned, sacks are a team thing.  If they do get pressure the quarterback is trained to move.  We’ve seen him move and make some plays or throw the ball away.  I haven’t really done a study, that’s a good thing for me to do in the bye week is look at how many hits each quarterback has taken around the league per game.  I think his hit total is down from other quarterbacks in the league, but we’re making an effort to get the ball out quickly too, which is a part of it.”

(On if he is concerned about overplaying D’Qwell Jackson)- “It’s all hands on deck.  What you do is if you have a starting MIKE linebacker and you’re a three-down guy, you’re going to play 60 some snaps.”

(On if Jackson was on some type of a pitch count)- “No, he’s our starting MIKE so he plays and then we’ll see what happens from there.”


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