Below is the transcript from today's press conference with Browns head coach Eric Mangini
(Opening statement)- “Good morning everybody. Just in terms of Cincinnati, I’ve known Marvin (Lewis) a long time. We worked together in Baltimore when he first got named the defensive coordinator, I forget, I think that was 1996. I just watched him and talked to him throughout the years. I really like the things that he does. One of the trademarks of Marvin’s teams, or him as a defensive coordinator and him as a head coach, has been the turnovers that they’ve been able to generate. In terms of his give-away, take-away ratio, is about plus 38, which is one of the highest in the NFL for any head coach since 2003. Then you look at the points they’ve generated off that and then their record when they’ve been plus in the turnover ratio. I think it’s 33-5-1, that’s a lot of focus on that area and obviously a lot of results in that area.
“I think defensively, it’s a very aggressive front seven. They’ve done a good job stopping the run. They’ve done a good job with controlling the points and they’ve increased the amount of pressure on the quarterback, leading the NFL in sacks, with (Antwan) Odom having seven of those. With Mike Zimmer, he’s always had some creative pressure packages.
“Offensively, I think they’re doing a really good job running the ball. Watching Cedric Benson over the last couple years, playing him last year and watching him this year, I think he’s done a really nice job. The offensive line, the tight ends, the running backs, and that’s apparent in his average, about a 4.5 yard average. That’s something that they’ve improved on. Obviously they have the ability to create big plays at any point with (Chad) Ochocinco, with Carson (Palmer). I know Laveranues (Coles) from New York. I really respect him, really like him. He is one of the toughest people I’ve ever been around, just physically tough, mentally tough, intensely competitive. I don’t know some of the other guys there as well, but just knowing L.C. and what he brings to the team, it’s a really good package.
“On special teams, I’ve also known Darrin Simmons for a long time. I knew his uncle from when he was here with Jerry. Darrin’s a creative guy. He’s done a nice job in the punt return game. Quan Crosby, his average is 16-plus yards. He had a 60-yarder against Green Bay. They’ve also had a couple of fakes that have been successful. We definitely understand that he’ll create some challenges not just with personnel, but with scheme and it’s something that we have to be able to be ready for and respond to.
“With the starting quarterback, Derek (Anderson) will start this week. I think he did a nice job the third down conversions last week, which is an area that, obviously, we need to improve. I think that will also help us defensively, being able to sustain drives. He’s done a nice job since I’ve been with him. He worked hard throughout the process and made a lot of progress throughout the process. As time went on, I made the decision with Brady (Quinn). It was based on the information that I had. Really, giving Derek this opportunity is something I think has the potential to help us offensively.”
(On if he is concerned it will look like he has given up on Brady Quinn)- “In talking to Brady, I think the most important thing that I expressed, and similar to talking to Derek initially, is the importance to continue to improve and continue to work at the same level that you did when you were the starter. I thought Derek did a nice job when I asked him to do that. I expect Brady to do the same. He’s an intensely competitive guy. He’s a very mature guy. He’s a team guy and I don’t expect anything less from him.”
(On if the offense will change)- “I don’t think it will change dramatically. I think that you always look at what guys like. With the offense, with the defense, there’s feedback from the players on the things that they feel comfortable with, things that they like and it’s a process. Sometimes you draw some stuff up late at night that looks really good at that point and it’s not so good. You want to be able to have that feedback from the players and it’s important, especially at the quarterback position. You want there to be a comfort level with the things that you’re doing and it is a cumulative effort between both sides.”
(On if he thinks players will be afraid to take chances because of repercussions)- “I think that what everybody is working at is to put their best foot forward, is to make a case for why they should play more and to make sure that they’re always making a case for why they should maintain the position that they have. I think that’s always important, to have the ability to improve your situation on any team, whether it’s a practice squad guy being able to get elevated, whether it’s a guy that has been inactive, being able to get active. You want to always keep that as an opportunity, because that helps with the competition and guys understand, ‘If I improve the things I need to improve, I have a chance to get more playing time or to change my status.’”
(On if the starting quarterback will be decided on a game-by-game basis)- “Really Tony (Grossi), what I’m looking for is for us to be able to improve offensively. I’m not by any stretch saying it’s been all Brady. That’s not the case at all. I just think that Derek did some things that were positive. We need to improve in that area and I think he can help us improve in that area. That’s really what the decision is based on.”
(On if Brady Quinn tried to fight for the job when they met)- “With any of those meetings, it’s a discussion. The discussions are ongoing with all players. You talk through things and you explain things and there’s give and take. I made the decision. Like I said, he’s a mature completive guy and anybody who’s intensely completive wants to always be on the field. That’s what you want to happen. You want guys to not be resigned to where they are. You want guys to also understand what they can do to improve. You want guys to, while they’re doing that, be supportive of everybody who’s part of the team.”
(On how he factored Derek Anderson’s three interceptions in with his focus on quarterbacks taking care of the ball)- “That’s something that we need to improve on overall and I wouldn’t just limit that to the quarterback position. We put the ball on the ground in other spots as well. You have to protect the football consistently. It’s a lot like, we talk about tackling defensively, there are certain techniques and certain things that you do fundamentally which help you in that. It’s the same thing with protecting the football. How you hold it, where you hold it, the decisions that you make, the decision whether or not to try to squeeze it in there or to throw it away and move on to the next play. You always want to make good decisions, because the turnover rate in any game is extremely important. It’s especially important in this game and that’s something that you can improve on.”
(On the underlying reason for the offensive struggles)- “I think there are a lot of areas, Jeff (Schudel), that we can do better at. You can’t turn over the ball on the nine-yard line. You can’t let an opportunity to pick up 20 yards pass you by, where you don’t look the ball into the tuck. You can’t make errors either in identification or execution. Those things are things we can improve. I think that from a scheme perspective, we can improve things as well and that’s something that we’re constantly working on. There are a lot of places, and correctible places, that we can get better.”
(On how much of the quarterback decision was based on Anderson being able to stretch defenses)- “It’s more about just consistently being able to move the ball. As I said, it’s not all Brady. It’s something that I thought Derek did a pretty nice job of, in a difficult situation, being down 20-0 against a defense like Baltimore’s. We were able to convert some third downs and that’s an area that we haven’t converted very much on. That helps play complementary football. It helps keep the offense on the field, the defense off the field. Obviously, the turnovers are something that we have to eliminate.”
(On if he discussed the quarterback change with Randy Lerner)- “Randy and I pretty much talk every day. I explain the decisions that are being made and talk through things with him. He’s a great sounding board. Throughout this process, which it is a process, there are a lot of things that you have to plan for. You have to plan for the short term. You have to plan for the long term. With any transition, there’s difficulty. It’s important to keep moving those things forward and understand the ultimate goal, which is to build both short term and long term. Randy is great about that and he’s a great sounding board for me.”
(On if Quinn being a first round pick affected him getting the starting job at the beginning of the season)- “I think you saw throughout the completion, everything was fairly laid out. At that point, we made the decision we made based on the information that we had. What you’re looking to do is always try to make the best decisions based on the information that you have. This is a new coaching staff. It’s a new group. It’s a new year and there are a lot of things that are going to take time. There’s a process that goes through to creating a team that obviously is successful short-term and an organization that’s successful long-term.”
(On if the players think he is doing everything he can to put the team in a position to win a football game)- “That’s something that we’ve talked about since day one, is the importance of everybody doing everything they can to try to win the games each week. The concept of being able to take a step back and really analyze what you can do to improve your contribution to the team and the importance of always looking internally first at those things. That will help you as a player, it will help you as a coach and it will help us as a team. That’s the only objective. That’s always the objective, is to keep trying to move forward. Being a part of this different places, different times, different roles, it’s something that takes time and it’s something that you have to be diligent and consistent with. You have to create a culture that can last for long-term.”
(On why the Browns didn’t draft Rey Maualuga)- “When you go through the draft, Jeff (Schudel), you look at the players that are available and you look at where you have them rated. You also take into account the things that you need. Being able to improve the wide receiver depth was something that was important at that point. I spent a lot of time with Rey at USC. I liked him. Obviously, I’ve watched him play and I think that he’ll be successful and he’ll continue to grow as a player.”
(On if Maualuga’s personal issues influenced the Browns not drafting him)- “We do our checks on every player and we’re thorough with that. Lou (Merletti) does a really nice job in that area. In terms of any specifics about any player in the draft, that’s not something that I’m going to talk about. I know, spending time with Rey and getting to know him, he’s an intense competitor and he’s a good person. I enjoyed that time with him.”
(On if there could be other personnel changes this week)- “We’re going to look at anything that we can do to improve. Just in getting back to the answer from the earlier questions, I think each week there’s potential to switch some things around because of how guys work, how they practice, how they fit in the plan. I think that’s something that has potential each week.”
(On the health of Phil Dawson and Jamal Lewis)- “I think with all those guys, Phil, Jamal, Rex (Hadnot), Floyd (Womack), you’re always optimistic going into the week. You really have to go through the week and see where we are. Hopefully we’ll continue to progress. I know they’re all doing everything we ask them to do, in terms of the rehab. Once they’re ready, we’ll be excited to have them.”
(On how frustrating it is to have to use two roster spots on kickers)- “It’s not the perfect scenario. I had really the same situation last year, where Mike Nugent got hurt on the opening kickoff against Miami. We carried two kickers for quite a while, just to give him an opportunity to get over his injury. It’s not the perfect scenario, but it’s just what you’re facing so you have to deal with it.”
(On why they ran a quarterback sneak on first down in the second quarter at Baltimore)- “What we were trying to do there is, they had 12 guys on the field, so you’re trying to snap the ball quickly enough to catch them with 12 guys on the field. It’s something that over the course of time, I’ve done multiple, multiple times and it’s been very successful. A lot of teams do that. Whether it’s personnel changes, some teams have rolled defensive linemen, some teams will just sub when you have the same personnel group on. The key thing is to be able to get in there, get lined up and get it snapped before they have the chance to get it off. It really wasn’t called play. It was more of an attempt to get them with 12 on the field.”
(On why they did not just run a play then)- “The quickest thing, Tony (Grossi), is to just get up, snap it and go. I’m sure you’ve seen it a thousand times with Peyton Manning. He’s one of the best at it that I’ve ever seen. Teams do it quite a bit. It slows down substitutions. It takes advantage of some things that you have, but the quickest way to get it is get up, snap it and go.”
(On the route on Brady Quinn’s interception)- “The exact call pattern, I’m not sure. It was more of a shorter type route. We have hitches, stop-nines. It could have been either one of those. The route depth there is about four or five yards different, but same concept and not really something you want against a rolled up corner.”
(On defensive changes that can be made to prevent teams from entering the end zone untouched)- “That’s nothing that’s designed. It’s nothing that’s accepted. It’s nothing that’s expected. Being able to play coordinated defense and understand where your help is, how you fit in the running game. One was a pressure where we need to set the edge on the pressure. When you’re bringing everybody up inside and the defensive backs are committed, if you don’t set that edge, if you don’t have that firm, you have no chance. You have no chance on it. Nothing is worse than watching someone walk into the end zone or watching someone fair catch a touchdown. Either one of them is painful and unacceptable. It’s all about playing good, coordinated, sound defense. It’s the same thing with missed tackles. An eight-yard run shouldn’t go for 60 when you have opportunities. You have to be able to get that player down and if you can’t get them down you have to be able to leverage them to a point where someone else has an opportunity or you have to be able to give ground. Sometimes you see it on screens, where there’s a blocker and you don’t want to go up and give one for one and just sacrifice yourself. You have to give ground to allow the other players to get there. That has to improve.”
(On if the offense plays more to Anderson or Quinn’s strengths)- “There’s been a lot of different quarterbacks that have played in this offense and been successful, whether it’s (Brett) Favre, Brady, Chad (Pennington), right on down the line, the other (Tom) Brady. I think that it has the ability to accommodate a lot of different styles of play, a lot of different types of quarterbacks. The important thing is understanding what the goal is each play. The other thing I’ll say is, things are not catered to, but there’s feedback throughout the process, to get to the point where there’s the highest comfort level for whichever quarterback you have in the game. I wouldn’t say that we’re the only team that does that. Most teams take that approach, is if you have change quarterbacks or if you have a different quarterback play in the system you want to understand the things that they do well, the things that they like and make sure that it’s a very interactive process.”