Browns coach Eric Mangini met with reporters Wednesday. Here is a transcript from the press conference:
Browns Head Coach Eric Mangini press conference 9-29-10
(Opening statement) -- “Good morning everybody. Today, offensively the only two guys who will be out are John St. Clair and Jake (Delhomme). I think Jake will practice here potentially tomorrow or the next day so I’m looking forward to that. Defensively, we are going to be a little light on the defensive line Robaire (Smith), Kenyon (Coleman), Baby (Shaun Rogers). All three will miss today and Derrick Roberson, DB will miss today as well. I think that’s everybody, I expect all those guys to be back later either tomorrow or the next day. Everybody else should be out there and participating.
“I was talking to the team this morning, we need to start the week the right way get the game plan, focus on the game plan, focus on the things that we’ve been working on. That takes great individual concentration and commitment to get those things worked out and collectively doing the same thing. It’s all of us, it’s the players, it’s coaches. We know where the areas are now we need to address them in the context of our next opponent. With Cincinnati, I think that playing them twice last year and playing them over the years, there’s some similarities between what they are able to do with the giveaway takeaway ratio and what Baltimore has been able to do with the giveaway takeaway ratio in terms of wins and losses. Where it’s a dramatic amount of wins when they’re plus in the giveaway-takeaway ratio, that’s since Marvin’s (Lewis) become the head coach. When it’s even, it levels off when it’s minus one it goes the other way. Marvin’s done a great job in terms of producing takeaways. They have been fourth since he has been there and then producing points off of takeaways which I believe is also fourth since he’s been there.
“I liked a lot of things we did in the running game last week for obvious reasons. I thought we ran the ball well against Cincinnati the first time we played them last year and not as well the second time that we played them last year. There is a certain way that we have to do that and I think the players understand how we have to do that but that’s one component of that. When we throw the ball I think they’ve got a really nice complement of rushers. They’ve got a lot of different guys that can get to the passer whether it’s Antwan Odom, or Michael Johnson, or Robert Geathers right on down the line. Frostee Rucker he does a nice job, Pat Sims, all those guys can generate some pressure and then they’ll bring different game plan pressures. They have some core ones and have some game plan ones and those will show up at different points and we need to be able to handle that.
“Defensively, from our perspective, I think that we weren’t very good against them in the running game last year. Really, either game although the first game was a lower average on a high amount of reps but there’s ways that we need to improve that that I think we have a pretty good handle on. The passing game they’ve got a lot of weapons (Chad) Ochocinco, he is one of the best in the league. Then you add in a guy like Terrell Owens who can take some coverage off him, Jordan Shipley’s done a nice job as a rookie playing there in the slot. Jermaine Gresham first round draft pick, I think he’s a talented guy. With Carson Palmer, like (Joe) Flacco, he can hit any throw. He can go deep, he can hit the comebacks, he can hit the in-cuts and he’s been a good player for a long time so some challenges there.
“On teams what it’s going to come down to, similar Kansas City, is some very good returners. Quan Cosby was second in the NFL in punt returns and he’s a really talented elusive guy. Then you got Benard Scott who can take it to the house at any point as a kickoff returner, he also plays on offense. Him and Cedric (Benson) splitting reps there so that presents a couple problems there as well. With (Adam) Pacman Jones when he was doing it a lot, he’s got tremendous ability in that area. Now, whether or not they use him, that’s really their decision. We are going to have to do a great job covering and we’re going to have to continue to improve our return game.”
(On if they are a better team now than they were at the end of last season) -- “I think what the players understand and looking at the tape is where we have improved and some of the things that we can do really well. The other thing that they understand is probably more important is where we need to improve. This is a really good group that works at those things and now it’s a function of turning that work into results. One of the things that was disappointing throughout the early part of last year is I felt like we were getting the work done here and it wasn’t registering in terms of wins and that’s a tough thing from a lot of different perspectives. It was really nice when that work translated into wins but there’s a way that it had to happen and there’s a way you have to play football here. One, it is consistently, two, its controlling the things that we can control and that’s penalties, one, that’s turnovers, two. Take those things and improve in that area and good things happen. That has to get done, we’ve addressed it, we’ve looked at it. All that being said that has to happen and that takes everybody. You can’t have, ‘I got one penalty in three games,’ ‘I got one penalty in three games,’ start putting 45 guys together, that’s a lot of numbers. Same thing with protecting the football. When you carry the ball or have the ball in your hands you carry all of us with you and we’ve got to protect the ball. On the flipside of that defensively, I thought we left a really good opportunity on the field last week where we had a chance to intercept the ball and probably would have gone for points. You don’t want those to be left on the field. They’re too big of a play. In practice every chance that you have to catch the ball, you have got to work on it and you got to work on the JUGS. You guys have seen us do the JUGS drill where they’ll turn and I used to have to throw the ball and my arms not very good so it would go all over the place and sometimes DB’s would complain about it and the comment is, you’re not the receiver. No quarterback is trying to throw to you. When the ball comes it’s not going to be a perfect throw, it’s not going to be like you’re working on your time together, it’s reactionary. You have to work on reactionary catching and that’s something I think we can improve too. Same thing with communication and mental errors and things like that, we minimize those and production increases. I’ve been happy with the way the guys have worked, but it doesn’t take many to change outcomes.”
(On if he is going to change up the assignments for the three corners after Eric Wright’s game last week) -- “We change assignments every game so that’s not reactionary. It’s just what we do, it’s game plan specific. Mike Adams played a lot of corner for us last year. He’s played in the slot which is typically a cornerback position and he’s done that well and he’s improved so I think we’ve got four guys there that can do different things. I haven’t gotten to know Derrick (Roberson) as well as I’d like to because he’s had some injury situations, but I’d like to think that he can continue to improve defensively. In terms of changing assignments based on last game, one game, that’s not it. It’s more changing assignments based on the next opponent.”
(On Mohamed Massaquoi’s numbers this season and if he has improved) -- “I think he has improved, the numbers aren’t there but he’s made strides in a lot of areas. I don’t think it’s just purely numbers based sometimes the improvement comes in other areas. Would he love to have a lot more catches? Yes. Would we like those numbers to be different? You always would, you want your guys to have a lot of catches. It’s a function of getting your opportunity when it comes, taking advantage of it. He had a pretty good game last year against Cincinnati, kind of one of his biggest early games there. I think he’ll continue to improve.”
(On how Massaquoi has improved) -- “I think the route running has improved. I think his releases have improved. I think his run blocking has improved. I think his understanding the offense has improved. I think his comfort level in the system and being an NFL player has improved. That’s typical with going from the first year to the second year.”
(On if Massaquoi is getting open) -- “There’s sometimes where he’s open, he might not be the primary read. Sometimes the coverage, based on the position that he plays you get more coverage rolled over there to the X receiver than you do to the Z receiver. Sometimes it’s game plan, sometimes it’s just based on the way the numbers work out typically the X gets a little bit more coverage because you have a tight end on the other side and you have to count for him with the secondary.”
(On the matchups with Eric Wright and Sheldon Brown this week) -- “I feel very comfortable with both guys so if we wanted to play them left and right we could do that. If we wanted to match them up I feel comfortable matching them up as well. Ideally, when you go into a season, that’s why I never practice corners just left and right, you practice them on both sides, you work them inside, you work them in a lot of different spots because you don’t know when you’re going to want to go to a matchup type concept where you’re going to be on this guy, you’re going to be on that guy. I feel comfortable with both guys playing either receiver.”
(On if Jake Delhomme will play on Sunday) -- “I anticipate Jake coming back. We’ll see where he is. Yes, I want Jake to be healthy and that’s not a knock on Seneca (Wallace). I want all of our guys to be healthy. Jake did some really good things for us offensively and again that’s not in reaction to Seneca it’s in reaction to the good things Jake has done.”
(On if it has been a setback for Shawn Lauvao to not be out there the last few weeks) -- “It’s not great when anybody misses three weeks and as a young guy you tend to build reps so he missed those reps. With that being said, with Shawn I thought he made a lot of strides throughout the course of camp. I know he’s a very contentious guy so he’s been part of everything. He just hasn’t gone through the physical repetitions he should have fresh legs though when he gets out there.”
(On if the have to balance Joshua Cribbs as returner and at wide receiver) -- “Yes, we balance all of his reps. Really, any player’s reps are balanced between what’s their role offensively and defensively and what’s their role on special teams. You look at it as a cumulative number as opposed to each one individually so we do balance that. Josh hasn’t had as many opportunities to this point as he had last year whether it be the deep kickoffs that we had last week or some of the pop-kicks that Kansas City was doing. In terms of his numbers of return opportunities, it’s down. That doesn’t necessarily surprise anybody. They are going to find ways to slow him down, to slow us down in that area. It makes a lot of sense and we’re always working to try to take advantage of the things that they’re doing and be able to hurt them in those areas in order to get them to kick back to Josh. Now, if the kicker kicks long there’s nothing you can do about that. Mike Nugent has a strong leg, I had him in New York.”
(On if Cribbs’ extended role on offense might cut back his time on his return duties) -- “No, he will return the punts and the kicks. If he needs a breather, he will get a breather on offense. When that ball is being punted, when it’s leaving a kicker’s foot, he will be back there.”
(On if Massaquoi only had one target last week because of reads, the way the game went or the game plan) -- “It’s some of all of that stuff, Tony (Grossi). I thought the offense moved the ball really well against Baltimore throughout the course of the game. The thing you can’t do against a team, really any team, but especially against Baltimore is you can’t force an issue for the sake of forcing an issue. You have to understand where the ball needs to go, make sure it’s delivered on time and move the chains. I thought that we did a really good job of that throughout the course of the game. We had some more running plays, which that’s always a good thing. You’re not going to try to force something for the sake of getting somebody some numbers.”
(On if it is difficult to get the offense going without a “go-to receiver”) -- “I really believe in team concepts. I would expect that any receiver that is out there could be a ‘go-to receiver.’ It’s the same thing defensively. Things work well when you’ve got 11 guys working in coordination. If you look at the running game, it’s never going to be based on purely the back or purely the line. It’s everybody has to work together to make it go. Defensively stopping the run, the passing game, all of that stuff, you can have the best corner in the world, you can have the best whatever, but if everybody is not working in conjunction, then it doesn’t matter. My expectation is that when you have the chance, you capitalize on it.”
(On if the team can win with the running back being the leading receiver each week) -- “Yes, you can win a lot of different ways. To me, the running back is the leading receiver, tight end leading receiver, receiver leading receiver, it doesn’t matter. As long as we can move the ball, score and win the game, we’d run the Wing-T.”
(On Bengals corners Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall) -- “I like both their guys. I looked at Leon a lot, he came out the same year as Darrelle (Revis), so we were talking about both of those guys. He’s a really bright guy, he’s a really good kid. He’s tough, he supports the run well. I’ve seen a lot of improvement from him over the years, which is what I would expect because of the type of person that he is. He plays with good technique. I would imagine, not being in the locker room, but I would imagine he has a lot of leadership ability. With Joseph, I don’t know him as well. I think he’s a very fluid guy. He does a nice job in zone and man and he’s another guy that will come up and support in the running game. I think both of those guys have played well and played consistently well. I think Pacman (Adam Jones), for the time that he been in, has done a nice job. He had the pick there against Baltimore. He’s got outstanding ability and he’s played well for them in the times that he has played.”
(On if the Bengals’ corners are good enough to free up other players to blitz more often) -- “It’s varied. I think they have confidence in them if they want to blitz. They’ll play some man-to-man, post safety, when they are on an island, but it’s a mix defensively. It’s not just this one philosophy, ‘We are going to blitz all the time and you guys have to hold up. We are going to play post safety.’ There’s a variation in order to take advantage of what the opponent is doing that week.”
(On if Mike Holmgren has told him he is seeing the improvement that he wants to see) -- “Mike and I, we talk frequently, whether it’s after the game, whether it’s yesterday, whether it’s during the course of the week, at practice. I don’t want to talk for him, but I think as a coach, he understands some of the things that have happened. As a coach, like I am, he’s frustrated with some of the things that have happened. That’s one of the real positives that I see in having Mike. When I talk to him about the game, there’s a level of understanding there. We can have a conversation without a translator. That’s really good. You can say, ‘Here it is.’ He will give me his thoughts and there’s really good give and take and some good ideas that come out of that. The only way I can equate it is that you don’t have to translate it into, I don’t know how to characterize it. He understands it.”
(On where Alex Mack stands in his second season) -- “I think that Alex is light years ahead of where he was at this point last year in terms of his ability to operate the offense and the offensive line. His comfort level is much higher. At this point, this is game four of his rookie career and he was swimming. Now, he’s comfortable in that position and he’s made some really smart calls and he recognizes things quicker. Not that he didn’t do that last year, it’s just he’s a year into it now. It’s his 20th straight start for us, which is not easy to do coming in and playing that position. The other thing I like about Alex is he gets the whole concept of working on weaknesses and making sure that you get those right, and he plays with a tremendous motor. You can see him on some of those downhill plays or screens where he is getting into the second level. He’s in the screen, he’s running, he’s helping make things happen. To me, that’s a great trait. I think that with him, he’ll get better each year because of who he is. You add experience to that, he’ll continue to grow in that spot.”
(On if Peyton Hillis would have had as good of a game as he did last week without Mack playing like he is) -- “I don’t think it’s just about Alex Mack. To me, it’s the group. When the group blocks well, you have that type of success. When the group blocks well, the backs block well, the receivers block well. It has got to be coordinated. It only takes one guy on the offensive line to not get his block or block the wrong guy or give up some penetration and the play gets crushed in the backfield. I don’t see it as just him.”
(On if Eric Steinbach is playing better than he has since he has been here) -- “I think he’s had a really good start to the season. I thought he was really physical last week. He’s a smart guy. Him, Joe (Thomas) and Alex have worked together now for a year, which is really positive. They have got a good chemistry together over on that left hand side. He’s worked on things that we have identified that we wanted him to work on. I’d say I think he’s playing better now.”
(On Terrell Owens coming back from injury to play in Super Bowl XXXIX and him still playing at 36 years old) -- “It doesn’t surprise me. The fact that he played in that game shows you how important it is to him, shows you his inherent toughness, his competitiveness. You go into that game with not really having a lot of prep time, not really knowing exactly how it’s going to go and he played really well that weekend. He’s played well wherever he’s gone. He’s got good run after the catch, he’s a physical guy, he’s got excellent hands, he’s smart and he’s with a partner that takes coverage off of him too. I think they’ve done a nice job with (Jordan) Shipley, having him in the slot. A very consistent guy, he’s done a nice job. (Jermaine) Gresham, Reggie Kelly, it’s potent. The quarterback can get all of those guys the ball and does.”