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What's Browns coach Eric Mangini saying?

By Nate Ulrich Published: December 9, 2010

Browns coach Eric Mangini met with reporters Thursday morning. Here is a transcript from the press conference:

Browns Head Coach Eric Mangini press conference 12-9-10

(Opening statement) -- “Good morning everybody.  Guys that will be missing will be Evan Moore, Colt (McCoy), Titus (Brown) and Marcus Benard but that’s for personal reasons and Scott Fujita.  I’m still optimistic that with another day here we’ll be able to see a couple of those guys back.  I think they’re all coming along just there’re not ready to go here today.  In terms of what we’re doing here today, we’ll be moving into third down and I think that we need to continue to improve there offensively and keep those drives going, very important.  Defensively, last week was a big challenge with as successful as Miami was on third down, I thought we did well against it and then Buffalo presents the same type of challenges. It’s an area they’ve been strong in.  Clean up some things from yesterday but really zero in on that and make some strides there.  We’ll be back outside here this afternoon as well.”

(On if they will have any more inside practices this year) -- “I don’t know.  There’s definitely some lobbying for that, opening the doors and work inside.  That’s a possibility but it’s hard to mimic what this feels like.  It’s always funny to watch the young guys from warm climates get used to being out there.  How they look at their hands like they can’t believe how it feels and dealing with all the things that go into playing in this weather and the wind and the way the wind changes it has a big affect in our stadium. It has a big affect at Buffalo’s stadium.  Shawn Lauvao had his helmet and then he had his hood pulled over his helmet.  You get used to it and really yesterday was pretty warm for being outside.  It was a nice cold day.”

(On if he really does love this weather) -- “I really do love this weather.  I think it’s great football weather and I think if you know how to play in it and it doesn’t because a factor and it doesn’t affect any part of our game then it becomes a real advantage, but you have to get used to it.  Footing is another real issue.  How do you operate on a slicker field, and playing with your feet underneath you, and how it affects defensive backs when they try to transition, receivers when they’re trying to make their cuts.  Where do the routes go when the wind is blowing, all that stuff I think you can gain an edge on your opponent if you understand it and they’re feeling their way through it.”

(On when playing in this cold weather if you have to be in the right mindset and if it is the same way for the coaches) -- “Yes and no, I think it depends.  There are some days where I went outside in New York, I remember one week, it was Thanksgiving week, this was early maybe 2006. God it was cold.  It was one of those times when I was thinking, ‘Man, this is dumb we should really be inside,’ I had a hard time getting over the cold that day.  It is and it’s funny too because when you’re young, when you’re little kids you can’t wait to get out and play in the snow.  You love playing football in the rain and the snow, that’s a great thing, and often times your parents are reeling you back in because they’re trying to be the voice of reason.  You do see some of that when you get out there it almost picks up the tempo once you get over it.”

(On if any of his players have gotten frostbite) -- “No, I’m not trying to win some award for being out in the coldest possible weather, it’s just trying to get used to it.  If it got to the point where it was detrimental or a risk we would be inside.  Definitely a balance there.”

(On if Scott Fujita is where he should be with his rehab) -- “I believe so and he’s done a little bit of straight ahead work.  Each guy is different with it so it’s hard.  You wish there was just one strict formula for any injury but each guy is a little bit different, and Scott’s done well.  I’m encouraged by it and I think he is as well and we’ll just see.”

(On how Fujita said it is killing him not playing) -- “I would expect that and you like hearing that because it just reinforces how competitive he is and how important it is for him to play each game.  There’s opportunities with injuries where if you don’t want to play those games the rehab could go slower.  There’s other guys who just push as hard as they can to get there and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, but you like the competitiveness and his commitment to the team and to the guys.”

(On if Fujita wasn’t placed on IR because of possibly being in a playoff race) -- “It was because he could play in the last two games, and he wants to play in those games and it might even be sooner.  It might be sooner than that and we want him to play in those games so it wasn’t really about the playoff race or no playoff race, it was just the availability to get him back.”

(On if Lawrence Vickers played less last week) -- “The number varies from week to week so some weeks it’s going to be a little bit less and some weeks it’s going to be a little bit more.  It wasn’t by design or anything like that where we’re not going to be in his personnel groups.  Some of it was the amount of third down conversations that we had.  That always plays a factor in that too is how many more plays do you get and some plays you can’t get back to or you can’t get to so it kind of happens that way.”

(On if the two tight end set gives them something that a full back doesn’t give him) -- “There’s pluses and minuses to both sets. With two tight ends you do have the availability to build all your one back formations.  Whether you want to have both of them on the line of scrimmage in tight, you can do that. You can extend one of them out to get more of a sub type look, or you can take one of the guys and put him into the backfield to build all of your 21 personnel looks, all of your two back looks.  There’s great versatility out of 12 in terms of the ways you can attack offenses which is a real plus.  In 21 you can do some things like that but 12 is a really versatile group.”

(On if the wind is the most difficult weather factor to deal with) -- “I think the wind adds to the cold, the wind chill factor does change it.  The wind is a factor in the sense of how it affects all the throws.  Is it behind you? Is it blowing across the field?  Are you throwing in to it?  All those things affect the way the ball travels, the way the ball is kicked, how you field kickoff returns and punt returns.  It does play a big role.”

(On how the weather conditions affect the importance of special teams especially field goal kicking and punting) -- “A lot of the time it does become a field position game.  The ability to affectively punt and the ability to affectively field punts, that’s a big component of it too.  Sometimes it’s not even the return itself, it’s just being able to catch the ball so that it doesn’t hit the ground and roll for another 20 yards.  That alone can change the dynamic of the game just by huge field position shifts.  With the field goals, where you can reasonably have an opportunity to kick a successful field goal can change dramatically and that does come into the decision making when you’re on that 30-35 yard area.  Do you go for it on fourth down?  Do you punt it? Is a field goal even a realistic option?  That can even go down to the 25 or the 20 depending on how hard the wind is blowing.  You sit there and make a decision.  What are the odds that this field goal will end up going through versus the odds of you picking up a first down on fourth and two, three, four, five, six.  Really punting is not an option and it comes into play defensively too because you know it may be four down territory where traditionally it wouldn’t be four down territory.”

(On what makes Phil Dawson so good in bad weather) -- “He’s kicked in it for a long time.  He’s very in tune with how the ball travels in the different conditions.  He’s dealt with a lot of challenging surfaces in terms of kicking surfaces.  He’s got that experience of kicking in inclement weather so that goes a long way to being successful because he can adjust whether it’s his approach or whatever the process is that kickers go through prior to kicking the ball that I don’t know a ton about.”

(On if part of being a successful kicker in bad weather has to do with attitude because Dawson says that he embraces the challenge) -- “I’m going to remind him of that on Sunday, this is what I was told (joking).  I do think he does enjoy the challenge of it.  I’d say mindset has a lot to do with kicking and punting, just understanding what the situation is and being confident that you can do the right things to maximize that situation.  Having the experience that Phil has had and the way that he’s very analytical after the fact whether it’s a missed or made field goal.  What did I do well?  Did I judge the wind well?  All those things he goes through his sort of check list and does a self scout after kicks that he then uses for the next time he’s in that position.”

(On why the linebackers have been playing so well without Fujita) -- “We talked a lot in here even in training camp and OTAs and as we got to the end of training camp about the volume of linebackers that we had.  It was really important to carry a lot of those linebackers and to have experienced linebackers so that if somebody goes down you had the ability to put somebody else in who could operate at a high level.  David Bowens filled in some, played quite a bit last week inside where he had been primarily working outside.  Jason Trusnik got a lot more work, Marcus Benard is continuing to come on and the experience that those guys whether it’s Bowens, Trusnik or Benard, the experience they got last season, Bowens has a lot of experience period but I’m just saying working inside as much as he did.  It helps when you do have an injury and you can have a guy go in that has been there and has made those calls and has played as much as they have.”

(On when Joe Haden was moved to the starting lineup, if it was automatic that it was in Eric Wright’s spot rather than Sheldon Brown’s spot) -- “I give Eric a lot of credit, he’s coming back from that injury pretty quickly and he’s still working through some things there.  I give him a lot of credit for how quickly he was able to and he’s still working through that and I’m impressed with the way that he’s handled it and how quickly he was able to come back and contribute.”

(On if all three of the corners could play based on match ups) -- “I could see all three of them playing in different capacities, there’s no hesitation what so ever to do that.  I want Eric to continue move along here in terms of getting completely healthy and he is he is working on it.”

(On why Joshua Cribbs’ return numbers aren’t the same as last year) -- “It’s like anything else we get the best shot from everybody we play.  There’s definitely a heightened sense of containing him and that’s typical when you face guys as dynamic as Josh is.  You’re going to do everything you can to make sure he doesn’t ruin the game and we’ve seen variations of types of coverages. Whether it’s overloads, directional kicks, even when the ball’s going to him there’s a concerted effort to get him as boxed in as they possibly can.  I thought that we made some real strides last week on our kickoff return game in terms of the physical way that we blocked.  There was a shot by Eric Alexander where he decleated somebody, Bubba (Ray Ventrone) decleated somebody, (Lawrence) Vickers decleated somebody.  That’s progress too and that whole group working together and being able to consistently work together is huge.  I’m looking for that to make some strides in the last quarter of the season here.”

(On if Cribbs’ foot is still affecting him) -- “It is.  This is the first week where he practiced on Wednesday.  Last week was Thursday the week before it was Friday.  It’s not 100 percent by any stretch but it’s important for him to be out there and to help.  He’s working through getting used to that and dealing with that.”

(On if Cribbs will play more wide receiver this week) -- “The goal is each week to do some more and get him back into the receiver rotation, get back into the Wildcat, being able to use all those things, all those components of what he does.”

(On if he has talked with Jason Trusnik about his playing time) -- “I feel pretty good about Jason knowing exactly how I feel about him.  He did a great job when he had a chance to start last year and he’s done a good job when he’s had a chance to play this year.  He’ll continue to have more and more reps and he does a lot of different things.  He’ll keep developing as a player, he’s a smart guy, he’s a versatile guy, he’s got a high motor and I’m really happy that he’s here and the contributions that he’s made.  Those will continue to grow, they really will.  I feel really good about him knowing how strongly I feel about him.”

(On if he sees Trusnik’s role in the defense expanding in the future) -- “He’s going to keep carving out more and more of a role.  It’s not uncommon for the progression that Jason has gone through where you go from a defensive end in college at a smaller school, to the practice squad and then you get your shot.  Last year, he played so much more than he had ever played before, the difference in numbers was staggering.  This year he’s getting more play time now and it will grow and as he continues to grow, he will carve out that bigger role.”

(On the role T.J. Ward has had this year) -- “He’s done a nice job.  You figure he’s started every game and I think his communication has improved, his understanding of the defense has improved.  With Joe (Haden) and T.J., I’ve been happy with what they’ve done but there’s things that we need to continue to focus on and work on and make sure that we get fixed and understanding how that’s a season long process.  Each week they learn more, each week they get a better understanding of how this all works and typically from the beginning of the year to the end of the year there’s real growth.  From the first season to the second season there should be some more growth because their comfort level improves.  T.J.’s done a really good job for a young guy who’s had to play a lot, a lot like Alex Mack last season.”

(On if it would be a ‘dream come true’ for him to have a running back reach 1,000 yards rushing by Week 14) -- “It’s nice.  It’s not typically on my dream list (joking).  I’d dream a little bit higher than that.”

(On if Peyton Hillis has exceeded his expectations in potentially accomplishing that feat) -- “I’m really happy for him and it’s nice too because that’s what he and I talked about on that first call.  Him waking up from a nap when we talked and I said, ‘You can come here and get 1,000 yards, you can do that.’  It’s nice to see that came true.  I really believed that when I said it and I’m really excited for him that we are getting closer.”

(On how much he pays attention to yards per carry and how that related to Hillis) -- “When you look at his historic production, the years that he was able to carry the ball he was at about 4.4. Sometimes it was even higher, I think he had one where he had 5.2 a carry.  It’s fantastic, it’s really positive.”

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