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What's Browns coach Eric Mangini saying?

By Nate Ulrich Published: December 29, 2010

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

Browns Head Coach Eric Mangini press conference 12-29-10

(Opening statement) -- “Good morning everybody.  Today it looks like Peyton (Hillis) will miss and Floyd (Womack) will miss and should be full go with everybody else.  In terms of our prep today, we started the work obviously on first down on the Steelers.  There are a lot of similarities in what we faced last week with what we face this week in terms of another really impressive defense. They’re in the top 10 in I think 19 different defensive categories and they’re able to generate pressure whether it’s three man, four man or any of their multiple blitz looks.  All their linebackers do a nice job of pressuring the quarterback and they bring them in so much different combinations and variations that it’s really important that we can come out ID the front, anticipate what we can get and then be able to block it up.  That’s true both in the passing game and in the running game and I thought Colt (McCoy) did a nice job with that the last time we played them.  It’s going to be important again here today.  Offensively, just like last week this is another strong armed quarterback, another guy who can hurt you in a lot of different ways.  He can make any of the different throws and where Ben’s (Roethlisberger) really impressive is the plays where he’s able to extend the plays and it happens every single game where it looks like you’ve got him and because of his strength, because of his mobility he gets out of trouble.  The receivers are so in tune with him in terms of reading out and finding an open place especially a guy like Hines (Ward) that they’re able to generate a significant amount of big plays off of those things.  They’ve been running the ball effectively, they’ve been running the ball consistently and a guy like Mike Wallace is a homerun waiting to happen on any play.  On special teams, it’s a tough, physical group that plays sound both in the coverage game and the return game and we’re going to have to be able to match that and create some opportunities enough so we do a good job of containing their returners.  They have a range of guys whether it’s (Emmanuel) Sanders, (Antonio) Brown, (Antwaan) Randle El, a range of guys that have returned for them this season.”

(On if Hillis is missing because of his knee or ribs) -- “It’s the ribs.”

(On on if he thinks Hillis will be ready for Sunday) -- “I do.  We’ll see, get him some rest here today and just see where he is, see where he is tomorrow.”

(On if there is an advantage for Colt McCoy or the Steelers since they have already played each other once this year) -- “I think it cuts both ways.  This will be I think the first time in the two years where we’ve actually had a quarterback face the same division opponent two consecutive games so it does help because he does have familiarity with their scheme, he’s played against it, he’s seen the speed with which they bring their pressures.  It is a different speed.  Some teams will pressure and they come hard but the Steelers do a nice job of timing it up and they also do a good job with disguising it so you really have to be in tuned with what you’re looking for to make sure that you can communicate it out to the group and get into the right checks.  I thought he did a great job especially considering it was his first time and having that experience will help him, but on the flip side it’s also their second time of working against him and they have the tape of us and him against that defense and the things he did well, things he did poorly.  There’s some upside to that too.”

(On if it said anything about McCoy when he stood in the pocket with James Harrison hitting him on throw to Evan Moore during the first game) -- “It was a great throw.  It was a really outstanding catch as well.  He had a couple of those throughout the course of the game and it’s not easy to do.  Standing in there and get it off the way that he did so I thought that that showed a lot.”

(On cornerback Charles Woodson and safety Troy Polamalu and if the cornerback or safety position is more valuable to a team) -- “There’s value in both spots.   When you got a player like that (Charles Woodson) where you can take him, feel comfortable putting him against the opponents best receiver that allows you to do some things where you can shift the coverage to the other guy or combinations of double team or blitzes. There are things that you can do when you have the ability to handle a huge threat by your opponent with one player.  The other part of that is you’ve got a guy like Polamalu, he affects the running game.  He affects the running game dramatically when he’s down in the box and he is an outstanding blitzer.  He’s got really good instincts in the passing game some similarities to Ed Reed in the sense that he instinctually knows where it’s going and gets a jump on a lot of plays.  He’s made some amazing plays in the passing game, just amazing interceptions, things like that, break ups and he can affect the whole field as a safety.  My perfect world you’d have them both, then you’re in good shape.”

(On how Polamalu can drive his coach’s nuts because he takes chances on his own but they let him go because it works 3/4 of the time) -- “I think his hit rate is a little higher than that, higher than 3/4.  I remember coaching Rodney Harrison and he was supposed to be over on a tight end and he was way over on the other side of the field and made a big play and I said, ‘What are you doing?’  He said, ‘I knew it was going there,’ at that point he had made enough of those plays, the amount of times where he was right versus wrong was so significantly skewed in his favor what you don’t want to do is coach them out of their instincts.  You want to make them so robotic that they’re not making plays that they’re naturally used to making plays and he makes a ton of them.  The other thing he does really well is disguise.  He’ll come down and it will look like it’s post safety defense, eight in the box, no doubt about it, he’ll be on the line of scrimmage and then fly to half the field and he’s got the speed and the range to do it.  It’s hard to get a good read on that and then he’s down there sometime you think, ‘Okay, he’s doing it again,’ and he comes off the edge and blows you up.  He’s impressive.  There’s another guy, I know we’ve talked a lot about guys developing, I don’t think he started his first year.  At the early part of his career, there were some questions as to what kind of player he would be.  Over time and with the experience and things like that, he’s just outstanding.”

(On if James Harrison has changed his style of play recently after all of the fines) -- “He’s still making a ton of plays, he’s still disruptive in the passing game and he’s still a big hitter.  I don’t see there being any kind of drop off in terms of his production or the hits he makes or the pressure he puts on the quarterback.”

(On the difficulties of having a different quarterback each time when facing division opponents) -- “Like anything else, you’d like continuity as much as you possibly can.  Each guy has a different skill set, each guy has strengths and weaknesses and sometimes you can’t always get to what you hope to get to because it really doesn’t fit that player, it really doesn’t make sense for that player.  Then you get another guy in and you shift it again, you get another guy in and you shift it again and you have to do that.  You have to have the plan that the quarterback can execute well.  You have to have a plan that the quarterback believes in and is a partner in because he has to execute those plays and he has to run the offense.  Having some continuity and being able to look at, ‘Okay, here’s the first game, here’s what we did.  What did you like?  What didn’t you like?  What were you uncomfortable with?  What else do you feel we could’ve done?’  Even talking to the guy about, ‘See now in this coverage they are doing X, Y and Z.  They got you on this last time, but here’s what to look for.’  It resonates because he’s experienced it, he’s seen it, you're talking about it together and there are things that you can then build off of.”

(On how continuity at the quarterback position and in the passing game would change things for Hillis) -- “It changes things for a lot of reasons.  Not just for him, but for the whole group to have one guy, one voice, it’s like anything else.  You’re building reps, you’re building a base of experience, you’re building guys working together and when you do have continuity, you can address things in other areas.  You can look at strengths and weaknesses, how they relate to that position and try to do things to reinforce their strengths whether it’s through personnel or scheme.  It helps.  There’s a buildup of, you say reps, but it’s experience, it’s chemistry, there are a range of words that you could use.”

(On if it is as simple as a better passing game will take heat off of Hillis) -- “The more you can be productive in the passing game and the more threats that you have, the bigger opportunities there are in the running game.  One builds off the other.  I think Atlanta is a good example of that where they have got the threats in the passing game, they have the threats in the running game and now you have to choose each snap as to what you want to do.  Do you want to go stop Michael Turner or do you want to play split safety defense and try to take away the receivers?  The nice thing that I think we’ve had this season with the addition of Ben Watson and the things that he’s done in the passing game is that puts a lot of threat in the middle of the field.  Now when you can attack all of those different areas and you’re balanced and you have the ability to be balanced, that forces them to be balanced and they have to choose each play, ‘What do we want to take away?’”

(On if he has seen a change in the hits to the head since the league has taken a firmer stance in protecting that area) -- “I haven’t been following the fines for other teams throughout the course of the season, so I don’t know what percentage of guys are getting fined this week versus that initial week or whether it has actually dropped or flat lined.  Maybe it’s just not as public or whatever the word is, so I don’t really know what the statistics are from that perspective.  You still see a lot of big hits, you still see a lot of aggressive plays.  I do think guys are really trying to do it the right way, but I didn’t feel like guys weren’t trying to do it the right way before.  Any time you can emphasize something positive for player safety, it’s good, so I hope it has changed over the course of the season.  But again, I don’t really know what the numbers are or the trends are.”

(On the recent awards for Joe Thomas and Peyton Hillis and Thomas making the Pro Bowl and Hillis not) -- “I think it’s great that Joe has this opportunity and it think it’s great too that this week, he gets to play against another Pro Bowler.  We get a nice preview of that, ours against theirs and see what happens.  His consistency, in terms of performance and playing that position, that’s not easy to do.  With D’Brickashaw (Ferguson) getting it in New York, that took a lot of time where Joe got it in his first year, that’s really hard to do as a young guy to come in and play left tackle and play it at the level that he’s played it at.  It’s tough.  With Peyton, he’s had an outstanding season in so many different ways with running the ball, catching the ball, the threat that he’s added to the offense, the amount of touchdowns and all of that, and also the guy.  You guys have talked to him enough times, you know what kind of person he is.  He’s going to be a productive player here for a long time with a chance to be really an outstanding player.  He’s also going to be a tremendous part of the community whether it’s charity work, he’s just what you look for.  I’m really happy that he’s here.”

(On if he was disappointed that there was only one Pro Bowl selection on the team) -- “We had a lot of guys that are alternates, whether they’re second or third alternates or whatever the category was.  The individual awards are always nice and you’re always happy for the guys that get them, but the one thing that I found with guys who have gotten those awards in the past and the most impressive thing is how much they acknowledge the contributions of their teammates who allowed them to do those things.  It’s a big deal to them, they’re proud of it, but yet the team goals are something that are much more important to them.  I think all of the guys that receive recognition, whether it was Joe who made it or the guys that were alternates, would all agree how important their teammates have been to them and how important it is for us to continue to improve as a team, which is what I really respect about them.”

(On if Hillis has worn down through the course of the season) -- “I think during the course of the season, everybody gets tired and everybody gets dinged up.  Really the injury that he had Sunday wasn’t a function of fatigue.  It happened early in the game and it was a hit.  I don’t think that anything to do with him being worn down.  It happens too sometimes Jeff (Schudel) where you get hit the wrong way and it’s just kind of the virtue of the position.  He’s going to get hit quite a bit.  He’s in tremendous shape, he takes care of his body really well and he relishes this role, but during the course of the season there is going to be wear and tear on all of the guys.  I think they all feel it.”

(On if there is some type of protective jacket that Hillis could wear to protect his ribs) -- “I’ll have to talk to Joe (Sheehan) and Brad (Melland) about it.  They’re obviously looking into it, they have the different things for quarterbacks like the rib protectors and things like that.  Maybe it will be a combination or a little bit of innovativeness, we’ll have to see.”

(On why Floyd Womack is missing practice) -- “Knee, that’s a little bit more of the same, giving him some time here at the early part of the week as opposed to there really being something that got injured during the course of the game.”

(On what improvements he expects to see from McCoy since his first game) -- “I thought he did a lot of good things in that first game.  I think the main thing for him would be protecting the football, we had the two interceptions.  What I liked a lot about last game is the amount of completions that we had in that game I think far outpaced the amount of completions we had in the previous two games against them the year before and that’s a big part of what you have to do.  You have to be able to move the ball.  They’re not always going to be deep but he did hit the deep pass to Evan (Moore) late in the game and he hit the out pass to Evan early in the game, he hit Ben Watson on a deeper ball, he hit Chansi (Stuckey) on a deeper ball so it was a nice combination of the catch of run type stuff and some plays down the field.”

(On if he feels comfortable with the wide receivers he has now or if he is going to have to add some guys) -- “In the offseason you go through all the different scenarios, options.  What I do like is, Brian’s (Robiskie) continued to improve as a receiver which is a real positive. Chansi’s (Stuckey) improved in terms of his level of production.  We added a ton of production with Ben (Watson) which I think has really helped us.  We lost Evan (Moore) however many games ago but he’s another guy that had been productive throughout the season.  If you can add players who give you more opportunities, make you more explosive, you want to get as many of those guys as you can in the passing game, in the running game.  I think Ben is a great example of that, Ben and Peyton are two guys that have significantly helped the offense.”

(On if he can live with some of the interceptions from a rookie quarterback) -- “No, because he doesn’t want that either.  He gets the importance of turnovers and whether it was last week against Baltimore.  The numbers are the numbers, they’re 75-3 when they’re plus one, the odds of winning games like that they’re not very good and that’s over time.  It’s a consistent deal so what kind of chance are you taking? Or are you taking a chance for the home run or are you taking the chance at 15-20 yards. Whatever it is it’s got to be balanced.  You want him to not play scared or to not play tentative but to just know, what are the odds here? What are the percentages here?  He’s good like that, he’s smart like that, it’s important to him and he gets how it all plays in.  With Colt, he’s harder on himself than any of us could be.”

(On how hard it is to construct a game plan against Pittsburgh offensively) -- “We’ve had success against them a lot of different ways in the past. Some of it’s scheme.  Josh (Cribbs) has done a good job against them in the past with some of the Wildcat stuff.  There are different things there but at some point you’ve got to be able to run the ball and you got to be able to do it effectively and there were points last game where we did that.  Now being able to do it consistently that’s the important thing and that’s the challenging thing.  They do a great job of controlling the football offensively which keeps the defense off the field and coming out and playing well defensively so the time of possession skews in their favor.”

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