“Alright, [RB Tevin] Coleman and [DL] Dee Ford are questionable and [T Joe] Staley and [CB Ahkello] Witherspoon are out.”
Having Coleman back, what is that going to do for your offense that may have been missing?
“Just adding another good back. Tevin’s a good back, as everyone knows. Got him for about a half in the Tampa Bay game. Definitely being optimistic about him being ready to go on Monday. We’ll be excited to have him.”
Did you meet with the leadership council about the December trip?
“No, I haven’t yet. I’m supposed to, I keep forgetting to. I will at the hotel tomorrow night.”
But, you guys have an area that you’re planning on finalizing?
Can you tell us?
“I believe somewhere in Florida. Shouldn’t be as hot that time of year, so we should be alright.”
Dee was used a lot almost mainly on third downs against the Steelers. Do you anticipate that that’s kind of going to be the way you guy use him going forward?
“We’d like it not to be going forward, but with him coming off his injury and not getting enough practice time, that’s why we’ve been smart. I do believe he’s better right now than he was at that time. We had to do some things over the Bye Week that he had to recover from, so hopefully he’ll be full recovered by Monday night and can play and play a little bit more. We’re taking that day by day.”
You have an opportunity to go 4-0 and put a stamp on the early part of the season as very successful. Over the last two years, just given everything that you guys went through, was there every any doubt that you had that you wouldn’t be in this position at some point?
“The NFL is hard, whether you feel you’re more talented than most of the teams or less talented. It’s still extremely hard. I mean, we’ve won our first three games, but that makes me feel good about those three games, but there’s a long way to go in the season so it doesn’t do much for me just starting 3-0. We knew when we came here it was going to be tough just where we were at when we got here, we knew that would take some time. We expected the first year to go a little bit how it did, not exactly how it did. And we knew the second year would be tough, too. We expected to win more games than we did, but that is how we expected. We expected to be more competitive in year three and we do feel like we are right now. Being more competitive still doesn’t mean anything. You’ve got to play good football. It’s always tough and it’s going to be really tough Monday.”
With some of the turnovers that QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s had the first few games, how do you see him reacting to that knowing just how important that is going forward that he might not be able to get away with them so to speak?
“He knows how important it is. What I like about him is he knows, and we all feel the same, that you’ve got to do everything you can to avoid a turnover. Just sitting there and holding onto the ball, it’s very tough to win that way also. He’s very cognizant of it. Bad things do happen. I do like that he’s still not scared to let it rip. When it goes into last week and stuff or two weeks ago, I know we had a ton of turnovers, but two of his throws I thought were decent throws, they just got tipped and the center-quarterback exchange and the two fumbles. I know we had a lot of them last week, but I didn’t blame Jimmy for any of them.”
What happened on the center exchange?
“It feels like a month ago. I don’t think he got it all. You could see it a little bit on the TV copy. You never know as a coach because you can’t see so you just ask the center and the quarterback always and neither of them tries to throw each other under the bus so they always just say it was me. You could see a little bit of it. I don’t think the ball got up to him as much as it usually does.”
We talked about the technical difficulties of the blocks, especially FB Kyle Juszczyk and TE George Kittle have put on tape. Are those blocks and plays that you’re able to call now versus two years ago when one of those guys were newer in the system? Are you more confident in calling plays that require those kinds of blocks?
“Yeah, definitely. You’re more confident in running them in all types of looks. They are plays that we’ve always ran before here and since we’ve gotten here, but the more you run things with good players the better everyone gets. The two guys you just mentioned are extremely talented, very tough, but they get after it all week in the run game and I know they are two guys who definitely want the ball and want to have a lot more fun in the pass game. Those guys enjoy blocking just like they enjoy catching touchdowns. Usually, when you have that mentality, you’re that talented, you’re that smart and you get the reps, you always get better.”
How was WR Jordan Matthews at practice this week?
“He was good. We’ve messed with him because he had real fresh legs, which was good for him especially coming out compared to training camp so he looked real good. Jordan’s a pro, takes care of himself so he came in in great shape and didn’t miss a beat.”
Is he in a position where you’d feel comfortable having him active?
“Oh yeah, definitely. Yeah, definitely comfortable with that.”
The Browns defense has gotten a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, several sacks, 24 quarterback hits. How can you as an offense scheme to go against that?
“The goal always is to try not to become one dimensional. When you have that type of talented pass rushers, if you are one dimensional, I don’t care who’s blocking them, they’re going to get to your quarterback. The other ways people get to the quarterback are blitzes. When that happens you are going to take some hits sometimes, that’s part of the game, but also the more you can make them pay when they blitz, the less you get. It’s a little give and take with both.”
Is being productive in the run first and second down really important for that?
“Extremely important. But, it’s also just as important to do good on third down because you need to stay out there to do good in the run game, to get runs called. If you have short drives and stuff, it’s extremely hard to get that run game going. The key to running the ball, a lot of the times, depends on how good you’re passing and vice versa.”
How healthy is DL Nick Bosa now compared to what he was maybe a few weeks ago? How much did the Bye Week help? Do you envision him playing more snaps now because that ankle is--?
“Yeah, I do, because I don’t think he was in the training room nearly as much this week. I know he was full-go for practice throughout the week. I believe that was his first week like this since he got hurt in training camp. He’s definitely doing better.”
You guys talked in the offseason about the expectations for the defensive line to be dominant given the resources you put in to those guys to be able to take over games. Have you seen that? Obviously, they’ve been effective, but have you seen that or is there more to come do you think?
“I’ve seen that they’ve been the strength of our team in three games, but I don’t see them close to a finished product yet. We’ve got some talented guys who are also really good football players. A number of them have been battling some injuries and we do have some depth there which has allowed them to continue to be the stronger part of our team, but I think those guys are just getting started. If they continue to stay healthy, I think they’ll only get better.”
Juice scored his first career touchdown I think while you were with Cleveland against the Browns, do you remember that?
“Yeah, I think so. I think it was a fake screen to the right and they went to the left that got to Juice, I believe it was that or maybe the other way, but yes I do.”
Do you remember his celebration?
“No, I don’t.”
He did the LeBron.
“Now that you say that, I do remember that. I almost just said a bad word again, but
(laughter) it wasn’t that cool for him to do that in Cleveland.”
At what point did you identify him as a player that you really liked, that you would covet?
“I noticed him a lot that year because we were in the division, our tape crossed over all the time. I knew [Minnesota Vikings assistant head coach/offensive advisor Gary] Kubiak was there the first year that they used him so I got to see him on a lot of stuff that we like to do and we noticed him right away. I’d been waiting for a while for him to become a free agent. That’s why we went after the offensive weapon and got him.”
What’s the significance of the staff wearing all those shirts today?
“Just keeping us close together. There’s a number of things, I.G.Y.B., I got your back, but some different messages for us that are important to the guys in house. I kind of want to keep it a little bit in-house.”
Is that like a Friday practice things?
“Not always. This is the first time we’ve handed out shirts this year, but today definitely is Friday to us and if we’re going to do something like that we’d do it today.”
Jimmy’s been the most blitzed quarterback in the NFL so far this season. How much do you view that as a benefit that he’s had to deal with that much pressure especially after his injury?
“Pressure can be a very good thing and it can be a tough thing. Pressure sometimes keeps both teams in the game. Tampa Bay came out and pressured us almost every down and offensively we didn’t respond to it great. Cincinnati didn’t as much and we had a pretty good game and then Pittsburgh came after us just like Tampa and we responded a lot better. If you don’t respond to pressure well, teams are going to keep doing it. As a play caller and stuff, you like pressure because people are a lot more open, it’s easier to get guys open, but you’ve got to get rid of that ball and they’ve got to get open a lot faster.”