Skip to main content

Opposing View: Cleveland Browns

On the challenge Cam Newton presents as a dual threat quarterback: "When Cam got in the league, I was in that division. So I've had the chance to go against him, know quite a bit about him and have so much respect for him. I think (offensive coordinator) Norv Turner's done a very good job,and I think Cam's grown and grown and grown each year as a quarterback. His athletic instincts are outstanding. The understanding of the game has improved and then the things that they're doing schematically pose a tough challenge. Not only is he so much more aware of the game now at the pro level, he's very comfortable with that part of it, he still poses that dual threat of running and throwing and that always makes it tougher on the defense when it's that way."

On the importance of having a stable quarterback situation: "Well, we all know this, you can be a really good team in this league, but if you're going to have a chance to compete, to be in the playoffs and to win championships, it's only going to happen when you have that kind of a quarterback. And when that guy gets to your organization, then you're able to build and build and build, but you have to have that type and you see the success Carolina has had once they got Cam in there. Again, he's just done a remarkable job leading that team. People see the example that he is as a worker, as a leader, and we think...we have that same guy here with Baker (Mayfield). He's made a lot of strides in a short amount of time, and I see a lot of similarities at the young level of some of the better quarterbacks and the almost 30 years I've been in the league that's been able to change a franchise. Baker has done a very good job in a short amount of time and is only going to grow, just as Cam has."

On how to maintain the players' focus when a team goes through midseason staff changes: "Well the biggest thing is, players are most comfortable when they're in the area of the locker room and the meeting room. Outside when they leave the facilities sometimes their life is somewhat chaotic, but it's a lot calmer, a lot more focused, everything's a lot more disciplined and they love it when they're in the building in those areas. We've always been, I've always been, wherever, I've been a pretty focused, disciplined, accountable, kind of a driving person and a driving mentor and a coach. So that hasn't been a problem. And I'll say this too, and please take this for what it's worth, when you have to worry an awful lot about extra motivating people or extra accountability of people, you've got the wrong people in the first place. The biggest thing is to get rid of those kind of people as fast as you can."

On Ron Rivera as a defensive play caller: "Ron's a good friend of mine. We go way back. A lot of similarities to a lot of the guys he played with at the Bears are good friends of mine too and have grown up with. As he came into the league and started moving up in the league, we've had several conversations as he was developing as a young coach and moving up into a coordinator and then getting the opportunity to be a head coach. I am very, very proud of him, too. He has done an outstanding job of leading young men, but he did that as a player. Players have a really good feel for when other people don't belong, and even as a coach if you don't belong and you can't be somebody you're not. You got to be your own self, no matter what you're coaching, no matter what you're leading, and he's done a very good job with that. He's very intelligent, we always know that too. He's been a player and as a coach a lot of different varying styles of defense. And then the biggest thing that I've seen him do is fit those styles in to the players he has right now. That's what any good coach does, he fits the scheme around the players, but doesn't make the players be forced into a scheme they can't do and Ron's always done a good job with that."

On the Browns offense should expect stylistically with Rivera calling the plays: "We've gone back and we've gone back and studied lots of different things. When he was more in charge other years, we've taken a look at those, too. We've dialed some of those things in to make sure we've got that discussed and what we're doing and putting a plan together. But the other thing is that we have to take a look at how we see the players that are there. It's not easy to just all of the sudden drastically completely change something in the middle of the year. You going to have to keep on going with what you've got. Maybe you don't quite dwell on one particular call as much as another guy who's calling it, but he'll do a good job. We've just got to be prepared for the variants that it could be, but it won't be a whole lot different than what it's already been as far as what the scheme responsibilities are."

On Rivera's play calling style: "I think he's been smart. I think he's been instinctive. I think he uses the aggressiveness in a very calculated way, and I think all the good ones do it that way."

On protecting Baker Mayfield and how he's dealt with defensive pressure: "The biggest thing is when this all kind of changed up a little bit, the thing that we talked about and the thing that I think that (offensive coordinator) Freddie (Kitchens) has done a great job was, when I went straight to him and said, 'Look, we need to be able to do the things that we can do.' Just what I was talking to you about Ron Rivera too, we got to do what we can do, and it's not built around scheme. It's built around the things that our players can do, and let's make sure we're doing it that way. I think the same thing we were doing is we made a couple of changes in the offensive line as far as how we are going about what we are asking them to do. But make no bones about it, I think you just alluded to it, the more you play as a quarterback the better you are on protecting your offensive line too on the rhythm of the ball coming out of your hand and then the understanding of how to change and check the protections to help out certain people. He's done a very good job with that. He has the ability to buy extra time when that's OK. But the big thing is, I haven't seen him force that. He's not forcing, trying to buy extra time because he's recognizing coverage faster and getting the ball out of his hand."

On how Newton's shoulder injury changes the way you defend him: "Well I'll tell you this, when I see the film, I've heard the reports too, I see the film and I still see him able to zing it when he wants to and when he has a solid pocket to where he can get his entire body weight behind it, he can still do that. When all of the sudden you're off your back foot or you're not in the same formation or the same form of being upright and being able to transfer your weight, I don't care what quarterback it is, you're going to have a chance to throw it off your back foot at times the way he has, you're not going to have as much arm strength. But I still see the arm strength, we're still very respectful of that and we've got to make sure we understand that we don't want him to throw the deep ball on us."

On if he's seen any dip in Newton's arm strength in recent years: "I really haven't had a chance to see, no not on the really deep balls. And then I've been with teams too before that on that last special play at the end of the game where if you had a guy that had a rocket all of the sudden we let that guy do it anyway too. It's also a way to take another hit off of, or less chances of a hit off that quarterback that's in that situation when you're trying to throw one up at the very end of the game. I really haven't seen a lot of change, no."

On if he views the last month of the season as a job audition: "I'll tell you this, I feel very good about the fact that I've got almost 30 years in this league. I love what I do. I love coming to work every day. I really like Cleveland; I turned down a lot of different jobs to come here and would love to see everything work out here, but this is a great league to be in and I love coaching in the National Football League for as long as I can. I think I've got a lot of years left, and if it's for Cleveland that's be fantastic. I really like this franchise. I like the young players that are here, and I think they're set up to be pretty good for quite a while, especially in this division. I enjoy what I do and just want to keep doing it."