Head Coach Bill O'Brien**
Quarterbacks Coach George Godsey
RB Arian Foster
QB Ryan Mallett
C Chris Myers
DE J.J. Watt
Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine Conference Call
Browns QB Brian Hoyer Conference Call
Head Coach Bill O'Brien
(on if he has and update on ILB Brian Cushing and OLB Jadeveon Clowney) "Yeah, those guys they practiced today and I thought that they moved around pretty well. I still would put them in that day to day category. We'll see how they feel in the morning, but it looked decent today, that's for sure."
(on if ILB Brian Cushing and OLB Jadeveon Clowney have a shot to play on Sunday at Cleveland) "Sure. Yeah, it definitely looks good that they would have a shot to play on Sunday."
(on what it would mean to the linebacking crew to have ILB Brian Cushing and OLB Jadeveon Clowney back in the lineup) "First of all, I believe overall, whoever the linebackers that have been in there have played pretty well. I think those guys have done a good job. Any time you can add two more quality players to the group, of course you're expecting that group to play well. They looked decent today. We'll see how it goes tomorrow and then Friday and then we'll make a determination sometime before the game on who the linebackers will be."
(on the Browns and Texans running the ball more than any other teams and if he likes that old-fashioned style of football with the weather elements as well) "I love it. I just think this time of the year, my memories of football especially coaching wise were where it was snowing in some of the bigger games that I've been fortunate enough to be a part of, where it came down to who controlled the ball the best, who performed the best in the weather and the win and the snow. Those are the games you really remember. It looks like that is what this game is shaping up to be. It's Cleveland. It's November and it probably will be snowing and windy."
(on why coaches and players like football in the elements) "I just think that this is the time of the year where really the season takes shape. These are the, not that—every game is important. Every single game is important, but at this time of the year, when you're still in the hunt, these games are very, very important to your season. They usually coincide with winter time and that type of weather. That's what I think most players and coaches and look forward to that time of year."
(on two physical teams matching up and in a generally pass-happy league) "At the end of the day, that's what this game is all about. It's a very physical game. Especially in this type of game, it's going to come down to who can run the ball, who can stop the run, who can take care of the ball, who does the best job of situational football. They have a really good special teams unit. They've blocked two punts. They've blocked a field goal, so it comes down to special teams and usually all of those areas involve the physical area of the game and that's the part of the game that I love the most. I love the strategy. I really enjoy the players obviously, but that physical part of the football game is something that all coaches and players really enjoy."
(on if they will take different types of cleats and equipment to prepare for various field
conditions on gameday) "I think at the end of the day, the player has to be comfortable with what type of cleats he's wearing. We make, depending on what kind of surface it is you know, obviously Cleveland, natural grass—we'll see what the weather is like up there—but we'll make recommendations relative to the weather as to what we think the players should wear and we'll have it all. Jay Bird (Jay Brunetti) will have everything there ready to go. At the end of the day, the players have to be comfortable with what they're wearing. I don't force the issue on the players, but I'm sure that the players are smart enough to know that they need some good traction based on what type of weather it is."
(on the New England quarterback meeting room and the interaction between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett) "It was very good, very good. We had a good room. The most important thing was that you were able to get along with (Tom) Brady. The relationship with those two guys didn't really matter; you better get along with Tom Brady. No, I'm kidding. I think that was a good group of guys in that room with Tom and Brian and Ryan. Ryan was a rookie and I think he learned a lot that year. He learned a lot about the NFL. When you're in a room with Tom and Brian, who at that time was in his third year, those guys really do a good job of working with the younger players. Specifically to Brian and Ryan, I would tell you that they had a good relationship there. Brian is a good guy; he's a good teammate, and so was Mallett. It was a good room."
(on how QB Ryan Mallett has responded since he was given the starting role) "You know, I think with him, I just really enjoy coaching him because of his personality. I think he's a good teammate. He's really into football. He loves football. Even when he was on the sideline in the games, he was somewhat of a coach on the sideline kind of trying to tell us what he would see and what things were standing out to him during the game. He just loves being around the team and he's shown that now as the starter. He's out there; he's doing a good job of operating the offense. It seems to me that he's doing a good job of throwing the football. We're all excited to see what he's going to do on Sunday."
(on QB Ryan Mallett saying that his football IQ was his biggest asset, not his arm and what he has seen from Mallett and his football smarts) "He was a guy that even when we were preparing for him when we were studying him in the draft. He played at Arkansas for Bobby Petrino which was a very pro offense. He had very, very good knowledge of that offense. I can remember talking to him when he was coming out for the draft, where I just felt like he was a very knowledgeable guy which he is. I just felt that he was a knowledgeable football guy. He studies. He's in here all the time. I would say that about Fitzy (Ryan Fitzpatrick) too. Fitzy and (Tom) Savage has learned from those two guys, how important it is to study and learn the game of football, especially at this level. I think Mallett has done a good job of that."
(on if there is any knowledge of coaching QB Brian Hoyer when he was in New England) "I don't know. I don't know if that is an advantage. I know Hoyer relative to the New England system that I coach him in. This is a different system that he is in. Obviously with Mallett having not played that much, I'm sure they're looking at some of the things that we do and things like that, but I don't look at that as much of an advantage. I look at it more in that the Houston Texans are ready to go and that we understand what we need to do to win the game. Cleveland is a very, very good football team. They're 6-3 for a reason. They're well-coached. They're very good on defense. Offensively, they do a really good job of running the football, play-action passing and then special teams. Special teams has done a good job for them, so it's a big challenge for us."
(on if in 2011 he would've imagined he would be head coach of an NFL team and that Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett would be starting opposite each other) "I know this, anything is possible in football. I can tell you that. It's just the way it goes. It is pretty interesting though, I read somewhere that this was labeled the 'Brady Backup Bowl' or something like that. These guys are starters now and you give Brian Hoyer a ton of credit. He's a hard-working guy, comes from a great family, just a great guy and he's had a lot of success. He deserves that. He's earned that. He's done a good job. Mal (Mallett) has a shot now, has an opportunity to go out there and lead our football team. So far, in practice, I've really liked what I've seen and let's see how it goes on Sunday."
(on RB Arian Foster's status) "That's definitely day-to-day. That's definitely—we'll come in here tomorrow and see how he's doing, but that's definitely day-to-day."
(on how Tom Brady interacted with Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett in New England) "Very well. Yeah, I thought he did a good job of answering their questions and really just setting an example—more than anything, just setting that example of how to prepare, how to work, how to approach practice every day. I just thought he was really good about that. I think those guys would, not to speak for them, but they would probably consider themselves fortunate to have had the opportunity to back him up for a few years because I'm sure they learned a lot from the coaching and also watching him prepare week-in and week-out."
(on if the backups learned more from watching Tom Brady and his interaction with those guys) "You'd probably have to ask him. I know when I was in the room with those guys—obviously the meeting was mostly geared towards Tom, getting ready for the game. I would say that if those guys had questions, I know that he's a good teammate and would answer them. These two are smart guys, Mallett and Hoyer, I'm sure they took advantage of that. That's probably more of a question for Tom. I'm sure he could answer that better than me."
(on QB Tom Brady saying today that he was looking forward to watching the game on TV) "I'm sure he is. I'm sure he is. He'll probably be watching it. I don't know when they play. I'm not sure what time their game is. Is that the night game? Yeah, I'm sure he'll be watching it. He'll probably get a kick out of it."
(on if there is anything that surprises him about DE J.J. Watt) "Nothing surprises me about J.J. Watt. This guy, it's like all the little things. Little things that you see this guy do every day that you really hope the younger players are watching this guy and how he approaches the game. He has certain obligations on Tuesday—Tuesday is their day off. So he comes in and gets his lift in early. He makes sure that he gets his workout in that he has to get in for the week. Or he's in here every morning at 6 AM taking care of his body, doing different things, watching film. He stays late. I saw him in here the other night. It was like 8 o'clock at night. The guy is everything that you want in a football player and in a teammate. It's just great to have him on our team. I'm glad he's on our team, that's for sure. You watch him every Sunday and you're very, very glad that he's on your team."
(on DE J.J. Watt having to combat lots of different looks from offenses trying to slow him down) "As far as how they block him? I'll say this too, I think that's a great question. I think that we, as a coaching staff led by Romeo (Crennel), on that side, they do a really good job of moving him around. I think if you ask opposing coaches, I think it's very difficult to get a beat on him and where he's going to be aligned because he's an end, he's inside at three-technique, sometimes he's on the center, sometimes he could be floating around, walking around and times up a blitz from somewhere where he's walking around. I think that's a big key. I think J.J. would say that. I think he would tell you that it's good to be moved around, but I think the thing that makes him such an impactful player on every play is that it's not just him defeating single blocks. He beats double-teams quite a bit. If you watch the tape and you watch whether it's a run or a pass, where he's getting double-teamed, he splits it, he beats it. He did it several times last week against Philly. He's just a very, very difficult guy to block. He's relentless and just does a great job."
Quarterbacks Coach George Godsey
(on working with QB Ryan Mallett in New England) "So, my first year there I was a little bit more involved with the quarterbacks. That is when Ryan's first year was, too. We developed a relationship, we worked before practice, we worked after practice and we worked during game weeks when he was an inactive quarterback. We worked together at learning the offense as far as protections, points and I think that's what he's talking about."
(on if he worked with QB Ryan Mallett when he was coaching the tight ends in New England) "I think within all of our coaches there is always crossover with each position. I have been in the room with the quarterbacks and being a former quarterback I think there is always going to be a little bit of a relationship from stand point."
(on what Browns QB Brian Hoyer was like in New England) "Hoyer was the backup quarterback that year. He did a good job for us. I think within every quarterback room there has got to be a chemistry and I think that was a good room from a chemistry standpoint from top down. That's kind of how we try to model our quarterbacks."
(on the relationships between the three quarterbacks in New England during his time there) "I just think that in the quarterback room and for that position, which we feel is a very difficult position especially in this league, that there has got to be a little bit of chemistry from one, two, three and coaches in between. There is always going to be certain things that maybe your eyes pick up quicker than somebody else's eyes. I think that everybody working to try and get to the final goal, I think that's what that room is about. It's not just necessarily hand him the keys and good luck. I think just right now for us, Ryan (Fitzpatrick) is doing a good job of bringing things up that maybe he's experience that will help Ryan (Mallett)."
(on QB Ryan Mallett not being in Houston for preseason and if he ran the same offense in New England) "I wouldn't say it's the same offense. I'll say this regarding every NFL player whether you're first team or backup or a practice squad player, it's really your responsibility to catch yourself up and get up to speed with the rest of the team if you've missed time for whatever reason. If you're just acquired recently, I think that from a players' standpoint, that's their responsibility. From a coaching standpoint, any extra time that I've had I've spent with the quarterbacks. Everybody in that room to make sure that something that may be cloudy is cleared up."
(on if QB Ryan Mallett has met his expectations) "I think that my expectations are day-to-day. For example, for today it was really our first full day of preparation for Cleveland. We did some things Monday, but today was our first full day of preparation for Cleveland. What I expected today was for him to go out there and execute what we installed and really to take it day by day. Make sure on the normal downs and some of the third downs and certain situations that we worked today that he feels comfortable and we're on the same page as far as how we see this game and how we want him to play the game. And then tomorrow to work more into the third down and the red area and the two minute and those situations, and just continue to build so at game time both from a coaching standpoint and a playing standpoint, we feel real comfortable about where we're at."
(on QB Ryan Fitzpatrick being sacked 15 times in four games and how QB Ryan Mallett can come in and do better) "I think both Fitzpatrick and really Ryan Mallett, we've talked about in that room, there are some scenarios where Fitz would agree that he probably could have gotten rid of the ball and he maybe decided to run. I think from Mallett's standpoint, he's got to understand his strengths and his weaknesses. I don't think he's breaking any records in the 40-yard dash, but he is able to move around and deliver the ball. I think that he understands that. In order to really execute it that way, you have to practice that way. You can't expect to hold the ball in practice and know, well, 'I'm going to go ahead and work this route.' You have to get rid of it and really practice how you play. That's really our expectations for him."
(on if the offense is creating packages where QB Ryan Mallett can excel) "I think that by each player at each position we're going to try and put the offense in a good position to succeed and really make yardage. Our job out there is to score points and we need to do a better job of that. We need to start faster and we need to execute for 60 minutes. We're trying our best to put every player in a position to execute that way."
RB Arian Foster
(on how he's feeling) "Great."
(on if he's planning on playing Sunday) "That's the plan. Going to keep on working out. We shall see."
(on the potential for snow in Sunday's game) "That's part of playing in the NFL. If it snows, you've got to go."
(on if he's played in snow before) "No, I haven't played in snow in the NFL. As a kid I did, but not for a while."
(on going against former teammate RB Ben Tate) "That's my boy, man. It'll be good to see him. Glad he got his opportunity out there. It will be good to see him."
(on the importance of the run game with a quarterback making his first start) "I think anytime you're trying to establish the passing game, play-action and stuff like that, you have to establish the run. Running is a very important part of the offense."
(on if he gets amazed at what DE J.J. Watt is doing on defense) "Yeah. He's an amazing talent. It's fun to watch him do what he does."
(on his thoughts on a defensive player potentially winning MVP) "Awards, man, they're just awards. The way he's doing it, it's amazing to see, but I don't get caught up on awards because it's voted on by press writers and people that whatever."
QB Ryan Mallett
(on Browns QB Brian Hoyer) "He's a really good guy. He knows football. He's smart. He gives their team a chance to win the game. He doesn't turn it over much and he makes good decisions."
(on his relationship with QB Brian Hoyer from his time in New England) "He's a good dude. I mean, I didn't get to spend a lot of time with him besides the stadium. He's married, got kids, so that's not my role. But I'm saying he's a good football player, he's a great guy, he's a great person on and off the field. They've got a good quarterback."
(on New England drafting him with Browns QB Brian Hoyer on the roster) "That's definitely part of the business. You're obviously competing for a job, but at the same time that's the guys you work with every day. You've got to be able to balance that out."
(on if Browns QB Brian Hoyer welcomed him in New England) "Brian helped me out a lot when I got there. He didn't turn his shoulder to me or anything. That's why I say he's a good guy. He's not one of those guys that are just like, whatever."
(on what excited him about Sunday's game) "I'm just ready to play football. It's been a while, so I'm ready to go."
(on if weather factors into his preparation) "I don't think it changes any preparation. Deal with what comes. You can't change it. We don't have a little meter to turn the temperature up or anything. We've just got to be ready to go. It's not something we're really thinking about. It shouldn't be. We need to be worried about the Browns."
(on if he feels like he has command of the team) "I do. That's probably a better question for you to ask those guys. I always feel like that. It's just my personality."
(on the kind of relationship he built with Browns QB Brian Hoyer) "A good one. He's a good guy. Like I said, Brian is a good teammate. He's doing well for their team. Not turning the ball over. He's playing smart."
(on battling QB Brian Hoyer in New England) "He helped me when I asked questions and he was very welcoming. He wasn't trying to hide anything. He was a good teammate."
(on his demeanor in the huddle) "It's a long game. You have to go with the ebbs and flows of the game. There is going to be good plays, bad plays. You have to remain mainlined, streamlined and keep battling through whatever happens."
(on who has called him about getting the starting opportunity) "I haven't really had my phone on me too much. It's kind of crazy. I just kind of throw it to the side. I'm just ready for Sunday."
(on what he's done to make up for not being here in training camp) "Being in a similar system, it's just different players. The system part of it was alright. I just had to get my timing down the guys that play. Like you said, I was with the backups a lot, but with Andre (Johnson) and Hop (DeAndre Hopkins) and those guys and D.J. (Damaris Johnson), just getting my timing down with them. I felt like I was given the chance to have reps with them to be able to develop chemistry to get to this position. It's not an easy offense to learn, so it helps being a part of it the last few years."
(on if he thinks his arm is his biggest asset) ""Not at all. I think my football IQ is probably my biggest asset. You can always improve. You can never be complacent."
(on how he feels his accuracy is) "There are always things that you can work on no matter what part of your game it is. I try to refine every part when something comes up."
C Chris Myers
(on the importance of establishing the running game with a quarterback making his first NFL start) "The running game is always important no matter who is behind center. I think being able to kind of establish the run early in the game is going to help out any offense no matter who is behind center. Obviously going to help out a new quarterback."
(on the possibility of having harsh weather conditions in Cleveland) "Played up there a couple times in my career, it's always a nice little breeze. With the temperature, it's supposed to be nice and cool. Being able to rely on the ground game is going to be big. If we have to put it in the air, we have to put it in the air, and (Ryan) Mallett has an arm."
(on if it surprised him the Texans and Browns are running the most percentage-wise in the league) "Nope. I don't pay attention too much to stats. The only thing that matters is the W on the scoreboard at the end."
(on if he takes a lot of pride in being able to run the football) "I take a lot of pride opening holes for the guy, so yeah, if that equates into stats, then so be it. But being able to kind of open the holes and protect your quarterback is what you take pride in."
(on having the running game effective with QB Ryan Mallett under center) "Like I said before, it's not much more important, it's always important. It's always important to establish the ground game. That's going to be able to take the heat off in terms of Mallett's passing, but in general as an offensive line you want to be able to keep him off the ground and be able to establish the run."
(on if he can tell QB Ryan Mallett is confident in the huddle) "He's always been a confident guy in terms of the offense. You can tell he's very comfortable in it. He being around it for a few years now, he's definitely a smooth transition in terms of taking it over. He's been in there for reps every single practice being able to take it in case something happened to Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick) during the season, but you can definitely tell when you're in the huddle and when you're at the line of scrimmage that he operates it very smoothly."
DE J.J. Watt
(on if he likes old fashioned football with a lot of running from both teams) "I enjoy old fashioned football. You know, I grew up in Wisconsin. It's supposed to be cold in Cleveland this weekend, possibly snow. I grew up playing in the snow myself. I do; I enjoy that style. I enjoy that physicality. It's fun."
(on if he sees a difference with Cleveland playing three running backs) "I think they do a good job with those three, and obviously when you have more backs, you keep fresher legs. I think that's one thing that will help them. They're all very good, so we need to make sure we account for all three."
(on what has allowed the Browns to run successfully) "I think it's a combination of things. I think they're offensive line, I think they're running backs and then their scheme also helps. I think all three things work very well together. Their offensive line understands their scheme and they work very well within the system together. Their running backs know what they're looking for and where to attack. And then obviously they do a good job with their play calls and some of the things that they do. They've been very effective, and obviously that's my job and our defenses' job to work to slow that down."
(on how he handles the national coverage despite his other commitments) "It's really easy, actually. I'm very fortunate, A, to have a good team around me. But the one thing that anybody who knows me, whether it's family, friends or people I work with, they know that football comes first. I get all my work done, I put it in extra work and you do all type of extra things and then if there is an opportunity to do something then I take advantage of that. I also have my mom and a great team of people helping with my foundation, so they take that off me for the season. Great people here help me with everything. It's really just time management. Like I've said before, when I don't' have really too much going on outside of football in my life, it opens up opportunities to do many more things because my day is pretty wide open every day. It's football, football, football and then anything else and go to sleep."
(on if his friends from back home are giving him a hard time after being on two national magazine covers) "No, I think that's what's great about my friends from back home. They're very proud and they've seen all the hard work and they've seen everything. And so it's really cool to share these experiences with them because there are not too many people that you can call and say, 'Man, did you see that? How cool was that,' without sound arrogant or something. And so I can call my buddies and they can share right with me how unbelievable this whole ride is. It's very neat to have people that understand and who I get to actually sit back and be like this is pretty cool."
(on CB Johnathan Joseph speaking highly of his impact besides his stats on the field) "I appreciate it very much. The opinions that matter the most to me are the guys—first off my family and friends, obviously—but the guys in this locker room and the coaches and the people who I work with on a daily basis. To hear them say things like that, it's awesome. I mean, that's your goal to do so many things that people almost forget about some of them. I try to do everything that I do as well as I can."
(on if he feels like he is doing better this year than in previous years) "I don't really know. I think one thing I'm trying to do is I'm always working to be as good of a leader as I can be. Chiming in and be as obviously a good teammate for my teammates, but also trying to lead these guys. As I go up in my career, obviously I want to lead more and more, and so that's always my goal."
(on if being a leader is something that comes naturally or if he works on it) "It's something that you can. You also, you have to work on obviously. There are parts of it that come naturally and then there are parts of it that you have step up outside yourself and say, 'OK. We need something.' But I enjoy it. It's fun. The best way to lead is to go out there and make plays. That's why I enjoy making plays."
(on going to back to playing strong defense after Philadelphia rushed for 190 yards) "We need to do it consistently, obviously. We need to go out there and play within ourselves, play within the system, be gap disciplined, understand what's going on, and obviously the better run defense you play, you force them into different situations. Then they don't run the ball as much. It all goes hand in hand and we have to make sure we come out of the gate early and try to set that precedent."
(on how much NT Ryan Pickett has helped since he arrived) "He's been great. I love Pick. He's a good guy. He knows his role. He performs his well very well and he's very effective at it. He's a great guy to have around."
(on how much it will mean if ILB Brian Cushing and OLB Jadeveon Clowney would get healthy) "That would be great. That would obviously be great. Good football players that we really enjoy having out there on the field."
(on what kind of leader he feels QB Ryan Mallett can be) "I'm looking forward to finding out. I think it's one of those things that we had a bye week and this is his first chance to get the start. It's new for everybody. It will be new, it will be interesting, it will be exciting and we'll see how it goes. My job as a defensive player is to do as well as I can and make sure that my defense as well as we can to help put him in good situations so that he could have success."
(on what he's seen from QB Ryan Mallett in practice) "I know when I bat one of his balls I sure feel it. That's what I know. But yeah, I'm obviously looking forward to seeing what he can do out there."
(on if playing in the snow brings back childhood memories) "I look forward to it. Growing up in the cold, it's a little bit different than down here. Football season is kind of when you start to get that crisp in the air in Wisconsin. As you play, you start to get a little bit more and then some snow. So down here, today is really one of the first times we've really had some crisp in my air. I've got a little pep in my step and I'm loving it. It's pretty great to have this weather and I look forward to going up to Cleveland and playing up there and maybe there is a wintery mix like they like to call it."
(on if there is anything new opposing teams are doing to him this year) "Yeah. There is also new and different things and it varies week to week, but that's part of the fun. It's part of the ongoing chess match and it's part of the challenge. I've always said that's what make it more exciting when you do get back there and you do get home because you know they're trying to account for you."
(on the specific things opposing teams are doing to him) "I can't tell you that. Come on. I can't give away anything. I'll tell you after the season."
(on if moving around the defensive line is his choice or part of the plan) "It's a combination of both. Sometimes it's within the scheme of within the system. There are certain different things that we do and then there are also times where I get the freedom to move around a little bit. I've been very fortunate both in Wade Phillips and now in Romeo Crennel that we've had that trust between us that they trust me to know that I'm going to help the team and I trust them to put us in the best position as well. I'm very fortunate."
(on when he started having the freedom to move along the defensive line) "It started to come a little bit later. More so in my second year, but it came as it went. It sure didn't start like that. That's for sure."
(on what he'd do if QB Ryan Mallett were to take a selfie before the game) "I'll make sure I have a talk with him about that. He can take one today though, just not Sunday."
Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine Conference Call
(on the success with Browns QB Brian Hoyer this year) "It's been tremendous. I think any time you feel a need to play a rookie from day one, I think you're asking for trouble. That was one of the things we talked about. Brian was very much an unknown coming out of last year that he only started the three games and showed glimpses of being successful, but then he had the knee injury. That was why we felt the need to address it in the draft. I'm very much on record saying that I would have preferred to play a guy with a little bit more experience as opposed to a guy that's a first time true rookie. You see a lot of examples of it around the league that it's worked out where a rookie has had to play behind a guy. Brian's been outstanding for us and his preparation, work ethic and leadership. So far so good; he's had a heck of a year for us."
(on how Browns QB Brian Hoyer was able to keep focus with QB Johnny Manziel on the roster) "He's handled it really well. If you look at the start of training camp, he had his struggles. I think we all realized internally that he has a lot on his plate. Here he is in his home town, his first time getting the start and being the guy who's number one, and then he's coming off the knee, hadn't really taken any true 11-on-11 reps since the injury going into camp, and then dealing with all the Manziel hype, it was a lot on him. Part of both of the quarterback struggles, I take the blame for because I kept it as a competition and we were constantly rolling the groups and they weren't really getting to play with a consistent supporting cast and consistent time at number one or at number two. And then I think once we finally went ahead and made the move and announced Brian as the starter, we all had confidence once he was in there with the same supporting cast and working on specific game plans that he would improve. We were fortunate that was the case. So much credit goes to him the way he's handled it. As you said, he had a lot of stuff going on and he's fought through a lot and performed at a high level."
(on the difficulties of going against a team that just changed quarterbacks) "It's a very different skill set. I was very familiar with Ryan (Fitzpatrick) having gone against him when I was with New York for a bunch of years. I was very familiar with his skill set. (Ryan) Mallett is very much an unknown. You see the big arm, you see the presence in the pocket, and you know the pedigree. We know firsthand from Brian (Hoyer). Anytime who's spent time in New England in that system as Tom Brady's pocket, you can't help but learn a lot about football, how to read defenses, how to game plan and implement it, all the preparation stuff. It's difficult because we don't have a lot of tape, but we're expecting to see a quality starter."
(on his thoughts about RB Arian Foster) "I think he's one of the best if not the best or the most complete back. Three downs, plays all three downs, he's a big factor in the pass game, there is a lot of targets there. He's to me one of the better natural running backs. I think he's ideal for the zone scheme. Very patient, can change pace, understands and can let blocks develop and then make cuts off of it. The uncanny thing is he knows how to finish runs. Very rarely do you see him tackled for a loss or very little gain. You think you have him for a yard or two and the next thing you know it's second and five, second and four. I think that's been one of his most positive attributes from the beginning."
(on if he thinks RB Arian Foster is the most complete back in the league) "He's up there. Just the fact that he can play all the downs and that's rare. When you have a guy that is as big a threat on third down as he is on first and second; you look at the numbers. He's averaging over five yards a carry. I think he has 20 something catches, I believe, a bunch of them for first downs and he's hit some big plays in the pass game. I think he's got better hands than most and is a pretty good route runner."
(on the type of season DE J.J. Watt is having) "It's pretty rare to have a guy at his position that can have that big effect on the game. That he can make a play to get a turnover, get a sack, a stripped fumble or to tip the ball up to himself and score, it's just rare to see a guy that is that complete a player. When you talk about going down the checklist of tell me about what a dominant defensive end should look like; and he's got the size, he's got the speed, but I think it's the total package because all of the intangible stuff comes into play. How he prepares himself, how he takes care of his body, what he does when he leaves the building, his leadership; you can tell he makes the guys better around him. There is no weakness. He's a guy that you could look at him and say, 'sometimes he's a risk taker. He'll jump around blocks.' When he takes risks, he's usually right when he guesses and I doubt they're guesses. They're very educated because you could tell that he studies tape, he knows tendencies, he knows a lot of information about the offense he's going against and he puts it to good use."
(on if DE J.J. Watt is a legitimate MVP candidate) "I believe so. When you impact the game as much as he does and the ability for a defensive guy to not just be able to get sack production and tackle production, but takeaways and score points, that's unprecedented."
(on if he can see DE J.J. Watt being the MVP of the league) "I don't know what award you wouldn't consider him for. A lot of times a lot of those individual awards are tied to team success, but I challenge you to find a defensive player that is doing more for their and is having more production than he is, and then if he's that impactful than you could put him in the discussion for overall. I know it's hard to be out a quarterback, but I think he should be in the discussion."
(on the Texans defense moving DE J.J. Watt around the defensive line) "I think it's very smart. When you move a guy around, it makes it very difficult on an offense to draw a beat on a guy. Let's say a guy always lined up as the left defensive end, than you could really build your game plan around what runs are we going to run, what formations are we going to use to make sure we can get a double team there. When you break the huddle and the first thing you have to do is find where he is and adjust accordingly, that can be troublesome for an offense. I think it's very smart that when you have a dominant player- you just look at what like Buddy Ryan used to do with Reggie White. Used to move him all around. Put him over the center, put the over the guard and put him over the tackle. Right before the snap, shifted him. Those are some very difficult things that offenses have to deal with."
(on if it benefits QB Ryan Mallett that he game planned against Mike Pettine coached defenses six times in his career) "I do because it was a big part of their prep going against whether it was Buffalo last year or the Jets in the years before that. Everybody takes notes and can go back and refer to their game notes. Even if it's a situation where he can call (Tom) Brady up and have discussions about it. I wouldn't call it significant, but it's a piece of it. He hasn't gone out and played against our system. It's a little bit different preparing for it and seeing it in practice as opposed to actually being the quarterback in the game. I'd put a lot more weight in it if that were the case. But certainly, I'm sure it gives them a real good head start for his preparation this week and then you add on top of that the extra time to prepare given the bye week. I'm sure there is a lot things from his past that he can use moving forward against us."
(on how Browns QB Johnny Manziel is around the facility) "Johnny Manziel the football player has been great for us. He comes in the building, he prepares, he helps Brian (Hoyer) out as far as his preparation as the starter, he works hard in practice, he works hard in the weight room, he works hard in the meeting room. If you lived under a rock and you didn't know who he was and you just kind of spent some time around the building, he's just another guy on the team. There is nothing in the way he carries himself that you would think that there is any diva like qualities or anything like that. He's humble and he's a worker. You could tell. His game has come a long way since the beginning of the season. Just coming off the practice field now; he had a heck of a day throwing when he was taking the reps as the backup and also some of the scout team reps."
Browns QB Brian Hoyer Conference Call
(on his relationship with QB Ryan Mallett during their time in New England) "It was great. For me, spending that time in New England was so valuable and I think Ryan would say the same thing. As far as our interaction, we competed on a daily basis and it made us both better I think. He'd probably say the same thing. I just talked to our media about him. They wanted to know. I said strongest arm I've ever seen, and I mean it when I say that. Obviously our coaches have asked us about him and Coach Billy (Bill O'Brien), his scheme and stuff like that. I try to give them as much as I can to help, but I've got to focused on the Houston defense."
(on the personal side of his relationship with QB Ryan Mallett) "It was fine. I think any time; the quarterback position is so unique in the NFL. I mean, only one of us can play and really only one of us can be Tom's (Brady) backup. That's the way we looked at it. We knew we weren't going to be playing unless he was hurt or whatever it was. You compete but you also have to be in a room for 12 hours a day six months of the year. You better get along and make it enjoyable, and I think we did that. Were we the best of friends? No. But we were definitely more friendly than we weren't."
(on what it was like being in New England with Tom Brady being the 'man') "For me it was just trying to learn as much as I possibly could. I wouldn't be the player I am today had I not been around Tom (Brady), had I not been around Billy (Bill O'Brien). I give those two so much credit in the way that I progressed in the NFL. I think if you asked anyone, I'm a far more better NFL quarterback than I was in college and I think it's because of my time around those two guys along with just being in New England and learning how to do things the right way for four years. I give a lot of the credit to who the player I am today to that."
(on if he has any funny stories about Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien) "We had a certain nickname for him amongst our quarterbacks. I won't put it out there. I can't do it, I can't do it. Those were some of the best times of my career. Obviously, going to a Super Bowl. Like I said, when you spend that much time in a room with each other and you're meeting and you're going over film and stuff like that, it was enjoyable and I definitely miss it. It was a great group of guys between me, Ryan (Mallett), Tom (Brady), Billy (O'Brien) and obviously (George) Godsey, too. It was fun. That was a special year. We came up a little short at the end, but it was a special time for me."
(on if he ever has a moment he thinks about all of the success himself, QB Ryan Mallett and Head Coach Bill O'Brien are having) "No, I mean, I think it's something that we all talked about. Obviously we knew Billy (O'Brien) aspired to be a head coach. We knew both Ryan and I wanted to start in this league. I think if anything it's pretty cool on a day where he gets his first start it's against me, where three guys who were in a room who had aspirations finally reached them. That's something special and it says a lot about the character of all three of us. At the time, especially me, I was an undrafted guy. I don't think anybody ever thought that I'd be a starting quarterback. I think everyone thought Ryan would get a chance at some point. With Billy, obviously he had to go through Penn State, but to be a head coach in the NFL only a few years after being in New England, it's all impressive in his own way."
(on if he expected the team to be 6-3 at this point in the year) "I think we as a group of individuals believed and I think as the year has gone on we believe more and more. I think when you go out and have some wins, especially when it's an entire team win where the defense, special teams and offense, they're all making plays to help win the game. It's not one way or the other. I think your confidence builds and I think for us we just try to be mature enough because for a lot of our guys it's unchartered territory. I know for myself, I didn't play in New England, but we were in the playoffs everywhere. I know 6-3 doesn't get you anything and we have a long way to go. But I think we have a good group of veteran guys and our rookies understand, our younger guys understand that we have to take this one week at a time and the only thing we've done right now is put ourselves in a position to control our own destiny. That's all you can ask for is to go out and just give it your best and see where things lie, but realize we haven't accomplished anything yet."
(on if he's looking forward to facing DE J.J. Watt) "No, not at all. Our media just asked us about him and I said the first thing that stands out is he's just a best. The skillset, the drive, the passion, it's all there and it jumps off the tape immediately. This is my first time playing against him, so being a competitor you see other guys get a lot of hype and then to finally put on the film and realize that he lives up to everything that's ever been said about him is impressive in itself."
(on DE J.J. Watt batting down passes) "Our media just asked me that, too. For me, I can't worry about that really. As crazy as that sounds, I think that's more up to our offensive line to realize when he's getting ready to jump and try to prevent him from doing it. The moment I worry about d-linemen batting balls that means you're not reading the right coverages, you're not seeing things the right way. I think he does such a great job at it, and he might get a few and hopefully they don't turn into picks because obviously you see he's so athletic that he bats it up and he's able to intercept it. You can't really as a quarterback put your mind on it because like I said, the moment you do that, you're looking at the right thing."
(on his thoughts of the weather being poor at game time) "I hope it snows. I hope it's 28 and snowing. I'm born and bred in it. I love playing in that weather. For us, we see that as an advantage, especially a team coming up from the south. In the same sense you've got guys that play from Houston that I'm sure are from the north. For me, I see it as something that we have to use to our advantage. For me, it's what I grew up playing in the backyard, so I love it."
(on maintaining focus with number one pick QB Johnny Manziel on the roster) "I mean, not really. From day one, Coach (Mike) Pettine has been up front and honest with me and has said even before I was the starter, just worry about what you can control. Get back from your rehab, learn the new system. I had so many things to focus on. The last thing I knew if I focused on that, I probably wouldn't have a chance. I've always done what I can control. For me, like I've said, he's always been up front and honest with me and he's always had my back. It was something that I never really worried about. If anything, it was the least stressful training camp I've ever had because I had a chance to be the starter. I had never had that before. So for me, I just knew go out and play the way I knew I could play. Obviously playing last year gave me the confidence knowing that I could win games in this league. I just wanted to go out and execute. It took a while to get back from the injury and things like that. I really didn't have much of an offseason because of the rehab and how much I was limited. It wasn't until training camp that I was really full go. I had so many other things to focus on. It was kind of the last thing on my mind."
(on rehabbing from a torn ACL) "I've had to deal with a lot of adversity throughout my career, so tearing the ACL was kind of the icing on the cake. It was like, what else can go wrong? Not drafted, get cut, finally get a chance to play and to get that taken away from me. Really that was the first injury I've ever really had. The trainers were like, hey, it's an ACL. You'll be back. And it's like, I'm heart broken. I really put my mind to it and I was always ahead of schedule, so I think that put me in a positive mindset. It's something that I'm proud of. At this point you've just got to keep going."