OC PEP HAMILTON
What do you think of QB Kyle Allen's performance after his first week as a starter with the Texans?
"He's been able to get more reps with the guys he will play with on Sunday, so we're hoping that means we're going to get the ball out one hitch sooner."
What challenge does the Browns' pass rush present?
"It's a tremendous challenge. We want to try as much as we can to stay out of obvious passing situations."
What about QB Kyle Allen's abilities will allow you to stay out of those obvious passing situations?
"Just having a more comprehensive understanding of NFL defense. He's played in a few games, he's started some games, so he's able to process a lot of information just a bit faster than a guy who has less experience."
What are some strategies to combat teams who try to load the box and defend the run?
"Just have balance. That's important. I think we've talked about that before. It's important that you present balance on any given play. The potential of running the football as well as throwing the football so that they don't have to defend just one thing. Teams that we've faced in the previous three or four weeks, they've covered up all of our offensive linemen and tried to create one-on-one blocks up front. When that happens, we have to do a really good job just featuring some of the guys that are closer to the line of scrimmage that can run routes downfield."
What is the dynamic of the quarterback room like?
"That room is very positive. Very efficient. Those guys work well together. Spent a lot of time together. The communication is great."
What is the offense able to do with QB Kyle Allen that it was not able to do with QB Davis Mills?
"I don't know that it's what we'll be able to do as much as when you have a guy that has played in a few more games, you would hope that he is able to process things maybe just a tad bit faster and get the ball out quicker and more consistently."
What are some thing you would like to see QB Davis Mills improve on?
"I think it's going to come down to what we've talked about. Just recognition. Recognition of looks, as well as continuing to work to get his eyes and feet in sync. I think when you look at some of the third-year quarterbacks, younger quarterbacks that are playing at a high level this season particularly, the guy (Tua Tagovailoa) that we played this last Sunday, you see tremendous growth through experience. Sometimes through adversity. Now that he's played, I'm talking Davis (Mills), played in quite a few games, 20 or 21 games, I think when you step back and you self-evaluate you start to see that you're close, but now it's just a matter of being consistent."
How close are RB Eno Benjamin and WR Amari Rodgers to contributing to this offense?
"They are at a point in practice where they can go in and pretty much function on any given play, so we'll see."
Is there anything you can do to get this offense to start faster in games?
"Yeah, absolutely. It's one of those things where it's always our goal. Coach (Lovie Smith) talks about it quite often. We have to establish the line of scrimmage, and we have to establish the run game. We have to come out and attempt to score and move the ball downfield. That starts with me just making sure that regardless of what we feel like we need to do to get guys settled in, we've just got to come out and attack and try and score points as often as we can."
What went into the decision to make a change at quarterback?
"We're just focusing on this next game. We want to stay in the moment, and coach (Lovie Smith) is ultimately going to do whatever he feels is necessary to put us in position to win the next game."
Based on the quarterbacks you've worked with, what are some non-football attributes you've noticed that correlates to quick decision-making?
"It's really the film. It's the gameday environment. It's the reality of playing the position. There are very few opportunities that you have to get a chance to go out and play against a real pass rush. In practice, it's one thing. But at the end of the day, you know that's it's just practice. It's not a situation where you're touching your quarterback. Guys gain experience by playing the game, but there's more to learn by playing in some cases than not playing."
How much have you considered spreading it out on offense more to start the game?
"I agree with you, all things considered. We have to do whatever we need to do to start faster."
What has it been like trying to keep the offensive room together during a tough stretch?
"Going into it, we knew that regardless of whether or not you're having success or not, the season is long, so you've got to have a way to hit reset each week. One thing that we often talk about as a unit is to not get too high with the highs or too low with the lows because from week-to-week, it's all about that matchup. We're just focusing on finding a way to win on Sunday. That's all that matters to us."
Are there characteristic tendencies in quarterbacks that correlate to quicker decision making?
"It's a number of things. But I think if there's one thing that you look for, as I often say, it's that your eyes and your feet are in sync. You're processing information while you're dropping back, and when it's time to throw the ball, your body is organized and ready to throw the ball. You start your throwing process, and sometimes that happens with little to no space. Then you also have to be able to react and respond to the pass rush."
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR FRANK ROSS
"Good to see you guys. Good to be home. The Cleveland Browns are coming to town. Excited for the challenge that (Browns Special Teams Coach) Mike Priefer and that unit will bring. A lot of good, dynamic coverage players. If you guys have watched any of this special teams tape, D'Anthony Bell is all over the field and Jerome Ford, the returner, can scoot. We've got our challenge cut out for us. The punter, Corey (Bojorquez), if he gets a hold of the ball, we've got to be ready to pressure kicks and return the ball where we can. It's going to be a big challenge for us. Field position will be a big thing in this game, and we're going to everything to limit net yards and create some on our end."
What are your impressions of DB Tremon Smith returning punts?
"I've been with Tremon (Smith) for multiple years. The guy can run. The most impressive thing, specifically to the Miami game, he had a nice little return there, even when we were getting into a little bit of traffic, the ball was tight and (he) showed good ball security. If you do that, that's goal number one, that's rule number one. Impressed with that because sometimes in traffic there's a tendency to let that thing flair away from your body. We're always coaching that. Been good, has good speed, so hopefully we'll get another chance with him this weekend."
How has WR Amari Rodgers done behind the scenes?
"Good, continuing to work every single day working under our techniques. When you have a new player, you're anxious to hear what he's been coached beforehand, what his habits are and what we can do whether it's to improve or to emphasize something he's been doing in the past. He'll be ready when he gets his chance."
What's it like been coaching LB Blake Cashman this year?
"He's been great as far as taking growth from position-to-position. He's been moved around with injuries and activations week-to-week. He can run. Blake Cashman plays hard, so that's always a good thing. When it's at the point of the attack, you see him consistently show up. If he's out there on whatever unit it is, that's what the expectation is that he's shown for us and should continue to be. Just want him flying around as the mid-skill linebacker body, playing fast and with his hair on fire."
What makes it so hard integrating WR Amari Rodgers into a new special teams system?
"I don't know if hard is the word. Coaches are paid to get players ready to play on Sunday. I don't necessarily know if it's hard to transition the system. It's about fit and timing. He hasn't been active for a game yet. So if he is active, then we'll get a chance to integrate whatever we've been working in practice. I think when players come to a new team, I haven't seen many cases where it hasn't been this way, but when players come to a new team, they're all gung-ho about getting themselves ingrained in whatever the offense or defense roles are and whatever the special teams coaches are asking them to do. Most times, guys are coming in with a good attitude. He's done just that. Hopefully whenever his chance comes, he'll be ready to go."
LB COACH MILES SMITH
What have you seen from LB Christian Harris in practice and his progression overall?
"Obviously, he's in a yellow jersey right now, never good. Avoiding contact a little bit. Unfortunate that he was missing that valuable game time in the last game. He's progressing day-by-day, week-by-week, practice-by-practice. He's progressing. We'll see how it goes this weekend, if he's going to be able to go, but I hope so."
How do you measure progression from the time he got on the field to now?
"In every play, we grade for a couple different things. We have a technique grade, so that's something as simple as did he get read steps before he took off? Did he have the proper steps overall? Did he finish with appropriate leverage? We also grade on pursuit, which is probably our biggest grade. Did he run his butt off to the play? Ultimately you can screw up your technique, but in the end, did you run your butt off and make a play? Then, we have to make a play grade. When you're at the point of attack, did you make that play or did you not make that play? As we go forward, he's making more and more of the plays that we expect him to make. Occasionally, there's plays that he's making that other linebackers probably wouldn't be able to make, just based upon his elite athleticism. As we keep going, we expect him to make more and more of the plays, and truly show the level he can play at. Right now, he's having some rookie pains occasionally, but that's to be expected. As he continues with these reps and each practice, each game, I think he's going to start making more and more these plays."
Has LB Christian Harris been fully integrated to the system?
"Absolutely. At this point, he is a three-down linebacker in our scheme. When we talk three-down linebackers, our Will and our Mike linebacker, they don't come off the field unless something's happened. Early on, we wanted to slowly, gradually get him involved. He played more of our Sam linebacker which comes out for 11-personnel. At this point, he is in there every single play. We're starting to design things that are based on his skillset. He's fully integrated in our defense. We're excited for the future."
How do you evaluate the overall play of the linebackers this season and yourself as the linebackers coach?
"Ultimately, we've won one football game. Whenever that's the case, we have not done a good enough job defensively. There have been some glimmers of hope though. We're playing the run a lot better right now than we were earlier in the season, but ultimately we won one football game. When you win one football game, we're not doing a good enough job, and that's player-wise, that's coaching-wise especially. It all starts with us. My job as a coach, I'm not doing my job well enough because the linebackers aren't playing up to their potential, and that's my job."
What specifically have you been able to do to improve the run defense?
"I think it kind of goes to what were we doing wrong earlier in the season. On every play, everyone has a job. There's 11 guys on the field. There's 11 gaps. It only takes one crack in the armor for something to split. Over the past couple of weeks, we've been preventing some of those explosive plays. Just having guys running to the ball, a little bit more fundamentally sound is what we've been doing. As we continue to go, every walkthrough we have, every practice we have, we're harping on all 11 guys being exactly where they're supposed to be. Over the past couple of weeks, run-wise, we've been doing that. We have to get everybody playing the pass better as well so we can have a better overall defensive effort. Run-wise, that's what the difference has been."
What have you seen from Browns RB Nick Chubb and how can you prepare for his explosive plays?
"He's a dynamic running back, everybody in the league knows it. Very good, explosive, runs hard. I would say we need to have 11 guys on the ball every play. If it's just a one-on-one battle every time, occasionally a guy is going to miss a tackle, but if we have two, three, four guys on each tackle, he's not going to be able to break all of those. Going into this week, we need to be gang tackling, doing our job, and we're going to be okay."
What are some of the things you've seen from LB Garret Wallow that may account for his struggles this season?
"I wouldn't necessarily say he's been struggling. I think he's in a natural progression. He's done some good things. He's done some not so good things, but as a whole, I don't think it's necessarily some sort of sophomore slump. We've played different linebackers. Everybody on our linebacking core has been in, has been out at this point. We're trying to find the best rotation of guys. Sometimes it's not necessarily anything about Garret Wallow, it's about what some of our other linebackers are doing."
How do you prepare for a quarterback like Browns QB Deshaun Watson that has his skill set, but hasn't played recently?
"I would say that the Cleveland Browns traded for Deshaun (Watson) because of what he does well. I doubt that they would bring somebody in and have him change up completely who he is and what type of player he is. There's a lot of film on Deshaun, but overall, we're not going to change up our defense dramatically from week-to-week regardless of who we're playing. We could play Peyton Manning next week, it's not going to matter. Obviously, we would prefer to have more film this year on him and seeing what they're going to try to do. If your defense is sound, you should be fine regardless of who you're playing. You could play any week, they could pull their quarterback, and we have a new type of quarterback. We didn't know about (Ryan) Tannehill not playing when we played the Titans last time. That changed up the gameplan a little bit, but we're not going to change up our game plan from week-to-week like that."
What have you seen from LB Blake Cashman?
"He's a little bit like Christian Harris in that he's an elite athlete. He's able to run down plays. He's been playing a little more third down for us, rushing a little bit more than some other linebackers are doing. Just his outward athleticism, you need to find way to get players like that on the field. As we continue to go, we're going to do that more and more."
How do you approach the areas where there is room for improvement week-to-week?
"We have our foundations. We have our pillars that we build our defense on. We're not going to change those, however, we could do each one of those things better. Run defense-wise, we're not going to change up dramatically our run-fits. Our run-fits have been better the last couple of weeks because we're playing more disciplined football. In each one of our areas, we're not going to change things up scheme-wise. We're going to do our scheme better. We're not going to start to panic because things aren't necessarily going our way. When things like this happen, when you have a season like we're having right now, we have to really to hone in on what we do well. What we aren't doing well, we need to recognize. Then we need to practice those things a little bit more to make sure we improve on those fundamentals. But we're not going to dramatically change what we're doing. We need to do what we do better."