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Mike Pettine, Brian Hoyer talk about Sunday's game against the Saints

Browns head coach Mike Pettine and quarterback Brian Hoyer spoke with New Orleans media via conference call on Sept. 10, 2014

Cleveland Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, September 10, 2014

You worked with Jairus Byrd in Buffalo. What do you know about him as a person and a player?

"Sure. Just in the year that I was with him, he became one of my favorite guys. He's a great player and I think he's an even better person. He's intense, he's driven, he's a competitor. You can tell he loves football. I know it was tough for him at first in Buffalo, just the issues in his contract and he was fighting the foot injury. I thought he handled himself really well. He was very well-received when he came back and played football for us at a high level. That's obviously evidenced by the commitment that the Saints made. It surprised a lot of people, but didn't surprise us that it worked with him just knowing what a good player he is."

What did you take away from the Saints' last game?

"Those weapons that Atlanta has, that can do it to you, especially playing at their place. That's a tall order for any defense. Offensively, it looked like mid-season form, business as usual. Drew (Brees) was obviously very much in charge, running the show. It just seems like they can replace players and it's still very seamless, very productive. It's a system that I've had admiration for from afar for a long time. I have a great deal of respect for Coach (Sean) Payton and for Drew. It's just been proven over time to be such an effective system. Like I said, you can just plug in some different guys, some rookies, and it's still the same results."

Coach Payton said the team was monitoring the news as far as Josh Gordon is concerned, and also preparing for the possibility of playing against Johnny Manziel. What can you say about the possibility of either of them playing? Is it nice that teams at least have to think about that a little bit as far as their preparation goes?

"I think it adds to it. Having been a coordinator for five years, any threat of just another set of plays to prepare for can just consume time in the meeting room and walkthrough and on the practice field while you're game-planning. As far as Josh goes, we're just really in a holding pattern just like everybody else. The league rule on a suspended player is that we can't have any contact with him. He's not here in the building. From the time this news broke, I think it was the second day of the draft, it has been a rollercoaster ride as far as the news with him and what's happening. You just kind of get numb to it after a while, and whatever happens, when we get official word from the league, we'll know. Until then, if you start chasing rumors and innuendo you are going to drive yourself crazy."

As far as all the preseason attention that came with Johnny Manziel this year, is there any sense of relief or reduced pressure with Brian Hoyer having a strong second half? Has that settled things down in that respect?

"I just think, overall, that we played poorly for a half. The second half, I thought everybody elevated their play. Brian, especially, did a good job with the up-tempo offense and running that. I know there's that external pressure, but when you're bunkered in an NFL facility, I think you would be doing yourself a disservice if you were very reactive or really aware of all the outside stuff going on in regards to a certain player. We understood before we drafted him that there would be a bit of a fire storm with Johnny, just because he's such a polarizing figure. It's rare that something like this comes along, but it's something that we were prepared to deal with and dealt with it the best way we knew how. He makes it easy for us too. When he is in the building, he's just another guy. He's another face in the crowd. He's very quiet, very humble, prepares himself very well. He's a good teammate, he's really good on the practice field. For us, I just don't think it is as big of a deal as it is externally."

With the addition of Karlos Dansby, what does he have to offer and what does he bring to the defense?

"Well it helps, him and (Donte) Whitner. I think they just added a force to the middle of the defense, obviously at the Mike linebacker and at the safety spot. People ask me, 'Why would you choose to get a little bit older at those positions?' We felt it was very much worth it. We want to change the culture of the locker room, and a coach's message can only go so far. I think that's important when you can get a guy in there that has been in another place, has been successful, has won, and knows how to prepare, knows how to take care of his body, and on top of it all is a really good player. That's really where we see Karlos and Whit as well - guys that have filled that role for us tremendously. That's two key parts, hopefully, to our turnaround."

Is it almost obsolete to think 4-3 defenses and 3-4 defenses given how much nickel coverage is used? Has nickel become the de facto base defense in the NFL today?

"I think there's a lot of truth to that, just like the fullback. Teams like ourselves, we use a fullback; the Saints use a fullback. It's a dying breed, has been for a while. I just think with the trickle-up effect from college football and all the spread offense is that the tight ends are more of the pass-catching type and the running backs are just more one-back types. You're not seeing true fullbacks; those guys are really playing on defense now. I think nickel defense – I want to say last year for us in Buffalo – was used over 60% of the time that we were in some form of nickel where we had at least five defensive backs on the field. I think that's really the defense's answer. Most coordinators will match speed with speed when you see more and more three-plus receiver groupings, or even two receivers on the field with the tight end like a Jimmy Graham or guys that are the real athletic pass-catching types who you would treat like a wideout in passing situations. You have to play nickel, and you're willing to concede some running yards and go ahead and get better pass-cover guys on the field."

What is the status report on Jordan Cameron and Ben Tate for Sunday?

"Tate is definitely out. Cameron is still a question mark. We'll know later in the week. Jordan did not practice today, but we would consider him day-to-day. We gave him today off and will assess where he is. Tate will probably be a couple of weeks, so Terrance West will get the start in his place."

Cleveland Browns Quarterback Brian Hoyer
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How pleased were you with how you played, especially in the second half? Was it kind of like a weight off your shoulder and did it help silence all of the hype around Manziel?

"I think there were definitely some positives, there were a few negatives. We obviously want to build on the positives and correct the negatives and move on. I think, if anything for me, it was great to get out on the field coming off an injury and play a full game and make it out healthy and get that over with."

Did you feel ok physically? Did it feel back to normal after being injured?

"Yeah, no doubt. Obviously it felt good all along, I haven't had any setbacks. It's just a little bit different when it's the regular season and you're going against a division opponent at their place and you want to just see how everything responds and it felt great."

The Saints gave up a lot of passing yards against Atlanta, are you kind of licking your chops?

"I watched the film and it's hard to get a read. It seems like Atlanta went a lot of no-huddle and spread it out and that's not really who we are as an offense. Obviously they had success, but for us it is hard to tell how we will get played just because knowing Rob Ryan, he likes to scheme up depending how the offense is and I think we are a little bit different type of offense than Atlanta. Obviously we will see how it plays out, and we'll prepare for as much as we can, but I think we plan on seeing some looks that we haven't really seen at all before."

A lot has been made of you throwing 99 pass attempts without an interception. Can you talk about what goes into that streak?

"I think, for me, there were a few where they could have got me last week. Sometimes it is just luck.  I think if you prepare yourself as much as you can, and there aren't too many funky looks, you usually, for the most part, can tell where guys are going to be when you drop back depending on a coverage read. Sometimes it's just a physical error and it's a bad throw, but I try to eliminate anything where it is mental, where you are throwing into a coverage where you thought it was something else. I think if you can eliminate those mental interceptions, those physical ones are obviously going to happen because not every ball is going to be perfect, but if you can eliminate the interceptions that are off of mental mistakes than I think you give your team a chance to win."

How do you characterize your offense? What kind of offense do you want to be?

"At this point we are kind of still figuring it out. The best thing about it is that we can do a lot of different things. We can run the ball, we can throw the ball, we can drop back, we can run play action, and obviously we ran the no-huddle last week. I think the thing about having Kyle Shanahan as an offensive coordinator is that he has done it a lot of different ways and had success doing it, whether it was running the ball, throwing the ball or a mixture. I think at this point we are still kind of figuring that out but I think the good thing is that we are capable of doing it either way."

We talked to Mike Pettine earlier and he said that despite all of the external noise surrounding Johnny Manziel that inside the team building he is a quiet, humble guy and he gets along with everybody. What is your perspective in getting to know him on a personal level?

"I'd say what Coach Pettine said is true. Sometimes your perception becomes reality even though that is not really what it is. He's been great, he's in the meetings and he's trying to learn. We're teammates and we both want this team to win, so I think that's the biggest thing, that common ground, that we want to come out here and compete and do whatever is best for the team."

How difficult is it to emulate the success Matt Ryan had against the Saints defensive front by getting the ball out of his hands quickly?

"For me, I try to get rid of the ball relatively quick. I think it has to do with your preparation and knowing what the defense is trying to do. Against a team that is coached by Rob Ryan, sometimes that's hard because he can try to confuse you, so you really have to be on top of your game preparation and see as many looks as you can and then try to take that to the field. I just talked to our media about watching film and they asked me about (Drew) Brees and other quarterbacks that you like to watch and you watch a guy like Matt Ryan and he plays the game the right way at quarterback in my opinion. He gets through his reads and he goes through it quick, and that's the type of quarterback that I feel like I can be and that I am for the most part."

Can you talk about what having a weapon like Jordan Cameron does for your offense? Do you like to use him like the Saints use Jimmy Graham?

"Having Jordan, obviously he is a big target who can run and can be a mismatch nightmare. Obviously you guys have it there with Jimmy Graham. I think Jordan is one of those guys who is capable of doing that. I think that is the type of tight ends we look for these days in this league. Certainly it started with (Antonio) Gates and then you have Jimmy Graham, (Rob) Gronkowski, guys like that. For defenses it is hard. Are you going to put a linebacker on them? Are you going to put safety on them? Sometimes maybe even put a corner on them. I think you just have to figure out a way to get those guys the football."

As a Cleveland area native, how much would you like to get things turned around for the Browns? How close do you believe this team is to making that step?

"I think for me, obviously being from here, this means a lot more to me than maybe some other people. I think growing up you cheer for a team and that's who you dream about playing for as a kid and now here I am living that dream out. It definitely is important to me, and I think we are close. I think if you look at how we played last week, obviously the first half didn't go the way we wanted it to but the fact that we came out and played the way we did in the second half, we didn't lay down, we fought to the end, and when you have guys with that type of character and that type of will I think that right there gives you a chance to win every game you are in as long as you fight through some ups and downs because that is kind of what the NFL is all about whether it is through a game, through a season or whatever it is. As long as we stick together and we play as we are capable of playing, we should have a great season."

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