MIKE PETTINE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT AFTER PRACTICE 9-17-14

Mike Pettine Head Set Photo

Opening statement:

“New week, new challenge. Makes it a little bit more involved with this one because it is a division opponent. This is a good football team. The film doesn’t lie. I don’t think they were really themselves – they’ll be the first ones to admit it – when they played Cincinnati. I think you saw how they want to play going back to the Thursday night game. It’s a big challenge for us. I think it’ll be our stiffest challenge to date, and just wanted to make sure our guys got re-focused today in the team meeting and just still (have) that ability to compartmentalize wins and losses and move onto the next one I think is critical for our success moving forward. We’re two games in, and the guys I think have done a good job realizing that essentially the only thing the Saints game did for us was guarantee that we won’t go 0-16. I have a lot of respect for this franchise we’re getting ready to go against having spent some time there, knowing a lot of people down there that I worked with – a lot of respect for it. Having that information, it’s easy to figure out how big of a challenge this is going to be for us.”

 

On if there has been any recent news on the length of WR Josh Gordon’s suspension:

“No news, and I know there’s talk with upper level of management, but I’m bunkered in. We’ve got team meetings. We’ve got group meetings. Then, we go into position meetings. Until he’s here and we get official word, then I’ll deal with it at that point, but at this point, I think there’s still a lot of stuff floating out there as far as what – and I’ve heard a lot of different things, and it’s just hard to react to it until we actually get definitive word from the league.”

 

On if he thinks being around the team would be helpful to Gordon:

“I think so. I think that’s true of any player. I just think the structure, the ability to be around the guys, the camaraderie, just all that goes with it, and going back to the structure part of it – to be able to eat here and to lift here and be under the guidance of our strength and conditioning program, (Director of player engagement) Jamil Northcutt with the player development and (head athletic trainer) Joe Sheehan – just to have that support and that structure around, not just for Josh, I just think that anybody that’s going through anything like that it’d be helpful to be back.”

 

On if the game can be a statement in regards to the Browns’ past games against divisional opponents:

“We don’t really get into the past other than we looked briefly at the history here so our guys know what we’re dealing with, but previous struggles in the division – that has no bearing on this game, just like what happened this past Sunday has no bearing on this game. I think we have to have that ability to close that noise out so it doesn’t become a self-fulfilling prophecy like, ‘Hey, we’re not supposed to be good in the division, therefore we won’t be.’ I just think that we know it’s a little bit extra when it is a division game, and I just think it’s important for us to play well in the division. You see a lot of teams play well outside of it and can’t get business done in the division, and I just think it’s important when you look at long term, whether it’s any team – any of the 32 – that you’re direct path to the playoffs is through your division. That, to me, just goes with it. You see some teams that are in tough divisions. They fight their way to be 8-8, 9-7, and they get in and make a run because they’ve been battle-tested by the strength of their own division. Again, I don’t want you put too much on it. There’s a little bit more on it because it is a division game, but we don’t look at it that way.

 

On the defense having trouble stopping the run:

“It was more by design this past week. We were in some smaller groupings and some lighter-spacing defenses more to encourage the run. Sometimes when you go against those elite quarterbacks, you have to have that mentality a little bit that you understand you’re going to concede some rushing yards, but in the long term, the clock’s moving, you’re shortening the game. I think they ended up with 10 possessions for the game, which is below the NFL average. Pittsburgh, I think, was more of a product of us missing tackles. I thought we tackled better against New Orleans, but we still want to go into each week…this week will not be a, ‘Hey, let’s them run the ball.’ I think, going against this team, they ran the ball extremely well against Pittsburgh. I think this’ll be more of a typical AFC North, old school kind of game. We want to run the ball, so do they. I think it’s important for us to take that mentality that we’re going to stop the run.”

 

On if the Jets defense allowed the Patriots to run the ball when he was on the coaching staff in order to defend Patriots QB Tom Brady:

“Correct, at times. Yes.”

 

On what he looks for in a MIKE linebacker and if LB Karlos Dansby has ‘it’:

“He absolutely does. That’s why he’s here. We’re looking for a guy that – first and foremost – can be a leader, take charge of the huddle, that is smart, can know the package inside and out, if guys have to be moved or calls need to be changed or check made that he’s capable doing it. The way that we play with our front guys and how we want to them to…if they’re getting double-teamed, to make sure that they anchor in. We have a saying with our d-linemen, ‘Keep your double teams to yourself.’ We don’t want those guys to be able to get off on the linebackers. That Mike linebacker needs to be a playmaker. He’s going to have opportunities where he should be clean to the ball in a lot of situations, and he needs to make plays. He fits that mold. That was something when we evaluated him on tape. We actually had done it in Buffalo and had him in for a visit, free agent visit, and he chose to go to Arizona. As staff, he was on our radar when he came available this year, as well.”

 

On what about his defensive scheme helps LB Paul Kruger:

“We’ll move him around some, won’t always have him on one side. We’ll give him some freedom with some of his pass rushes where we rarely talk in terms on contain. As a pass rusher, if a tackle presents him with a…it’s an over-set situation and he can come underneath we can give him the green light to do that. I think the guys that have played in it, some of the feedback you get is, ‘Hey, they kind of let me be me.’ There’s structure, but there’s some ability to freelance within it, as long as it’s tied in with everybody else and there’s some awareness of that. I think that’s true at certain positions. Outside linebacker is one of them, but as long as the guy that’s rushing next to me knows that there’s a chance I might take an inside entry then he’ll have to know that because there’s a chance that he might have to overlap. I think those guys do a good job of playing off of each other, but I think that’s important as a pass rusher that you aren’t always in that mold where, ‘Hey, I’ve got to set an edge. I’ve got to contain the quarterback.’ When offenses know that, it makes life easy on the tackles.”

 

On if it is accurate that Kruger is playing well against the run:

“It is, and I think that was more of a…I think he was always very physically capable of doing it. I just think it was our commitment to doing it at that position and just the techniques that we use, and I think it just became more of stressing it and an aiming point thing. I think a lot of that is just how they’re taking on blocks and the direction where they go towards the tackle. If you’re too far up the field, you’re going to get bounced up field. It’s simple physics. You’re usually outweighed by a lot when you’re going against tackles. If we’re thinking run, then we’re going to tighten those aiming points down, give him more of a chances. He’s bought into it, and there we’re some growing pains with it. There were a couple times in the preseason where he was running up the field. That’s when we hit him with the old, ‘Hey, you can’t get a sack on a running play.’ I overuse the phrase, but he’s one of the ones if you say, ‘Hey, who’s really bought in?’ It’s been ‘Krug.’”

 

On the physical and mental toughness the Ravens had when he was on their coaching staff and if that’s what he wants the Browns to look like now:

“It is. That’s what I know, and we tried to mold the Jets the same way. I think when you have that err about you – this goes back to the opening press conference – we talk about being tough, mentally tough, physically tough. When you look over the long haul those are the teams that win consistently. You can have long-term, sustained success if that’s your M.O. Even from an offensive standpoint, talking about running the football, sometimes conditions aren’t going to allow you to spread the field and air it out. Defensively, it’s just simple that if you have a great, tough defense and it’s hard for a team to score you’re going to be in most games. It’s something that I learned. It was a blueprint there for sure. When we had our success that’s what it was based on, and when we were successful in New York it was the same way.”

 

On why running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery is a guy he thought he’d like to have on his staff:

“I was fortunate enough to have worked with not just Wilbert, but with (offensive line coach) Andy (Moeller) for a year. It was on (Ravens Head Coach) John (Harbaugh)’s staff. His first year, Wilbert was the running backs coach and Andy was the offensive line coach. I got to know those guys really well. I was a little bit star struck when I first met Wilbert. I grew up a (Philadelphia) Eagles fan. I had a big poster of him. I had a Wilbert poster and my (Hollywood actress) Farrah Fawcett in my room (laughter). I mean, my hands were shaking when I met him. He’s Wilbert Montgomery. Being an Eagles fan, that was special. I learned very quickly just what a good football coach he is. He’s passionate. He’s tough. I think you need at least one guy like that. Fortunately for us, Andy brings a lot of that mentality, too. It was really a no-brainer to hire both of them.”

 

On if he’s going to address all the stuff going on in the NFL with the team –HGH testing, the Ravens RB Ray Rice situation and the Vikings RB Adrian Peterson situation:

“We will. I think as everything settles down from this and we get later in the week and the beginning of next week because it’s the bye week, we can spend a little bit more time before we kind of turn guys loose with the time off. That’s something that will definitely be brought up and discussed. I know Jamil Northcutt does a good job keeping those guys educated. It’s very much an open door. If guys are having problems, they know they have places to go. It’s important. You can’t ignore it. It can’t all be about football. There’s a human element here, and I think you’re doing yourself and your team a disservice if you just kind of forget that stuff and hope everything works out. We pick and choose our times to talk about it. Now in a game week it’s tough. We’re bunkered in, focused on this game, but there will be times where we kind of poke our heads up and look at the big picture.”

 

On if he’ll sit WR Josh Gordon down and have a talk with him when he comes back:

“That’s a hypothetical. I’m sure at some point when he is permitted to come back in the building. I’ve already had some good sit-downs with Josh, (General Manager) Ray (Farmer) and I both. When that occurs, we’ll sit down with him and just kind of lay the plan out for him. We’d like to think that all of our players…we’re on the same page with all of them as far as, ‘Here’s what your role is. Here’s what our expectations are.’ I don’t care if it’s the 10th guy on the practice squad or if it’s one of your better players, I just think that communication is important. Too many times you get caught making assumptions. It’s just better to be out in the open.”

 

On if the AFC North is one of the most physical conferences in football:

“Back for sure when I was with Baltimore through the bulk of the 2000s, it was very physical. Division games were…they called them double chinstrap games. You knew that – both teams – that the ice tubs were going to be filled up after the game. That was just the nature of the division. I think maybe in recent years it trended away from that, but I think it’s starting to circle back. Pittsburgh looks like they’ve committed themselves more to running the football. Certainly Baltimore…you look at the defenses in the division – Baltimore with the tradition, Pittsburgh with the tradition. Cincinnati’s defense has been real good lately. That’s certainly continued this year. We want to get ourselves to the point where we’re being mentioned with top defenses as well.”

 

On if the Ravens offense is the same as the Browns:

“There are some similarities, but it’s not tear the cover off the playbook. It’s not the same book. I think that (offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan) took what he liked from (Ravens offensive coordinator) Gary (Kubiak’s) system and kept it and then did some things on his own – changed some things up. I’d say the running game is probably much closer than the passing game is. I’d say the pass concepts between the two teams are different. There are still some similarities with the bootlegs and play action off of it – the early down stuff. I think the third-down pass games are very different.”

 

On if it’s because of the players’ skill sets:

“I’m not sure. I just think it’s how…I mean Kyle was in Washington and kind of did his own thing. To me, you’re always going to match your scheme to your players. There are some things in Kyle’s playbook that he probably hasn’t used yet just because he’s highlighted a certain area of the book based on who we have here. I’m sure they’re going the same thing. They have two big vertical threats with (Ravens WRs) Jacoby Jones and (Torrey) Smith and then obviously Steve Smith. He’s not as vertical as he was before, but still, he can run all the routes, make all the catches and just brings that high level of energy to that offense.”

 

On what it is about Ravens LB Terrell Suggs that has made him so successful over the years:

“He had a great position coach when he first started out in the league. I take all the credit (laughter). No Suggs, to me he’s a guy that…he works. He loves football. As goofy as he can be sometimes, at his core he loves the game, loves to compete. Like I said, he’s a fun loving guy, completely unfiltered, but when it’s time to flip the switch, he’s all about it. He’s a unique blend of size, speed and strength. He didn’t time well in the 40 (yard dash), but his short area quickness – which is what you need for a pass rusher – to me, is rare. He’s a guy…like I said, he works at it. He’s gifted naturally, but he’s made himself elite with his work ethic.”

 

On how glad he was back in 2006 that the Ravens got DL Haloti Ngata when they switched picks with the Browns:

“Oh yeah, when we flipped picks. To me Ngata was one of the top guys on our draft board. We were thrilled that he fell to where he did. I do remember the trade. I think it was (former Browns LB Kamerion) Wimbley, a sixth round pick and (Babatunde) Oshinowo (Jr.), a kid from Stanford. Haloti was a guy that we were thrilled to get. There were some question marks about him coming out that we thought were laughable. To me, we felt it was a steal to get him when we did. Obviously he’s produced at a high level for a long time.”

 

On if the ‘laughable’ question marks on Ngata were about his health:

“No, I think it was an inconsistent motor, but here was a guy that didn’t come off the field very often. He blocked seven kicks, I think, in college, something like that. When you watch the tape, we just didn’t see it, and it was never an issue for us at all. He loves football and was a great teammate right from the beginning. He was one of those rookies that stepped in, and you wouldn’t have known he was a rookie. Just another rare blend of a guy that big that he brought us videos of his…he was a very good rugby player and just him 320 pounds playing rugby and just five, six guys hanging on him. He just showed what a good athlete he was. He could dunk a basketball any way he wanted to. He’s a very unique athlete, and to his credit, his work ethic has had him playing at a very high level for a long period of time.”

 

On what his early days at the Ravens were like and if he ever had a vision that he would end up being an NFL head coach:

“No, I was thrilled to be there, and I was very much in the…people say, ‘Be seen and not heard.’ I was the not be seen and not be heard mode because I just know a big part of it is just getting in and I was very fortunate that the circumstances played out that I got my foot in the door. It was just bunker in and work. Worked a lot of long days, I was with the video department during the days, during practices. Then, I went and worked with the coaches at night just helping out with some of the computer stuff and overflow, quality control type of stuff and was just very fortunate to just step into a situation where it was (Falcons defensive coordinator) Mike Nolan, (Falcons Head Coach) Mike Smith, (Jets Head Coach) Rex (Ryan) – just guys that were future head coaches in the league. (I was) just very fortunate to have been essentially dropped into that situation.”

On the status of RB Ben Tate, TE Jordan Cameron and LB Barkevious Mingo:
“I don’t see Tate being able to go this week, and I’ll just hold comment on the other guys until we get them out there and see. Those two guys will likely practice today on a limited basis. We’ll see how they develop as the week goes on.”

 

On if he sees much of Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan’s defense left in Baltimore:

“Some, not much – I think it’s just kind of been a transition over time. I think when (Ravens defensive coordinator) Dean Pees took over there was much more of a New England influence – what he had done when he coordinated there. I think if it was back when it was (Colts Head Coach Chuck) Pagano or (former Ravens defensive coordinator Greg) Mattison you would have seen a lot of it. I think just over time…there are still elements of it, and I don’t know if the terminology has changed at all and how they identify things – just the language. It’s there, but I don’t think it’s…if you watch the two teams play, you wouldn’t say their roots are in the same defense.”

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