Q:What's the trick or the recipe for trying to get out of the gates quicker on offense? We were complaining earlier in the season about the offense's third quarter issues, but now it seems like you're not starting the game fast enough.
JM:There's usually not one specific reason or answer for that problem, and you're right – we had it there for a little bit there where the third quarter was the part of the game we were starting a little slower in. We really have to focus on being prepared, knowing how you are going to try and start the game, making sure the players feel good about the things we are doing and go out and try to be aggressive. I think it comes down to coaching and playing well, whatever quarter you're talking about. If we can do those things in the third quarter or the second quarter, the fourth quarter, we can certainly do them in the first quarter. You know, I think it is definitely going to be a point of emphasis for us every week. It always is. It's an important aspect of the game in the NFL, to try and get out in front and start well. We just need to be prepared and ready to go in the beginning of the game and just try to execute a little bit better. I'm sure there are things I can do to help those situations out. If it is a call or grouping cues, whatever it may be, we can all do our jobs a little bit better obviously than what we've been doing at the beginning of the game the last few weeks.
Q:Josh Boyce kind of got thrown in there on Sunday, and I was wondering how you thought he handled himself? And then can you take me through a player like James Develin, who is coming from a lower-level college program and also switching from a defensive player to an offensive player?
JM:Josh Boyce has worked hard since we drafted him, and he has done a nice job of trying to learn our system and be ready to go each week. He hasn't had very many opportunities, but that certainly hasn't affected his attitude or work ethic. I think he is a perfect example of a younger player who has the right approach. He has really given the defense a good look multiple weeks during the course of the season. He's worked hard trying to learn the nuances, I'm sure, of doing the kickoff returns, and he is ready to go and play in multiple spots of our offense, which is I would say a very big positive for a younger player. The other day, he got thrown in there and played multiple positions. He didn't have any mental errors. I think he caught a ball and definitely helped us in some situations – get some things lined up and run that he hadn't practiced a whole lot during the course of the week. I'm really happy to have him on our team and we know that we need everybody coming down the stretch, and he certainly will have a chance to impact the team even more going forward. With James, I think he was with Cincinnati before we got him, but he definitely showed some traits as a guy that could be physical and help as a lead blocker, as a fullback. We had an opportunity to have him last year and he did some good things catching the ball out of the backfield. He has done some things as a tight end for us as well, just trying to maximize his versatility and his role. He's a smart player. He is smart, he is tough, and he is dependable. Usually there's a place on your team for guys like that and he certainly has helped us in numerous ways and I was very happy to see him have a chance to score the other day. He definitely helped us impact the game.
Q:You put the ball in James Develin's hands which has been rare this year, and I'm guessing the bulk of his contributions to the team are made behind the scenes or out of the spotlight. How important to a team is a guy like that?
JM:Well I think James has embraced his role, and I think we have a lot guys – I don't know anybody on our team that hasn't done that. He's a good example of a guy that may not get a ton of credit up front but deserves his share of it because he has helped us in the running game as a lead blocker. We move him and put a little bit of a burden on him in terms of learning multiple positions. He has allowed us to use some different formations and different things in the passing game where he needs to be flexible and allow us to move him in different areas of the field and formation. He definitely has learned those things and embraced that role. [He's] an incredibly unselfish player, works hard, definitely adds an element of toughness to our team and to our offense. He comes to work every day and gives you everything he has. I think anytime you can add a player to your team like that, it can only help you.
Q:Now that you've had Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski healthy for the past couple weeks, what impact does Gronkowski have on the slot receivers? They all seem to be playing better, but what kind of impact does Gronkowski have on Julian and Danny?
JM:I mean, anytime you have a player that the defense tries to pay more attention to at times, it certainly helps provide the other players with more one-on-one opportunities. It certainly doesn't get them open. They have to do that on their own, and all those guys you mentioned, I would put KT [Kenbrell Thompkins] and Aaron [Dobson] and Shane Vereen [with them]. There are a lot of guys who have actually done a lot of good things in those situations for us, when they've had an opportunity to have one-on-one coverage. It gives you those chances. I think that the one thing that showed up the other day, and it is the same thing that has shown up the past couple weeks here, is those guys have also played in just our two receiver alignments where they are both on the perimeter. They've been productive there as well. I think we're trying to get everybody involved. We know we've got a lot of players that can help us out offensively and help us move the ball and score points and we're trying to utilize them the best that we can. And then also try and play off of what the defense is trying to take away from us and count on the guys that have the one-on-one opportunities or the matchups that work in our favor. We're trying to count on those guys each week to come up big for us. The last so many weeks, we've been better. We can still definitely improve. We've got a long way to go in order to hopefully to see what it can ultimately look like in the next so many weeks, but I think we're getting better and we work hard every week to try to do that.
Q:I wanted to ask you about this Browns defense and specifically Ray Horton, who was the defensive coordinator for Arizona last year when the offense struggled against the Cardinals. Do you see similarities from the two defenses, and what else strikes you about the Browns defense?
JM:You do, you definitely do. They have an aggressive scheme. I think they're in the top four or five there in total yards. They don't give up big plays, which I think to me is a sign of a good defense. They make you drive the ball if you are going to score points. They haven't allowed many red area trips in terms of the entire season. Many teams haven't gotten down there more than once or twice in a game, and they do a good job in the running game and the passing game. They create good pressure on the quarterback, all of which we saw from his defense last year in Arizona. I think this group is extremely well coached. He certainly has a great grasp of what he wants to do against the opponent each week. There are definitely changes in game plan pressures and different subtleties that he mixes in there that seemingly always work when he uses them. Last year, they did some different things and created some issues for us when he was with Arizona and we have a great deal of respect for him and this group. As far as the players are concerned, I think they really have a top-notch front. They have big guys in there in [Phil] Taylor and [Ahtyba] Rubin. [Desmond] Bryant plays in there too and those guys do a good job up front. They don't give up a lot of yards in the running game. [Paul] Kruger and [Jabaal] Sheard have done a good job as edge rushers. He's [Kruger] from the Pittsburgh scheme so it is kind of those Pittsburgh types of outside linebackers – they're good in the running game, they definitely generate pressure on the quarterback. [Barkevious] Mingo, the rookie, is mixed in there and creates some negative plays in the pass rush and [has] done a good job for them being disruptive. I think they have two of the best cover linebackers and active linebacker inside that we'll play all year in D'Qwell Jackson and [Craig] Robertson. I mean these guys can move sideline to sideline, they cover tight ends, they cover backs, they read the quarterbacks eyes well in zone coverage and you've better get a hat on them in the running game or you are going to have a hard time running the ball at their defense. The secondary, [Joe] Haden is a guy that's one of the better corners that you're going to find in the league, for sure. He's got great ability to match routes and makes plays on the ball. He reads the quarterback well, is physical, tackles. He is a really solid player. [Buster] Skrine on the other side is a guy that has a lot of pass breakups this year. [He's] a real fast guy – hard to get away from. And then the safeties: [TJ] Ward is an aggressive guy that is more of a downhill guy, [Tashaun] Gibson does a real good job of reading the quarterback and getting to the ball in the deep part of the field when he is back there too. So, not a lot of holes and easy yards against this group. Like I said, they don't give up many big plays. They make you earn every yard you get and they're a good defense against the run and the pass. They will present a great challenge for us, and like I said they are extremely well coached.