Q: How satisfied were you with the defense?
A: It was good. I thought in all three phases, we didn’t play well in the first half. There’s no doubt about that. We were able to stay in the game. I thought the key turning point in the game, if you look at one situation, was where we came out and turned the ball over and the defense didn’t even let them score. When they were in field goal range, we wound up getting a sack. We were able to come back and take the lead with a touchdown. I thought that probably was –if you put a focal point on the turning point — a big one.

Q: Can you describe the importance of Jerry Hughes’ touchdown?
A: It was big. We had some opportunities to get some turnovers before. Jerry made a heck of a play. I mean he played really well. A lot of guys played well. It’s big. It’s always big that way. That was a big play.

Q: Can you walk us through why you decided to go for it on fourth down the previous drive?
A: We just talked about it prior to the game, looking at what the field goal range is. I felt our defense was playing well at the time and just went for it.

Q: How disappointed were you in the offensive performance in the first half?
A: Very disappointed. And they were disappointed in each other too. When you sit here and you say, ‘Coach Marrone, very disappointed in the offense in the first half.’ We were all disappointed. We were. We were 0-5 on third down and that’s not good enough and we understand that. We’ve got to do a better job, starting with me on down to the coaches and the players. We can’t afford to do that. We’ve got a lot of work to do. Even though it’s late in the season, we’re going to continue to work on it and get better.

Q: On the third and four before you completed that fourth down pass to Robert Woods, did you make that play call based on the belief that you’d be going for it on fourth down?
A: It’s not rocket science. In the area of the field we knew we were out of field goal range. That’s going against the wind in our stadium. We knew beforehand that if we got the ball in this area, we said, ‘We’ve got two downs to go ahead and make this.’

Q: How much do you have to change your defense when Johnny Manziel comes in?
A: I think you’ve got to see what happens first. There’s not a lot of film on him, so you’ve got to see how he plays. You’ve just got to make sure of some contain elements that you’ve got to take care of because, obviously, he can run. We faced that the week before with Michael Vick, but he has the ability to run the football and he showed it today.

Q: What did you think of him?
A: I concentrate on my own team.

Q: What did you think of that defensive touchdown that was called back?
A: They said that it was a forward pass.

Q: Did you think it was?
A: It doesn’t matter.

Q: How much a part of your game plan was MarQueis Gray?
A: I like him. I really didn’t know how he was going to respond, because we haven’t played a game with him. He did a heck of a job during the week. He did a very good job of picking things up. Chris Gragg had been playing almost 30 snaps a game for a while in those packages. He came in and made a big play early on the naked [bootleg]. That was a crucial play that we had against that type of defense in that situation and he made that play. That was a big play near the end of the game. Let’s not fool ourselves. We’ve got to finish. It’s the same things. It’s the red zone. We’ve got to finish these drives. I thought we were running the ball well, but then, all of the sudden we weren’t able to make the completion or make the play to continue it. Then, we got into these third down situations that we didn’t manage very well. Am I happy we won? Yes. I’m probably the worst guy [with that]. You guys know how I am. There are a lot of things that I’m concerned about and we will get them fixed.

Q: What is your overall feeling on how your team has played over the last few weeks?
A: I’m proud of the players. There’s no doubt about it. Where it comes from me is that I know and believe how well we can play when we execute at a higher level. That’s what we have to do. That’s what you have to do to win in this league. When you get the ball down there, you’ve got to finish these drives and finish these things as you go. Everything I’m saying to you guys, I’ve talked to the players about before. We understand that and that’s why we continue to come to practice every day and work our butts off.

Q: Sammy Watkins was a non-factor for the fourth consecutive game.
A: Non-factor because he wasn’t targeted or non-factor because he didn’t make any catches?

Q: What more can you do to get him involved?
A: I know he was targeted at least nine times. Yeah, he was targeted nine times and he had three catches. We could go back and probably find a poor throw, maybe the throw was behind him or something like that. What do you want me to tell you? We won the game. I’m not worried about how many times somebody catches the ball, runs the ball. All I worry about is how we can win the game. Can Sammy help us win? Absolutely. No doubt about it. We always have things going to try to get him the ball.


Q: Kyle, tale of two halves here today, with the offense?
A: Yeah, we had a great win. Did a little bit better in the second half. Didn’t really do a good job situationally obviously on third down. We struggled, and give them credit, they had a good plan for us. Good defense, and just didn’t make the plays we needed to make.

Q: Just seemed like yards were tough to come by there in the first two quarters.
A: Yeah, it was a defensive struggle. They’re a good defense. Like I said, I thought they had a good plan. They’re an aggressive defense. Had a chance on the first red zone drive. I didn’t see Jim Leonard at all, he made a good play for the interception, but overall, we kept on battling and found a way to win.

Q: The play to Robert (Woods) right before the touchdown to Chris (Hogan), I mean it looked like the play was designed to go to the right side, but you came all the way back. Can you just walk us through that play and what you saw?
A: Yeah we were trying, fourth-and-two, we were trying to get the first down obviously, and throw a little out route to Hogan and they covered it well. The offensive line did a great job and I kind of worked back and I was going to try to run for it and I picked my head up and saw Robert (Woods) working back to the end zone and gave him a chance to make a play and he went up and I thought Robert had another good day.

Q: Seems like your chemistry with him (Robert Woods), especially over the last two weeks, continues to evolve. Would you say that, Kyle?
A: Yeah, I think so. He’s made a bunch of good catches the last couple of weeks. I think his confidence is growing. And, I just think in the passing game, each guy has gone on spurts, you know we’ve gone on spurts in the passing game. Once we get everyone on the same page and playing well, we have a good chance to make a run.

Q: Marquise Gray, here for a week-and-a-half, and you guys go to him on two critical downs.
A: Awesome job for him. You know, just getting ready to play. He’s been here for five days, six days, whatever. To pick up the offense that fast and really, tight end is probably, it’s kind of like quarterback. You have to know all the run game, you have to know all the pass plays. We lined him up in a lot of different spots so credit to him to be ready to go. We called his number twice and he made two really big plays.

Q: What does it say about your team to come back with these two wins and put yourself in that conversation for the playoffs here in the final month?
A: Yeah, we just kind of keep on battling and certainly, we’re a tight group. The defense has played great to keep us in some of these games and we’re right there where we need to be with four games to go. Everything now is just improving and doing whatever it takes to win the next four.

Q: How nice does it feel leaning on the defense like that, especially in the first half, to allow your offense to get going in the second half?
A: You know, they’ve done it the whole year. If we get off to a slow start or we kind of catch a snag in the middle of a game, the defense has been there keeping us in the game. I turned the ball over twice today and I don’t think they gave up any points off of the turnovers. So, that just gives you a ton of confidence as a quarterback, to just keep on making the throws and knowing that the defense has got your back.


Q: What was your impression of the defense overall?
A: We came out kind of flat in the first half. We challenged ourselves during halftime to come out firing on all cylinders and make sure we communicate all across the board, and it paid off. As long as we did that, we could stop them and stay on top of everything. When we knew he was going to throw it in front, we jumped routes.

Q: What is your takeaway from two interceptions and a very strong defense against your former coach?
A: It was great. It should have been four. I know a lot of people from back home are going to get on me about that. I dropped two of them. It was good to get two. It’s good to get one, so when you get two it feels great.

Q: Was the turnover an eye read situation?
A: Not necessarily. It was more so our preparations throughout the league to recognize certain routes and certain formations. Once we picked up on those tendencies, it made easier to jump routes.

Q: How much did Manziel coming in change what the defense had to do?
A: It didn’t change too much. We knew there would probably be a lot of sprint outs because he’s a mobile quarterback. They probably wanted to get him on the movie and get him more comfortable. Coming on the field, we knew he was in there, we just told each other to look for boots.

Q: Does it reach point where the defense just doesn’t care what else happens in a game like this because the defense was dominating?
A: Coach always says defense sets the pace. We always want to come out firing. We always want to get the crowd into it, get them behind our offense and behind us. Once we got rolling, the offense got rolling too. Overall, it was a good team win.

Q: Was there a point in the game where you felt like the defense had an answer for everything?
A: Absolutely. It was very good because were talking to each other in the huddle like, “watch out for this,” and “watch out for that.” Like I said, once you notice those tendencies, you are able to play certain formations and jump certain routes. It all helped out. We’d cover them in the back end, the front four would get the rush, and then it all plays together as one defense.

Q: How did the second pick differ from the first?
A: It was recognizing routes. We knew if two were on the ball, they were probably going to run a speed over the dig. I told Aaron to jump the old route. I stayed and read the quarterback’s eyes, and he threw the dig right to me.

Q: What’s it mean for you guys to go into December 7-5, still in the conversation for the playoffs?
A: It’s great. We wanted to come out and win for the fans. They weren’t able to be with us on Monday night, so to have a game back in the Ralph where we get that win for them was good. In the end, we’re still in the hunt, so it was a good win.

Q: The fans were chanting Donte Whitner’s name at the end. How nice was it as a unit to give the fans a chance to give it back to Donte Whitner a little bit?
A: It was fun. Those fans are die-hard. They love us until the end; win or lose. So for those guys to be able to let their hair down and just make fun of the other team, it was great.

Q: What did the defense do to keep Josh Gordon in check?
A: We knew he is a dynamic receiver. He was hot early in the game. We knew we had to get hands on him. We had to play more aggressively. In the first half, we were just kind of letting him run and that’s why he was making his plays. As the secondary, we knew we had to step up. It’s on us because up front, they’re going to rush to get to the quarterback. We’ve got to help them out and do our job by covering the back end. We took it upon ourselves to go out and get that job done.

Q: With the snowstorm last week, was it important to win at home for your hometown fans?
A: Absolutely. It was great. We knew they were upset they couldn’t be there with us, but we knew they were back at the Ralph cleaning it out for the next home game. Coach Marrone said, “These fans love you. They want to see you win back at the Ralph. Let’s bring a win back to the Ralph.


On the defensive performance…
A: Our communication was on point today and we did a great job in the secondary. We dropped a lot of picks, somebody should have had four picks but I won’t say any names. Other than that as long as we get a victory I’m fine with it.

Q: You guys seemed like you really knew what they were doing in the second half. Were those adjustments you made at halftime?
A: Yeah, like I said as long as our communication is right we get the coaches permission of what we see in the play as long as they’re giving us the same thing. As long as we’re on the same page, we will be fine.

Q: Did you enjoy the satisfaction of sending Donte (Whitner) home with a loss?
A: Absolutely, I absolutely enjoyed it. It is what it is for our situation, I feel like Donte is a good player and I have nothing against him whatsoever, but it’s not between me and him. This game was the Bills vs. the Browns. The whole Donte, me and Sammy (Watkins) thing, we have to squash it. As long as we got a team victory, it’s fine with me.

Q: Was it funny though, the Whitner chant?
A: The Whitner chant, it was bittersweet. It felt good to be on the good side.

Q: Now you got (Peyton) Manning, (Aaron) Rodgers and (Tom) Brady later, are you guys excited about the opportunity?
A: Absolutely, it’s going to be a huge test for this team and we’re going to see how we come out, especially on the road being in Denver next week. We’re going to be put to the test. But as long as we do what we did today and have good communication, run the ball, be physical. I feel that it’s going to be a good game.


Q: You guys just seemed very dialed in to everything that they were doing today, give me a breakdown of it…
A: I think in the second half, for sure. We played a lot better. That was one thing we talked about when we came in here after the first half and said “Yeah they only have three points but don’t confuse yourself, we haven’t played that well,” but I think in the second half, we really did a good job.

Q: All the great plays this D-Line has made this year, where does the Jerry Hughes fumble touchdown rank?
A: It’s pretty good because you didn’t know it happened, it was just kind of a pile of people and then you see him jump out and run over there. It was obviously, really a turning point in the game. Big play for Jerry and for our team so it was fun to see.

Q: That second half was it beyond effort, was it also strategic, adjustment, you know give me a sense of it…
A: You know we really didn’t make that many adjustments. It was really just a focus on your job and really being on top of everything. I think we played a little bit loose in the first half with what we were supposed to do and it led to them making some plays and having a couple of drives. We really tightened it up in the second half.

Q: You talk about one game playoffs; do you feel like you advanced to next week more or less with this game?
A: Well, I mean we won and that’s all we had on our mind. We’ve got a big opportunity in front of us next week so we’ll get ready for that the best way that we can. We’ll push each other and we’ll prepare and get ready for Denver.

Q: Is it daunting or inspiring that you have Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady in these next four weeks?
A: Well, if it’s daunting and you’re worried or you’re scared about it, I don’t want to play with you. It’s a challenge obviously, great players. We feel like we’re pretty good players too, so we have to prepare, we have to be on top of our business and go out there and try to win one football game. You can’t lose sight of the forest for the trees, you can’t look at everybody, you can only focus on what you have in front of you and we have a good test in front of us.


Opening Statement:
I’m very disappointed for us to waste, for a good part of the game, a solid defensive effort. It was a bad feeling at halftime knowing that as well as we played and shut them out, we only had a field goal to show for it. In this league you have to make the most of your opportunities when you get them and this is a defense here that you don’t get that many opportunities. That was kind of our lament at half time, really only being up three. And then they made more plays than us in the second half. I think the fumble by (Terrance) West really changed the whole flow of the game. It would’ve been a one score game and that’s the frustrating thing. You can’t be that loose with the football. It’s inexcusable. In regard to the quarterbacks, we just felt it was time to make a change. We were struggling and we couldn’t move the ball. I know the obvious questions that are going to come with it and I’ll give you the obvious coach answers: we’re going to watch the tape, make an evaluation and we’ll have more on Wednesday as far as what we’re going to do.

Q: So you have a decision to make? This isn’t all about Brian (Hoyer)?
A: We’re all about competition. So, I’ve said it all along, we get together as a staff each week and at the beginning of the week and we say, ‘Who gives us the best chance to win?’ So far, Brian has been the answer to that question.

Q: What did you think of the touchdown drive that Johnny (Manziel) led them on?
A: You have to be careful sometimes at the end of the games when you’re getting softer coverage or a little bit more predictive defense. So, I don’t want to put too much stock in it. I want to see the tape first and see what reads he had to go through and the plays that he made. We’re in the bottom-line business. His task was to move us down the field. He did and he did a good job. He made some throws and certainly made some plays with his feet and climaxed by the touchdown.

Q: Is it hard to go back to Hoyer?
A: It wouldn’t be. We’ll hit the reset button. We’re not going to overreact when we win and we’re certainly not going to overreact when we lose. We’ll get out of here and get back to a less emotional environment in the offices and study it and ask that question and come up with an answer.

Q: Will you study more than just this game?
A: It’s always a cumulative, body of work decision so we’ll get through the tape and put it all out there on the table and make a decision that best fits the team.

Q: Do you feel that either guy jeopardizes your playoff chances?
A: Again, we’re in a win-business. We’re going to get together and decide who gives us the best chance to win this week. Period.

Q: Do you think there’s a common thread in what has happened to Brian in these last three games?
A: I know we weren’t on the same page, so until I see this film I’m not going to put it all on Brian. It goes back to what I’ve said since day one: when the team wins the quarterback gets too much credit and when you lose, he gets too much blame. To me, it was just something I wanted to change. It’s like taking your goalie out in hockey when he’s given up a bunch. Sometimes you just need change for the sake of change and it’ll still come down to a staff decision when we make the evaluation.

Q: As far as miscommunication, the interception for Josh Gordon in the first half seemed obvious.
A: I’m not sure. I’ll have to get with Kyle (Shanahan) and Dowell (Loggains) and Mike McDaniel to get to the root of it.

Q: What was your assessment of the sack after (Joe) Haden’s interception?
A: That’s frustrating because that’s one that literally goes into the play call. You can’t take a sack. We were fringe field goal and that’s why we have to find a way to either gain yards or at the very least not lose any. That’s the frustrating thing when you’re on the fringe. We just have to coach that better and make sure we know that we have to get the ball out.

Q: Is that part of your cumulative thinking about taking Hoyer out of the game?
A: I just think it was the circumstances of the game: that we were down and needed a spark. I can’t really pin it on any one play. I think it was all part of it.

Q: How much of this decision has been building over the last couple of weeks?
A: I wouldn’t say that. It is a week-to-week thing. We’ll certainly take it into account when we discuss it.

Q: Would you talk about it at half time?
A: No.

Q: Did Johnny take any snaps other than scout team this week?
A: Yes, we still mix one’s and two’s. It’s tough this time of year because you trim all your reps, but it’s still important that the two’s get reps. I think Ryan Seymour came in and did an admirable job for us. I’d have to see the tape first but I think he did a decent job holding up for us at center after (Nick) McDonald left.

Q: Knowing the attention that Johnny brings to your team, do you think a little bit extra about your decision?
A: No. To me, it’s a football decision all the way. The stuff that’s outside of the building is outside of the building. It’s whoever gives us the best chance to win.

Q: What was being back in Buffalo like for you?
A: To stand here now, it’s tough. It wasn’t a good day at the office. It was good to be back here and see a lot of the people that I have very good relationships with. A lot of the guys on defense came up to me after the game. These are guys that you form that bond or brotherhood with when you go through a season together. So, it’s good to see them doing well, it just wasn’t good seeing them doing well today.

Q: How frustrating were all the turnovers?
A: That’s what games come down to. Close games are going to come down to turnovers. Like I said, the West fumble changed everything. It’s inexcusable.


Q: How did you feel getting in especially that first drive?
A: Yea the first drive, very nervous getting in there for the first time in a live game setting. It’s been a long time–since week four of preseason. So it felt very good to get back out there. Very thankful for the teammates I had on offense to work me and allow me to overcome a few hurtles, getting in there for the first time, calling the play right, getting everything, making sure everything is lined up. It’s a lot different in a game than it is getting a couple snaps here and there in practice.

Q: When did you know you were going in?
A: Mike (Pettine) told me, I guess, right before our last offensive drive, he kind of came down after the interception and said get loose. I was kind of caught off guard a little bit and after I talked to Kyle (Shanahan) and Coach after that it was pretty apparent that they wanted me to go in. It’s been my job all year to make sure I am ready when my name is called and that’s what I have been preparing all year for and I got to go out there today and do that. Wasn’t perfect by any means.

Q: Think you’ll be ready to start if you get the job?
A: I think that it’s obviously up to Coach Pettine and some higher people than me in this organization. But if that is the case and my name is called, then I definitely will be ready.

Q: How good did it all feel?
A: Oh sure, it felt great. I mean any time you can drive 80 yards on defense like that with a defensive front like that and make notable plays, receivers running some great routes, and it was a great catch by dre over the middle, the with a guy all over him. I feel like I got a lot of help and like I said from the very beginning all the way from the running backs to the o-line to every receiver that was out there with me, they helped me tremendously. And I am very thankful for those guys and having veteran guys out there that were able to calm me down and continue to keep pushing to make that drive work.

Q: What do you see on the touchdown?
A: The touchdown the first play, I got a good rush up the field, that really left a big big hole, and as I was keeping my eyes down field it kind of popped open, saw the backer kind of grab on to somebody, it was just a huge hole and I felt like I could take it; luckily it got in.

Q: What did you see on the fumble that got reversed?
A: On the fumble, it was my fault, just a little bit of a miss communication with the o-line as far as going on what snap count we were going on. I really wasn’t ready for it, knowing we were getting into four down territory, being down what we were, figured we needed to try and throw that away and keep us in a fourth and ten, fourth and eight, whatever it was at the time, to try and get that first down on the next play. So I was trying to throw it away and I think maybe my elbow, or somehow it got jarred loose as it was going backwards. Never thought it was an incomplete pass but for us after the replay I guess it showed that, I haven’t seen it yet so I guess we’ll see.

Q: Were you hurt on that play?
A: No, as the ball goes behind you in the end zone and you’re the deepest guy on the field you know it’s all bad from there. Just trying to kind of lay there, on my second drive, nerves are still going, still really amped up, after that happened I knew it could be nothing good, with the ball going back there so I just kind of laid there for a minute knowing that was on me was just a snap count, such a little thing that was a big deal obviously.

Q: Do you think it’s that you should be given the start?
A: Like I said that’s obviously Coach Pettine’s decision, and one that I think this whole team. Coach Pettine has done nothing but put us in the right situation throughout the entire year, I feel like, and I don’t see that changing anytime moving forward. I feel he is going to put this football team, the Cleveland Browns, in a position to win and whoever does that, I think, obviously that’s his choice and that’s who he feels. He has been around this game a lot longer than me obviously.

Q: How excited would you be if you get the start at home?
A: I mean you get the chance to start at home, that’s obviously a game going down the stretch, every single one is important to us. So we need to go out and get a week next week. I know we have to put the time in put the work in throughout this week to make sure we ready to go out on Sunday.

Q: When you ran out onto field and part of you that is conscious of that or thinking of that?
A: I was probably thinking about calling the play right, more than I was anything else. As the drive kept going, I didn’t really think about much, feel that much just went out and played football. And that’s what helped me deliver the ball to those guys and shoot the ball to those guys and make that drive work. Once I got out there and the nerves kind of settled down, and got into a little bit of a rhythm and seeing a pass completed–that’s better than the 0-for-1 that I was sitting on all season before. It felt good after that it was just block everything out, listen to Kyle (Shanahan), listen to what he’s got to tell me and go play football.

Q: Brian (Hoyer) thinks this is his football team, do you understand his disappointment?
A: Sure, absolutely

Q: If you step in for Brian (Hoyer) do you think you can get team behind you
A: Yea I think the guys, whenever I was told to go in today, I feel like those guys rallied around me for that little bit. I mean they came up to me, making sure I was locked in, they were encouraging me, and they rallied around me for that little bit. So if I were to be the guy moving forward, you want to carry that a little bit, that weight, even though its one drive and it’s a small part of this whole entire football game, I still feel like I’m very thankful for those guys. And I feel they did a great job rallying around even for that little part.

Q: Before today when was last time you stepped in as relief role for quarterback?
A; New Orleans, I guess.

Q: Are you grateful you had time to learn on the sidelines?
A: From what I have been telling you guys, you see me week to week and we talk every Friday. But, what I’ve continued to say, every week that goes by, every practice that goes by, every game that goes by, getting into another game plan, becoming more and more familiar with plays that we do, the carrying we do, more and more that goes on, the more time passes by, the more comfortable I felt. I felt where I was long time ago, dating back to my young years in college, is that you continue to go on and continue to learn more about the game and learn more about this game, it’s a lot different than college. So every week that I’ve had has been great, I believe a lot different now.

Q: How challenging would it be to become starter with four games left?
A: I think at this point it is by any means necessary by all cost to go out and win these games to make a push. At the end of the season, I mean all the guys in this locker room are extremely hungry to win. I don’t think there is a person in there that is happy with the outcome of today. I mean we really wanted to win this game, I think we really needed to win this game, but I don’t think this game completely shuts the door as what we want to do as a football team moving forward. And I think everyone is extremely hungry and determined to finish this season the right way and to add in a better season for us so far than it has been in the past.


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