C JC Tretter (1.11.21)

C JC Tretter:

On the performance of G Michael Dunn, G Blake Hance and T Kendall Lamm last night:

“Mike has been with us for the year, and I can’t be more proud of a guy to step into that environment and just play as well as he did. He played really well. Kendall, who is a veteran, stepped in and played really well, as well. Blake comes in, and you give a lot of credit to him working hard this week, getting up on all of his calls and getting up on the plays and the coaches taking extra time after meetings to work with him and make sure he is ready to play, and he steps in there and plays well, too. Just great overall by everybody stepping in in that type of environment to play that well.”

On if he has ever been around a group that embraces the ‘next man up’ mentality so well:

“This year the way it has gone, everybody has had to kind of live by that mindset of just being ready to play and being ready to perform with different circumstances and under unique preparation circumstances, as well. We have been ready for that, but a ton of credit to those guys to step in in a playoff game and play at that high of a level.”

On Browns fans meeting the team plane when it landed early this morning:

“Yeah, there was a good size group of Browns fans outside the fence as we landed.”

On the celebration after the win and FaceTiming with Head Coach Kevin Stefanski in the locker room:

“Extremely exciting times. We know what Browns fans have been through, and we can feel the excitement of the entire city and the guys in the locker room. Just extremely excited to continue to play football, continue to be alive and continue to push forward. This has been a great year for the Cleveland Browns, and we have more work to do. It is a really exciting time. We are looking forward to getting even more guys back to be in that locker room with us.”

On how gratifying it is to win yesterday’s game and give G Joel Bitonio an opportunity to play in a postseason game:

“Winning these games at this time of year, this is what you put all of that work and all of that blood and sweat into all through training camp and in the regular season to get to these moments. I said it last week, I do not think anybody can be more motivated to play in a playoff game. That is what you work extremely hard to get to. It is going to be really nice to get guys back – guys like Joel and guys like Coach Stefanski – to come in and be with us again, play and coach and just kind of unite the entire team again. That is going to be really great.”

On how different the postgame locker room was last night compared to his time with the Packers:

“It was not much different. Getting to the playoffs is hard. Winning playoff games is hard. It takes a lot of work and a lot of effort by everybody involved. As you keep winning and keep accomplishing goals, those moments in the locker room with the guys who have put it on the line with you day in and day out and week in and week out, those are always special moments that you remember more so than the game. Just being with your teammates, being with your coaches and being with the staff, all of who have worked extremely hard to get to that point. , those are the special moments. It does not matter how long it has been or what playoff game it is, each one of those is really special.”

On if he talked to Bitonio about the experience watching the game from home:

“I did not talk to him about that. I called him after the game after I had left the locker room just to chat with him. We did not talk about his experience of watching the game. We more talked about the game itself, what he saw on the TV and different things like that.”

On if he can imagine what Coach Stefanski was experiencing when watching the game from home:

“I am sure it was nerve-racking, but you come out and our defense just played so well and had takeaways and gave us short fields and the offense took advantage of it. That had to be a great feeling to have the game start off that way. I definitely understand the feeling of not being in total control or not really having any say on how the game was going to go and truly being  a fan is probably a real unique experience for a lot of guys who have not been in that situation in a long, long time.”

On what WR Jarvis Landry has meant to building the team’s culture since Landry joined the Browns:

“A real veteran presence. A really talented player. Just the more guys you have in the locker room, the better the entire team is going to be. A guy who competes and works hard every day. That is what you want out of guys like that. Him, as well as a bunch of other guys in the locker room that we have brought in recently, just add to the culture change, doing the right things and all of that.”

On Landry once again stepping up in key moments during last night’s game:

“He is extremely talented and reliable. That is what you need. You need guys who in the crucial moments are going to step up and make big plays. He is one of the guys who we really rely on.”

On the belief that any team in the playoffs can beat anyone, including the Browns who many people will not expect to beat the Chiefs this weekend:

“Expectations, they are all from the outside whenever you talk about that. It just does not have any meaning on what is actually going to happen. It is all projections and predictions, and it just does not impact us. We are focused on what we do with the guys in that locker room and inside that building are capable of so I do not think anybody gets too caught up in what other people are telling us we can or can’t. We are really confident in what we can do. We have played well this year, and we know if we go out there and play the best of our abilities that we can compete with anybody. It should not impact anybody what people are saying from the outside – that should not matter.”

 

On if brining a Super Bowl to the City of Cleveland is on everyone’s mind, given T Jack Conklin’s comments about it last week: 

“Yeah, I do not know why it would not be.”

On if he will make an argument to eliminate weekly practices as NFLPA President, given he made an argument to eliminate offseason programs: 

“No (laughter). My whole point is always to rely on the science and rely on what trainers, sport science and strength coaches have known for a long time. Practice is very important both for acclimation and making sure we keep our dosage of high-speed yardage and all of that up for guys to avoid soft tissue injuries. No, that will not be the next thing on my checklist.”

On explaining the Browns playing their cleanest game of the season despite limited practice during the week: 

“We played a really fundamentally sound game. There are a lot of different ways to prepare. One of the most important things, especially this time of year, is having players who are healthy and feeling close to 100 percent. You look at things glass half full, last week almost gave us a mini-bye, an unscheduled mini-bye where guys were able to get their body back after a long season. I know I felt coming back on Friday for practice that was probably the best I have felt in a long time this late in the season. You feel fresh, you feel revitalized and you go out there and play fast. We took our meetings seriously. We did our virtual walkthroughs. We did our virtual meetings. Everybody studied and prepared hard, and you can see that there are a lot of ways to prepare to play a football game.”

On if QB Baker Mayfield’s self-confidence has contributed to the Browns’ culture change: 

“Baker has been that way probably since he was born. That is his personality. That is who he is, and that is who he is every day. As a leader of your team, that is a really great quality to have because everybody begins to replicate the personality of the leader of the team. The confidence and the swagger, it follows him and guys mimic that, and that is why Baker is such a leader for us.”

On his first impression of Mayfield when Mayfield joined the team in 2018 and Mayfield’s comments at the time about turning the team around: 

“Baker has been the same guy since he arrived. The thing about young players and leaders is the way you become a leader in the locker room is be yourself. There are a lot of different personalities that guys respect in this league. Really, the only one that guys do not is someone who is not themselves, is a phony or is trying to be something they are not. Baker from the moment he walked in the building was himself and was the same guy, and he is the same guy every day, not [just] on game day. It is every day at practice. He is a competitor like that. He is working to get better. That is what guys see and guys follow are guys like that who are always the same guy every day.”

On when he knew it was not the ‘same old Browns’ this season: 

“I think you go out there, you play hard and you start winning games. I think when we hang onto some games and you just stick with it, I think the games and teams itself, they move around and trend throughout the season. You can never define a team early on or midway through. You kind of come in segments. A lot of teams break the season up in four quarters and kind of judge each quarter individually. If you look at that, you see that we have been consistently the same team quarter after quarter of the season. If you look at the individual games within those quarters, we have had games like that last night where we jumped out to big leagues and held on, and we have had had games like the Cincinnati game where it did not go our way and we continued to fight continued to battle and claw back. I think those are how you define a good team in this league. The more and more examples you can put on film of that, the more confident you are of that is who you are.”

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