CB Denzel Ward (1.14.24)


On the season…

“Yeah, definitely had a great season, regular season, and could definitely find a lot good to come out of that. Just definitely a lot to be thankful for and grateful for the guys I played with this season, the coaches and what were able to accomplish during the regular season.”


How do you set aside the bitter taste of what happened yesterday and balance that with recognizing what you guys collectively were able to accomplish in spite of all the adversity that you faced and all the teammates that you lost? 

“Yeah, it’s tough. It’s tough. But like I said, we definitely had a great season, so definitely don’t want to look past that and all that were able to accomplish. We weren’t able to execute on our goals in the postseason and make it as far as we would have liked. But like I said, definitely a lot to be thankful for and guys played and did a heck of a job in the regular season.”


Where do you guys go from here? 

“I mean, it’s offseason. So now just got to go away, recalibrate, get our bodies back right, get ready to come back and better for this next season.”


What gives you optimism that you guys could make the playoffs again and then make some kind of run once you get there? 

“I mean, we got a special team. We did a lot with a lot of guys being hurt, a lot of guys being out and making it as far as we did. I mean, we were pushing through adversity all season, all year. And like I said we weren’t able to execute on our goals in the postseason that we wanted to, but we got a lot of hope for the future and what we’re capable of and the guys we’re going to be getting back.”


This defense was dominant when you guys were at home. It was good on the road, but there was a clear split when you guys were on the road. What do you make of that? How can you resolve it? How can you be the same defense no matter where you play? 

“Yeah, like I said, just get away for the offseason and just get better throughout the offseason. We’ll get back with the team, find a way to recalibrate, re-juice up and find a way to better on the road as well and take that home field advantage mentality to away teams.”


Every year is its own individual story here. You guys were such a close-knit team in this locker room. It’s probably one of the closest I’ve ever seen. How do you replicate that next year? How do you carry the culture that you had this year going forward? 

“Yeah, I think we did a good job of setting a foundation and like I said, we’re a very close-knit group and very tight. So, I mean, we’re still going to be hanging out and being with each other during the offseason and working out together and training and everything. So just once we get back, I think still having that foundation and setting that routine and being with one another and just working towards that goal of getting to the postseason and making a difference.”


Do you think it’s possible for (Joe) Flacco and Deshaun (Watson) to work together? 

“Definitely. I definitely think so. I mean, I definitely enjoy both of those guys on the team. They’re both highly capable of winning games for us and just being a difference on this team for us.”


When you look at the corners of the group, how do you assess how you guys played this season? Just as a unit what you guys were able to do? 

“Yeah, I think we’re a special group of corners. I mean, we had a great season. I feel we finished number one, but I think the biggest thing we wanted to be number one in the postseason. We weren’t able to get the win yesterday, but just focusing on the regular season, I think we did a great job in helping our team get wins and locking our guys down all season. That’s a big credit to MJ (Emerson Jr.) and Greg (Newsome II) and Cam (Mitchell). All those guys. They did a great job playing this year, played hard for us and helped us get wins and get to playoffs.”


The camaraderie aspect, not only as a team but you guys simply as a unit. How important was that throughout the season? 

“That was huge. I think that was a big part of why we made it as far as we did, just how close were and able to push forward with one another. We’re playing with one another and so I think that’s going to be big once we get back and being able to build upon the foundation that we already set. ”


I’m sorry, you probably already answered this, but yesterday, what do you think happened in the first half that you guys didn’t look like the number one? 

“Yeah, we didn’t. I mean, I still got to go back and watch the film, but I don’t think that we showed up and played our best ball yesterday. I mean, it’s a big credit to the guys on the other side in Houston. They played a great game, did a good job in getting a victory over us as they won that game and was able to move on. So, we got to find a way to come back and better and see how we could advance next time in the playoffs.”


Do you think that kind of experience was needed for you and some of the other launching players on this team who lack experience? 

“Yeah, I definitely believe so. I think it was a great opportunity to have that experience for a lot of young guys, a lot of guys that haven’t been to playoffs yet and just see what the atmosphere was like and everything. So, moving on for the future, just to know what to expect and better next time.”


How do you move on from such a special season to lose like that? Probably hurt like crazy. 

“It’s tough. I’m still trying to figure out how to move on from it. I said we definitely didn’t want to be at this point, wanted to move ahead in the playoffs, but don’t want to discredit what we were able to do during the regular season. Guys did a great job, but just got to find a way to better next season and find a way to be able to advance.”


Looking back at the season and how good the defense was, just, can you put in perspective just the impact that Jim Schwartz had really from start to finish, changing the defense? Seemed like you guys are playing with a lot more confidence and just more free and you’re able to kind of do some good things. So just put in perspective, I guess his impact on the defense, but also on your success this year.

“Yeah, the impact is huge. I mean, like I said all the time, I can’t say enough great things about Coach Schwartz. He’s done a lot. Just helped build the camaraderie on this team and help us grow, changed our defense into being the number one defense in the NFL. So, he’s a great coach and he’s done a lot for myself and what were able to do this year. So, looking forward to continuing to work with him and he’s a great coach.”


While the game’s gone on or even after the game. What was Jim (Schwartz) trying to say to you guys when stuff wasn’t going right? Was he able to point out why it wasn’t working? 

“Like, I mean, the main focus was we just got to be ourselves. We got to be ourselves, go out there and play. And I don’t feel that we showed up yesterday. We didn’t show up yesterday and capitalize on what we’re supposed to do and we didn’t execute. So, I said we got to go back, watch the film and see how we could better and avoid that for the next time we’re in a playoffs.”


Were you limited? You got banged up right before the game that last practice. Were you affected yesterday by that at all? 

“No, I was good. If I’m out there. I’m good. So, I was fine. Focused just on trying to be the best I can for my team and help them out as best as I can. And I was good.”


You have an event coming up in February, your foundation. Why is it so important for you to do this? Fitness expo and it also involves health. Could you explain why is it so important for you to do an event like this? Because I know I went to the one last year, but you’re having this annually. Why is it so important for you to do this? 

“Yeah, it’s a heart health. So I have a heart health foundation. And just being in the city of Cleveland, being from Cleveland, I just like to do events with my family and foundation just to build awareness for heart health and just find fun ways to do that. And so, it’s an event where people come out, work out, have fun. There’ll be a station set up where you can learn about how to do CPR and using AED kits and things like that. So it’s just a fun way to kind of build heart health awareness and just something fun for the city. If you could have done it over.”


If you could have done it over again, should guys have played that last game? Did that have any impact at all, stunting the momentum of the season?

“No, I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I mean, all our focus was on the playoffs. I don’t think guys necessarily needed to play that didn’t have to play. I don’t think it had any effect on our next game. I feel were prepared going into this Houston game, but Houston, they were the better team yesterday and they found a way to beat us and we just got come back better.”


When you look at CJ Stroud, do you think that as you move forward, he’s going to be one of those top amazing quarterbacks in the NFL that you guys are going to have to try to find a way to get pass in the playoffs? 

“Yeah, no question. CJ, he’s a phenomenal quarterback, phenomenal player, is going to be a top five quarterback in this league. He’s been showing that since already as a rookie. So congrats to him on again the victory and moving on in the playoffs. But he’s definitely going to be a problem in the future and a guy that is going to be tough to play against.”






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