LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (1.14.24)

 I didn’t get a chance to talk to you after the game, so, you know, just how painful was it to come to such an abrupt end after everything that you guys have built this whole year? 

‘Yeah, man, it is painful a bit, you know, when you put in so much work and so much is at stake, so many people involved—the organization, the city, the team, us as individuals and the way that we work. So it definitely is painful. But again, you have to take an evaluation, take an audit of what the season has made and what that game has made. Learn from those mistakes.”


I’m sorry, did they take advantage of your aggressiveness and pursuit of some of those touchdowns, like the fake pitch back the other way, the touchdown dump off to the tight end? 

“Yeah, I don’t think they necessarily took advantage of the aggressiveness that we have. For me, I do believe that it was more so just making our responsibilities and being specific with those things that we’re supposed to do. I gave up one when I didn’t look at the tight end or you have some people that may have made some mistakes in the back end, right? I think that it comes down to just doing our responsibility and being patient with our jobs and make sure that we fulfill those.”


So the 76 yard touchdown, you were supposed to stick with the tight end on that? 

“It’s a combination of a lot of things, but, yeah, I think we all have to own those mistakes and the things that we do to make sure the defense just does our job.”


You had a terrific season. You’re going to be extension eligible. What are your thoughts about remaining a key piece of this young core going forward here? 

“Yeah, I love Cleveland. I’m not a super party guy. Cleveland is just the spot for me. But nevertheless, I mean, I think a lot of the things come down to what the front office wants to do. Of course, in my third year, so I’m not sure how much leverage I do have at this point, but I’d be looking to see what the front office thinks and try to get whatever.”


Aside from that tight end touchdown, you seemed to be all over the field yesterday. Seemed to be the only one to show up. Did you feel you were having an individual good game? Could you take satisfaction at all and play you? 

“I would say that it’s hard to. And this whole year, it’s been us. It’s been us against the world. It’s hard to take an individual praise. It’s very hard to. For me, I go back and look at that, which I should have did better. I apologize to the coaches after that. I apologize to the teammates after just because I think I could have did more myself. So again, I think it comes back to that and just being accountable and saying, hey, look, no matter what we did individually as a team, we came into this as team, we leave as a team.”`


The TFLs. It just seemed like you were playing so fast. Did you know what was coming or did you use your speed to do that? How were you getting all the TFLs? 

“Yeah, I think it was a combination of a lot of things. First and foremost, you put it in a scheme that allows the player to get vertical. You have the players in front, I know the defensive line didn’t necessarily get any sacks or anything, but if you look, they did keep those double teams pretty well for us to get vertical. So, I give credit to them. I mean coach (Jason) Tarver did a great job preparing us as linebackers to be able to do those things, specifically in those positions that I was in. So, it’s credit to the coaches, my teammates, but also a lot of the stuff that they keyed in on and some of the patience things that you can see from the position that I was in.”


The theme in the locker room last night was we picked a bad day to have a bad day. Pretty much the coach started that right off the bat. Some players did. Upon further reflection, do you know where that bad day originated from at all? 

“Well, I think the bad day really originates from the nature of football. Sometimes you don’t have necessarily those days that you might. Sometimes you may come out still on top, but for us, that was one of the bad days that we didn’t come out on top. So, I think that, again, it originates with the nature of football. Some days you have great days, some days you don’t. Some days you execute, some days you don’t. I mean, the battle is to see how much you can stay consistent with that and overcoming that.”


And looking back, was any momentum lost by not playing against Cincinnati?

“I saw a lot of comments I usually don’t look at, but I was on a little safari thing, and I saw like a notification popped up and was talking about the Cincinnati stuff. I don’t think so, man. I think that coach made a great decision. A lot of players came out healthy, some didn’t. But I think that coach did a great job and a great decision.”


Specifically, Jeremiah, what happened on the long pass to the tight end? Where was the breakdown? 

“Yeah, I think it was a combination of things, whether it was my eyes we got to execute on the tackling mean. I think I’ll be the first to take the credit on my side to say I should have done better on that play. I shouldn’t have kept my eyes on that man and followed him.”


Jeremiah, it’s been a long time since there’s been such a positive culture here. You guys have established a brotherhood. How do you sustain that when you have so much turnover in an NFL locker room? 

“I was thinking about that yesterday, too, just trying to reflect more. Sometimes a loss like that can deprive the entire season. I was trying not to let that get a hold of me, even though I went to sleep at like 4:00 a.m. Just still thinking about it. At the end of the day, I think that the culture originates with intentionality. And since the offseason, we had that intentionality. And to be honest, it’s not just the intentionality. It’s about the organization of it, too. Putting guys in the right position, making sure that the personnel is right, making sure that we have guys to be the anchor, but also to be the roles. There’s so much to a football organization that creates culture, but all in all, I think that were very intentional and we organized well.”


How do you transition that now into the offseason and keep that culture, that sort of mentality you guys have had together going, even though you’re not going to be around each other as much and every day like you have? 

“Yeah, I think when culture is instilled, it allows you to continue to be a certain way. I think culture is actually what sustains the society as we see itself. Right. After culture is established, people act a certain way. They live by a certain moral code, a certain standard, and are able to continue to be in that same mindset. I think overall, even though we are offseason, the culture still lives within us. I don’t know where is the culture? The culture is not out there, right? The culture is inside of all of us.”


How do you think this defense takes the next step? What is going to be the key? 

Yeah, I mean, the next step is just, the next step is the best step. Right. The next step concerns fixing those mistakes. Right. Fixing the things that we did wrong. At the end of the day, that’s why we are a team. Right. I think a team has a love for every individual that’s within that team. And to correct those mistakes, we had to take an audit. Whether it’s some of the man things we did wrong, some of the zone things we did wrong, some of the preparation things we may have did wrong, right. I think that’s the next step is just making sure that we get those things off our resume as coach (Jim) Schwartz) was saying.”


Do you think there’s anything to the lights being brighter or anything like that? Is it related to the performance at all?

“No, I don’t think so. I don’t think it is. Football is still football. The game is still a game, but at the end of the day, playoffs, it does require a certain amount of intensity. I don’t think that it was the lights that shocked us or we did not have a lot of playmakers. Look, who was our starting quarterback, right? He’s been there, done that a bunch of times. We’ve had guys on the defense that have been in the playoffs before, guys that won Super Bowls already. We had Juan (Thornhill), Ogbo (Okoronkwo). I don’t think it was lights. I think it was a matter of execution.”


Can you put in, or encapsulate and sort of put in perspective just the impact that Jim Schwartz had this year? Obviously last year’s defense had a lot of issues. He seemed to erase a lot of that other than maybe yesterday in a few moments where things came out. But just the impact he’s had on the whole group. But also you individually because you obviously had a great season.

“I think at the end of the day there’s a lot of things that contribute to a team’s success. Coach Schwartz, obviously on the defense side is a huge part of, and I think for him we have things that are already understood, but for him, even those things that are understood he makes relevant, right? Whether it’s continuously creating that repetition of, hey, the best players have to be the most hardworking players, hey, our weakest link should be one of our strongest. So, I think a lot of the things that he will repeat…I know AWalk (Anthony Walker), of course, is a huge part of it. AWalk is a huge part not only of the defense, but also of cutting off my interviews constantly…At the end of the day, I think Coach Schwartz is an amazing leader and he’s able to formulate his messages in a way that gets people going, whether that is in a practice, in a walkthrough or in a game. I’m really grateful for that transpiring for our defense and myself.”

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