PFW recently caught up with Browns S Abram Elam, one of the defense's top playmakers, for his take on several topics:
1. What's the biggest difference between this team when it was 1-11 after 12 games in 2009 and 5-7 after three-quarters of this season?
Elam: I guess you could say everybody's comfortable in the system now. Last year, everybody was getting to understand their roles and what Coach (Eric Mangini) expected of them, and the coaches understanding the players, and everybody getting on the same page. And I think everybody's bought in now, and we're a much better team, and I think our play is reflecting that.
2. When everyone's on the same page, how is that reflected in the play of the defense?
Elam: Well, I (can) just speak for myself, understanding that when I got here, I came into a different role. Basically, I came into being the leader of the secondary, so I would have to get guys lined up, get everybody on the same page, getting guys together to stay after to watch films. Last year, it was a different role for me, one I had to get accustomed to. I couldn't just line up and just play and just focus on myself. I had to make sure everybody was on the same page. And now, I'm comfortable doing that, and now that's allowing me to go out and make plays as well.
3. Do you think the four consecutive wins to end last season helped the team this season?
Elam: I think we got momentum coming into this year, and I know guys got confidence that if we play Cleveland Browns football, which is smart, tough and competitive, and continue to be unselfish and do our job, then we can play with anybody. And the last four games of the season, we did that, and we were very effective. Coming into it, we had a rocky start, but I think once we got back on track and were able to do the things that we know we could do, I think that's the reason why we've been playing much better.
4. You've made some big plays recently, with 32 tackles, two forced fumbles, two interceptions, two sacks and a touchdown in the last five games. To what do you attribute your success?
Elam: I just think being consistent in my preparation and my performance. I've done nothing differently than what I have. I've just been trusting God and just going out and (doing) my job, what the coaches ask of me, and when those plays come, I have to make them, and that's what I've been doing.
5. Much is made about head coach Eric Mangini's emphasis on preparation. What's an example of a pointer he has given that has paid off during a game?
Elam: Well, we know watching film this past week that (Dolphins QB) Chad Henne had a low release, and a lot of his balls were getting batted in the air by watching on film, and coach always told us if you couldn't get to him in the pass rush, to get your hands up in the throwing lane, and it came down to a crunch-time play Sunday, when (LB) David Bowens was able to get his hands up and knock a ball down that fell into (CB) Mike Adams' lap.