Freddie Kitchens Conference Call 8-24-19

Transcript provided by Rob McBurnett, Senior Management, Communciations.

Head Coach Freddie Kitchens:

Opening statement:

“I think last night is going to be a tremendous learning opportunity for our offense and the guys that were competing to attempt to get a spot on this team. Defensively, I thought they did an exceptional job of competing. Our starters went out and really competed and really held on to one drive that ended up in a missed field goal. Special teams, I think we created some plays from the standpoint of field position, and it was good to see the kicker (Austin Seibert) make some kicks. The punter (Jamie Gillan), he ended up with a net of 44 yards. That was good. Our coverage units were good with the exception of a couple of penalties. I thought the special teams unit played very well. Now, it is time for the offense to pick it up and match the other two segments of their production.”

On the most troubling aspect of the offensive struggles against the Buccaneers:

“People not being where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there with some Day 1 install type things.”

On specifying what mistakes offensive players made:

“There were a couple of instances of just not running routes the way we are supposed to. If we are on rhythm in routes… They have to be in rhythm, they have to be at the proper depth and the ball has to come out on time or you do not really have a play. There were several instances last night where we did not get to where we were supposed to get to. Our protection was just a little off. We were on the edge of some people and not down the middle of them. It was just a recipe for disaster all the way around, but there are a lot of good opportunities for these guys to learn from, and I do not want to lose sight of that.”

On if there is time for the Browns offense to get refocused during the preseason prior to Week 1:

“Yes, definitely. I think that is part of the learning process. I do not know what the disconnect was. It was very clear that we have to figure out what we were doing as a staff and see if we were asking them to do too much or what. I do not know what it is, but some of the stuff that we were not right on we have been doing for several months now. At the end of the day, I know we have left the hotel and have broken camp, but we should still be in the mode of getting better, and this is an opportunity for us to do that.”

On if correcting mistakes is done with the team, position groups or through another method:

“No, this is going to be in a group setting because I want them to be accountable to each other. These corrections are going to be made as a group. That is no different than what we always do, though, from the standpoint of we play a game, make corrections after the game and then we move on.”

On QB Baker Mayfield’s performance against the Buccaneers:

“I do not think Baker played as well as he would have liked to have played nor how I would have liked him to play. Just like we have said before, he has to try and get better, too, each and every day. The way offensive football works is the offensive line has to do their job, the tight ends have to do their job, the receivers have to do their job, the running backs have to do their job and the quarterback has to do his job. If all of that happens, you have a successful offense. If any part of that breaks down, it affects other people’s job. We have to understand that, we do understand that and everybody has to continue to get better and move in the same direction from that standpoint.”

On if the Browns learned more about the kicking competition and if K Greg Joseph will have an opportunity to kick during a full game:

“Yeah, just because [Seibert] made four kicks doesn’t mean the competition is over. These guys are still competing. We wanted to give a game-like setting to a punter and to a kicker and see how they responded to that because clearly, the alternating attempts were not working. Greg will have his opportunity now, and we will go from there.”

On if the Browns were happier with P Jamie Gillan’s hang time in yesterday’s game:

“Yeah, definitely. Anytime you can net 44 yards, you are doing something right. There were a couple kicks there that we probably would like to have a little higher, but at the end of the day, I thought he did a very good job.”

On ensuring Browns players can block out external noise and hype around the team:

“Hopefully, after last night’s performance, we don’t have to do too much of that offensively. You just try to educate them. You try to make them realize that anybody that is creating that noise is not going to have an impact on our season for the good or the bad because it doesn’t matter. They are not sitting in the meeting rooms. They are not walking between the white lines. Everything [the players] do does matter. Anything outside of what they are supposed to be doing at the current time if they let that inside in any way, it is a detriment to our team. You just try to educate them and talk to them about it, and I have been talking to them about it since the spring. I think our guys will do a good job of understanding what is important, understanding what doesn’t matter and then just playing their best.”

On if the Browns offensive performance last night may be somewhat beneficial in the sense that it could create a sense of urgency to make corrections prior to Week 1:

“No, I don’t coach off of results. I coach off the individual performance, the individual play and the individual technique. If you start coaching off just results, sometimes that gets foggy from the standpoint of what are you really supposed to be doing. If you are asking them to do something that doesn’t have the desired results and they are doing it correctly, than maybe it is something you are asking them to do that is the problem. Now, if they don’t do what they are supposed to be doing, that is when you can evaluate the individual. That is the point that we want to get to. We are always going back, whether we win, lose or whatever, we are always going to evaluate ourselves. Do I think there is a silver lining there? That all depends on if they respond to this because this was not very good offensively. There was not one area that I thought was very good offensively.”

On if the Browns determined who will start at RG or if the competition is still alive:

“There is always competition. We have been playing (G) Eric (Kush) there for two or three weeks. I thought he did some things nice yesterday, but he has to continue to get better. He is not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination. There is always competition. What these guys have to understand is they are being evaluated every day. Right now, Eric will get the first shot from the standpoint of seeing what he can do. I think he has been doing fairly well, not good enough yet but he is going to continue to get better to get there.”

On if there was any sense going into the game that the team was not as prepared as it needed to be offensively prior to last night’s game, in reference to his postgame comment about preparation:

“No, I did not. We weren’t doing anything that we haven’t been doing since late July.”

On clarifying if Kush will get the first shot to start Week 1 or if it is premature to name him the opening day starter:

“We have been playing Eric in that spot for two to three weeks now. If we had to play a game today, Eric would be our right guard. You want a definitive answer, though, don’t you (laughter)?”

On WR Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi’s punt return last night and evaluating him as a returner:

“I think he has shown that he can return punts. He had one the first week, he didn’t really do much last week and then yesterday he did have a pretty good return. He stuck his head down and got some yards. He really made one guy miss, split a couple of others and then got caught up in the pile. He is small enough that if he gets caught up in the pile, he is not really going anywhere after that. Sheehy is a tough guy now. I was impressed with him being able to go out and play because he is a little banged up right now.”

On the pass interference challenges last night and if the NFL has provided explanations about those situations, given it appeared both could have gone the other way:

“I think that is just kind of the feel out part of it of understanding. I was not leaving that game last night without throwing to challenge a pass interference either way, whether it was for us or against us. Do I have any more understanding now than I did before? Probably not, but we keep working with it. It is a fluid situation where we just have to learn what could be overturned and what couldn’t. I thought it was a good opportunity, though, with the one I threw it on.”

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