Kevin Stefanski, Browns Players Speak to Media Monday Afternoon

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

-Transcript from Browns

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement: 

“We are in the midst of our Cincinnati preparation, obviously, on a short week here. After looking at the tape from yesterday, just continues to be clear that we did some things that are going to make it really hard to win versus a good team, a good football team. I have to give credit to that [Ravens] outfit, the coaches and the players. We just have to identify and correct. That is Week 1. We are already into Week 2, but we have to make sure with the players that we identify some things that we can do better and correct them so that we do not make some of those same mistakes again.

“On the injury front, (C) JC (Tretter) made it out OK – sore but made it through just fine. X-rays on (T) Jed (Wills Jr,) were negative. He is sore. With (LB) Jacob Phillips and (TE) David Njoku, still gathering information on those guys. The guys that were on the injury report prior – (CB) Greedy. (Williams), (CB) Kevin Johnson and (T) Chris (Hubbard) – we will update you as we progress on them, but they are doing a nice job in their rehab.”

On what is at the top of the list of things to work on heading into Week 2: 

“When we play football games, you identify things that you have to do to win. I go back to you are playing a good football team and you are going to play really good teams almost every week here. Turning the ball over, winning that turnover margin is huge as it relates to winning and losing. Some of the penalties were just killer for us. That is just not the type of things you can do and expect to win.”

On if he stressed the importance of not overreacting after the loss, given it is just one of 16 games: 

“Yeah, we talked about that yesterday. We have a game here on Thursday so they flushed it yesterday to be honest with you. We are moving on while saying that we will still identify and correct those things that we have to get better at, but we are moving on.”

On his impressions of QB Baker Mayfield’s performance after watching the film: 

“What I say about Baker really could stand for everybody, just inconsistent, and put the coaching in there as well. We just in a bunch of different areas can get better. Baker had some really good moments and some moments that I know he wants back, but I am not pinning blame on any one person. I think we all share that, and that starts with me.”

On if Mayfield was forcing the ball to WR Odell Beckham Jr. at times or following his reads: 

“I do not think he was forcing the ball. We did not connect obviously as much as we would like to. I think it is a combination of things. You have to really start with them and give them credit. They made some plays. A couple balls, I am sure Baker wants back. A couple of routes, I am sure Odell wants back. That is the nature of this thing. We just have to make sure we work really hard this week and then get out there Thursday night and put our best foot forward.”

On if he believes Mayfield and Beckham Jr. can get in sync quickly: 


On Bengals QB Joe Burrow and if he scouted Burrow before the season: 

“Yeah, a really good young player. Obviously, had as good a college career and as good of a year as you can have. A special player. You saw on that [rushing] touchdown, he has great movement skills. He can make all the throws. We have our work cut out for us.”

On if the Browns will make a change at K: 

“With all the roster moves, we will just wait to gather more information and then we will let it go from there.”

On Wills’ status for Thursday’s game: 

“I would say too early to tell on that. For a lot of these guy, you are just coming off the game so we really have to see how it plays out over the next couple days.”

On if the Browns can build on encouraging signs from the running game, given the rushing yards total and rushing average: 

“I think we let it get out of hand there, and I think that the sequence at the end of the half there, as everybody knows, we let that game get away from us. Once it was away, it is hard to go the run. It is hard to be encouraged by something when you lost like we did, but I do think there are things that we can build on and learn from.”

On any positive takeaways from yesterday’s game: 

“It is the National Football League. There are going to be the ups and downs in every game. There are rhythms to every game. I just mentioned that that sequence at the end of the half there. We have to do a better job. I have a hard time not giving credit to Baltimore. They did a nice job, but there are things that we can do and things that we can clean up. Hopefully, that gives us a better chance moving forward.”

On the mechanics during his first game as head coach: 

“I thought the communication was fine between the coaches, myself, the players and everybody on the sideline. I think that was smooth.”

On if Mayfield’s interception was one that he can live with occurring, given the Ravens’ defensive scheme on that play: 

“Not many interceptions you can live with. We can coach off that tape. Every interception you can learn from. We can coach off of that. They did a nice job, but we can certainly do better on that rep.”

On if he is still getting a feel for the best ways to use Beckham: 

“I think we have a pretty good feel for Odell and his skillset. He is a talented football player. It is our job to put him in a position to make plays. Are we going to learn about him, what he is comfortable with and what we are comfortable with throughout the season? Yes, so that will grow, but I think we have a pretty good sense of it right now.”

On if the Browns made a specific point yesterday to find a way to get Beckham the ball and involved in the offense: 

“I just look at it in that way, he is a good football player so we want him to touch the ball. I think that is good for us. We are mindful of all of our players in terms of how they are touching it. There were opportunities early where the coverage took it away, somebody else was open or those types of things. He is a good football player so I do not think it is newsworthy that he is a focal point of our offense.”

On the best advice he received after the loss and if he received encouragement from other coaches, colleagues or friends: 

“I think that is the nice part is I have a bunch of strong people in my corner. I do not get too high or too low, but I do appreciate when people send messages win, lose or draw. I will keep that between me and them. Listen, this is a long season. We are one game into this. The best thing we have is a game coming up here Thursday night.”

On the failed fake punt and taking responsibility for it after yesterday’s game: 

“You got it. I think any play like that, I am fully responsible for. We were trying to maximize possessions in that game. When there are times that it calls to be aggressive, we are going to be aggressive, and there are going to be times where it does not call for that. It did not work. I know we get hung up on the result and we should, but we will from it and we will make sure that we continue to put our team in the best position to succeed. You are absolutely right in that buck stops with me on that type of call.”

On if there was talk in the locker room to get Beckham more involved in the second half and if it was a concerted effort to target Beckham many times in the third quarter or of it was simply the result of the reads on offense: 

“It really was not [a concerted effort]. It is just kind of where the reads took him. We got a couple penalties out of it, but that was where the reads took him.”

On the Browns OL’s performance and if the team hopes to get TE Austin Hooper more opportunities in the passing game: 

“I think on the offensive line, solid. The run game numbers would lead you to believe that we had some success there. Protection by and large was pretty good. Yeah, Austin, he is going to be a big part of this offense. I think we so often get wrapped up in one game or two games, and I think you really have to check in after four games or eight games to see where everybody’s role fits in.”

On if the Ravens’ continuity and previous success is a factor he takes into account with yesterday’s result, given the Browns’ recent performance and new personnel and scheme: 

“I just think we played a really good football team yesterday. Credit to them. I think very highly of their players and their coaching staff. We have good players and good coaches here, too. They got us yesterday. I think we will learn from it. Hopefully, we are ready to roll this Thursday.”

On NFL games often being characterized as ‘a game of inches’ and if the Browns are still a few games away from seeing how they can fully measure up against the league, given yesterday’s result: 

“Yes, this game is a game of inches. That is why we love it because these teams are so close to each other. That game got away from us. It is hard to say it was a close game because it was not. The final score did not indicate that. It is our job to make sure that we look at those little things, those gains and those plays of inches and make sure we find a way to make them next time we are presented with them.”

On if the Browns back-seven’s struggles on defense can be attributed to inexperience or injuries: 

“A combination of all those things. I do not want to sound like a broken record, but hat tip to that offense and to (Ravens QB) Lamar Jackson. He made some incredible plays yesterday as you probably would expect. The focus goes on what we can do better. We have already talked about some of those things and some of those schemes. We can be better in our technique, we can be better in our calls and all of that because we will see that team again. We have to make sure that we iron that stuff out.”

On CB Greedy Williams’ status for Thursday: 

“Hard to say, honestly. Day to day so I really can’t pinpoint either way.”

On if the Ravens did something in particular to limit DE Myles Garrett’s impact, given Garrett’s stats: 

“I do not think necessarily. Every team we play is going to be very mindful of Myles Garrett so they will have a plan for him. We expect big things from him. I think Myles expects big things from himself. The good news is we have a game on Thursday.”

On if S Ronnie Harrison Jr. can be a significant contributor this week and evaluating S Andrew Sendejo’s performance Sunday: 

“I think Ronnie is somebody that we are finding out more about and seeing what he can take on. Obviously, a guy that we like. We want to include him and involve him. As it relates to Andrew or really any of the defensive guys, none of us played well enough. I think there are all things that we can clean up, and I can’t pinpoint one guy over the other. We have guys that we feel good about. If we can just make sure that we clean up these mistakes, whether it be technique, schematic or whatever they are, we will feel better about ourselves this week.”

On Wills’ debut at left tackle: 

“I thought Jedrick was good. Can always be better. There are some things that we want to clean up with him technique-wise, but I would say it was a solid first outing.”

On his expectations as a first-time head coach, calling plays on offense and takeaways from his first game: 

“I was comfortable with the mechanics of it. We had really good communication on the headsets with the offensive coaches and defensive coaches. We have to build off of it. There are always some things that we can do better. There are always things that I am pointing the finger right at me immediately and saying, ‘What can I do better?’ That will start and we have those conversations today and we hope to apply those lessons learned as we move forward.”

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CB Denzel Ward:

On if it is good that this is a short week after yesterday’s game: 

“If you look at it that way, yeah, I think so. We get a chance to go out, play another game, get this last game out our minds, focus on the Bengals and see what we can do to pull out a win and get our first win of the season.”

On what the Browns defense needs to be clean up most from yesterday’s game: 

“We still have to come in and watch film. We have not all gotten together as a group yet and analyze everything specifically. Once we do that, I am sure we will figure it out.”

On his relationship with Bengals QB Joe Burrow and if he has watched Burrow’s film from yesterday’s game: 

“Joe, he is a great player. He is a great quarterback, a great person. I enjoyed being around Joe back when he was at Ohio State. I have not had a chance to watch any of the Bengals’ film yet. Like I said, we still have to get with the team, watch last game and do the scouting for this next week.”

On if he and Burrow developed a friendship at Ohio State: 

“Yeah, Joe is definitely my friend. Definitely. I look forward to going and playing against him. Definitely looking forward to that game.”

On what the Browns defense needs to do to turn it around this week: 

“It is about us. We just have to get together, watch the film and see exactly where we went wrong. That could have been mental issues. I do not think it is physical. We are all physically capable and able to get our jobs done. We just have to look at the film and see what we have to do to get better and change things looks for next time.”

On if missing S Grant Delpit and CB Greedy Williams yesterday due to injury was really tough on the Browns defense: 

“We are missing those guys, but guys have to step up and we have to be able to do our jobs when guys go down. That is the National Football League. It is the next man up.”

On if he played against Burrow on the scout team at Ohio State and what sticks out from that time: 

“Nothing specific. Like I said, Joe is a great player, a great quarterback, makes great throws and great decision making. Looking forward to going against him, but nothing specifically I have in mind back at Ohio State.”

On if Burrow as the scout team quarterback tested the Ohio State defense and if Burrow talked a lot of trash: 

“No, he did not talk too much trash. He definitely tested us. He was a starting quarterback even back then. That is just not how it went at the moment where he was the starter at the time, but everyone knew that he was a starting quarterback.”

On Head Coach Kevin Stefanski’s message to the team after yesterday’s loss: 

“Come in and see what we have to fix and get done. That was the first game so we have another game coming up quick and see what we have to do to get this win.”

On if yesterday’s loss can set the team back and how the team can stop that from happening: 

“No, not me personally. A loss is a loss. It shows up the same way on the stat sheet. We just have to come in, do we have to do to see where things went wrong and change it for next time we play those guys.”

On how S Ronnie Harrison Jr. can contribute on defense: 

“I see him being a big contributor, especially as he continues to learn the defense and everything. You saw as soon as he came in, like one of his first days of practice, he got an interception on the one of the first or second days out at practice. He is just out there making plays. I definitely see him having more of a role as the games go along.”

On if the Browns are closing the gap between the Ravens or if it wider than before: 

“Like I said, we just have to fix things. It is about us and about what we do. We have to fix things, go in and look at the film and see what we can do to change it for next time.”

On Bengals WR A.J. Green: 

“I have to watch some more film on him. I know he is a great player, though. He has been one of those high main guys in the league for a long time. I am looking forward to getting in the playbook, watching film and seeing what he does and what makes him the player that he is.”

On if this season opener felt different than last year and if the team feels better equipped to move forward after a tough opening loss than last season: 

“I think so. I think that we have a good staff and we have the right players in. We are going to go in and do what we have to do to get the job done next time.”

On if Burrow was a runner on the scout team at Ohio State, given Burrow’s rushing TD yesterday: 

“No, not really, but he is definitely capable. He is definitely a capable runner, but he was more of a thrower back then.”

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LB Sione Takitaki:

On discussions among the Browns defense after yesterday’s loss: 

“It was real brief after the game, just knowing that we have a quick week coming up with another game. Obviously, we were disappointed in the loss. Nobody wants to come out and lose, especially a conference game. We kind of had the mindset that we are going to rally back up. Sometimes you get hit in the mouth early like this and it can kind of make you. I feel like this week, everybody is kind of refocused – the whole group, not only the defense but I feel like the offense. I feel like we are going to work a little bit harder this week.”

On Bengals QB Joe Burrow: 

“Joe Burrow is obviously a good quarterback. Drafted in the first round. He did some good things in the last game. I feel like we have to definitely be aware of his arm. He can throw that ball. I feel like today we are going to get a little bit closer on it as a group, start watching tape and start analyzing, game planning and stuff. We will see exactly what is going on. We will see a little closer later on today.”

On main things the Browns defense needs to improve for Week 2: 

“Just on certain plays, being on the same page and getting off the field on third down. We did a great job getting to third down on some of the drives, but we just could not get off the field and tighten up on some of those passes or runs. I feel like third down will be a big key this week.”

On if yesterday felt different physically due to the limited hitting in the preseason and training camp: 

“I feel like there was definitely a little sluggish to everybody’s game. After the first couple series, I feel like you really got to pick it up and be like let’s go. Felt like our training camp went really well with the coaching staff and everybody letting us rough each other up a little bit. I feel like we went into the game ready to feel some contact. Like I said, a little rust for everybody so it should be better going into this week.”

On the most positive takeaways from yesterday’s game: 

“They got some runs on us, but I feel like we definitely started stopping the run. I think that we did that well. Like I said, we got to third down so we did a great job getting to third down, but now, we just have to get off the field and make those key plays to put our offense back on the field. I would say just makes more plays.”

On if it was startling to lose the season opener by that wide of a margin: 

“I feel like any loss, it kind of makes you like, ‘Man.’ We are going to attack this week like we attacked last week and then go out there do our best. Like I said, be as focused as we can to go out there and win the game. Obviously, no one wants to lose any game, especially a [season] opener. Like coach said, it happened. It happened, and we have a short week this weekend and can’t dwell on into too long. We have to refocus. We have the Bengals this week. We have to go.”

On the game environment with no fans at M&T Bank Stadium: 

“It is weird to play with zero fans. I would say that was the weirdest thing, just playing with zero fans. I feel like it is still football, even with zero fans. I would say that is the biggest thing that is pretty weird is there were no fans in the stands, but it is what it is.”

On if the lack of fans at the game impacted the Browns’ start: 


On what stood out from the Bengals’ first game: 

“What stood out is they have a good young quarterback who can throw the rock, and then they have a running back who can run the ball. (Bengals RB) Joe Mixon is a great back. He can hit the hole and run people over. I definitely feel like we have to gameplan for him but also gameplan for the pass, too, because they have a young stud in the backfield that likes to throw the ball. We will get closer to it as the day goes on when we get together as a whole. Those are the things that stand out to me right now just as I turn on the tape for myself.”

On assessing his individual performance: 

“I feel like I did OK. I definitely was assignment sound, but I felt like I could definitely have made some bigger play. Everyone wants to make a splash play to help out the team so that is definitely something that I wish I had. It was a good first start for myself. I feel like that does not really matter. You lose the game and it is a team sport so, I do not really hang my hat on what I did. A loss is a loss.”

On LB Jacob Phillips going out with an injury during yesterday’s game: 

“Never want to see a teammate get hurt. Definitely in his corner rooting for him. I am there for him if he needs me. I am a text or call away. He knows that. I see him every day still. He is in good spirits, and things will get better.”

On DT Larry Ogunjobi’s performance and if Ogunjobi was a positive defensive takeaway from the game: 

“Most definitely. We have not watched the tape as a whole yet. I do not think we will because it is a short week we have so I do not think we are going to dwell on that loss. Yeah, I watched the tape and I saw Larry do his thing. Obviously, Larry has been making plays like that for the last couple of years he has been here. Tip my hat to him. Definitely a guy I look up to on the team. We have to make more plays on the ball.”

On why the Ravens were able to have success in the middle of the field: 

“I feel like they just have a good marriage of their run and pass. They were able to establish the run, and run, run, run and were able to get some on a couple passes. Definitely need to tighten up, but I think that is why.”

On the impact of the Browns defense missing LB Mack Wilson: 

“Yeah, Mack is a good player. Definitely miss him, but I think we can hold our own.”

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