Head Coach Kevin Stefanski Spoke to the Media 11/8/21

Opening statement:

“Injury front, nothing really new to report. (CB) Greedy (Williams) is day to day with that shoulder. Like we talked about yesterday, I thought it was a good team win. We played some complementary ball and finished plus-three in the turnover margin, which is really what we are looking to do. It was a good effort and good individual efforts by a bunch of the guys. We are going to make some corrections today and then we will have to go full-speed ahead onto New England.”

On when he had a sense last week’s circumstances were behind the team, given DE Myles Garrett mentioned sensing that moment after CB Denzel Ward’s pick-six:

“Honestly, throughout the week, we addressed what we had to address, and we moved on. I know each individual maybe felt differently – (DE) Myles (Garrett) can have his own feelings about that – but I was solely focused on that game.”

On the Browns’ penalties in yesterday’s game, particularly the pre-snape penalties:

“Those were disappointing. We are not a disciplined football team right now when it comes to penalties, and we have got to get it fixed. We are very close to being worst in the league, and that is an undisciplined team. That is what losing looks like. We have to clean that up because it is going to come back and bite you if we do not.”

On if Williams’ shoulder injury is the same as before or if it is a separate injury:

“I hesitate to say it is the same thing, but it is all connected. It was acting up, and we will see how he responds over the next couple of days.”

On if QB Baker Mayfield was further evaluated today for a potential ankle injury:

“No, he is fine.”

On Mayfield capitalizing on long passes yesterday and how that comes into play moving forward:

“We hit on some opportunities yesterday. Obviously, the (WR) Donovan (Peoples-Jones) one was great to start the drive like that. Hit Donovan later on down the boundary. There will always be opportunities in each game. When the defense presents those opportunities and we can go make a play downfield, we will. The quarterback has to continue to be smart when those things are not there to check it down underneath and get yards that way. That is always going to be a focus of ours is trying to find those plays week to week.”

On how well the Browns DBs played yesterday:

“They were really good. Obviously, (CB) Denzel’s (Ward) play, that is a game-changer to go 99 [yards] when it looks like they are about to score. Throughout the game, you really saw our guys making plays on the ball and those contested catches. I even think back to their first third down when they got a conversion, (CB) Troy Hill is right there. He slipped coming out of his break, but he still contested the catch and their player made a great play. For our guys to be sticky in coverage and then when the ball is in the air to go make a play on the ball, I think that was just great to see. I think it was great to have (CB) Greg (Newsome II) and Denzel out there together. (CB) A.J. Green got in there and was productive. Obviously, Greedy was in there just for a minute before getting injured. That is the corners. Now, think about the safeties. (S) John Johnson (III) just doing a great job of getting the ball out and putting his helmet on the ball, and Denzel getting a PBU that pops into JJ’s hands. I did think it was a great performance by that group.”

On slowing down Bengals WR Tyler Boyd:

“I think each one of those guys had him at different points in the game. He is a great player and is going to be a great player for a long time. He is fast. He is quick. The guys were determined to deny him the ball.”

On the Browns playing well with ‘their back against the wall’ and if he felt that sense yesterday:

“I feel like this entire season our backs are going to be against the wall. That is nothing new. That is where we are in the AFC. It is a great division. It is a great conference. I feel that way every week.”

On Hill’s performance and if yesterday was Hill’s best performance this season:

“Yeah, I think it probably was. Troy does a really nice job. I mentioned it yesterday, he is really good in his run fits. He is a good blitzer. He plays sticky in coverage. He is very, very competitive and very, very tough. I enjoy being around him, and I think his teammates enjoy being around him. He just brings an edge to that group.”

On if defensive coordinator Joe Woods will continue to call plays more aggressively with Browns DBs or if that gameplan was specific to the Bengals:

“I think that is how we want to play. Obviously, game to game, you have certain adjustments and certain coverages that you are going to play a little bit more of. We want to be aggressive in our zone coverage, and we want to be aggressive in our man coverage. When the guys have one-on-one opportunities, we want them to deny their man the ball. That is the simple way of putting it. We want our guy to take their guy out of the play. I think you saw that, but to say that that was different than this season, I think our guys understand that they have to play aggressive. When the time calls for it and when the defense calls for it, you have to go deny your man the ball.”

On how getting the lead early in the game helped him manage the game and defense, including the pass rush:

“I think it is a good point because when you do get that lead, the defense gets put in a passing game where our front four can turn into rushers and we can play aggressive in the secondary, like we talked about earlier. I think it is obvious. I think every time likely goes into it wanting to get that lead quickly, and sometimes the games play out differently. Any time we can be aggressive on offense and defense early, get points and then try and go win the game via suffocating defense and then in the offense that continues to put points on the board.”

On if anything in particular stands out about Peoples-Jones’ growth this season after reviewing yesterday’s fil,:

“No. It is unfortunate he was out for a minute with the injury, but having him back out there, like we talked about yesterday, he makes plays. When he came to training camp, I do think a bunch of us thought that he was in great shape and thought he looked one year better, one year of growth in his body. He is a player who we are going to be counting on, and he has continued to make plays when called upon.”

On confirming there have not been any issues from the hit Peoples-Jones took yesterday:


On an update on the status of LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and RB Kareem Hunt:

“I do not really have an update on those two guys. We will see when Wednesday comes around, and I am sure I can update you better then.”

On playing complementary football during yesterday’s win:

“Yeah, the complementary ball is a big deal. That is one of the disappointments from yesterday is getting two turnovers and turning those into six points and settling for field goals. That is not good enough, and that is something that we need to do better. That is where we are going to be counting on our defense to get those takeaways week in and week out, and when they do, we have to convert them into sevens.”

On if he felt like he was better at calling plays yesterday, given the offensive production and consistently saying he needs to be better when the offense had not scored as many points earlier in the season:

“No, I think the guys executed. I thought they did a nice job. We got seven points from the defense so I thought the guys understood the plan. Those guys did a nice job.”

On how important it is to the Browns offense to have two Gs in Gs Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller who are good at pulling during run plays:

“I would say that is pretty rare to have two guys who can do that and can be put in space and still be physical players. (G) Wyatt (Teller) was very, very physical yesterday finishing with guys on the ground. (G) Joel (Bitonio) was his typical self, as well. Those guys they did a real nice job. The whole offensive line did a really nice job. Obviously, (RB) Nick (Chubb) makes some great plays because he is a great player, but those guys I thought were playing very well together up front.”

On the Browns’ depth at CB this season:

“That is something that we talk about, and I used to hear it from (Vikings Head) Coach (Mike) Zimmer all of the time, ‘You can never have enough corners.’ That is something that I am sure every team believes because when you get injuries, you need guys to step up. We have seen that over the course of the last few weeks, and then when you are fortunate enough to have your guys healthy, as we did for a bit of time yesterday, it goes to show that you got a lot of really productive work from that group.”

On CB Greg Newsome II’s growth this season:

“All of these rookies, I really believe you see that maturation occur over the course of the season. Greg is one of those guys who does not oftentimes make the same mistake twice. There are things that he has to clean up. I can promise you, the coaches are discussing those things with him, and he wants to get better. His speed shows up. His length shows up. He is very, very competitive. He is progressing.”

On the Browns’ ability to maintain their laser-focus last week and ability to do so for the Patriots game and moving forward:

“That is what we do is we put the blinders on week to week. We will put the Bengals game to bed today as we look at it with the team and look at the things that we can correct. Then you put the blinders on, and you have to do everything in your power to get ready to play a really good Patriots team at their place.”

On what the Browns defense has done differently to limit opponents’ points the past two weeks:

“I do not know specifically over the last two weeks. Yesterday, they gave up 99 yards in the second half, which that is a great job by the players and the coaches of understanding some adjustments that we had to make and the players ultimately executing. It is just week to week these schemes are different. Sometimes there are great playmakers on the perimeter, and sometimes it is an inside-out game so just being able to execute the gameplan that is called for that week is vital.”

On room for improvement in the passing game and incorporating more Browns players with the focus of turning FGs into TDs in the opponent half and red zone:

“We do have room to grow certainly as a team. Specifically to your question as an offense, I do think we have room to grow. We are just going to try and do whatever scores points, and whatever scores us one more point than the other team is what we are going to try and do. Sometimes that is going to be relying on the pass game. Sometimes it is going to be relying on the run game. When those opportunities present themselves in either case, we have to make the most of them.”

On WR Anthony Schwartz’s development and if Schwartz is ready for a larger role, particularly in the deep passing game:

“Yeah, I think he has proven that this season to certainly me and the coaches that he can handle it mentally. I think he can handle it physically. It is just a matter of the opportunities and making the most of them.”

On if he has a clearer timetable for T Jack Conklin’s return after being placed on injured reserve last week:

“I do not. I know it is three weeks with IR, but I think he is progressing just as we think he should.”

On G Blake Hance’s performance at RT yesterday:

“I thought he did a nice job. Again, those guys play as a unit. Those five guys played well together and did a nice job in the run game. The two sacks, I thought the first one was really put it on their coverage; I think the second one, put it on me – it was not a great play call. I thought the pass protection was really good.”

On WR Donovan Peoples-Jones’ being the top option during college and how Peoples-Jones has adapted to the role with the Browns offense and taken advantage of opportunities:

“That has kind of been him with us from Day 1. I think back to last year, just early getting him in there on certain personnel groupings, he just was so dependable in terms of knowing what to do, which is difficult for a young receiver – it is not easy. I think he gained our trust very early, and then like we have talked about, the ball when it finds its way to him, he makes a play on the ball. You can go back to the Cincinnati game last year where I believe it was his first NFL reception was in that game – I think thrown by Jarvis Landry, if I am not mistaken – and then he caught a couple of big ones in the two-minute drive at the end. He has just done a nice job when called upon.”

On ‘what is up’ with Landry and if Landry is still being impacted by the knee:

“I will ask him ‘what is up with him,’ but I think he is doing OK. He is fighting through it. He is battling.”

On his relationship with Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and Belichick’s career:

“I have not had the opportunity to meet Coach Belichick yet. This is the first time facing off against him. Obviously, he has my utmost respect. (Pass game coordinator/wide receivers coach) Chad O’Shea, who is on our staff here, worked with Coach Belichick for a long time there in New England so Chad, just the things he has learned from him and shared with me over his time there… As we all know, there are probably not superlatives from me necessary, but we have to go make sure we are prepared because we know it is a well-coached team. They play sound ball. We have to make sure we are at our best Sunday up there.”

On if DE Takk McKinley’s groin injury is the same one that bothered McKinley last season:

“Going back to last year, I am not sure.”

On McKinley’s status:

“Day to day.”

On if it is challenging to find a rhythm as an offensive play caller when only having 48 snaps in a game:

“No, it is not. We have to make the most of your opportunities however they come. The guys did a nice job early of scoring some touchdowns early, which was great to extend the lead. Late in the game, I think three drives there in the fourth quarter where it was a three-score game and we are trying to be smart with the ball. There are not going to be a ton of opportunities in those moments, but prior to that when the game is in the balance, you just have to make every play count.”

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