Kevin Stefanski Spoke to the Media Today 12/21/21

Opening statement:

“Injury front, (DE) Takk McKinley ruptured his Achilles. That will require surgery. Obviously, disappointed for Takk. (S) John Johnson (III) has a hamstring injury. I would characterize that as day to day. (DE) Myles (Garrett) has a groin injury. I still have results pending on that one.

“Incredibly disappointed with the result last night. Very, very frustrating to not come away with a win. Getting the lead late in that game and then not finishing was frustrating. Not a lack of effort by anybody involved. I thought the coaches and the players who were out there fought their rear ends off. I appreciate that, but ultimately, did not get the job done, and that is what stings this morning. We are on a short week so we are going to very, very quickly turn the page and get ready for a big game versus the Packers.”

On if he or other Browns personnel have cleared the COVID-19 testing process to return:

“No updates yet for you yet. I do not believe anybody has cleared the protocols, including myself. I have not been able to clear the protocols yet. As you know, it is kind of hurry up and wait. You are at the mercy of the testing, and you wait to see when we get guys back.”

On QB Nick Mullens’ performance yesterday:

“Honestly, he played how I thought he would play. He was efficient. He got through his reads, delivered the ball on time and fought until the end. Nick is a grinder. He fits right in in that quarterback room with (QB) Baker (Mayfield) and (QB) Case (Keenum) in terms of how those guys prepare so not surprised.”

On the Browns current pass rush situation with McKinley’s season-ending injury, Garrett’s injury status uncertain and DE Jadeveon Clowney on the reserve/COVID-19 list:

“Obviously, losing Takk is very unfortunate. He has been giving us some really good reps and production. Like you said, there is some uncertainty with (DE) Jadeveon (Clowney) and with Myles. We will see how that goes throughout the week, but we obviously are always looking to apply pressure to the quarterback, and those guys have done a nice job. We will see who is available to us and come up with a plan based on the people who are available.”

On Garrett playing through a groin injury in yesterday’s game:

“Myles, as you guys know, he plays very, very, very hard. He leaves it all out there.”

On getting the Browns emotionally ready to move forward from yesterday’s loss and prepare for the Packers on Saturday:

“That is what you do win, lose or draw. You just have to. You have to own it, and you have to learn from it, but then you really have to move on. We will talk about it when we get back together, but even after those wins, you have to flush those things because these things come at you fast and furious.”

On if tomorrow is the earliest any additional Browns personnel could be cleared to return from the reserve/COVID-19 list:


On if the Browns are preparing this week with the mindset of most of the players on the reserve/COVID-19 list will return for Saturday’s game or if the team has to operate with contingency plans similar to last week:

“I think it is a little bit different in that you really circle Day 10 for all of us, and Day 10 occurs for different people on different days. Obviously, the hope is that guys test out sooner than that so that you can get them in the building and get them back going physically, mentally, get them back out at practice and those type of things. Short of not knowing, we just have to plan on the people who we have and we know about, and then we will adjust based on what occurs over the next couple of days.”

On keeping the 1-0 each week focus with the likelihood the Browns need to win their final three games to reach the postseason:

“They are one-game seasons. They really are. That is how we approach it. I think we have a bunch of veterans on this team who understand that. Again, win, lose or draw, you have to move on to the next one.”

On if the Browns offense seemed to take a bit of time to get rolling with the number of changes to the unit:

“It took us a little bit to score. We had an opportunity there at the end of the half, but listen, those guys, like I mentioned, fought like crazy. It was not going to be easy. The moving parts are challenging. Ultimately, took the lead there late, and we just did not come through at the end.”

On K Chase McLaughlin’s missed FG and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer saying those need to be made:

“I think we do have to make those. Chase knows that. We are counting on him. He has to come through for us.”

On if the Browns are considering a change at K:

“I am not going to get into any roster-type things like that. Chase understands that he has to makes those kicks. He puts as much pressure on himself as anybody else. He wants to come through, and we are counting on him.”

On evaluating the third-and-three opportunity late in the fourth quarter with the chance to potentially run out the clock:

“Ultimately, just did not get it done. The hope is that you put the ball in (RB) Nick’s (Chubb) hands and our offense to find four yards. It did not happen. Obviously, frustrating.”

On when his 10 Days on the reserve/COVID-19 list would expire and allow him to return, if he does not test out of the process sooner:

“I believe Day 10 for me is gameday.”

On if the COVID-19 protocols would allow him to coach on gameday in that situation:


On if the Browns defense could have been more aggressive on the final drive:

“Those are things we will look at and talk about. Ultimately, we have to tackle and get them down inbounds. That is situational ball where they do not have any timeouts, and we have to find a way to get them down inbounds.”

On his gameday experience yesterday while watching from home:

“I found out midafternoon that I was not going to be able to test out. I made sure that everybody was on the same page in terms of what we were doing from an operational standpoint. Again, (special teams coordinator) Coach (Mike) Priefer, (offensive coordinator) Coach (Alex) Van Pelt and (defensive coordinator) Coach (Joe) Woods did a great job with their groups. Ultimately, sat there and watched it – I guess you guys were there – like a lot of our fans, I sat there and watched it. It is tough. You really want to be there for your team. You want to help your team. It is a tough deal.”

On the Browns OL’s performance, particularly G Joel Bitonio at LT:

“Specific to Joel, again probably should not be surprised. He did a great job. He did his job No. 1 and knew what to do. He is a pro’s pro. He stepped up to the challenge. Ultimately, we had some good moments on the offensive line and as an offense just in general had some good moments and had some moment that were not great. All in all, I thought the guys fought like crazy.”

On if he would have to travel separately to Green Bay if he does not clear the COVID-19 testing process prior to Friday:


On the challenge of having one full practice on a short week while preparing for the Packers:

“Every team plays on a short week every season so you take some of the learnings from your Thursday night game. We have essentially one extra day of preparation different than a Thursday night game. I think you just have to prioritize things schematically, and then ultimately, you have to make sure that you get the amount of physical work that you need to get to get ready to play.”

On if the Browns have previously worked on the situation with the ball late in the game looking to kill the clock and who calls the plays in those situation or if it is a collaboration between coaches:

“We call that four-minute when you have the ball and you are trying to get first downs and keep the clock rolling. We did talk through four-minute drives and how we want to attack them. During the game, the conversations on the headsets are with a lot of people. Obviously (offensive line coach) Coach (Bill) Callahan factors in with the run game, AVP has a strong voice with what we are doing and all of the coaches have really strong voices. Those impending drives, you talk through it as a staff, and you decide which plays give you the best chance to get yards.”

On if he would have called the same plays in the final drive if he was on the sideline:

“I am not going to get into that, respectfully. Again, AVP is a pro. He has done it before. I have total, total, total faith in him when he is in there doing it.”

On RB Nick Chubb’s 4-yard TD run and the execution from the Browns offense and OL on the play, including C JC Tretter, G Joel Bitonio and G Wyatt Teller:

“That was excellent. Third-and-four, to come up with a big play again putting the ball in Nick’s hand and then as you mentioned, those guys out in space, and the tight end did a great job at the point of attack. Getting those guys out in space leading the way was great execution and a really good play call.”

On the balance between sticking with the team’s bread and butter of wanting to run the football late in the game to kill clock in attempts to get a first down to seal the game with trying to catch the opposing defense off guard:

“That is a good question. There are so many variables at play there, and obviously, Nick being a big variable. You think about matchups each position you have versus them. To say that you are always going to run it there, that is just not the case. There are always different avenues you can go on those drives, but ultimately, we did not come through. It is frustrating to all of us. I know it is frustrating to the players and to the coaches. We have high expectations on ourselves to come through in big moments, but we did not get it done last night.”

On Garrett saying there was no way he would not play this week and if there is a potential Garrett’s injury is serious and could result in missed time:

“I just do not know at this point. Still have more information coming in.”

On the challenge playing the Packers at Lambeau Field this week, given Green Bay’s success this year:

“A great team. Just won the NFC North. Really well coached. Obviously, (Packers QB) Aaron Rodgers is a great, great player. We are going to have to make sure we put a plan together – offense, defense and special teams – that we put our guys in position to succeed and positions where they can go make plays, and then we have to find a way.”

On if he stayed off of his phone last night or if he communicated with QB Baker Mayfield during the game, who was active on social media last night:

“My phone was [off].”

On how Mayfield has handled the past week and how he and the team can help Browns players ‘keep their heads up’ while dealing with adversity:

“Talked to a bunch of the guys yesterday and a lot via text message. It is frustrating. I think the overwhelming feeling is that we want to be out there to help the team. You want to be out there to fight with your guys. It is really frustrating when you can’t be out there. We will just continue to help in any way we can and just wait for the testing to allow us to come back.”

On if the 10-day COVID-19 testing window in place would also permit Mayfield to potentially travel separately on Friday and play Saturday:


On Ss M.J. Stewart and Jovante Moffatt’s performance when playing in increased roles yesterday:

“I think there are a ton of examples of guys playing more than they normally do and guys playing out of position. They fought. It sounds easy, but we put some guys in some tough spots, and they fought like crazy. It was not perfect at all times, but they were going to do anything and everything they could to try to help us win the game.”

On the process for determining whether or not Mayfield could start at QB on Saturday, in the event that Mayfield does not clear the COVID-19 testing process until Saturday:

“I am not going to deal in the speculation. Obviously, we are all hopeful that we all test out sooner than that, but we will talk about that as the week goes on.”

On stating last week that the team would consider playing individuals who cleared the COVID-19 testing process on gameday and if that is different for the starting QB, particularly with the amount of time away from the facility:

“Not necessarily would it be different, but again, fingers crossed that we test out before Day 10.”

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