Browns HC Kevin Stefanski Disccusses Upcoming Matchup Against Steelers

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Opening statement:

“Today is the first day of preparation for us so today is Wednesday, even though the calendar may say differently. We are going to get to work on our first and second down. We started that this morning in our virtual meetings, bring the guys in for walkthrough right into practice and an important day in our preparation. Obviously, a big game. We know what is at stake. We know the team we are playing. A really, really good football team. A bunch of great players on both sides of the ball and great coaches. A team we know well. They know us. We are looking forward to the opportunity to go to Heinz Field on Monday Night Football and compete against a really good team.”

On Monday night potentially being the final home game of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger’s career and the expected atmosphere at Heinz Field with that in mind:

“Obviously, he is a great player, but I am really focused on trying to defend him Monday night. He is still playing at a really high level.”

On if DE Myles Garrett is expected to practice today:


On QB Baker Mayfield’s growth this season in the second year of the offense, understanding Mayfield has dealt with adversity and would personally like to have played better at times:

“I think for Baker, it is so similar to our team. We have been inconsistent. Coaches, we have been inconsistent. We just have not consistently done it at a high level enough. That is what happens when you have the record we have and some of the opportunities that we have talked about in the past. For all of us, we are just searching for that consistency. Really for all of us, we have to double down on how we prepare. I think you guys know Baker. He works very, very hard at this. He grinds. The quarterback room with him, (QB) Case (Keenum), (QB) Nick (Mullens), AVP (offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt) and (offensive assistant) T.C. McCartney, those guys spend a lot of time on this and making sure they are ultra-prepared to play.”

On S John Johnson III’s tweet during the Packers game saying ‘run the damn ball’:

“That is something I will obviously keep internal. I am not on social media, and I would tell you the vast majority of it is just background noise.”

On the Browns expecting several key members of the secondary to return for Monday’s game:

“Getting guys back from injury and getting guys back off the COVID list, it is always good to work them back in and see where they are. I think that is important with all these guys that are coming back. We need to put our eyes on them, put them through workouts, put them through rehab, see where they are and then plan their role accordingly.”

On if CB Greg Newsome II has cleared concussion protocol:


On if Newsome is still on the reserve/COVID-19 list:

“We are anticipating that he is coming off shortly.”

On if the Browns are ruling out CB Troy Hill, RB Kareem Hunt, DT Malik Jackson or Johnson, who were listed on the pre-practice injury report as DNPs:


On how Garrett’s groin injury affected Garrett’s play against the Packers last week:

“Honestly, Myles could probably answer that better than I could, but he was not feeling 100 percent. What that percentage was, I am not entirely sure, but he certainly was not the 100 percent version of Myles we have seen this season.”

On Mayfield’s performance and lower statistics in the fourth quarter this season compared to last season:

“I kind of would go back to what we were talking about earlier. I think you just have to look at it as an offense. Specifically when you are talking about the quarterback and the quarterback’s statistics or numbers, it takes 11 guys. It takes all of us to do our job to be productive in the pass game. We often talk about precision in the pass game, and that goes through all 11 players – it is protection, it is the routes, it is the throwing and all of those things. Specific to that fourth quarter stat, whatever it is, I just think it is really an offense and a unit stat, including me, when you are talking about that.”

On why the Browns passing game has not performed as well in the fourth quarter this season:

“It is something that we have looked long and hard at, and I think the answer is always a little bit of [everything]. There is no one thing. It is a little bit of everything. We just have to make sure that we all do our job just a little bit better.”

On if Hunt is expected to be available on Monday:

“I think we will see. Like you said, I am not ruling him out. I want to see how he looks throughout the week. If we can get him back, I think that would be a big boost to our team. He is a great, great competitor so we are hoping that he can make it back.”

On status of the Browns Ks after signing K Chris Blewitt:

“I just think (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew (Berry) and the personnel staff felt it was important to bring guys in for a workout and signed a kicker off of that. (K) Chase (McLaughlin), anticipating him coming back off of the COVID list so just trying to make sure we are always adding and managing this roster.”

On if the Browns are holding an ‘audition’ at K this week:

“I am focused on today, which for me is Wednesday.”

On who is the Browns K today:

“We will see out at practice.”

On the Steelers historically being a tough team to run against and currently ranking 32nd in run defense this year:

“It is a good point, and I know what the statistics say. When we played them last time, it was a hard front to run on for us in that last game. I know we ended up having some yards towards the end, but it is a stout front. We have to make sure we are doing our job really along the front, on the perimeter, running back and you name it. You really have to be about your business because this is a physical group. They run multiple fronts. As you know, they have the big players on the edge. No. 97 (Steelers DT Cameron Heyward) is still playing at a very, very high level. It is a really good group. I know what the statistics say and I understand that, but I have a ton of respect for that defense and that run defense.”

On the impact Hunt has on the Browns offense, even with players like RB D’Ernest Johnson stepping up when called upon:

“I think you mentioned it, D’Ernest has stepped up for us in big, big moments and come through. Having said that, I think all of those guys are different. If you do not have (RB) Nick (Chubb), you are not going to replace Nick. If you do not have Kareem, you are not going to replace Kareem, per se. These guys are great players. Kareem has a different style than each one of those guys. They all have their own flavor in terms of how they run and how they play. Certainly, Kareem’s style fits what we do. If we are able to get him back, we look forward to utilizing him.”

On D’Ernest Johnson’s performance this season:

“I think we have been talking about it all season long. Part of the reason we kept D’Ernest on the roster way back when was we just feel like he is a good football player. He helps us on special teams. He gets in there on first and second down, does his job, gains the yards and gains extra yards, and throw him out there on third down and knows what to do from a protection standpoint. Those guys are really valuable to have on your roster.”

On the late Pro Football Hall of Famer John Madden’s legacy and Madden’s influence on his life:

“I would think any football fan my age – however old I am – growing up, you were playing Madden. I think my first Madden game, I believe, was probably ‘93. It was just such a big part of our childhood growing up and playing with your friends. He was ubiquitous in all of that. As a commentator, he was a lot of times doing those NFC games for FOX so growing up an Eagles fan, anytime you heard Madden and (Pat) Summerall, you knew it was a big game. Certainly, he was definitely on in the background of my life, and obviously, what he has meant to our game, I do not know if anybody has had a bigger impact on our game.”

On if he ever interacted with Madden:

“I did not. He would come through a few times when he was doing games and come through the Vikings for production meetings and that type of thing, but I never had the pleasure of meeting him.”

On Emily Mayfield sharing on social media that Mayfield received death threats on social media following the Packers game:

“I am aware of that. Again, people can and do say some crazy things out there. If it rises to the level of that, certainly, we can help address those type of things. Short of that, just in general and not specific to that, in general there is a lot of noise out there.”

On how Mayfield has performed and handled unique adversity this season:

“You mentioned it, it is unique some of the things, but the NFL, you never can predict what is going to happen week to week or year to year. We as a team have seen a bunch of things and had to be resilient. Baker specifically – you mentioned the injuries and those type of things – he has fought through them. He has gotten his treatment and made sure he is ready to go and be there and be accountable for the team.”

On Mayfield being a tone-setter for the team as a leader and with performance:

“Baker is a leader of this team. That is well documented. That is just who he is. That is the type of person he is. That is how he handles his business around here. I would not characterize it any differently based on different games. He is a fighter.”

On how the Browns offense and Mayfield can improve in the closing minutes of games, including five opportunities to finish games late:

“We have had five opportunities, like you mentioned, we as a group, and these games are close. That is the NFL. I know we have played in a bunch of close ones, and we are going to continue to play in close ones. There are opportunities in each one of those moments for us to come through, and that is the plural ‘us.’ That is where I feel like we as coaches need to put our guys in position to succeed. When we do that, obviously, then we have to come through and make a play, but it is certainly something that we are working very hard on.”

On what the Browns provide players to help stay up to speed when dealing with injuries or other situations and are outside of the building, particularly younger developmental players:

“We do put a very, very big stake in player development here. It is less so away from the building. It is more in the building. I would think the offseason is when you see a lot of the guys who are not in town where we will give them drills, workouts and those type of things. We put a heavy premium on player development, and it is not just the young players; it is all of our players. We work real hard. Post-practice, you will see our opportunity periods when we take some of those young guys who have not gotten a ton of reps in practice, bring them off to the side, put them through drills and then make sure that we are intentional as an organization about what we want those players to work on.”

On the Steelers’ and Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger’s points produced in the fourth quarter, including when coming from behind, compared to the Browns’ numbers, and if some individual QBs have the ability to reach an even higher level of play in the fourth quarter:

“I think probably historically, you could look at a lot of quarterbacks over time who have these comebacks. I think about some of the great ones – (Pro Football Hall of Fame QB) Peyton Manning comes to mind, and I think of (former NFL QB and Colts Head Coach) Frank Reich in Buffalo. These guys come from behind, they are down multiple scores and they chuck it around the yard. Obviously, there are some great historical contexts for guys who come from behind. As it relates to us, in any game we are in, when we get into those moments, we are always thinking about what the situation is, how many timeouts do we have, how many yards we have to go to kick a field goal and how many scores we have to get. A lot goes into that two-minute drive in terms of operation and making sure that all 11 players are on the same page.”

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