Press Conference

Freddie Kitchens says AFC North runs through Baltimore, optimistic about offense - Press Conference

Opening statement:

"Big division game this week. Baltimore is playing really good football. Everything we do in this division goes through Baltimore. They are the defending champs of the division. We are looking forward to the challenge. It will be a physical game. They always try to create that. We want to form our identity to do the same thing. They have done a great job with (Ravens QB) Lamar (Jackson) and his skillset. He has improved as a passer. Everything kind of runs through him and (Ravens RB) Mark (Ingram II). Mark has come in, stepped right in kind of takes on our mantra of being physical. He is downhill, physical-type runner that can make you in space so we have our work cut out for us defensively. Offensively, they present tremendous challenges as far as the edge and the pass rush. Their coverage skills are great outside, and they do a good job of trying to stop the run and eliminating big plays. Special teams, they pride themselves on being good on special teams, just as we try to do. We have our work cut out for us across the board. It will be a great, tremendous challenge to come out this week and have a good week of preparation in practice and worry about getting better today."

On if the Browns will have the full starting secondary returning to practice today:

"We do not. We are playing it day by day with a lot of them. We do have (S) Damarious (Randall) back. He cleared the protocol so he will be back out at practice today. I do not think any of the others will be back today."

On Ravens QB Lamar Jackson and improvements from last year:

"I think he is making good decisions and making good quick decisions. He is getting the ball out of his hands when it is there. The one he does, just as any quarterback, is he continues to look down the field when he gets outside of the pocket, which creates big plays for them. Most of your big plays in this league, unless they are just schemed up perfectly, they come off the quarterback breaking contain or stepping up in the pocket and then breaking contain. That is how you get big plays, and he is no exception to that. He just does a tremendous job of keeping his eyes down the field and continuing to look to throw the ball first."

On how much of the Browns defensive game planning during the offseason included preparation for Jackson:

"During the offseason, we always have different opponents we prepare for just as if it were a game week, and they were definitely one of them. Usually, you try it with teams you do not know much about, your division opponents or both. You try to kind of quasi-make a gameplan each week during the offseason."

On if the Browns have a player who will imitate Jackson during practice this week:

"We will have certain plays where we will play Lamar but nothing over the top. We just have to tackle. You have to be good in tackling with your technique, running your feet and stuff like that because he is very versatile from the standpoint of he will make you miss in space and he has great speed. That is a deadly combination for defenses, and that is what you have seen on tape."

On what makes Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh so successful:

"We played him a couple times when I was in Arizona, as well. He is tremendous from the standpoint of they are prepared. They create a mindset there that they are the toughest team on the field, and that is what they try to demonstrate every year. They play defense that way. Their offensive line plays that way. They have a tremendous offensive line, probably one of the better offensive lines in football, which has shown every week. I think he does a great job preparing his team, and his team will be ready to play."

On preparing for the Ravens and their philosophies:

"I think with anytime you play Baltimore, what they really want to do is run the football and play good defense. That is the way you should approach games for the most part, depending on what your skillset is. I think that is lasting over time. That will always continue to be how you win football games consistently, and they are a perfect example of that."

On if the Ravens offense is similar to the 49ers past offense with offensive coordinator Greg Roman:

"I think they are doing a lot of the same things so yes it is, which I know from being in Arizona it was very hard to defend. Anytime you add the element of the quarterback running the ball, you actually end up picking up an extra blocker. You either do that with creating that extra blocker in space, you have to space out and cover the guy or you use the guy as a traditional blocker. Either way, it is advantage offense."

On T Chris Hubbard's status:

"Chris is day to day. We will see what happens with him toward the latter part of the week. He may be practicing at some point. I do not know specifically if it is going to be today."

On what he see differently from Jackson throwing the football this year:

"I think the first thing you see is he is more poised and under control when he is throwing the ball. They have done a tremendous job working with his throwing, his accuracy and things like that. He definitely gives you some problems from that standpoint just because I think he is more comfortable now than he was last year. It shows in how he sits in the pocket a little longer and continues with his eyes down the field as he is on the move."

On an update on LB Christian Kirksey and TE David Njoku:

"I do not have a lot of updates on him. From the standpoint, I think they are still trying to decide a couple of approaches as far as how we handle it or how they want to handle it. No, I do not have any updates on them yet."

On if medical treatment for Kirksey and Njoku is specifically related to decisions on whether or not to have surgery:

"I would say that is a decision that you would have to ask them about that. It is probably a couple of different avenues they can go in each case so you would have to ask them. I let (Senior Vice President of Player Health and Development) Joe (Sheehan) and our trainers try to advise the best scenario for them personally, and that is what we tend to go off of."

On ESPN NFL Analyst Rex Ryan's critiques of QB Baker Mayfield about reads and taking hits:

"I appreciate his opinion and all that, but he is not in our building. He has no idea what we are doing. I would answer that with that."

On if Mayfield is a one-read quarterback as Ryan said:

"No, he is not. That is asinine to even say."

On if he sees the late-game situations at the Ravens in 2018 and against the Rams as identical:

"No, I do not. They are the same from the standpoint of they were at the end of the game. When you start talking about things like that, you are always wanting to evolve and get better with situations. The more you are in those situations, you get better at them. I have definitely studied each sequence of plays, and I try to get better in every situation I am in."

On expanding on lessons from last year's season finale against Baltimore:

"No, I would rather not. I would rather not say."

On how opposing defenses will make adjustments to the Browns offense and Mayfield in Year 2:

"I think they are strictly game planning on what we are doing. I do not know they are doing anything different. I think they are creating some advantages from a standpoint of what they show you pre-snap and post-snap. They did that last year. Contrary to popular belief, we are not that far away. It is my job to make these guys understand that, and I think they do. They bought into the fact that they do not really care what is going on outside of our building. When you start talking about blocking out noise and stuff like that, it is not only when they are talking good about you; it is when they are talking bad about you, too. When they are talking good about you, we try to stress that it does not matter. You are stressing the same thing when they are talking bad about you. It does not matter. None of it matters. The only thing that matters is what we do in our building."

On if the Browns' struggles offensively are more the result of a lack of execution compared to opposing defenses' schemes:

"I think there are plays during the course of the game that if we do not do what we are supposed to do they are kind of wasted plays. I think those wasted plays are impacting our ability to succeed. It is truly as simple as that. It is about doing what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it. It is about me putting them in better situations. I have to start doing my part, they have to start doing their part and that is how things come together. It is not that hard of a solution. Now, just because you know the solution, you do everything you can to increase the ability to have different results."On what specifically indicates the Browns offense is closer to where it need to be than others state:

"The misses that we have had have been close. The reasons for some of the lack of production have been close. It is being off a little bit here or being off with the protection. In the first game of the year, going into the fourth quarter, Baker was 22 of 29 with (WR) Odell (Beckham Jr.) running free after the screen to make the ball game 22-20. Look at the play, and the protection broke down. If you take that play alone, the whole mindset or whatever opinion has changed. It is little things like that that make a difference within the game. As you guys know, the games dictate the feeling on the season. We are not panicking. We understand where we are. We understand that we could take a lot of good things out of the game this past week, and we are going to try to take those things just as we would have if we would have won. Nothing changes. If we would have won the game last week, nothing would have changed about how we played. It was just that we were successful at the end of the game. You still have to try and get better. Whether you win or lose, you are still trying to do the same thing, which is get better. That is the mindset that we are in. We are not worried about the outside noise, whether we are doing good or doing bad. It does not matter. We only worry about what we can control, and what we can control is how we prepare today for Baltimore on Sunday."

On if Mayfield played a more technically-sound game against the Jets:

"I think he was much better than he had been. I think he is going to be better today than he was yesterday. Baker and I are like-minded from the standpoint of we are only worried about today. We are worried about first and second down and a few third downs today. Tomorrow, we are going to worry about third down and red zone. The next day, we are going to worry about short-yardage and red zone. I think that is the mindset Baker is in, and he is going to continue to get better. He just finished his first year of football – the other day was 16 games. I am not panicking. I am not panicking about anything about our program. Our program is going to stay the same and is going to continue to evolve and continue to get better. That is the way we are going to approach it. That is the way it was in March. That is the way it was during the spring. That is the way it was during training camp. That is the way it is going to be during the season. We feel like that gives us the best opportunity to get better every day, every week, every month, every quarter of the season and then play our best football every time we go out onto the field in relation to the previous game. That is what we are striving to do."

On how much the Browns have emphasized Mayfield drifting in the pocket and throwing off his back foot with 'fade-away jumpers':

"The quarterback has to be the toughest person on the field, and I think Baker is. I do not know about fade away jumpers and all that kind of stuff, talk to Cris (Collinsworth). about that. I see him fading away sometimes, but quarterbacks throw from different angles all of the time. How many times in the National Football League do you have a clean pocket to throw out of? It is very, very, very rare. Quarterbacks' accuracy depends on the fact that their feet and their hands are moving in the same directions. We are constantly talking about Baker's technique, and he is constantly aware of it. At the end of the day, I want him to feel comfortable about what he is supposed to do and go out and just do it. However he gets it done, he gets it done. That separates some players from other players, and Baker has the ability to be accurate from different throwing angles, form his feet being in different spots and places, non-clean pockets and on the move. He has those abilities. At the end of the day, we just need to execute. That is all. Our guys know that. Our guys have bought into that. They do not care about anybody else talking about fade-away jump shots. We do not care. We are always trying to get better."

On if the Ravens rushing attack has improved from last season:

"I think it is a lot more consistent. I do. In a lot of ways, they want to run the ball and they are able to run the ball."

On how much value he puts into the statistic of fourth-quarter comeback victories for QBs:

"I do not want to talk to be talking. I do not realty know. I think you can sway stats any way you want to fit the narrative. I am no trying to be a smart aleck. I am just saying some stats are relevant and some stats are not. Sometimes it depends on simply how many times is he in that situation? Where did they get the ball to start with? There are so many [factors]. I do not think that it is indicative to how good the quarterback is, no."

On great franchise quarterbacks having the common trait of being able to make those comebacks:

"I think the common trait of great franchise quarterbacks are wins and losses."

On if he ignores the record as a coach or if adds to the sense of urgency:

"We try win every time we go out, and this is a big division game. Our division games mean more than other games, just as they do in Baltimore and just as they do in Pittsburgh. This is no different. Of course, we want to get on the plane being 2-2. That is everybody's goal. If you are 1-2, you want to 2-2. That is really the only thing that we are worried about."

On WR Rashard Higgins' status:

"Day to day. That is really the only thing I can tell you now about that."

On if the Browns offense is missing an element without WRs like Higgins:

"Higgins has played a lot of football and has played a lot of football with Baker. He has played a lot of football in this offense. Again, it is whoever shows up. That is who we are going with and there are never any excuses. At the end of the day, we did not have our starting secondary the other night and we went toe-to-toe with one of the better offenses in the league. It is just know what to do, know when to do and know how to do, and we will put ourselves in position to win."

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