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Press Conference

Freddie Kitchens talks Bengals, Baker Mayfield, focus on final game of 2019 - Press Conference

Opening statement:

"Hope you guys had a good Christmas yesterday and enjoyed some time at home. I thought we had a good day of preparation yesterday. We were good in the meeting rooms and good when we went out, and the same thing continued today. I have asked these guys constantly throughout the course of the year to just prepare with the focus on that day. I think they have done a good job of that, especially as of late."

On potential challenges getting the team motivated for a game against a 1-14 opponent on the road that doesn't impact playoff implications:

"When you have 16 games, each one of them is precious. It does not matter when they come on the schedule. You have to treat them all the same. That is what I was just talking about as far as preparing today being Thursday and prepare for Thursday, and then when you get to the game, you put your best foot forward and compete every play. That is what you do. I do not know any other way to answer that. It is one of 16 games and your job is to go out, try to compete every time you step out on the football field and win the football game so nothing has changed."

On DT Sheldon Richardson's impact on defense this season:

"I think Sheldon has done a good job of when he shows up on Sunday you see him run sideline to sideline playing hard every play. It does not matter what the situation is, he tries to compete every play and is very active and a lot of energy. He has been very good."

On if WR Odell Beckham Jr. eclipsing 1,000 receiving yards would be a good 'consolation prize,' given the team's record is not where hoped:

"We are going to try to win the game so however the stats work out, they work out. I am more concerned about being efficient and doing what we are supposed to do, and I am pretty sure Odell is the same way."

On if he would be OK with QB Baker Mayfield working with a QB coach in the offseason:

"I always want these guys to be the best version of themselves and whatever they feel like they need to do to do that. I am not opposed to anything. I want them to work and try to get better each and every day."

On the full potential for the Browns pass game in the future, particularly as Mayfield and Beckham grow together and during this offseason:
"When you start talking in terms of that, I think everybody understands that we have work to do. We have things to improve on in a lot of different areas. It is not just that. If everyone is willing to put the work in, we will be fine. I think everybody that is here is committed to doing that. Just put your head down, whether that is offseason, in season or whatever, just keep working and getting better. Eventually, those kind of things fall into place and they happen after time."

On the Bengals' fourth quarter comeback against the Dolphins in Week 16 and if that helps the Browns mentally prepare this week:

"This is one of 16 [games], and there is no quit in Cincinnati. We expect to get their best shot. The last game [against Cincinnati] means nothing. Last week means nothing to either one of us. What they did now, they should feel very good and I am sure they do about what they did. They were down 35-12 with six minutes to go on the clock and then down 16 with three minutes to go on the clock so that was remarkable. That was one for the history books just to get it to overtime. They did a remarkable job."

On if there is ever a feeling of what could have been if a couple more things went the Browns' way:

"I think every year is that way for the bad and for the good because there are good things that happen, too, to enable you to win some games. At the end of the day, all of that kind of stuff sort of works itself out, but of course, there are always things we look back on but there is no reason to do that now. At some point, we go back and evaluate and see what we could have done differently collectively, individually everybody."

On Beckham being able to play all 16 games despite dealing with an injury all season:

"I think he has done a good job of continuing to fight through things pretty much all year. He is a competitor. He likes to compete. When people like to compete, they are willing to pay the price just a little bit more."

On Mayfield being able to play all 16 games despite dealing with a few injuries this year, particularly given 2001 was the last time a Browns QB started all 16 games in a season:

"I think your quarterback needs to be the most tough mentally and physically person on your team. I think Baker is mentally and physically tough. You have to fight through things as a quarterback mentally of course but physically, as well. There are some games you get knocked around pretty good and you have to be ready to get back out on the practice field, practice, get better and do away with all the other stuff and just focus on getting better. He has done a good job of that. Yeah, I saw that stat about 2001 and first time [a Browns QB has started all 16 games], so yeah, I think it is remarkable. It says a lot about the resolve and resiliency of Baker, Odell and several guys. There have been several guys playing injured. I said it back in training camp, you are never going to feel normal until March. That is the way the season is."

On it becoming common for NFL head coaches and coordinators to allow another coach to call plays during Preseason Week 4 and if there are discussions about him letting offensive coordinator Todd Monken call plays this week:

"We are going to always evaluate and do the thing that gives us the best chance to win so no. I think Todd has done a good job all year of keeping us on course during the course of the week. I just feel more comfortable calling the plays right now. Nothing against Todd. Todd would do an excellent job of calling the plays, but we are focused this week on just getting better at what we have been doing."

On if RB Dontrell Hilliard's knee injury will require surgery:

"I do not think so, not unless something has changed since yesterday. I think he had another appointment, but I do not think so. I think he is going to be fine. Just a few weeks, I think."

On areas Mayfield can look to work on this offseason:

"I want Baker focused on the Cincinnati Bengals right now. That is the only thing I want Baker focused on. I am not worried about the offseason yet. We will talk about that next week."

On why Mayfield's footwork was off this year and how difficult it is to correct:

"I really want to focus on Cincinnati. I do not want to go into our plans for the offseason or anything like that. I am just going to focus on Cincinnati. I am sure we will have another one of these, and we will talk about that then."

On if he agrees that it appears like Mayfield regressed this season:

"I think he is going to do the best he can do this week to get ready for Cincinnati."

On if DE Oliver Vernon may be able to return this week:
"He has a chance. It is an ongoing thing, and it is really a day-to-day thing."

On what Mayfield has learned this season in terms of leadership and being an NFL QB:

"Like I said before, being a quarterback on and off the field is ever evolving. You are never going to be the same. You are always evolving. You are always getting better at things and situations. The whole aspect of playing quarterback in the National Football League is more than just showing up on Sundays and playing. Everybody knows that. I think you can continue to get better in each area, and he knows that and he is committed to doing that. Everybody here is. Everybody is committed to getting better. I think that is the way it starts. It is not an overnight deal. Baker understands that he needs to continue to get better in all of the areas. Good question, though."

On if defensive Steve Wilks has been a resource of advice while handling questions about his job security, given Wilks' experience last season with Arizona:

"I think Steve, Todd, Prief (special teams coordinator Mike Priefer) and a bunch of our coaches with a lot of experience. I have not talked to them one time about job security, but I do lean on them for certain questions and stuff. One of them is not job security."

On RB Nick Chubb earning PWFA Joe Thomas Player of the Year honors and DT Sheldon Richardson being awarded the PFWA Dino Lucarelli 'Good Guy Award' for his cooperation with the media:

"I am happy for them. Are you guys going to give them an award?"

On there being a plaque for the honorees in the media room:

"Do they really? Very good. I think Sheldon is a good guy so you guys voted a good guy. We have a lot of good guys here, but Sheldon is definitely one of them. You guys know how I feel about Nick. Nick is one of the hardest workers we have. He shows up every day in meetings and on the field trying to get better. He has done an outstanding job of that."

On what Richardson has meant to the defense this season, particularly in his leadership role and during the absence of DE Myles Garrett:

"Yeah, I think so. I think he understood that his role sort of changed when that happened. Especially not having (DE) Olivier (Vernon) out there, that role kind of increased. I think he has done a good job of that."

On how his schedule will change next week and on Monday, as well as if he will host exit interviews with players on Sunday:

"Yeah, we will do exit interviews. I think that is pretty standard. Everywhere I have ever been, we have done that. We will do that here."

On if anything changes with the schedule between himself and his bosses following the last game of the year:

"I do not know. We meet every Monday. I am sure my schedule next week is probably going to be the same as it normally is."

On if the team can rally behind getting Chubb the NFL rushing title:

"I think our team will rally around getting a win and trying to do anything we can to get a win. We need a win. That is what you play the game for."

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