Press Conference

Freddie Kitchens talks improved O-line, Nick Chubb's touches and more - Press Conference

Opening statement:

“Everybody knows this is a big challenge this week. Offensively, they have a great quarterback and very diverse receivers that cause problems in different areas. They have a running back that can catch the ball out of the backfield, can run between the tackles and has great speed on the outside. Defensively, it all starts with (Rams DT) Aaron Donald, probably the most premier defensive player in the National Football League. They have good linebackers and two good corners that can cover. Their safeties like to get physical and be at the point of attack. Their outside linebackers are good rushers. We have our work cut out for us. Special teams wise, they are well coached. They have every fake known to man so we have to make sure that we are on our Ps and Qs for that and do what we can on Sunday.”

On if TE Davis Njoku is still out today following a concussion:

“Njoku? Yes, I believe so.”

On if any Browns players will return to practice today:

“We are still kind of playing it by ear. We will have some guys out of practice today. Kirko (LB Christian Kirksey) will be out today. (T) Chris Hubbard is out today. (DT) Larry Ogunjobi is probably not going to practice today and (S) Morgan Burnett, and we have already mentioned David. We will see how those progress during the course of the week.”

On if WR Rashard Higgins will return to practice today:

“Higgins is back. Limited-type role. We will see where he is today. He is going to be out there practicing today. We will see how he is.”

On how much QB Baker Mayfield’s and Higgins’ chemistry and Higgins’ absence impacted third-down situations on Monday:

“We like good football players. We feel like Hig is a good football player. The key right now is to form those relationships with several people.”

On wanting Mayfield to release passes quicker to avoid more hits and find a rhythm, as well as factors like RPOs and decisiveness:

“Yeah, we did some RPOs last year. We were successful with them. We have done some this year, and we were successful with them. Getting the ball out of your hands quicker, it could be just the read that he is going through and the progression. It could be more precise routes. Different areas present different problems, and we are just trying to rectify all that.”

Check out the best photos from the Cleveland Browns win over the New York Jets yesterday by team photographer Matt Starkey

On confirming multiple factors impact Mayfield’s ability to release passes quicker:

“No doubt.”

On if Mayfield needs to take more check downs, given Mayfield’s postgame comment:

“Anytime a check down is there, we encourage to throw the ball to our backs. He understands the dilemma. Baker does a good job of understanding the whole concept of the things. He will get better at it, just as I will get better at calling him better plays.”

On the importance of releasing passes quicker this week, given the matchup with the Rams and Donald:

“It is a tremendous challenge for our guys up front to keep him under wraps and the disruption that he causes and put that on a very minuscule level. Of course, it all starts with protection. Everything we do starts with protection. They have a tremendous challenge on their hands. It is not just him. They have two edge rushers in (Rams LBs Clay) Matthews and Dante Fowler, and then they bring in other guys that can get after the passer. We have our work cut out for us.”

On challenges preparing for the Rams defense and Donald:

“You are looking at (Rams defensive coordinator) Coach (Wade) Phillips. He has been in the league for a long time and has been successful everywhere he has been. He does a tremendous job of moving him around so you can’t pinpoint and you can’t help with him all the time and stuff like that. Of course, the scheme creates problems, but this game is about the plays and he would probably be the first to tell you that.”

On why Donald is so good, specifically given his size:

“His speed, his quickness and his reaction, he does not play small all the time either. If you try to jump out on him and quickset him and all that, he can get you with power. His speed to power is pretty good. He is almost rushing like an end most of the time. I saw Aaron Donald in Mobile defeat the center on one on ones. He beat the center, he moved out the 3-technique and he beat the guard and then moved to and beat the tackle. He has been a good player for a long time, and he continues to get better. We have our work cut out for us there.”

On Rams PR/KR JoJo Natson:

“He creates problems. If he gets the ball in his hands, he can take it the distance. They do an excellent job blocking for him. They have been one of the better special teams units over the past 10 years, even when we were playing them in Arizona when they were still in St. Louis even. They have been a good special teams unit. They are very well coached. I think (Rams Head Coach) Sean (McVay) does a great job of emphasizing that. We have to make sure we cover.”

On the operation of calling plays as head coach through two games and if he is making adjustments:

“I think it is fine. There have not been any problems really. It is not calling the plays. It is I have to do a better job of putting our guys in better situations and that happens Monday through Sunday. That is about all I have to say about that.”

On the Browns OL’s improvements against the Jets:

“I thought our right tackle played better – Hub played better. Our left tackle played better. I thought inside they handled some of the things (NY Jets defensive coordinator) Gregg (Williams) presented. I just think overall, they played better. They blocked pretty well for the run. Not a whole lot of pressure, but when they did bring pressure, I thought we balled it up pretty good.”

On if there is an ideal run-pass balance percentage:

“We would like to run the ball when we can run the ball. I have never been into percentages. If we are having success running the ball, I would like to run the ball a lot more. I do not know about percentages. Everybody always talks about balance – 50-50 or whatever. We would like to be that because we have a very good player at running back, but no, I do not really give much thought into percentages.”

On if he wants to get RB Nick Chubb more touches:

“I would love to get Nick more touches.”

On if getting Chubb more touches would include having Chubb on the field more in certain third-down situations:

“It would, yes. Or it could… (laughter)”

On the Browns offensive personnel groupings against the NY Jets and how Njoku’s injury status may impact that in Week 3:

“David is a good player so definitely him being limited right now or whatever presents problems for us. This game in the National Football League is about attrition so you have to deal with it on your side and other teams do, as well. We will get the next guy in there and make sure he knows what to do. When somebody goes down, that is another opportunity for someone else so we will see how it goes.”

On the Rams WRs’ diverse skillset:

“They are very good from the standpoint of they have guys that can win inside with option routes and choice routes. They do a great job of schematically of setting rubs and picks for those guys to get them free and get them free and to get them open. They understand that concept of the game. They have speed that can get down the field on you also. When you have any kind of combination like that, it is going to present problems for you because if you have speed, you want to be off coverage. If they are running inside routes and quick-type routes, then you need tighter coverage. I am very impressed with how patient they are. They get the ball out and get it into the guys’ hands who can make plays with the ball.”

On CB Denzel Ward’s performance in the first two games of the season:

“I think Denzel is continuing to try and get better. He was better in the second game than he was in the first, and that is what I want to see. I want to see a gradual increase in his competitive nature on playing the ball and being around the ball. The more you are around the ball, the more plays you are able to make. I thought he did a better job this week, and I expect better from him this week than I did the previous week, starting today.”

On if DE Myles Garrett can be as high of a performer of Rams DT Aaron Donald, who won last year’s Defensive Player of the Year and is viewed as dominant:

“I want Myles to be as good as he can possibly be, whatever that happens. I do not think he should set any limitations on himself. I think he should just go out and play the game the best that he can play the game, and that starts with every rep – play that. He did a good job last week of putting pressure on the quarterback. We just need to clean up those penalties, and we are on our way there.”

On the second roughing the passer penalty on Garrett after watching the film, given his postgame comments:

“Those guys have to make a decision on those calls quickly. I am not going to… I know that we can do things to help our chances of that not getting called. I would rather focus on us than what they call. We can’t affect what they call.”

On if Garrett needs to adjust his strike zone:

“I think the NFL has done a good job of really explaining where the strike zone is, and we may have not been there.”

On if the Browns using a high-tempo offense is on the table, including outside of two-minute situations:

“Yes, it is always on the table. I am not telling you if we are going to do it, but it is always on the table.”

On if it can be a challenge for Garrett to clean up penalties or if it is a matter of adjusting his tackling:

“It is a little bit of both. It is a little bit of decision making, and it is a little bit of cleaning up the strike zone. Some of it is just making the conscious decision of is this right or wrong and err on the side of the lighter.”

On if he is concerned about perception around Garrett’s play following multiple roughing the passer calls:

“I hope everyone involved would go off what they see and not the perception is and just go off reality and what they see in that very moment. A lot of times, you just have to go off what you see. Just because somebody says something does not make it accurate. The first two games are what they were, but he is going to have an opportunity and chance to get better and improve at that. I do not want him to lose his aggressiveness at all.”

On Rams QB Jared Goff’s strengths:

“He can make all of the throws. He is very accurate. Usually, he has a pretty clean pocket to throw from. Overall, his decision making, his quickness in decision making and when he does throw the ball, he is pretty accurate.”

On how QB Baker Mayfield can improve his eye placement and vision:

“I think I need to do a better job for him of getting his eyes right and giving him opportunities to do that.”

On the Rams lining up WRs closer to the formation and challenges it presents:

“When you condense a formation, you can also take those guys and they cross quicker. They get across, and you can set picks and set rubs quicker. It develops quicker. Then you can also run them from inside and outside to create horizontal separation on defenses. A lot of people like to talk about stretching the field vertically, but you can also stretch the field horizontally which is just as good because when you do that, you create seams and creases inside because you do not have so many coverage guys inside. I think that forms problems. You can do both from that alignment, basically.”

On P Jamie Gillan winning AFC Special Teams Player of the Week and Gillan’s first two games:

“I think he is doing a good job. He had five balls inside the 20 the other day, which is a great starting point for our defense but what it also does is if we go out and make a stop, it gives us great starting position offensively. Special teams understands how important they are to our success, and Jamie certainly understands that. He has been doing a great job. Our kicker was for four-for-four, too, so come on, give him some love.”                                                                      

On K Austin Seibert’s success since his missed PAT in Week 1:

“It is not about what you have done. It is about what you are going to do. That is what we expect out of him. We just want it through the uprights, and he is doing a good job. Those guys kind of get lost in the shuffle sometimes of working and trying to get better, and they are doing the same thing that everybody is doing. They are doing the same as our tackle, our quarterback and our safety. They are doing the same thing. They are out there trying to get better every day, also. They are always working on something.”

On WR Jarvis Landry returning punts against the Jets and if that will continue:

“I do not know. Are you asking a secret or what? I did like what I saw from him. I think Jarvis is aggressive. I like people being aggressive in fielding the ball. Yeah, you may see him again sometime down the road.”

On RB Dontrell Hilliard’s status:

“Dontrell should be back. It was just kind of a formality or whatever this morning so he is back. He is back.”

On the Browns OL sustaining second-level blocks during RB Nick Chubb’s TD on Monday night:

“The one thing that those guys will do is they will finish down the field. I was very impressed. Those are touchdown blocks of finishing down the field, securing the first level and reading up to their next level. They did an excellent job of that. To answer your question, I was very happy to see it.”

On if there is an update on the Browns’ backup T:

“Not yet. Do you have any ideas?”

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