Press Conference

Jason Tarver: 'We are going to work on what we can control and what we can control as a defense'

Linebackers coach Jason Tarver:
On how LB Mack Wilson has come along since returning from an injury:
"Mack has had great energy all week. He finished the game last week in the last drive with good movement. He has gotten more and more comfortable getting back in the swing of things after about a month off. He has really worked hard. This week of practice, he has been flying around, getting after it and attacking the ball. We are excited to see him play this weekend and going forward. Excited for him."

On if he is amazed by the success on Browns defense and takeaways, given the number of injuries sustained:
"What has been awesome is from the start, we said it is about us because that is what we can control. We are going to work on what we can control and what we can control as a defense and that we need everybody. This year, 2020 is wild. We do not know what is coming, but we embrace it. We embrace whatever is coming. You have seen it, especially the linebacker position, all of us have played and all of us have made plays, and that has been great to be a part of. We are just getting started. We are only a quarter of the way through so we are focused on one week at a time."

On determining which Browns LBs play in certain rotations and packages and if those decisions change week to week:
"Yeah, that is part of it. (Pro Football Hall of Fame) Coach (Bill) Walsh, who I was fortunate enough to work with when he was a general manager and I was a young coach, one of his favorite phrases was 'Know your personnel and use your personnel.' What that means is figure out what guys can do and then give them a chance. We do some substitutions, and we put guys in what we feel is the best position to be successful. Listen, sometimes it is not going to turn out perfect, but it is what you do the next time. That is what we have been impressed with this group for the most part is when something happens to us, nothing is going to be perfect but making quick adjustments and then going out and executing it the next time is what we want to see. We have been pretty good on that."

On the trickle-down effect for the Browns LBs when DE Myles Garrett is making big plays:
"Oh man, it is fun to watch Myles. It is fun to watch Myles at practice with his great get off. Shoot, we know that we have a playmaker, but that is our defensive feel altogether. We get 11 on the field, and when guys are going fast because that is what we ask our front to do is attack, and then as linebackers, we know there are only two things they can do: they can run, and they can pass. We know when our D line is attacking, it makes it easier on us. We love that."

On the adjustments the Browns defense made when the Cowboys offense was getting quick hitters in the first half:
"We have a mix. They got one explosive [play] early, and we fixed the problem on the sideline. They tried the play again, and it did not work so that was good, like we were talking about before. Offenses, especially that one, they do a nice job. They know what you look like. What we do is we keep our mix going. Coach (defensive coordinator Joe) Woods a great job of it. We have a few main coverages that we play, and they look the same so when things like that happen, we may switch to a different one, sometimes tighter and sometimes zone. That offense, they do the job. When you get tighter, they do things to pull you apart. When you get looser, they throw quicker. We were playing that game the whole time, and that is what they have done a good job of all year. What was awesome is we were able to finish it off in the red zone. That was another route that showed up in the past, and (CB) Denzel (Ward) made a great play and our guys, all 11, did the right thing on that last play. That was awesome to see. That is an example of fixing and working together."

On how Colts QB Philip Rivers can trick a defense:
"Being a coach in the AFC West for a while, we have seen quite a lot of him No. 17. He is pretty good at that. It comes down to this: it comes down to doing our job within our coverages. Like we just spoke about, a lot of our coverages are going to start the down the same and then move differently. We have to make sure that we are doing our job and getting our spots and not as much worried about what he is doing, if we get too worried about when he is pump faking or doing certain things because he is really good at them, we just have to take care of ourselves. That is the way you play anybody, but especially No. 17."

On how Woods and the entire Browns defense are responding to injuries:
"Joe and I have worked together before, and the best thing about Joe is he is the same every day. He is detailed. He is intense. From the beginning, we have talked about next man up and find a way. We spoke a little bit about it, 2020 is wild. That is it. That is what we do. Every day we walk in and we say, 'Shoot, we do not know what is going to happen with this thing going on outside,' and then when we get in the building, it is next man up and find a way. He is consistent, and that leads to consistency from all of us – coaches and players. Love that about Coach Woods."

On if he will get more of a feeling of what playing in Cleveland is like with 12,000 fans expected to be in attendance on Sunday:
"I think our fans have been wonderful. I was so excited to be able to come and work for the Browns and see what the Dawg Pound and everybody is all about. I was fortunate enough to work on some of those West Coast teams with great fans, but I have heard about it and everywhere we go, I love the community and they love the Browns. We are just working to do the best we can for everyone involved. We are excited about it."

On if he expects the increased crowd to have an impact on the game:
"Yeah, the more noise we can give this quarterback and help our defense, we are excited about it. So come on, man. Let's go."

On Colts LB Darius Leonard:
"He does a good job of – what a linebacker mantra one of the best ones – linebackers, this is what we do – I said this in our first press conference – if they run, you have to run, no matter what it is. Like this offense, we are about to play, he is going to throw quick screens, and they are going to run it and they are going to do in a different formation. No. 1 is run, he does that. He runs really well after the ball. No. 2 is shed. You have to get off of blockers. You may start the down with people grabbing on you. There are some big tight ends and these guys have a few and they are going to grab so you have to shed. That is No. 2, and then tackle the guy with the ball. Those are the three things linebackers have to do. He does a good job of those three. That is what our guys are working on – run, shed and tackle the guy with the ball. When we do that to the best of our ability, that is when we are playing good defense and becoming a good linebacker."

On how pleased he has been with the Browns run defense and the challenge the Colts run game presents:
"I think the run defense is a starter because there are only two things: the offense can run or they can pass. They are going to do both. The biggest thing for us is not looking at numbers. It is looking at attacking the ball and getting off the field. We want to get the ball back to our offense as soon as we can. It is not necessarily run game numbers, but what the run game numbers allow you to do is maybe put people behind the chains. That is where it helps. The opponent that we are playing this week, they do a good job of running early in the games out of a lot of personnel groups. They do a great job of using their personnel. We talked about know your personnel and use your personnel, one of Coach Walsh's No. 1 rules. This staff is loaded with coaches that do a great job. (Colts running backs coach) Tom Rathman, running backs coach, he raised me. I was a young coach, working for him and Coach Walsh and great coaches at the 49ers. Using your personnel, changing looks and running the ball can be really tough on the defense. They have been able to run the ball get ahead. We need to make sure we are on point, run and pass, early in the game, regardless of what personnel groups they put on the field."

Tight ends coach Drew Petzing:
On how has TE David Njoku looked this week and if Njoku is ready to go for Sunday:
"Yeah, I think he is. He has been really engaged the entire time he has been out in terms of being in the meetings and is as dialed in as much as he was allowed to with the rules. I think he was really excited to get back on the field on Wednesday, be out there with his teammates and go compete against. It has been really good to have him out there."

On if the Browns offense can take advantage of injuries to the Colts LBs:
"It is a really good defense. Whether those guys are out there or not, I think the system as a whole is really impressive. I think it is really well coached, and those guys play at a very high level. I do not expect much of a drop off, regardless of who is in there, just because of the nature of how they operate. We are going to do what we have to do to try to give our guys a chance to have success, and if that takes advantage of those guys, then so be it."

On how the Browns will involve all of the TEs with Njoku back:
"I think it is similar to the way you saw it in the first game and we will see it every game. I do not think we pre-determine it. I think that we have a plan, and we go into the game and we have three guys that are really good and belong on the field in a variety of roles. May the best man play and continue to play. I think we are going to use all three of them a lot and really rely on them to have success on offense as we have throughout the season."

On how impressed he has been with TE Harrison Bryant's blocking and Bryant having an impact on long runs:
"Yeah, there is no doubt about that. I think one of the things that have been really exciting to see is you finally put the pads on and starting to go play games is how physical he is and how much pride he takes in blocking. You see him out on some of those big blocks kind of really getting excited, and we actually were imitating his flex the other day at practice a little bit there (laughter). It has been great. I think it has really given a lot of room in our offense and identity that we picked that up from the offensive line. I think it is something that as a group we really preach as coaches. That energy is contagious, not only to us as an offense but I think to us as a team."

On how Bryant has improved during his rookie year as a blocker and receiver:
"I think you see his whole game improved. One of the things that I think we noticed really early is that once he does something once, he learns a ton from it. Even if it is a mistake – alignment, assignment or technique – once he gets that rep, he rarely repeats that mistake. Every rep he gets on the field, he is learning something about how the defense is going to play something about how he can go out there and be successful, not only in the run game but I think in the way he runs routes and the way he carries on after the ball is in his hands. He had a couple of nice catches and runs against Dallas. It has really been fun to see that development and that growth as he has gotten more reps and really taking on that role."

On what TE Austin Hooper is contributing that does not necessarily show up in the stat line:
"I have been really, really impressed with the way that he has played over these first four games. I think one of the things that has been really impressive is his all-around ability as a tight end, not only in the pass game but as a run blocker. To me, he is doing both of those things at a really high level, which I think is unique to that position, and it really allows us as an offense to be very dynamic. When you cannot dial in when a certain guy is in the game or in a certain position in terms of 'Hey, there are just going to try to throw him the ball or he is just going to be the run blocking tight end,' it really creates some indecision from a defensive standpoint in terms of how you defend that. I think he gives us that, and he is doing it at such a high level that I think you see that in our success in the run game and it also shows up in the pass game because of the things he can do in that regard, as well. I have been really impressed with the way he is playing."

On what has allowed Head Coach Kevin Stefanski to have success balancing his role as head coach and as a play caller:
"I think the thing that I have always seen from him is he is a goal-oriented guy. 'Hey, here is the task I have. What is the best way to go attack that?' I think he has always been very successful in figuring out how to focus on the things that really matter and making sure that those things are taken care of. Then you have a guy like (offensive coordinator) Coach (Alex) Van Pelt there as the offensive coordinator to help organize and bounce ideas off of and really be that rock for him. Just being around Alex for a short amount of time, really impressed with him as a coach and kind of how he organizes and runs the offense. I think it allows Kevin to feel really comfortable that when he does have to do some of those head coaching things or is not always in the room that he knows he has a guy that he trusts and believes in to handle those responsibilities, and he has done a really good job with it."

On how the Browns decide who to use when the offense goes with two TEs:
"I think it goes back to kind of the question we had earlier is we feel so comfortable with everyone in that room and the belief that they really belong on the field and they bring different things to the table. Sometimes it could be scheme related. Other times, it could be just making sure that we are trying to get all those guys reps because they are good players, they deserve those reps and they have earned those reps in terms of the way they practice and the way they prepared. It is a combination of both. I think there are times where it is, 'Hey, these plays are designed to be with these two guys,' but there are also times when I will tell those guys, 'Hey, you guys are in the game. Make sure you are communicating who is at one spot and let's go roll because I know you guys can handle whatever jobs are thrown our way and whatever plays are called.'"

On how fired up the Browns TEs were that the Browns offense rushed for 307 yards last week and what that means going forward:
"I think there is a huge level of confidence in that. It is one of those things that I think when you are in the middle of it you do not even notice, and then the game ends and you look up and you say, 'Wow.' I think we had a sense that we were getting on the right guys and moving the pile a little bit and hitting some holes, which is great. Anytime that you can go out and have that type of success, I think it gives everyone confidence to say, 'Hey, we are really good at something,' and we can emphasize that, but we also know all the things that come off of that.' I think that is really where you start to develop as an offense and become dangerous on the field on Sunday."

On what 12,000 fans at FirstEnergy Stadium will sound like on Sunday:
"These fans will find a way to be about that. I do not worry about that. If it is 10 people or 12,000, we have some of the best fans around. We are excited to have them there and really looking forward to being out there on Sunday."

On working with offensive line coach Bill Callahan:
"I can stand up here for about an hour and a half because that question could go on for hours. As a young coach and first-time tight end coach, to be able to be in a room with him, ask him questions, watch him teach and watch him put together a gameplan, to be a part of that has been nothing short of amazing. He is an extremely impressive coach one-on-one with players, one-on-one with me and in front of the room from a scheme standpoint and from a teaching standpoint. I can't say enough about how impressive that has been and how much that has helped our offense and our team but also helped me individually as a coach. It is something that I am very lucky to be a part of and be around."

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