Press Conference

Kevin Stefanski: 'Big challenge going on the road vs. a division opponent'

Cleveland's head coach meets with reporters Wednesday of Week 7

Opening statement: 

"You got the injuries for today. We will be inside. Quite a bit of rain out there on those fields. 

"Big challenge this week. This is a game that went down to the wire there and Week 2. This team plays everybody tight. Their scores have been within one score except for one at Baltimore. The last time they were in their building, they won by eight. It is a really good football team. I know they are well-coached. You look at them up across the board on offense and defense, I think they have a bunch of playmakers. On defense, there are a few guys that are in and a few guys that are out, but by and large, it should be a similar scheme that we faced. It is a really good scheme. They threw every front imaginable at us last time so we have to be ready and on our toes. On our defensive side, obviously, big challenge with this offense. Quarterback is playing really well. Weapons at running back, tight end, wide receiver. Guys that can touch it and go. Good special teams. We have to really compete in the special teams area this week. Big challenge going on the road, versus a division opponent." 

On what he has to do to make sure QB Baker Mayfield does not lose his confidence this season: 

"I think we are just all focused on getting back out there and playing our brand of football. I think we are all ready to get out here on the practice field. It is the fun part of the rhythm of this season and the rhythm of the week is you get to focus all of your energies on the given day. I think all of our guys are looking forward to working this week and then being able to put our best foot forward on Sunday." 

On if playing a team for the second time so close together changes the preparation and self-scouting: 

"It is not that unusual to play guys this close. Since I have been around where you play them almost back to back weeks and you basically gameplan once and you just carry that next one with you to the next game. They have a couple guys out of the lineup from the last time we played, as do we, so they will have some wrinkles for us and we will have some wrinkles for them. There is definitely some familiarity. The quality control guys at have less tape to break down. That is one thing that is different." 

On the potential of getting Ss Ronnie Harrison Jr. and Karl Joseph back this week and what that can do for the Browns defense: 

"The last time Ronnie was in the lineup, he obviously had a big play in that ball game. We are looking for guys that can make plays on defense and get that rock, and Ronnie has done it. Karl has played at a high level for us. I think we are fortunate that we have played a lot of guys early in this season already due to injury, which is not ideal, but guys are getting a lot of reps and we are comfortable with playing guys back there, and if guys' their numbers are called, they have a baseline of reps to work off." 

On if it is hard to not overreact or make significant changes after a loss like Sunday: 

"I do not want to overreact or under react. I just want to properly react. I promise we are trying to get one game better." 

On if he expects Mayfield to be limited in practice and Mayfield he will throw today: 

"He will throw. He will be limited but not to the extent he was last week." 

On learning more about Mayfield as the season progresses and if the Browns need to figure out ways to help Mayfield be more effective in the pocket: 

"I think it is a fair question, but I would say we are really doing that for every position. I think towards our offense line certain things that those guys do well we are going to increase certain schemes or maybe not do certain schemes that we thought might make sense. As it relates to Baker, I think I am learning about him each week and he is learning about me and how I call the game. I think that is just the natural evolution of an NFL season. Your offense does go through an evolution. You do start to you figure out you are good at one thing and then you have to protect that thing so the defense does not always know what is coming out of a certain personnel or a certain formation. There is a very real evolution that goes on in every NFL offense throughout a season." 

On if he sees Bengals QB Joe Burrow specifically doing anything better than he did in Week 2: 

"Nothing specific comes to mind, no. He is a very, very good player, but nothing specifically comes to mind." 

On if the Browns will make any changes to the team's kickoff return unit following the Steelers game, including WR Donovan Peoples-Jones: 

"I think we talk through those types of things as a coaching staff, but it is never ever a one-man issue when you are talking about offense, defense or special teams. We all have to play better. We all have said it before. We all have to coach better." 

On Mayfield seeming to use a similar snap cadence on three plays in Pittsburgh and if that is something Mayfield needs to work on or change: 

"That is something that we work on during the week, and that is one area that I have to do a much better job of varying those snap counts, not letting teams time it up and getting the play in quickly so we can line up and we are not up against the clock because that is one way to jump for the defenses is they are just staring at the play clock. That is one of those areas that I know I can do a better job at." 

On if G Wyatt Teller is at least a week away from returning: 

"Those injuries are hard. He is trying. I do not like to rule guys out, especially a guy like Wyatt, but he is pushing hard. It is going be hard." 

On if T Chris Hubbard is still the next man up at RG if Teller cannot play: 

"Yes." 

On the emphasis on the Browns OL rebounding this week and continuing to perform as the top-rated running team: 

"I think we look at it and have a plan this week and it is specific to the defense we are facing. I think the charge this week is understanding the front that they are in because they play multiple fronts. I know already there has been a lot of meeting time and already some field work during this walkthrough getting to understand these guys. It is just a matter of getting back out there and making sure we are being who we are." 

On if Mayfield saying '4-2 has never felt like 0-6 before' is due to the criticism Mayfield is receiving outside of the building: 

"I do not know specifically to what Baker was referring. Maybe he felt the mood on the Zoom call maybe? I can promise you in here, we are ready to go and we are ready to put the work in to try and go 1-0. I think it was (Pro Football Hall of Fame Coach Bill) Parcells who said, 'You are what your record says you are.'" 

On if being 4-2 changes the urgency of each game, particularly knowing the potential impact of tiebreakers: 

"No, it really does not. You can't lose sight of what it felt like in Week 2, what it felt like in Week 3 and what it felt like and Week 4. These games just keep coming at you. That is the fun part of it. It is a challenge. The guys get it. We have a really, really big challenge this week versus a good football team in their building." 

On if there is a fine line between a player being tough on himself and having the ability to shake off a bad game or bad play and move forward, specifically in reference to Mayfield: 

"All of our players, it is an occupational hazard that you are going to get beat, whether you are an offensive lineman, a defensive back or a quarterback. That is just kind of how it goes. It is how you respond to those plays. What we like to do is learn from any mistakes we make, and then you really do have to move on. It is just the next play is coming." 

On if he worries about national criticism taking a toll on Mayfield or any Browns players: 

"No, I do not." 

On maximizing WR Odell Beckham Jr.'s skillset while recognizing the Browns lead the league in rushing, given Beckham's current stats pace to several career lows: 

"You said it, there are always things that we can do better. We can design better plays and just the rhythm of how we call them. I have said it before, it is no mystery he is a big part of our success. Our success winning ballgames, he is going to be a big part of that. And I hope that includes individual success, obviously, for him. For all of our players, I want them all to have individual success, but No. 1 is the team success, and obviously he goes a very, very long way in our success." 

On if he is seeing a difference in how Bengals WRs Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are playing, specifically Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd: 

"I do not know if I see a difference. I think they are really good players. Tee Higgins had a great game the other day. Boyd is a guy that has always produced. Then you have (Bengals WR) A.J. Green which when the ball is in the air, you hold your breath because he has gone up and gotten many times. He is s a very talented player. They have a lot of weapons over there, and we have to be about our business to try and slow them down."

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