The Browns have finally reached the bye week after 10 straight weeks of football.
They’re one of seven teams who have played 10 straight games this season, but they’re the only team who played overtime periods in four of the 10. Gregg Williams has coached in the NFL for 28 years, but even he can’t remember having a bye week this late, much less during a season with so many extra snaps.
The Browns ruled two players out for the season last week after nine straight games. Could the late bye have played a factor?
“Some of it, I do think it has,” Williams said. “Just time on task, pounding on pounding, there is possible part of that. Take a look at how many plays that we have played with four overtimes.”
But at last, the Browns have a week off. After yesterday’s win, Williams told his players they don’t need to report to the Browns facility until next Monday. He’ll still have meetings with players, whether they be in person, on the phone or via Skype, but above all else, this bye week is about re-charging.
“The bye week part of it specifically, especially this late in the season is getting healthier, getting the body to feel better and stronger and getting the mind cleared up a little bit because we all need a little break away from some things. It is a good time for this to happen right now. We have to make sure that it is right when we get back and not take any steps back.”
— The “next man up” mantra is not limited to players, as Freddie Kitchens learned two weeks ago.
But as the rest of the world has learned in the two games since, Kitchens was prepared for the job. In fact, the Browns have recorded two of their four highest yardage totals in Kitchens’ first two games as offensive coordinator.
Kitchens has improved the offense by emphasizing the run, but Gregg Williams highlighted the harmony between Kitchens and Baker Mayfield as another promising early return. The offense’s identity will change depending on the opponent, but the relationship between a quarterback and his coordinator is important no matter the game plan.
He compared their relationship to his with Joe Schobert, saying how much more uniform the defense played in Schobert's return on Sunday because of Williams' relationship with Schobert. That's the benchmark for Kitchens and Mayfield, and Williams believes they can reach it.
“Freddie and Baker have to have that same kind of synergy,” Williams said. “And it will only continue to get better. Both of their styles and both of their personalities, they respect each other. They both understand each other.”
— Reporters asked Gregg Williams on Monday about his desire to remain head coach after this season, and he answered diplomatically.
“You know what, I like being employed,” Williams deadpanned.
Of course, Williams has enjoyed his return to the seat with the most power. He enjoys having a say about every position group and portion of the game plan. But he’s preached a day-by-day approach since his introductory press conference, and that’s not going to change.
“I enjoy the head coaching part of it,” Williams said. “I enjoy all these parts of it, but understand the big part of what we are doing is we get the players the focus, get me to focus and to get all you guys to focus on one day at a time and we have to keep on moving on in the right direction.”