Press Conference

Week 17 Browns coordinator press conferences

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer:

Opening statement:

"Good morning. I hope everybody had a great Christmas. Thursday morning, a normal Thursday – a little bit longer meetings this morning to catch up from yesterday. Work on kickoff, kickoff return and field goal today. Install that and get ready to go against Cincinnati, a good football team. Special teams wise, they have been good all year. They are well coached. They play hard. The mark of a really good team in terms of how hard they play is what the Cincinnati Bengals did with Miami last week, which was unbelievable. You do not see that from many teams, let alone a team that has won one game, they are on the road and it is late in the season – they are down by 23 points with 11 minutes to go in the game, and they tie the thing and send it to overtime. Special teams played a big part in that. They did a really good job on their must-onside. They did a good job punting the ball and limiting the opportunities that Miami had in overtime. It was a well fought battle. It just shows me how hard those guys are playing. I may mention that to our players this week that we have to show up because these guys are not just going to let us win this game. We have to go take it from them. Like I said, they are well coached and they are playing hard, and we have to go play our best game."

On if he feels like he has to play a larger role in keeping players heads in the game, given the holiday week and the team having 'nothing to play for':

"I have never thought that we never had anything to play for ever. This is the National Football League, and I am paid to coach and these guys are paid to play. We are going to show up every week and with the expectation of going out and winning a football game, whether that is on special teams, offense, defense, complementary football or whatever the case may be. I prepared this week like I have always prepared every week. We did have a little bit of time, which was great. (Head) Coach (Freddie) Kitchens gave us some time yesterday to be with our families. Monday and Tuesday, we got a lot of work done to prepare. I knew Wednesday we were going to have a little bit of time, and then today, we are back to normal. I am coaching and preparing our guys. Our guys are going to prepare all week long like we are going to go win this game on special teams. Although, it will be difficult to do. I thought we played pretty well the last time we played them. We have to show up again and put our best foot forward, and it will help our team win this game."

On if NFL teams are figuring out new ways to be successful with the onside kick and new kickoff rules or if it comes down to a lucky bounce:

"The kick (Bengals K) Randy (Bullock) had against Miami last week was a phenomenal bounce. It went about 10-11 yards. It was a scrum and the ball bounced in their way. It was a really good play – a great kick, great job, great execution by Cincinnati. That is something we will work on today. They did a good job against us the first time hitting ricochet kick. Quite frankly, (WR) KhaDarel Hodge has to get out of the way. I told him right before the play what they were going to do, and they did it. If he just side steps it, we have a guy 20 yards behind him that is going to scoop it up and end the game that way. (CB) T.J. Carrie did a great job and fortunate we did that. I think with the different schemes people are using, they are trying to figure out different ways to kick the ball. The standard pop-up onside is not always going to be there – although, Randy had a good one the other day – it just depends on how teams are defending it. We take a lot of pride in defending every type of kick. Freddie allowed us to call timeout prior to that hands team play against Cincinnati a few weeks ago and that got us in the right formation because they showed something that they had not shown before."

On the number of successful onside kicks this year across the NFL and if that total is around six:

"It may be less than that to be honest with you. I know somebody had two against New Orleans in one game. Atlanta had two against New Orleans in one game. Cincinnati had the one. It may have been four or five at the most. It is tough."

On K Austin Seibert's missed PAT last week:

"Plant foot was wrong. He came across his body too early. I told him it is the worst kick I have seen from here since he got here, including practice. It is just was not him. That is the good thing. The good thing is OK, we know how to fix it. Just slow everything down in terms of the speed of his plant foot. His get-off time still needs to be the same, but that has a lot to do with how you start the whole evolution of that kick. For some reason, he just rushed it at the end and just turned on it too early. It did not make sense to me. He had a good day yesterday. We went outside yesterday, and we will go outside again today. Of course, it is nice out, too, which makes it easier. He will get that fixed."

On who will be the primary returners with RB Dontrell Hilliard on IR:

"We have (WR) Jarvis Landry and (WR) Odell Beckham Jr. Those guy can be punt returners. We can use probably (RB) D'Ernest Johnson, we can use (WR) Damion Ratley, (WR) Rashard Higgins – we have other options back there on kickoff return, as well."

On if it tough to see Hilliard's season end with the knee injury last week:

"Yeah, it was tough. He is a great kick. I know we have not been as explosive as we wanted to in the return game this year, and that is going to get better – I promise you that. He has done a phenomenal job on kickoff and punt coverage. He is a great teammate, a great locker room guy. He is becoming more and more of a leader as a young player like a lot of special teams guys have to be. Their younger players have to be leaders. It was tough. It was tough."

On if the first punt of last week's game was close to getting blocked:

"Yeah, they ran a good scheme. We had a new right guard, (DE) Porter Gustin, that was his first live rep in the NFL on punt team, and he got width. After that, they ran something similar rush and he blocked it perfect. It is just one of those things, it was new to him, they ran a good scheme and they got him. If he does not get width, we are fine. Then the second one, it was fine. That is what we are preparing for that type of rush again this week or any type of rush. Cincinnati does a good job with their crosser and their inside guys twisting and stuff like that. We just have to get our depth and do our job."

On if P Jamie Gillan's get-off time being consistent all season:

"Actually, it has improved in some regard. In some situations, it is even better. He knows when to speed it up. It is funny because when he got here, it was really slow. Everything was slow. He has turned himself into a very short-jab, two-step punter and sometimes a true two-step punter, which is hard to do with a rookie. He has embraced it. He has gotten better. His get-offs have gotten better throughout the year and he has really helped our protection because he gets the ball out so quickly."

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken:

On if it is tough to try to keep players focused with the holiday and being eliminated from the postseason:

"Anytime you have any holiday – you know you have Christmas or whether you deal with Thanksgiving – I think it is always difficult for what we do. I do not even mean the last game. I just mean in terms of the outside. When you are winning and you are on a winning streak; everybody is telling you how good you are, and when you are struggling, people are telling you things you need to improve on. To me, our job is to come to work every day and put the best product we can on the field."

On what QB Baker Mayfield can improve in the offseason to grow in this offense:

"There are so many thing collectively that we need to work on offensively, and I am sure he would comment on the things that he feels like he needs to work on in the offseason."

On if Mayfield's 'footwork ever got right' this season, given it was a topic mentioned multiple times throughout the year by Mayfield and coaches:
"Right – I do not know if right is the word – I think there are times you really see improvement there where he is able to go through is reads, his progressions. We have protected better the last few weeks, which I think has helped. We just have to continue in terms of route discipline and protection, and I think then the confidence will continue to grow."

On benefits of offseason training and learning or are most of those elements only truly developed in games:

"I do not think there is anything that you can't improve on or at least work on. Is it a little bit harder without live bullets – not only guys coming off the edge in terms of protection but also details in terms of routes and how we do it? Sure. Sure, there is nothing like actually getting out there and practicing together collectively as a group because drill work only takes you so far. It is a good step. It is a start, but it is only a start and then you carry it over. There are layers to learning and continuing to grow, not just him but all players. It starts in the meeting room, you take it from there to individual and then you take it to team work and then to games."

On if he would encourage Mayfield or other QBs to work with another QB coach during the offseason:

"There are a lot for every position – I guess I would call them trainers in terms of what they do for players. You have it at all positions. Some are strength and conditioning. Some are technical in terms of what you are asking from a player. In fact, most players have at some point in their careers and a lot of guys at the professional level, have sought out for help from people outside of the building, which again is fine. That is up to each individual player. I would say there is a big difference between – again, all of it is good; people that dedicate their time and their livelihood to improve players' performance on the field – but there is a difference. There is a difference between tutoring and training and then what we have to do, which is be held accountable for their actions."

On if he goes into a game aware of players' individual stats like WR Odell Beckham Jr. needing 46 yards to reach 1,000 and if it ever becomes a direct objective for a game:

"I actually had not heard that until today so that would be up to the head coach."

On what Beckham has shown by playing the entire season with an injury:

"The year I have been around him, he likes to play the game. He likes to play football. He is very competitive. He is a very prideful young man. It has been hard on him. It really has. It has been hard on him to not be able to play at the level he is accustomed to. He has worked his way through each week, gotten to the game and given us a chance to still be explosive."

On the ending of the first half against the Ravens:

"Disappointing, I think, is the best way of putting it. At one point, just talking in generalities, you are up 6-0. You have really controlled the game as a team. The defense has played really well. We have not turned it over. We have not played as well as we would like on offense. We had some opportunities that we did not take advantage of, but the interesting thing is when we had the ball up 6-0, we had three snaps and then it was 21-6 and right there was really where the game got away from us. There is no way around it. It does not mean we still did not have opportunities – we did – but that was a tough pill to swallow."

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 calling plays this week:

"No."

On RB Nick Chubb earning PWFA Joe Thomas Player of the Year honors and Chubb's importance to the offense:
"I think you hit it on the head – he has been the one mainstay. For the most part through 15 games, there would be a couple in there, but for the most part we have been able to run the football and that has started with having a tremendous scheme, but I think our guys have developed each week and then having the players up front to be able to block it, which they deserve some of the credit. Nick obviously is certainly very capable in terms of taking what we have come together collectively as a gameplan and executing that and breaking arm tackles. He has been ultra-consistent and durable. It is hard. I think that is the biggest thing. For as often as he has carried it, to be durable and then continue his productivity even with (RB) Kareem (Hunt) coming on board. A tremendous football player and tremendous person. I can't say enough about Nick obviously, beyond even as a player."

On if there is something particularly memorable about Chubb as a person:

"Nick? He has a great personality. He is awfully quiet, but again, anything you ask him to do, he does. A consummate pro – for as young as he is that he is consummate pro."

On Mayfield set to become the first Browns QB to start all 16 games since 2001 despite battling a few injuries this year:
"He is mentally and physically tough. That is how he is wired. He loves to play football. I do not think he could ever see himself not playing on Sundays. You would have to drag him off the field. The doctors would have to say, 'X,Y and Z could happen if you play.' Otherwise, he is going to want to play. That is just how he is wired. I do not care what it is and I do not care what event it be. If there was something at stake and he could compete at it, he is going to want to be out there and get after it."

On if he was aware it has been 18 years since a Browns QB has started all 16 games:

"No"

On if it crazy to think it has been 18 years since a Browns QB started all 16 games:

"It is now that you say it. It is almost like saying and knowing yardage that a player needs [to reach a milestone]. Unless someone brings it to my attention, I am always kind of focused on Cincinnati this week and what we are going to do today at practice to give ourselves the best chance to have success against Cincinnati because that is really all that matters right now."

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks:

Opening statement:

"Good morning. I hope everyone had a good Christmas. In regards to the game last week, we came out and we started fast, which was great. It was disappointing when you look at the first 28 minutes and then how we finished right before the half. Just poor communication on the first one, and then of course on the second touchdown there, I guess really when you look back at it we were in position to make a play and could have done a much better job with the play calling there, trying to get us in something different, but I did not think we finished when we had the opportunity. The guys fought hard. We did a great job initially, as I said before, stopping the run and trying to get those guys to third down. We just did not finish. That is the disappointing part about it."

On if the Ravens' up-tempo offense created the miscommunication on the first TD at the end of the first half:

"I thought we were able to get the call in in an appropriate time. It was a little up-tempo there. We just miscommunicated and did not have anybody in the middle of the field."

On there seeming to be one big play surrendered each game on defense that significantly impacts the result:
"It is just really part of the game, and it is unfortunate that you are right – one or two plays here or there that we do not execute that really determines the outcome of the game. At times when we communicate and we do the things that we need to do and most importantly, when I put the guys in positon which starts with me, we can be pretty good and successful. We have to finish strong this week – a divisional opponent, a team that we beat before and they had some success on us, but we were able to pull it out. They have a great running back in (Bengals RB Joe) Mixon. He is physical. He is tough. I think (Bengals QB Andy) Dalton has done a great job sparking those guys since he has come back. (Bengals WR Tyler) Boyd to me is one of the best receivers in this league with where he is playing. They are very talented across the board, and it starts up front with their run game."

On DT Sheldon Richardson earning the PFWA Dino Lucarelli 'Good Guy Award' honor this year for his cooperation with the media and what Richardson has meant to the defense this season, particularly in his leadership role and during the absence of DE Myles Garrett:

"He has meant a lot to us not just as a defense but really as a team. His role as a leader, his performance on the field. As you mentioned, when Myles went out, he did step up in more than one way, being more vocal and also just his performance and play on the field. I would not disagree with that award at all."

On if he feels coaches need more than one season to install their system and culture and the experience of keeping the team focused late in the season among speculation about a coach's job security:

"No. 1, you stay focused, you stay the course and you try to block out the outside noise. What is going to happen is going to happen, but you try to continue to get these guys prepared and ready to play, which I think (Head Coach) Freddie (Kitchens) has done a tremendous job with all of the things that have happened throughout the year. The guys have responded. The message has been consistent. We just have to find ways, particularly on defense, to make more plays. In regards to your initial question, it takes time build a culture. It takes time to implement your system and get guys on the same page. Sometimes the business is what it is, but without a doubt, I think Freddie definitely is the guy for this job. What he has been able to do in a short period of time, you can see the progress in the things that we are doing as far as moving forward. We have had a lot of guys hurt. We are not making any excuses, but it has been the case, but the guys continue to play hard and find a way to win."

On if he can relate to Kitchens regarding speculation about job security and keeping a team focused, given his experience in Arizona last year:

"Oh, of course, and I am not speaking for Freddie, but I can tell you that I know he is not paying attention to the outside noise. He is doing a great job as I mentioned before of trying to keep this team focused. Our task is to be 1-0 this last game. There is always speculation. Hell, I dealt with it probably the last five weeks [of last season], but you have to make sure you stayed focused because everyone is going to react off your demeanor and your personality. I think Freddie is doing a great job."

On if it is jarring for a head coach's job security to be in question after only coaching 10-11 games:

"You know what? I think we are all grown. We know what we signed up for. I think as an individual, you have to have enough confidence in yourself and in your ability, but most importantly, you have stay focused on the task at hand. That is what I try to do, and that is definitely what Freddie is doing now."

On DT Larry Ogunjobi's performance this season:

"Larry has played well. I believe before he went out with the Pittsburgh game, I think he may have had maybe four or five sacks so he was doing a great job. When you have OV (DE Olivier Vernon) and Myles in there, he is going to benefit from that. Last week, I thought he was pretty stout in the run game doing some great things there. I have been very impressed with him not only from his play but also just again another guy that has stepped up from the standpoint of leadership. Very vocal, consistent in his approach in how he practices and how he gets guys to try to do that same."

On CB Greedy Williams' rookie year, particularly after his return from a hamstring injury:

"When you really look at the progress of Greedy, I think he is on track. I told the coaching staff and I think I have mentioned this also to Freddie is that we do not really understand that Greedy should be playing for a National Championship right now. The guy is [21] years old. The thing that we have to understand is that you benefit from Greedy, you benefit from (LB) Mack Wilson, (S Sheldrick) Redwine and (LB Sione) Takitaki next year with all the reps and the experience that these guys have received this year. I think Greedy has done some great things. I think he has learned along the way. He has made some progress, and he is battle tested. You can see the difference in when he started to where he is right now, and I think you will see a major jump in his sophomore year."

On if he feels like the future is bright for the Browns defense, given the return of Garrett and other players:
"When you look at Kirko (LB Christian Kirksey) going out early, a major asset to this defense, a great player and then just that vocal leader as well and then you add Myles and Olivier to the mix as well with two solid corners, I see this defense being very successful. I am excited about the guys that we have. I am excited about the future and the things that we can accomplish. It is always staying healthy down the stretch, but (LB) Joe Schobert and the way he played, and the two young linebackers as I just mentioned with Taki as well as Mack. There are a lot of key guys on this defense that if we can just keep them together, I think we will be pretty good."

On CB Denzel Ward's second season and ability to return to a Pro Bowl level:

"I think when he had an opportunity… To be out for a while with that injury and then also, I think it is a level of respect that he really did not get a lot of balls or a lot of opportunities thrown to his side. I think when you look at being a rookie and talking about Greedy, they are going to test him. I think sometimes – I have mentioned this before – when you do not have the stats or the numbers, sometimes you do not see that individual playing well, but he has done a lot of great things. When you look at the number of throws and the percentage of the catches, I think they are pretty low. He is challenging his receivers, he is physical in the run game, he is coming up making tackles when we need him to. I think he is progressing and he is going to do some great things moving forward."

On S Damarious Randall missing a few games and if it feels like Randall never really got going and not having the type of season he did last year:

"I would agree with that. I think sometimes when you go back to OTAs, he missed some time there so it was catch-up sort of learning the defense and then all of sudden, here comes the injury so he is in and out of the lineup. We all know when he is healthy that he is a pretty good player. I think the injuries and the lack of time initially within the defense sort of hurt him this year."

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