Press Conference

Week 5 Browns coordinator press conferences - Priefer, Monken, Wilks

Opening statement:

“I want to start out by thanking the Cleveland Fire Department for greeting us on our way back when we arrived in Cleveland Sunday night after the Baltimore win. We had a water arch, which was really cool, I have never been a part of something like that. Obviously, a very unique city, a great city, great fans. Obviously, I told you guys before, I am excited about being back and hopefully be a part of something special here as we continue going forward. The Baltimore win obviously was a huge win on the road. I thought we did some really good things. The one area where we are going to really improve on and we better improve quickly is our kickoff return unit. We did not do a very good job. Baltimore got after us pretty good. When you play fast and when you play physical on the other phases, you expect to do the same thing on kickoff return and really on every phase. That has kind of been our mantra all year long. It was a little disappointing in that regard, but our guys played hard and we did some good things. We have to keep getting better every week.”

On if P Jamie Gillan has developed faster than expected:

“I think he is probably right on schedule. You were hoping he would be. You never know when you have a young punter, a young kicker or whatever the case may be – a young player at any position. He is very coachable. He is willing to try different things because he is so talented. He can do so many things. Hopefully, he is only scratching the surface in terms of what he can do for us. I know I have said that before, as well. I am excited about where he is. He has not been perfect, not even close, but we are doing some things that normally you do not do with a young punter because he is open to suggestions and he is not worried about things. He is very confident in his abilities. As we continue to progress through the season, hopefully, we continue to see him ascend every week.”

On Gillan changing his punting technique to a two-step approach:

“He was open to the change. He had good coaching in college. Those guys really did a good job with him. I know he has been open to a lot of different suggestions since he has been here. One day during training camp, we were kicking outside and just warming up, and he was two-stepping. I am watching him going, I am like, ‘This guy has an unbelievable leg.’ We already knew that, but he is literally, left foot, right foot and boom. I said something to him afterwards saying, ‘I think you are going to be a two-stepper one day.’ He was still competing for the job so I did not want to change him obviously during the preseason. Once we got into the season a little bit, we started playing around with a little bit more during practice and started tweaking a little bit. He still is not perfect. He is still taking a little bit of a jab at times, which is fine. Anytime you are more compact and anytime your steps are shorter, you are reducing the margin for error to be quite honest. When he does that, his drop is going to be more consistent and he will hopefully get a more consistent punt on a more consistent basis.”

On if Gillan may have had a punt blocked against the Ravens if Gillan still had his three-step approach:

“His get off was pretty quick there. I think if it is a normal get off, right around 2.0 [seconds], I think we are still OK – although, it was close. Anything higher than that, we might have been in trouble. It was a good scheme rush by them. We did not do a good enough job of what we say is work the outside hand and the outside number in our zone technique. We have to a better job with that. That will continue to improve. We started the game with a rookie left tackle, a rookie left wing and a rookie punter. I am trying to think if there was one more rookie out there. Normally, you do not punt rookies on the punt team. I was told a long time ago by (former New York Giants special teams coordinator) Mike Sweatman, who I used to work for with the Giants – he was a long time special teams coordinator, a great coach, a great mentor of mine – ‘Do not put rookies on the punt team, ever.’ Of course, he coached with the Giants when they won a couple of Super Bowls there with (Pro Football Hall of Fame Head) Coach (Bill) Parcels. They did not have free agency back then. They did not have any rookies and they had all these veterans guys on the punt team every year. It was a different era. It is a little nerve racking putting rookies out there, but just got to go out there, prepare them and get them ready, and hopefully they will keep playing hard for us, which they have done. They just have to correct some of those minor mistakes.”

On satisfaction with the kicking game:

“We have to keep working. The return game is a big emphasis this week. We are always talking about minimizing penalties. We did not have any last week, but they did not either. They may not have been calling them or whatever. It was a pretty clean game last week by both teams. Hopefully, we are playing hard enough in our coverage phases where we are forcing the opponent into penalties and into penalty situations, which is what we want. We have to keep working technique wise. Our kickoff return, we did not block a soul so we were not going to get a penalty. We could not even grab and hold them. They were just running right through us. I have a lot of pride and our guys have a lot of pride in everything that we do. With the punter, we are kind of scratching the surface in trying to figure out who we are and having identity. I know we are playing hard. We are playing fast. They are coachable. I think the guys are buying in in the locker room to what we are trying to preach as coaches. We just have to keep getting better and help our team field position wise for offense and defense and hopefully get a score in there at some point and maybe I will be happy. I do not know. We will see. I will let you know.”

On how much fun it is to coach a player with a personality like Gillan:

“As long as he knows when to focus and lock it in, I am fine with it. I think he has done a really good job with that for the most part. The Jets game Week 2, he had a good game, pinned them inside the 20 five times, he is holding well and we are playing really well on special teams. Midway through the fourth quarter, I look over and he is laughing about something. I think somebody in the stands said something about his accent or about his long hair or something funny. He kind of chuckles and I kind of caught him in mid-chuckle and I just walked over there very calmly, as calmly as I can be on gameday and just mentioned that we need to finish. We have to focus, and that applies to everybody on the team, no matter what the score. The other day it was 40-18 and guys were happy and we are playing well. We are going to finish this game out, and all I could think about was hands team because if they score, which they end up doing, you have to get the hands team out there, have 11 out there and we have to finish the game. We have to be professionals. Really, I do not feel good about anything until the game is over, no matter the score. We have to keep pressing, and we have to keep getting better. He has great personality, a great demeanor. If he hits a bad ball, he knows it and he has to get better. He has done a nice job at that so far this year.”

On if Gillan has developed to where holding is second nature after not holding earlier in his career:

“It is funny – man, I hate when people say that. It will never be second nature, I think – at least for the next few years. We work on it every single day. Every single day during the offensive/defensive walkthrough, we are working on the jugs with the holds and with the punt snaps. Just muscle memory. Somebody mentioned earlier about muscle memory, doing the same thing over and over and over again. I think he needs to be confident but not relaxed. I think that is what I told him. Expect a great snap but prepare for a bad snap. If we have that mentality, he should continue to get better.”

On if it is acceptable to take kickoffs out from 1 or 2 yards deep in the end zone, referencing one of WR Taywan Taylor’s returns last week:

“It is was a combination. It was phenomenal kick by (Ravens K) Justin (Tucker). It was high. It was 4.26-4.30 hang time, which is extremely high. It was right on cusp of being goal line, 1-yard deep. You never want to tell a guy to catch it on the goal line and one foot is in the field of play, he steps back, take a knee and it is a safety. We are going to air on the side of caution and we are going to bring that out. We have to block better, and our returner quite frankly has to make somebody miss, too. He has to do something other than just running into a wall of defenders. There is a lot of room for improvement there and we have to continue getting better.”

On if WR Antonio Callaway can be an option on special teams:

“I hope so because he has so much talent. Yeah. You have to be able to trust him back there. He has not been hit this year, but if he protects the ball like we have preaching to him since Day 1, then we would have a chance.”

On if he feels for the Rams as a special teams coach following the end of last night’s game:

“I did not watch it. I went to bed when I got home last night. I do not really feel sorry for anybody, I guess. I do like (Rams K) Greg Zuerlein. I worked him out when he came out of college. He is a great kid. I kind of feel bad about the personal side of it, but if we miss one Monday night, they are not going to feel bad for us to be honest with you. The human side of me says yes, I feel bad for a young man like Greg Zuerlein. He is a good person, a good guy and he has had a great career, but football is football. We already played them and we lost and that kind of makes me mad. Then we have Seattle coming up here in a week and half. We will see where we are.”

On the 49ers defensive front:

“Pretty stout up front. They have committed a lot of equity to their guys up front in terms of not only draft picks but then signing (49ers DL) Dee Ford in the offseason. It will be a real challenge for us, not only their athleticism but their length.”

On if the Browns have to be cognizant about batted balls at the line of scrimmage:

“Sure. Sure. They have been able to get their hands up and get balls on the ground. So that is a part of it, plus they have done a nice job of winning their one-on-one matchups at times. They put (49ers DL) (Arik) Armstead inside, which will be a challenge for our guards.”

On how having RB Nick Chubb impacts the gameplan as an offensive coordinator:

“When we are putting stuff together, it is quite a luxury to have a running back that gives you comfort that you can turn it around and Nick is going to get you positive yards. Obviously, Nick is faster than most people give him credit. To be able to finish runs, he has done it now back-to-back years with not just long runs but ones that you do not see every week. He is a guy that comes to work every week. It seems like now we have been saying it for as long as I have been here for five week and since he has been here, but he is a really, really good player. When we are going right, he is going to touch the ball a lot.”

On the best aspects of the Browns offense against the Ravens:

“We had fewer wasted plays. That is really what it came down to. We had fewer plays where we just did not force the defense to execute. That is half the battle is having to have it what you want it to look like, how you had it planned and then the guys taking it to the field. That was byproduct of that. I thought our guys did a good job on the road. It was not like we started fast. It was not like the first quarter, you looked and said, ‘Boy, this is the way it is going to turn out.’ I thought our guys just kept plugging away. We ended up with a number of explosive plays and that is a part of it. That probably is much as anything. It looked like what we wanted it to look like.”

On his perception of WR Odell Beckham Jr. as a teammate and if his perception has changed since before being on the same team as Beckham:

“It is going to change I guess is the best way to put it because you do not know somebody. I guess you have a perception of somebody more than a reality so you have what you think someone is and then when you get around them. Odell has been great. He works hard, pays attention to the details, wants to be included in the offense and yet wants to be a good teammate. That is hard for skill guys. I have coached skill guys my whole life. The way they get a chance to showcase their ability is to touch the ball so I get it. With that, he has been a tremendous teammate. He has worked awfully hard, and he obviously loves football just like all skill guys do. To me, you would have to ask the other guys in terms of leadership in the locker room. I do not see that. He is a leader in his own way by the way he works and the way he goes about his business.”

On the trickledown effect when a star player does the little things to help the team:

“I think it is tremendously important that your best players lead the way.”

On the positive influence on team chemistry as Beckham impacted the Ravens defense and showed genuine happiness as other Browns players produced:

“It can and it needs to, but that is how I think he is wired. Like I said, I think there is a fine line between – I would not call it selfishness; that is an extreme – I would just say that skill players are paid to do special things with the ball in their hands. They want to help the team win in any way shape or form. Now, he did it in a lot of ways and attracts attention from an opponent, which does help us. He does not get credit for it, but there is a big part of that. In my mind, he has been great that way, but I do understand. Just like if you were to win a game like we did and a quarterback completes two of four passes, there is a certain part of him that is happy and there is a certain part of him that says, ‘Man, I want more.’ A running back that we win but he carries it 10 times, there is going to be a certain amount of more that they want individually. That is OK. That is every sport. That is every business when you have success. Some pieces of it are going to want more and want to be a bigger part of it. That is normal. I have not seen that. I think where the real frustration at times with those guys comes in is when you are losing. I feel like I can contribute more. How can I do that? How can you include me more when I think I can add to that?”

On if the Browns offense has found its identity, given QB Baker Mayfield’s comment yesterday:

“I hope so. I think that hopefully we are headed down the road of consistency of what you see on film is stacking plays together that give us a chance. I am not disagreeing with him. I also know that it is a week-to-week league and you can’t carry over points and you can’t carry over yards. It is this week is now what matters. An average is just that an average, but it does not guarantee anything for this next week. It is a different matchup, a different team. We are on the road again. As I said last week, it really is not any different this week as it is trying to put the best plan you can together to attack the 49ers, install it, go to practice, make sure that we are executing at a high level, we have great energy on the field, the guys are wired in and then go and execute it on Sunday. That really never changes. Sometimes we do not do it as well and sometimes the defense has a lot to do with that. To me, I hope that is where we are headed. I did feel that last week. I did feel like that we had a good plan for them and we had an excellent chance of executing, which we did.”

On what allows Chubb to be successful aside from his speed and size, specifically referencing broken tackles on his 14-yard TD on Sunday:

“He has tremendous vision. He has a real good feel for downhill runs so that gives him a chance, but his size and ability to make a cut – he is not a jump cut guy, but his ability to make a subtle cut. A lot of those were arm tackles that they just get a hand on you and he is big enough to break through that. That is a probably a bit part of it. A big number of the credit goes to the guys up front, the coaches that scheme it up and then the guys downfield. That was one of those runs where whether or not they got a lockdown block, no, they got in the way and did some things downfield to make the defender maneuver and try to tackle Nick in space.”

On the importance a RB maintaining balance after an initial hit as Chubb’s does:

“Some to that, there is no doubt. He is very good at shrinking his pad level and staying with it. I think that is a good way of putting it. From a balance standpoint, he never really gets knocked off his feet. You rarely see him where he is off balance and getting knocked around.”

On WR Antonio Callaway returning from suspension and a high ankle sprain:

“Luckily, we have been able to have him around so that has helped. We will see as we go. I thought yesterday was a good start coming back so we will see as we go. We are hopeful that sooner than later, we can get him up to speed.”

On if externally there is a misconception of offensive responsibilities between Head Coach Freddie Kitchens’ and his roles in the offense, given stories that ‘Kitchens took his offense back’ last week:

“I am not going to get into any of that. I do not see how that would be. I do not know where that comment would come from considering that it has been the Cleveland Browns offense every week. I do not know where that perception would come from considering he has been calling it and we have been doing it collectively as an offense. I do not really know how to respond to that because I do not see it any different other than are there things each week that Freddie or all of us are emphasizing more than others? Sure. Are there things that in the end, sure, Freddie is calling it. He has to make those final decisions, sure.”

On if Mayfield made an effort to stay in the pocket longer or if it was a product of better blocking from the Browns OL:

“I think all of the above. I think that we protected better. We ran the ball better so that added to it. I think he did a better job of staying in there. All of the above. Just like last week, we said the same thing. Some it was he could probably do a little bit better of a job, and we could do certainly a much better job around him.”

On the impact if WR Jarvis Landry is not able to play on Monday:

“He is an integral part of what we do so we are hopeful that we will have him.”

On factors of the Browns OL’s improvement against the Ravens, including the return of T Chris Hubbard:

“Some it was probably scheme and getting the ball out a little bit quicker. That helps. There is more to it than just one thing. Chris being back helps, although I think (G) Justin (McCray) played well. Sometimes the matchups work in your favor. It is all of the above – your scheme, getting the ball out quicker and getting Hub back. I thought our guys played awfully well. We got into a little bit of a rhythm and we were able to run the football so they just can’t tee off. That is going to happen. We got into a couple games where we were down so end up throwing it more often and put yourself at risk. Being able to stay balanced and some of the other things I said.”

On 49ers CB Richard Sherman:

“Still a really good football player. You have to be alert to where he is. He has good ball skills, good anticipation. He has played a long time so you have to make sure from a route-running standpoint that you don’t give away what you are doing and from a scheme standpoint that you do not give him something that allows him to see things from a mental standpoint. I think that is with a lot of older players as you get into maybe a little bit of their physical skillset diminishes but the mental part of their game picks up so with their awareness with what you are trying to do from a scheme standpoint and a route standpoint, you have to be careful.”

On TE Ricky Seals-Jones’ production on Sunday with the absence of TE David Njoku:

“You are always looking for guys that you think can I would not say step up but take advantage of an opportunity when afforded to them. I thought he did that. We had seen some of that coming on. We know he is athletic. As we continue, we have not had him here and did not have him in training camp so we are trying to integrate him more into the offense. It was nice to see another player step up and make plays.”

Opening statement:

“Good morning. A very impressive win last week against a divisional opponent. The one thing about this league is you do not have time to sit around and pat yourself on the back. We have another tough game this week against the 49ers, an extremely good offense. They run the ball well, play-action pass the ball down the field. It is going to be a tough one.”

On game planning for 49ers TE George Kittle:

“In my opinion, I think he is one of the best in the league. He does so much from a standpoint of they put him out at the slot and they put him out at No. 1. Very athletic. Does a great job with YAC after the catch. He does a tremendous job making guys miss out in space and can take the top off. It is very difficult because he poses the elements just like a receiver once you put him out in space.”

On 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo since returning from injury:

“I think he is performing well. He can make very throw. He is putting the guys in position. The one thing I will say is he does not force things in there. He is really smart with the ball and knows exactly when to check it down and when to force it down the field. I think he is playing well right now.”

On the importance of the Browns DEs keeping contain on the edges to stop the run while creating pressure:

“They are all about trying to create edges on the defense so it is very important that we do a great job of penetrating up front, trying to set the edge and doing a great job of setting the perimeter coming up to try and support the football.”

On if preparing for 49ers’ Head Coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense and run scheme is much different than other teams who do not run the same style:

“No because teams are always trying to at some point in time trying to get to the edge. We saw it a couple weeks ago the same thing with the Rams. It is just an element of what we teach and everything we do starts up front. We have to have a great game up front this week. That is going to be the key.”

On 49ers LT Justin Skule starting his second career game and if that is a matchup the Browns can target:

“When you look at what they are doing and I know this is only his second start, I think they have only given up two sacks all year. They are doing a great job of protecting the quarterback. Garoppolo does a great job of getting the ball out quick and understanding he can’t hold on to it. We have to take advantage of all matchups across the board and find different ways of getting to the quarterback. Most importantly, as we have talked before with Kittle and trying to find ways of stopping him. When you look at the running backs, I love what they have back there and it is by committee. They do not miss a beat when they rotate those guys in and out.”

On the Browns defense covering outside zones and stretch runs:

“I think No. 1, it is just a mere fact with how they establish the run game and then everything off the play-action looks exactly like the run. Kyle does a tremendous job with how he sets things up and how he schemes. This is going to be a great game for us from the standpoint of eye discipline and making sure our eyes are in the right spot because you will get a lot of what I call window dressing with a lot of motion trying to really take your eyes off of your main focus and your target.” 

On 49ers FB Kyle Juszczyk’s role in their offense:

“They will get in 21 personnel and move him out into the slot, and he will be out there like Kittle. He can stretch he field vertically and does a great job with the wheel routes. That is one of his staples. He is tremendous in the backfield from the standpoint of blocking and catching the ball coming out of the backfield. They have weapons across the board. We have not even talked about (49ers WR Marquise) Goodwin in the vertical taking the top off and (49ers WR Dante) Pettis. It is going to be a task across the board just trying to slow this offense down.”

On the satisfaction of S Jermaine Whitehead playing at such a high level:

“Satisfaction it gives me, but I am not surprised. I think we can go back to the spring and I told you guys how I felt about him and just his impact on this defense. Sometimes it may not stand out from the standpoint of the splash plays it did this past week, but Jermaine is extremely smart and he does a great job. He is like (LB) Joe (Schobert) out there just really regulating the back end, getting everybody lined up and communicating. He finds himself in position to make plays as he did last week. I am excited that he is out there, very happy with his performance last week and it is well-deserving.”

On DT Devaroe Lawrence bringing energy to the team:

“That is what they call it? Energy (laughter)? Devaroe, he does bring energy a lot. Performed well throughout training camp and made a lot of production plays – tackles for loss, sacks. He is still growing. He is still coming into his own, but I like the mere fact how we rotate up front and have a lot of confidence in those guys – as well as (DT) Daniel (Ekuale). When they come in, we are not going to miss a beat.”

On the Browns secondary performing well the past two weeks following multiple injuries:

“There is a lot of trust in the individuals who are out there, No. 1. I think the guys truly believe in the system and what we are doing. I think it is a great job by the coaches getting these guys prepared and ready to play. When you look at (CBs) T.J. (Carrie) and you look at Terrance Mitchell, I have talked about how those guys have played a lot in this league before so I was not really surprised with how they performed and how they are playing right now.”

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