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Press Conference

Week 9 Browns coordinator press conferences - Priefer, Monken, Wilks

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer:

Opening statement:

"Good morning, everybody. I hope you guys have had a good week. Excited about the opportunity we have on Sunday afternoon in Denver. Obviously, I spent two years there. It was not a greatest experience in terms of football, but it is a beautiful place to live and good people. Enjoyed my time out there for the most part. Looking forward to going back and getting a win."

On the challenges on special teams playing in altitude:

"We have not talked a ton about it, but obviously they know. We have talked about it enough that they understand the challenges and you are going to winded, you are going to have to use the oxygen and you have to be smart. Obviously, the weather has been pretty poor out there lately. I think it is going to be OK Sunday, but make sure that we have the right cleats again and make sure that the young kicker and the young punter do not crazy. When I coached there for two years, every opposing punter and kicker used to come in there and just try to go bombs away and try to do something extraordinary because they are going to use the altitude. I told our guys, 'Hey, just let the altitude work for you. Do not try to do something that you are not.' We have two strong-legged kicks with our punter and kicker with (P) Jamie (Gillan) and (K) Austin (Seibert). I think if they go out there and just do what they have been doing and kick at a high level, the altitude will actually help them in rather hurt them like it does to other guys because it gets in their head a little bit."

On how much additional yardage the altitude may offer for a K like Seibert's:

"If it is not a very windy day, probably 5-6 yards, I would imagine. Pregame will show that. He and I always talk about it pregame then I let (Head Coach) Freddie (Kitchens) know what our range is going in certain directions that day to be safe. Whether it is the 32, 35 or 38 yard-line going one way or the other. Then of course at the end of the half or the end of the game, you might have to extend that a little bit for obvious reasons to get the game-winning kick or end of half type of kick. I would imagine it is probably around 5 yards and the hang time for a punter could upwards of another half a second of hang time. I have no scientific proof of that – I am not smart enough to figure that part out. It has been my experience for being out there for two years that it is amazing how an average punt becomes a 5.0 punt because of the altitude."

On how Gillan and Seibert handled the inclement weather at New England:

"They handled it great. They handled it great throughout the week. They came to me last Wednesday and said, 'Hey coach, it is going to raining there – 100 percent chance of rain.' So I said, 'That is probably a pretty good chance.' They went out and did wet ball drills for the snapper, punter, kicker and holder and all that type of stuff. We worked on it Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They were ready for it. Pregame was crazy. It was really pouring in pregame, and it kind of slowed down a little bit. The balls were getting pretty heavy and they got a little frustrated by that, but overall, I think they handled the conditions perfectly. The snapper had a couple of little high snaps on punt, Jamie did a good job getting them out of there. Jamie did a great job as a holder and a punter. Austin kicked the ball well. It was a good day for those guys."

On the benefits of having a player like CB Denzel Ward on FG block, who blocked one on Sunday:

"The good thing is that we have had two different guys block kicks now on field goal. We do not want to give away any tendencies away because when you give away tendencies, then susceptible to the fake. We are going to keep mixing it up. We are going to keep block sides one way, block sides the other way. The next rep, we have the same look trying to be sound that way like a defense would be sound in that regard. You take away the fake opportunities our opponents might think they have against us, but because you have two guys, you really have two block sides because No. 20 (CB Tavierre Thomas) and No. 21 (Ward) can block kicks for us. I really think that helps us at the threat off the edge. Our guys inside – (DT) Sheldon Richardson, (DE) Myles (Garrett), (DE) Olivier (Vernon), (DT) Larry (Ogunjobi) and even the backups – they are doing a phenomenal job of getting push, as well. We have been very close to blocking a couple inside. We are going to keep being aggressive but keep being sound and take away those fake opportunities that our opponents might have."

On if Gillan's ability to dropkick assists with new onside kick rules is a benefit:

"I do not know if it is so much the new rules. I think even with the old rules, you can still kick that type of kick, but because everybody is more condensed maybe. I never really thought about it that way to be honest with you. I think that kick can give you problems because of the different type of spin, the different looks that he can give you – he can give a high bounce, he can kick it low on the ground, he can bloop it over the top or he can kick it the other way. He is such a talented young athlete, and he is going to take his rugby background and apply it to football. We started playing with this back in the spring a little bit. Of course, Jamie talks junk to Austin that he has a better onside kick than Austin. It is kind of fun for me the competition because now they are both getting better at it."

On deciding who will take potential onside kicks:

"Practice, they both practice different type of kicks – Austin not so much the drop kick but the normal traditional onside kick. He can do different things as well. I gave them a homework assignment over the summer. I said, 'Come back with three of four different kicks that you are really good at.' Surprise onside, must onside and those type of things that they need to perfect so we can get a chance to win a game at the end. He kicked it probably a little bit too hard and the ground was wet and we had a little bit too much of a spin, but it was great attempt. It was a good first attempt for him. Now, we just have to improve from there."

On the team's FG percentage:

"Austin is a very confident young man. We went again down to the stadium yesterday and we got another 20 field goals or so down there. We have them really emphasizing kicking in the dog pound end because those the two PATs misses have been in that end. Kind of get him over that mental hump that says, 'You know what? I can make it no matter what. No matter what the conditions are, no matter what the winds are, field conditions, I have to go out and execute, especially at home.' We get those opportunities." Jamie has done a great job as a holder. (LS) Charley (Hughlett), like I told you guys before, is kind of the glue that holds those two young guys together and does a great job mentoring them. We have a good group and they have worked hard. I will be honest with you, our field goal protection unit – we had the field goal meeting this morning – these guys are locked in. Denver does different stuff, jumping through the A gap like New England tried the other day. We handled that perfectly. Charley was communicating that. We have to be ready for all that stuff, and our field goal unit takes a lot of pride in what they do." 

On the difference between Ravens K Justin Tucker's dropkick and Gillan's and Tucker dropping it multiple times:

"That part, right, you can't do that obviously, No. 1. Number 2, the ball as it hits the ground, that is when the foot needs to strike the ball. You can't bounce up in the air then you can hit it. The league has come out and said, 'Hey, this is what the rule is. This is how we are going to apply the rule.' Most people are going to drop kick, they are going to kick it as the ball hits the ground, boom, almost instantaneously after that they are going to kick the ball. What Justin did was not legal, and I am sure he won't do it again."

On if the dropkick is to work around new kickoff rules that have decreased the success rate of onside kicks:

"I think no matter what the rules are, you are going to try to get the best kick to give us the best opportunity. The old little pop up onside kick, you can't overload it anymore like you said because of the rules. You can match up almost like 4.5 or 5 on 5 – 4.5 when the guys got to take away the slow roller and he has to be able to block in front of the ball. That is kind of what we do on our hands team. Because of the rules change, you have to do something different. You have to adapt like we adapted. That is what special teams do. We adapt pretty well to the different rules and try to take advantage of the different type of kicks."

On RB Dontrell Hilliard returning all punts last week instead of WR Jarvis Landry:

"Dontrell has been there. He has worked real hard. He has gotten better, and I know we have to eliminate the muff. I think with the skill that Jarvis has a receiver, you guys brought it up to me and you guys were asking that question a few weeks ago about having Jarvis back there and having (WR) Odell (Beckham) back there. We have to pick and choose our spots. Those two guys are still an option. They are always an option, but the normal course of the game, we felt like Dontrell was the right guy at that point. Those two other guys are still there if we need them."

On if WR Antonio Callaway is an option as a returner:

"He still is considered a returner. Antonio is still an option for us there. Antonio when he came back from suspension, he was really, really focused on offense and I think that is where we are trying to get him more involved on the offensive side of the ball and continue to work with him as a returner so he can be an option for us."

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken:

On changes to the Browns OL against the Patriots:

"It went fine. I do not think that was the issue. I thought (G) Justin (McCray) did some really good things. I thought he battled. This year as far as I know, he had not played left tackle. In the first game, I think he played right tackle and we moved Hub (T Chris Hubbard) over there if my memory serves me correct. I thought he really battled. When (G) Wyatt (Teller) got in there some at guard, there were some positives things to build off of. We are always trying at every positon to find the best mix of players that gives you the best chance to move the football and score points."

On what makes the Broncos defense so solid:

"Schematically, they do a nice job of personnel groupings. You will plays some teams where you have a pretty good idea of what personnel groupings you are going to get so say you are in a pro set, you are going to get base defense. If you are in 11-personel or three receivers, you are going to get sub. Where this team, they will play base to your sub groups and they will play nickel to your bigger personnel groups so across the board from every formation, there are layers of preparation that go into making sure that when you have runs or protections in that you are set. It is probably from an earlier preparation standpoint than it is once when you get in the game to make sure what you are calling that you have answers for."

On Broncos OLB Von Miller's role in the Broncos defense:

"He is the No. 1 cog. You have to know where he is at all times because he can disrupt the game. He has for a number of years. You have to be aware of where he. There are going to be times where we have to block him. It is not every concept you can double him in the run game and not every concept from a protection standpoint when you can chip help or slide so there are going to be times where we have to man up and be able to protect. There are other times where you are going to have to make sure that you get bodies on him and make sure you do that. He is one of the elite guys, and it is obvious. Every team that you watch when they go against him, when you talk about players that get doubled or get chipped, No. 58 does."

On the mindset behind passing as frequently against the Patriots in the rain:

"Some of it plays into what you have in mind and some of it plays into if you are going to be in the RPO world, sometimes that is where the ball goes. That is the short answer of it is you have run plays called up and the decisions you make to spin it on the perimeter. That is part of it."

On how early turnovers and a large deficit can negatively alter an offensive gameplan:

"It is frustrating, yes, when you go into the game understanding how you know you have to win the game against anybody, and to not start fast on the road is frustrating. I do not think that it changed our gameplan any because there was not really anything different that they were doing. There was nothing different about what they did. It was something we had done. To change anything, we did not have to change anything and we just had to hold onto the ball. That was probably it as much as anything."

On his message to RB Nick Chubb after his two fumbles against the Patriots, given Chubb's reliability all season:

"It has not been an issue in the past. Like all of our players or us as coaches and anybody in the organization, we all have jobs to do. Nick is a great player. It is just unfortunate the way it turned out in that game for him because no one is more conscientious and no one works harder. Same with what happens to any of our players or when it happens to (QB) Baker (Mayfield) – nobody is fighting to be more prepared than he is and fighting with our receivers to be in the right spot and from a protection standpoint. There is nothing to be said. Everybody understands it, and we do, as well. You can't turn it over and win. That is the way it is. Like I said, that has not been an issue for Nick. We do not expect it to be an issue. We expect every play, every week to play disciplined football and we expect to win. That is going to be our expectation this week. That was Sunday and starting with Monday, then a day off and with Wednesday we have moved on to the Broncos is the best way to put it, which we have."

On if he expects Chubb to have a burning desire to bounce back this week:

"Oh yeah, he is a great football player. He has not gotten to this point without being able to move on from a setback. He has had more than a fumble here or there that has set him back probably in the past, and he has overcome that."

On what the Browns offense must do to improve in the red zone:

"First off, if you are able to run the football, which we have been, that is the most difficult thing offensively to grasp. I have been to a lot of places where we have not able to run the football like we are here, and we are not accomplishing the goals we set out so far if that makes sense. That is the first thing is being able to run the football because if you can run the football, you give yourself a chance in the red zone to be able to score when you get down there. That is the first thing and then being able to protect and execute the route concept. Make sure you have a great plan and then make sure you execute once you get down there. There is really not a magical potion that you are going to spray over it. It is hard work and being able to run the football."

On if he has experienced the ability to correct turnovers and penalties midseason:

"Sure, I do not think you ever expect to be undisciplined or turn it over. That happens throughout a game. You do not expect after it happened in the sequence we had the other night, I did not expect this to, OK, you have turned it over three out of the first seven plays and multiply that by 10 and say that we are going to have 30 turnovers, if that makes sense. I am not trying to be a smart aleck. I am just saying that there are all those sample sizes that say, 'When do you start? When do you stop?' The bottom line is it stopped. No matter what we have done previously has nothing to do with this Sunday. Just like a hitter in baseball, no matter what you done up to this point or the last week, what matters is today. For us, what matters is today and then this Sunday. Then we go to win that game. We can't do anything about what was then. From now on, it is really these last we are wrapped. We are at this point so these nine games we have left, all that matters is the nine games and the stats we have moving forward in my mind."

On if it is 'a random thing' that Chubb has produced a long run in almost every game:

"It has been wherever I have been. This has not been the norm. It is something that you do not count on because you are playing at the highest level. When you look at the runs that he has had and the way our guys have blocked it up front, it always gives you a chance because you are always looking to be able to run the ball and you are always looking to be explosive."

On if he can sometimes guess when Chubb may have a breakaway run or if it is random:

"It is random. If we knew the ones that were going to be explosive, we would call those more often."

On WR Odell Beckham Jr.'s comment that he wished the Browns took more opportunities to challenge Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore more:

"I think every skill player wants the ball. This is my 30th year of coaching – I think my math is right – and I have never been anywhere where a Nick Chubb does not want the football, Odell does not want the football, (WR) Jarvis (Landry) does not want the football or whoever our skill players are. They want opportunity to showcase their skillset. To me, that is normal. To me, that is nothing. That is not news. It is frustrating like anybody when you do not win, for all of us. To me, that is not news. That is normal."

On Chubb's yard per game total and the confidence it provides the Browns offense and its ability to turn around the second half of the season:

"Sure, we can. It starts with running the football. We have been able to do that. Now, can you count on that every game? I do not know. Up until this point, I know I said on one end we are going to take the sample size moving forward and what has happened has happened. Now I am kind of getting in the back, but we are hoping that we can carry that down the road in terms of continuing to run the football because that will always give you a chance because it takes a lot of pressure off of your quarterback."

On if there was anything G Joel Bitonio could have done differently on the obscure plays that resulted in turnovers:

"First of all, Joel is an outstanding football player, one of our team leaders and someone we count on in a lot of ways not only as a player, and he carries the message for us to the staff. Sure, if you want to nitpick, did we anticipate the way the defender played it, could he have gotten lower, all of those things in a split second, though. It is one of those crazy things. I do not know what to say. I do not know how many years I have been coaching, how often we had a ball get knocked out by someone's foot. It does not happen. Unfortunately, it happened to us. That is the way it goes. I wish there was some other way I could say it." 

On how Bitonio has played this season:

"Outstanding. Outstanding."

On QB Baker Mayfield wanting to help everyone be held accountable and if that is too much responsibility for a second-year QB:

"I do not think so. Most quarterbacks I have been around, it is important to them. They are the closest other than coaches tied to winning and losing. They are. It is important to him, not only his performance but from a winning standpoint. We are as good here as anywhere I have ever been in terms of our quarterbacks communicating with our skill guys. That part of it has been outstanding, and it is going to continue to be until we get it to where it is right. That is the objective. It is not one – coaching or playing. It is all of us getting it right. It is important to him, and it is important when he takes the snap. It reflects on all of us, but I know he takes that personally. He is an outstanding player, an outstanding competitor and wants to win. I think it is good for us, I really do."

On Mayfield's performance against New England:

"I thought he played good. I really did. The two fumbles, but the turnover, that was a shovel pass where it did not work out like we hoped. From then on in the rain, I thought he threw it really well. You would have not of looked at it and said, 'Boy, we did not give ourselves opportunities here.' I thought he played really well. I thought he competed really well. To be where we were and to battle back and get us to 17-10 and still have some opportunities there, I thought he played really well."

On if he wishes Mayfield would have done something differently on the shovel pass play:

"I do not think it is his fault. When you are having a shovel pass and you have misdirection, maybe the look was a little different than we had worked and maybe we just did set out like we liked, just some things that way that did not work. It stinks. I do not know how else to put it. It is one of those things you move on from, then you figure out a way to not do those things again and find a way to beat the Broncos. We are looking to be 1-0 this week. Everybody says it. That is last week, things that just happened to happen to us last week and that is just the way that it is."

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks:

Opening statement:

"Good morning. I hope everyone is doing well. Last week was very disappointing. I think we did some good things on the defensive side of the ball. It just was not good enough, particularly in the red zone. We have to find ways to limit our opponents to three points, and when given the opportunity to get a takeaway, we have to take advantage of that. Third down, I thought we did some good things as far as getting off the field and stopping the run, but right now, we have to find ways to get more takeaways to get the ball back to the offense."

On how to create more opportunities for turnovers:

"Definitely a point of emphasis. We emphasize it, we talk about it and we work on it in practice. I think you have to put yourself in the situation in the game. I think that predicates sometimes based off your call and then also you just have to execute. That is the thing. We have to finish."

On challenges facing a QB in his first NFL start with limited film like Broncos QB Brandon Allen:

"It is a challenge. I think you have to go back and really look at the preseason tape, which we have. I coached against him in Jacksonville in 2017. I think he does some great things, Allen does. Very smart. You can tell he does a good job at protecting the ball. He does not hold onto the ball. He gets rid of the ball. Very athletic out in space. He can buy time with his feet and very accurate with the ball, as well. I still think their approach is going to be – because they have two dynamic running backs – they are going to try to run the football and create the play action off of it, which I think they do a great job of."

On if he last faced Allen in the preseason:

"Yes, it was."

On the amount of playing time Allen saw in that preseason game:

"Really, probably a quarter or a quarter and a half. Just went back and really just tried to look at some of his movement and really some of the things that he does well and how they are going to fit him in. I think he gets out of the pocket well. He moves around a little bit. That is part of their game, as well – just the play action and the boot."

On if the Broncos offensive system is similar to the 49ers:

"I would say so. We all know the (Broncos) OC (Rich Scangarello) came from the 49ers who was a quarterback there so I could see some of the similarities in what they are doing, definitely in the run game. I know that is going to be a film that they are going to watch, and they have probably already had some conversations amongst one another. We definitely have to be prepared for some of the things that hurt us in that particular game."

On if he has ever compared DE Myles Garrett to Broncos OLB Von Miller:

"No, not at all. Have not really even thought about that. I think both are dynamic in what they do as far as getting to the quarterback, but I definitely like our guy."

On if he could feel the presence of CBs Greedy Williams and Denzel Ward returning:

"I think they came back and jumped right back into the fold. They had an outstanding game, both of them. I know Greedy had the first one on the sideline. He was in great position, and you just have to turn and play the ball. They covered well. They tackled well. That particular game, we pretty much played man the whole game. I thought they did a great job in coverage."

On being gashed by screen-pass plays this season:

"I would not use the word gash. They got a big play on us. In Tennessee's game, we have to make sure we keep leverage. That was more of the execution part. With the Patriots, they got us on the call. We were in man coverage, they scanned the back, they did a good job of getting the lineman out and I think (S Juston) Burris did an outstanding job for us giving us an opportunity to line up and play again. It happens at times. They had a perfect call based on what I had so I take full responsibility for that."

On the Broncos RB tandem of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman:

"Lindsay, when you look at him, h is 5-7, 190, but he runs like he is 6-0, 215. Very explosive. Can run in between the tackles. Can take it to the outside. Freeman is not as explosive but just as powerful, and he is more of the passing back. I think both of those guys are dynamic in what they do. Up front, they do a tremendous job of coming off the ball, pushing the double team and getting to the second level. I said it all week to the defense and to the team as a whole that we really have to control the line of scrimmage up front. Our defensive line has to play well."

On if he saw the Browns improve in run defense at New England:

"I did. I did, and it started again up front. I thought we did a great job coming off the ball, striking and shedding, and the linebackers did tremendous job for us just playing downhill."

On if he would agree that DE Olivier Vernon has improved over the past few games:

"I do agree. I just think it is the progression of the year. Things are really clicking for him right now. He has had two outstanding games from the standpoint of pressuring the QB, but again most importantly of really stopping the run."

On messages to the team that the Broncos offense and team are better than their record shows:

"Same thing with us, I think you have to throw the record out of the window. These are two teams that are desperately trying hard to get on the right track and have good players on both sides of the ball in all three phases to be honest. We are trying to find a win just like they are. I think we have to focus on us with our execution and the fundamentals, techniques and things we have to do. I am not really putting a lot into it. Just in the mere fact of Brandon Allen, he is an NFL quarterback. Regardless of his first-year start, this guy is very efficient in what he can do."

On DE Genard Avery's performance against New England prior to his trade to the Eagles:

"I will say this and not in a disrespectful way, I am going to talk about the players that are here. In regards to any trades and things like that, you would have to address that with the coach and the GM."

On if he knew going into the Patriots game that it would be Avery's last with the team:

"No, I did not."

On confidence in S Eric Murray to play nickel:

"He has the skillset from the standpoint of playing a little bit of corner before and moving to safety. That really entails that position when you talk about being able to stop the run as a safety, the coverage skills of a corner and being able to blitz. He encompasses all of that. I thought his physicality is something I was very intrigued with, which you have to have to play that position."

On if Garrett has grown from last year to now:

"I think I have seen his growth since the beginning of the season and the things that he is doing. I feel like he is only going to get better. Just being able to stop the run, I think we focus so much on his ability to get to the passer and the quarterback, but he is doing a great job really in stopping the run, as well so that is a major plus for us."

On if he has shown tape of Miller to Browns players as an example:

"No, not at all. I think in the same token, we have the same guy on our side of the ball in Myles Garrett. I really try to keep the focus on us and the things that we have to do and that is where we keep it. I think Von is great player, but no, I do not shown any film on him."

On if he sees any changes in the Denver offense after trading WR Emmanuel Sanders to the 49ers:

"No, I think they are going to get the ball to (Broncos WR Courtland) Sutton. They have other quality receivers, but I think he is a big, physical receiver. He sort of reminds of me of (Seahawks WR DK) Metcalf out in Seattle. Very strong. Very deceptive speed. He can get behind you, but what they do offensively from the standpoint of running the ball and setting up the play action is tremendous."

On the Broncos having a similar offensive style to the Seahawks:

"I think it is more along the line of the 49ers, but yeah, the zone-scheme run game as you see a little bit of gap but then off that is the play action."

On if altitude plays a factor into the defensive rotation:

"To be quite honest and maybe it is because I coached in that division and the coaches and I have talked about it before, I did not really think it was a problem. We are not going to allow that to be an excuse. We are going out there early so that should be fine, but it is not really going to really affect our rotation. We try to rotate those guys all of the time and keep them fresh."

On Vernon playing every defensive snap against New England:

"It just happens. You get into the flow of the game and how things are going so we wanted to leave him in there and he wanted to stay in there, too. I think each game is a case-by-case situation."

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