2022 Season Recap Press Conference with Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry & Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (1.9.23)


Opening statement:

Berry: “Any time this time of year we are sitting here in the postseason instead of getting prepared for an upcoming game is obviously a disappointing place to be. We didn’t get it done this year. We were just too inconsistent throughout the season, and there are plenty of areas to work on and improve as we get into the upcoming months. We are going to spend the next couple of weeks really assessing everything roster and football operations wise from A to Z really with the goal of getting us to obviously where we are meaningful football this point in the year. With that being said, a lot of good people are in place: players, coaches and staff. We are looking forward to and energized by the challenge of making the necessary changes and modifications so that we are playing good football at this point in the year.”


Stefanski: ”Being here in reflection mode and the finality of the season being over is obviously disappointing. I am in no way discouraged for the future of this football team.  I am excited about the corps of guys who are returning. We are just determined to put in the work. We are determined to put in the work this offseason to shape this team and make sure that we really are just playing good football come next September. There are a bunch of things that we need to look at. We are going to take our time as you can imagine as we pull this apart and look at every area that we can improve. I know you guys saw the news, I let (defensive coordinator) Joe Woods go last night. Not an easy decision. I have a ton of respect for Joe the person and Joe the coach. He is a great, great man. He works extremely hard. He treats people the right way. I just felt like it was the best in the best interest of our football team to go in that direction. He will land on his feet because he is a good football coach.”


On if the Browns plan coaching changes in addition to Woods:

Stefanski: “Today was really about the players. I met with our players all day. I will meet with our coaches this week, and we will have conversations with everybody.”


On if Stefanski will solely interview defensive coordinator candidates or if other team leadership will be involved in the process:

Stefanski: ”I think with this type of decision you want to get everybody’s input. Obviously, I will spend a lot of time with candidates and cover everything A to Z, but I think it is important to get input from everybody.”


On if philosophy, scheme or other factors led to struggles on defense and ultimately the change at defensive coordinator:

Stefanski: ”That is a good question. I think you really have to pull it apart. It is never one thing. It really isn’t. There are things that I wish I could have done better in that regard. We will look at everything. You always look at scheme obviously, but it is never one thing, it really isn’t.”


On if the Browns will consider changes to personnel on defense this offseason, including potentially getting bigger at LB to help stop the run, as it relates to the new defensive coordinator and system:

Stefanski: ”We are going to look very hard at all these candidates, and schematically, they look at our roster and they look at our tape and we can start talking ball and what we could do differently. Those are all conversations to make sure that then our personnel matches up in the vision of what we want to do.”


On if the Browns’ open defensive coordinator position is attractive to candidates due to the players on the roster:

Stefanski: “Like I said to you guys, I believe in our corps of players. Specifically that defensive side of the ball, I think we have a lot of guys who can affect the game, can affect the passer, good in the back end and all of those type of things. We are certainly excited about finding the right person.”


On if Stefanski believes he needs to be more involved on the defensive side of the ball:

Stefanski: “You look at everything into an offseason. My involvement with the offense, involvement with the defense and with special teams, I try to be certainly available to everybody and help as much as I can on all three sides of the ball. I think it is important that when you find the right people – we have a lot of the right people in this building – you empower them and you encourage them, and then it is my job to set people up for success. To your point of time, I think is just important that I set our coaches up for success.”


On if he will evaluate different aspects of the football operation and coaching, including play calling:

Stefanski: ”Yeah, for sure. Absolutely. Open to anything that will help our football team. I really am. I think that is what this offseason and this month and meetings are about. It is about pulling everything apart and looking at everything.”


On how much more talent is needed to ‘get over the hump’ and have more success after missing the postseason in back-to-back years:

Berry: ”I don’t know that that is something that is easily quantifiable. I think really our goal is to really provide as much talent as possible that fits within the vision of Kevin and his staff. Our pursuit of good players, there is not going to be a limit to it, whether in time or volume. We want to make sure that we give our coaching staff and Kevin in particular the best ingredients possible.”


On ideal traits for the next defensive coordinator and how much past experience will be a factor:

Stefanski: “I don’t know if there is one specific set of criteria. We are excited about some of the people who we will be able to talk to, and everybody’s résumé is going to be a little bit different so I am very open minded in that regard. This is a process that you have to stay true to. I want to make sure that we meet with all of the candidates and understand what they are about. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, so of speak. I want to make sure that we remain true to it, trust in it, really get to know these candidates and see how that vision fits in with what we are trying to accomplish.”


On if he felt the disconnect with the defense and the breakdowns that occurred with the unit:

Stefanski: “I think we kind of talked about it. In the moment, there were some breakdowns. We pulled it a part, looked at it and felt like there were some things that we could adjust, and I thought that did get better for sure. Ultimately, just my conversations with our players today, we all share in this. Every single one of us shares in this. You share in the wins, and you share in the losses. None of us – coaches and players – you don’t hide from that. You make sure that everybody shares in it, and when appropriate, we have to find ways to do it better.”


On Browns players underperforming on defense this season and if the new defensive coordinator could provide a new energy to raise the level of performance for those players:

Berry: “Kevin mentioned it a little bit earlier, it is never just about one thing. I want to be clear, this shouldn’t just be a coordinator issue. The defense’s low performance is not just about Joe. Part of it there are when you look back to being at this point decisions that you look back at the offseason you would have done a little bit differently. Also, I think there is accountability with our guys as well, right? We want our guys to seize the moment. We all share accountability with it, as Kevin mentioned it earlier.”


On hopes that the Browns offense can be more explosive next season:

Stefanski: “I think that is part of this offseason is making sure that we are putting all of those things together. Obviously, having the true offseason with Deshaun and starting the season with him is I think will be obviously a big deal as it relates to that. We want to make sure that we are scoring points in any which way we can. We want to give our guys a chance to play fast. I thought there were really moments with Deshaun in there that were some high-level football. I thought guys were playing really well. It was the run game, and it was the passing game. Those really exciting parts of this offseason, just tapping into those things even more and drilling down specifically into what Deshaun does really well and put together and offense around it.”


On what the Browns have learned about leadership on the team and how to help keep little things form turning into bigger things:

Stefanski: “To your point on little things, this game does drill down to little things. The little things become the big thing is what we like to talk about. That can be alignment and as simple as alignment. It can be as simple as doing your job on a given play. That is the game of football. We obviously came up short too often this season When you get to where we are today, those are where you want  to look at everyone and where can we give our guys the advantages that we can just go play fast.”


On if the team lacked leadership on the defensive side, given multiple Browns players were subject to team discipline this season:

Berry: ”No. I think honestly when we are sitting here at this time of the year and we look at the unit’s performance, we didn’t necessarily have the right mix in all areas and you really look at everything. You really have to. That is not just talent or scheme. It is some of those other factors, as well. Kevin mentioned, this game is won on the margins. I think Kevin gave us a stat that half the teams are between seven and 10 wins. I think probably all 18 teams that are sitting here today could probably say, ‘Man, if we just had these five plays back during the year, our record could be from where we are now to something different.’ With the margins being so razor thin, you really do have to look at everything and make sure that everything is tied up in order to win football games.”


On Berry and Stefanski entering their fourth season together and optimism for improvement moving forward:

Berry: “First of all, I think we have a really strong head coach. I think he proved his very first year he is smart, he is good with our guys and he is creative. The reality of it is we are all looking to make the necessary changes and modifications to make sure that we can reach our goals and have a really productive 2023. That takes all of us. The head coach, he is out in front, he is the leader of the organization and he bears a lot of burden and responsibility, and he gets really all of the blame when it is not necessarily all him. Our job is to make sure we support the head coach and put him in the right environment to be successful, and it takes all of us. It takes all of us. We know we have a good one in Kev.”


On the source of confidence in Stefanski::

Berry: “I think his intelligence, his ability to relate to players, his creativity and his ability as a teacher.”


On evaluating the Browns OL:

Berry: “That is honestly something we will go through the next week with the whole roster, getting removed from the season. By and large, pleased with that unit’s performance over the course of the year – run game, pass game and honestly even their ability to adjust to a slightly different style of offense once we made the quarterback switch. We do think that is one of our strongest units. We think we have a great position coach in (offensive line coach) Bill Callahan there, and we think that will still be a really important part of our team moving forward.”


On T Jedrick Wills Jr.’s performance this season:

Berry: ”Like I said, I think Jed definitely took strides this year. I think like many young players, there are still areas where he can be more consistent, but we definitely thought he took a step forward this season.”


On how much of the Browns’ struggles in run was due to scheme or personnel:

Berry: “When the performance occurs like that, it is never just one thing. I think there are considerations for both. I would like to say it is a silver bullet, but it is realistically a combination of factors between really how you deploy the players, the players you have and also just a little bit of luck in terms of health, as well.”


On if the team needs more players who are vocal leaders:

Berry: “I think the bigger focus is effectiveness of leadership as opposed to necessarily style of leadership. Ultimately, are we getting the results and outcomes that are desired? I think also the other thing is people are different leaders in different ways. Again, I would probably focus more on effectiveness as opposed to, ‘Hey, you need X amount that are this way or X amount that are that way.’”


On if the analytics department is working as desired, citing the ESPN survey conducted earlier this season:

Berry: “I think it is probably because of how analytics or how data are talked about, particularly in this market, it is a tool. It is an area of your operation, and it is something you can help to use to inform decision making in a number of different areas. It is not the end all, be all. It is not a silver bullet. It is a tool, no different than areas we have in the support staff, scouting, a consultant or anything along those lines. I know there is a lot of focus because of the article and things like that, but it is a tool that we will continue to use. It is a tool that obviously many of the top organizations use in the league and really is used across every industry. We obviously feel good about that group. They will continue to be a resource for the team across all areas of football operations.”


On if the Browns have to analyze if the analytics department is being over used or is too influential:

Berry: “We don’t have an analytics group for that (laughter). Ultimately, we will use data as appropriate to try to make the best decisions.”


On if analytics and game strategy are being applied effectively given the team is not getting desired results on the field:

Berry: ”I think it is natural to look at really every area in the operation when you are sitting here not playing playoff football. By the line of questioning, it is no different with us internally where you want to make sure you put your finger on every area where you can have improvement or push to make sure that we ultimately get the results that are desired. That being said, again, this league is so competitive, and the margins are so small. If there was just one simple fix, if it was like, ‘OK, well just do this or don’t do that,’ our jobs would be a lot easier – that I can assure you. Data is something that is helpful, but ultimately, we have to apply it correctly and make the right decisions in a number of different areas. Like I just said, it is not a silver bullet. It is not the only method that we will use to make the major strategic decisions, whether it is in the front office or on the field, but we feel good about having that as a part of our toolkit ultimately to get the team where it needs to be.”


On if Stefanski will focus primarily on the first defensive coordinator candidates who have been reported as requested for interviews or if the Browns will cast a wider net for interviews:

Stefanski: ”Remains to be seen. We are just starting out on this process. We don’t have a time that it has to be done by in mind, but we feel good about some of the candidates that we have identified already and are open minded.”


On how frustrated Berry was about the situation with DE Jadeveon Clowney played out last week and the pursuit to find a pass rusher opposite of DE Myles Garrett:

Berry: ”Obviously disappointed in terms of everything surrounding that situation. Look, having a partner with Myles is certainly something that we have had for the past three years. I think the fortunate thing with the defensive line, probably a little bit different than the offensive line, is there are a number of configurations that can allow it to work. That is certainly a position group that we do value and we will continue to value, no different than the offensive line on the offensive side of the ball. We will continue to invest in it and make those decisions at the appropriate time.”


On if trading for QB Deshaun Watson impacted the team’s ability to make a playoff run, whether it due to distractions, having to transition QBs midseason and/or splitting QB reps and how the team’s offensive efficiency rankings changed throughout the season:

Berry: ”I think two things can be true. I think No. 1, the circumstances regarding the trade for Deshaun in terms of managing it for Kevin and the staff, that is certainly a challenge this year. At the same time, I think both of us would tell you that we wouldn’t use that as an excuse for this year. We obviously got really good quarterback play from (QB) Jacoby (Brissett). We felt like we had enough good players and enough opportunities to ultimately win games this year to end at a different point in the season. I also certainly don’t want to minimize the unique dynamics in terms of managing the team on a week-to-week basis for Kevin and his assistants.”


On if the Browns’ expectations for the season changed when Watson’s suspension was set at 11 games:

Berry: “Our expectations are high every year. Look, it is a performance business, and regardless of circumstance, everybody goes through some level of adversity. In our minds, it has been to win games, and we didn’t do that enough this year.”


On if the Browns will keep some of the defensive assistants and if any current assistants will interview for the open defensive coordinator position:

Stefanski: “Yes on the first part. Again, I just haven’t had the chance to talk to the entire staff, but I won’t be interviewing them for that position.”


On if the Browns offense’s design may be drastically different with Watson involved for a full offseason:

Stefanski: “I hope year to year you are different – different being better. How drastic that is depends so much year to year. Ultimately, we do want to maximize Deshaun’s talents, maximize (RB) Nick Chubb, (TE) David Njoku and (WR) Amari (Cooper). We want to make sure that we are putting all of those guys in a good spot. Yes, there are things that yes we want to get to this spring and summer that we haven’t gotten into just yet.”


On how much input he expects Watson to have on how the Browns offense looks next season:

Stefanski: “Spent time with Deshaun today and going to spend time with him tomorrow talking ball and talking shop. You always want your quarterback to be involved in high-level discussions about your offense and what you are doing because ultimately when the quarterback is comfortable in those plays, he makes them work. It is just pretty simple. Constantly having that dialogue with Deshaun. Have done it ever since he has been starting. You do that with all of your starting quarterbacks. He wants to be involved. He will be in town. We will spend a lot of time together – as much time that is allowed, I should say.”


On if being a smart, tough, accountable team is still the goal for 2023:

Berry: “It is. I would also say that within that construct, everybody is human. Every team across the league and every year that we are here, you are going to have guys that make mistakes, no different than probably everybody in this room. You try and deal with those on an individual basis and inside within the rules of the team. We feel like we have a lot of guys who fit the build there.”


On if the Browns will avoid players who ‘have personality issues’ that could help minimize the need for player discipline or if the team is confident with the structure in place to handle ‘strong personalities’:

Berry: ”I had a very wise coach once tell me that ‘Personality is welcomed, but production is mandatory.” [referencing a past Stefanski remark]


Stefanski: “Close enough (laughter).”


Berry: “That is the approach we will take.”


Stefanski: ”Absolutely. Come spend time in our meeting rooms, and there is personality. You welcome that. We spend a lot of time together so you want to keep things fresh. You want things to be fun out at practice. You definitely want personality on your football team. I think we have personality on our football team. Ultimately, yeah, you have to produce. That is what the game is about. We are never going to be about trying to keep it super quiet.”


On if they are surprised it has been so challenging to return to the postseason after doing so in their first season together in 2020:

Berry: “I say this every year, every season is unique. We work in a super-competitive sport, a super-competitive industry. It is hard and competitive to get to the playoffs. To think just because you go one year you can snap your fingers and go back, it takes a lot of effort. We are back in base camp right here in January as we prepare for 2023. We are under no illusions in terms of the work that it takes every year to try and scale the mountain and get back. Kevin may know the statistic better than I do, but how many new playoff teams per year? It is a fair amount of turnover. Basically, look, it is hard. It is hard, and we do not underestimate that by any means.”


On if the Browns need to reevaluate the significance, style or how the team grades DTs:

Berry: “We will always try and match the personnel to the schematic vision for the coach. Our coaches do a really good job of telling us what they need and what they need in a particular scheme or a particular defense. Certainly, that position in particular, as Kevin selects a defensive coordinator, we will link up with that individuals and make sure that we are searching for individuals who have the traits and skills necessary to perform their jobs within that [scheme].”


On evaluating Watson’s performance during the six games:

Berry: “I think we saw a lot of good moments from Deshaun. We feel very strongly, in terms of really his pairing with Kevin, his skillset adding to the offense. He had his ups and downs throughout the six games, as to be expected. You saw his ability to make dynamic plays with his arms and legs, but you also saw some of the layoff, as well. We feel good about the progress that he made. We feel good about the work that he, Kevin and the offensive coaches are going to do over the course of the offseason, and we are very excited about him moving into 2023 and looking forward to surrounding him with different skillsets that will allow us to maximize the offense.”


On if it’s fair for fans to expect Watson to get back to the level of performance in 2019 and 2020:

Berry: “We are excited about Deshaun. We feel good about where he is going to be as we get into the offseason, work through training camp and ultimately start in September next year. We are looking forward to that. We are looking forward to working with him.”


On if special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will be retained:

Stefanski: “Like I said earlier with all of the coaches, I have not had a chance to sit down with every coach. Those are all things that we are working through.”


On evaluating the Browns roster now and where and how to make improvements, including with no first-round pick in the 2023 draft and the assets available to the team:

Berry: “We will have more than enough in terms of resources, picks, dollars and cap space to fortify the roster in the areas that we need to.”


On evaluating the Browns special teams’ performance this year:

Stefanski: “Played some good games, certainly late especially. There were some challenges early. With (K) Cade (York), you have a rookie at the position. You knew he was going to have ups and downs, but very confident about him moving forward. I thought (P) Corey (Bojorquez) did really well. Worked in new returners throughout the season. I thought there were some really good moments and then areas that we really want to get better.”


On the decision to relive Woods of duties last night and stating he will speak with the rest of the team’s coaches tomorrow:

Stefanski: “Made the decision last night with Joe. Like I mentioned with all of our coaches, I have not had a chance to sit down with all of our coaches yet. I will do that over the next couple of days. I believe in our coaching staff. I believe that we have a lot of really good football coaches. We are going to obviously set out on this defensive coordinator search starting this week. Again, I really have to talk to all of our coaches and work through everything this week.”


On evaluating when personalities or personal opinions in the locker room may ultimately be harming the culture of the team and how to address those situations, including as it relates to the Clowney situation becoming public:

Berry: “I think ultimately you want to make sure that your players, if they are having an issue whether it is with role or something else, feel comfortable talking to their position coach, coordinator or you name it. Ultimately, you would like to keep things in house, probably like any NFL team. That doesn’t always happen. You have moments like that every year. Also, as we think about players if they have a misstep or they make a mistake, you really do try and look at the whole body of work and then really the individual context with the particular incident. I think Kevin does a good job of managing that. It is something that we will continue to do as we move forward. We feel like we have a good system in place there.”


On if the Browns need to reevaluate the team’s culture during the offseason:

Stefanski: “Again, when you lose, that is a fair question. For every losing team, you are going to ask about culture. I said it last week, culture is people. When you have the right people, you have the right culture. We didn’t win enough games this season. We are disappointed in that, but we feel like we can certainly get better. We certainly have high expectations for ourselves and a high standard set for ourselves. When you are winning and you are having the locker rooms after a win when everybody is very excited, that is when culture starts to build. When you are going through tough times, obviously it becomes difficult in some areas, but I am really proud of our guys for how they fought until the end. It doesn’t mean that we don’t recognize that there are areas that we can improve. That is where our focus really remains – areas we can improve – really starting today as we pull it apart.”


On if Browns leadership has to continue to encourage the team to communicate with them and amongst each other to discuss important matters, issues and how they are feeling, given football is a game that often focuses on toughness:

Stefanski: “Yes. I think it is important that you are sharing with each other. My door is always open, even when it is closed. I want the guys to be comfortable coming in and talking to me, talking to their positions coaches and what have you. You are absolutely right in terms of you can have a football culture where you want to be tough, brave and keep things in, and that is not what we believe here. I have had conversations with our guys today about that very thing. I think it is important that everybody as we take this break gets healthy obviously but also gets mentally healthy and gets their spirit healthy. Part of that is if they need to talk to somebody doing that. I think that is vitally important.”


# # #


***Visit the Browns Media Center for materials provided by the Browns communications department, including media schedules, press releases, quotes, photos, media guides, rosters, depth charts and more.***