DC Steve Wilks (11.21.19)

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks:

Opening statement:

“Good morning. I am not going to elaborate at all on the (DE) Myles Garrett situation. He put out a statement last week, as well as the organization. Very disappointing about the situation. We support Myles wholeheartedly, and we are going to accept whatever ruling that the league may bring down. We still have football games to play. We have to prepare accordingly to get ready for these games, particularly Miami next. Miami is a good football team. It has been getting better each and every week. You have seen their improvements. One of the things that I will say about Miami is they are one of the least penalized teams in the league. They are very disciplined. They are not going to beat themselves and we have to make sure that we play the same.”


On overcoming the loss of a player as talented as Garrett:

“I really equate it no different than when (CBs) Denzel (Ward) and Greedy (Williams) were out. Other guys have to step up. If you look at (DE) Chad Thomas, I think right now he has three sacks so he has been performing well. We need more out of him, as well as (DE) Chris Smith and all other guys. (DE) Bryan Cox is a guy we just picked up. He is going to have to perform and play well. They are not canceling the season. We have to find a way to compensate for these losses, and we will find a way to get it done.”


On how the Browns defensive scheme changes with the loss of Garrett and if the team has to blitz more due to Garrett’s absence, as well as if the opponent’s offensive scheme will change due to Garrett’s absence:

“With the first question, I definitely would not answer that because I do not want to put out any information to our opponent. The second question would be I would say yes that they are going to adjust differently because we saw a lot of chipping with Myles when he was in there. Hopefully, the other guys can eventually gain that respect, but right now, I probably do not see that. We are going to have to do some different things to be able to try to compensate for the caliber of player that Myles is, yes.”


On if he is hoping that DE Olivier Vernon will step in and make an impact once he returns from injury, particularly given Garrett’s absence:

“I hope so. When he was in there the last couple of weeks, you saw his progression. He was playing well, making plays not only in the run game but also getting to the quarterback. Hopefully, he can be able to step back in and fill that void.”


On two Steelers players sustaining concussions last week and comments that it was a ‘dirty game’ or a ‘bounty game’ by the Browns defense:

“I would say this right here: this is a physical football game, a physical game as a whole. That is not my personality. That is not our personality as an organization. Things happen on the football field. Very unfortunate, and I do not think anything was malicious at all with the hit with (S) Damarious Randall. It just so happen that he caught him in the wrong place. That is nothing that we coach nor do we condone that.”


On how much of a wild card is Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday:

“I think he is a major wild card. This guy is a very savvy vet, extremely smart, can still beat you with his legs. He does a great job avoiding the rush, making guys miss in the pocket, and he does a tremendous job of really putting the ball where it needs to be. He can still throw the deep ball. He is a proven winner. When he had the opportunity to step in at Tampa Bay, you saw exactly what he did down there when (Buccaneers QB) Jameis (Winston) was out of the game. I have a lot of respect for him. As I told the guys, we have to be ready to play.”


On what does he see in the Browns defense’s attitude this week:

“I really do not think that there is going to be any surprises. I think we moved on. I think the guys are prepared and ready for Miami. I will tell you one thing, Miami is not feeling sorry for us. They are coming in here trying to get a win. As I said before, these guys are well coached and very disciplined, and we are going to have to play the same. I think our guys are ready to step up and accept the challenge. Guys are out, and we have been there before as I mentioned. Guys have to step up and play.”


On if he had to gather himself in preparation for multiple Browns defensive starters missing this game:

“I think it is a part of the game. Things like that happen – to this extreme, with Myles being out and the way it happened, no – but things like this come up each and every week, each and every year. We have to compensate and find ways to get over it.”


On how DT Larry Ogunjobi had been playing prior to this week’s suspension:

“It is a blow to our defense. He has been playing well. I think right now you are talking about an inside guy, I think he has probably about five or six sacks, which is good for an inside interior lineman. We are going to miss the presence with him. The other guys have to step up. (DT) Sheldon (Richardson) has to step up. Guys have to be ready to play. We are going to try and compensate in certain areas, but guys have to perform and play well.”


On if DT Devaroe Lawrence has to step up and fill in for Ogunjobi:

“He does right now.”


On what Lawrence can contribute:

“I feel like he is going to give body presence inside. He is going to be stout in the run game. We will see exactly what we can get from a third-down type situation from a pass rush.”


On how Chad Thomas has grown as a player:

“I mentioned earlier about his production on the QB. I think he is doing an excellent job for us trying to get pressure and get sacks. We have to make sure that we still stout in the run game and that he can anchor at the six technique. These guys have shown the ability to pass first, run second. We can’t allow these guys to get their run game going. I think last week they passed 55 times and only ran the ball 14. We have to continue to do a great job of trying to stop the run when they do run the ball.”


On if DE Chris Smith is physically and mentally ready to take on a bigger role in the defense, given the tragedy Smith experienced earlier this season:

“I would say yes and no. I really do not know deep down inside because what happened is a tragedy. Spiritually, I think he is where he needs to be. He is performing well in practice and doing some good things. He is going to have plenty of opportunities this week to step up with the number of guys that have out. I have all the confidence in the world in him.”


On S Morgan Burnett being placed on injured reserve:

“That is another major blow to the defense. Morgan was playing so well, this year as a whole but particularly in that particular game against his former team. Damarious is going to have to step up. He is going to have to be the leader back there – (S Sheldrick) Redwine as well as (S) Juston Burris. Juston had an interception last week. He is fitting the run well. These guys have to do a great job of really communicating and making sure that we are all on the same page.”


On if being thin at S impacts how often the Browns will be able to play three Ss at a time:

“We still are going to have our options to be able to do certain things. I am not trying to allude to the gameplan and what we are doing, but everything is up.”


On CB Greedy Williams’ performance since returning from injury:

“I think he is progressing and getting better each and every week. Greedy has to understand as he does that guys are going to come after him. If you look at the percentage of throws that went to his side last week, it was a high number there and it is not going to change. (CB) Denzel (Ward) is playing lights out since he came back against the Patriots, and it starts with how he is practicing. Denzel has just been lights out in practice, and you can see that in a game. Greedy understands that he is going to be challenged and I have all the confidence in the world that he is going to step up to it.”


On if Williams being labeled a poor tackler prior to the draft was overrated:

“I do not want to say it is overrated. It is what it is once you put it on tape, and he did a lot of that in college. Since he has been here, our deal is our corners tackle. We knew exactly what Pittsburgh was going and try and do and it showed on the first play of the game, where they tried to make our corners tackle and he stepped up and made a tremendous play early on which really set the tone. I do not think it is going to change where teams are going to try and make our corners tackle. We just have to continue to step up, finish and make the play.”


On if there is anything he can coach Burnett and Williams to do differently on the play that ultimately resulted in Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster’s concussion:

“Live speed, I think it was just a bang-bang type situation. Again, I want to make it clear that it is nothing that we coach or teach. It was a very unfortunate type situation again that happened. Split second, could he have turned his body either way? Maybe, I do not know. Again, this is a very physical game. Things like that happen at times. Believe me, that is nothing that we are trying to teach.’


On if the advancement of technology has provided a heightened awareness to the high-impact tackles and hits players take during a football game:

“No 1. let me say this, I support the league in everything that they are trying to do with the safety of the players. I understand what we are trying to do – we are trying to take out the helmet-to-helmet hits. It happens at times. As you just mentioned in previous years, it happened all of the time. With concussions and the things that are happening, I think we are trying to bring a high level of awareness to the situation and we are really trying to take the violent hits out of the game so I support that in every manner. There are still going to be times when it happens, and there is nothing you can do when it does.”


On if there will be more pressure on the Browns CBs and DBs with the absence of key pass rushers:

“I think the mindset is we have to cover regardless of the situation. We still have to complement one another, D line as well as the back end. We have to go until the echo of the whistle. Yes, do we need more pressure and hope they can sustain that kind of pressure upfront with certain guys, but our DBs understand that they have to cover. That is a major factor for us is allowing the D-line to get there, being tight in coverage and making the quarterback hold the ball even longer.”


On the Browns containment of QBs running the ball and Fitzpatrick’s running ability:
“You have seen over the course of the year, a little inconsistent there from a couple of times, particularly in the red zone. One is just athletic ability and then others is just us not executing the call. We know he has the ability to take off. We have to do a great job of containing this guy but also in the same token trying to get him off his spot a little bit. He is an older guy, and I do not know if you were trying to insinuate that I am old, too, but I have seen his ability to escape and avoid tackles on film. You can’t really fall asleep on a guy like that because he can still hurt you.”


On if Garrett’s contact on Steelers QB Mason Rudolph after Rudolph released the final pass attempt of the Steelers game was a late hit:
“No, I do not think it was a late hit at all. I do not think it was a late hit. I think the activity that took place after that was inexcusable on both sides, if you want to ask me in regards to that. I thought the hit itself was within the game and then the extracurricular activity, we can’t have.”


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