DC Steve Wilks (11.7.19)

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks:

Opening statement:

“Good morning. In this game of football, when you look at about 60-65 plays that we play, the game is going to be determined based upon about maybe three or four plays. You always hope you are on the receiving end of those plays. Unfortunately, this past Sunday, we were not. I thought we did some great things. I thought we played well in spurts. We stopped the run early, but we gave up big plays, which you can’t do in this league. We have to a much better job, No. 1, of tackling. Just a routine over route that went for 75 yards. That is unacceptable.”


On adjusting to having one less DB with the departure of S Jermaine Whitehead:
“I think we have been done this road before when you look at (CB Denzel) Ward and (CB) Greedy (Williams) being out. Jermaine is gone. I am looking forward to the other guys stepping up. (S) Morgan (Burnett) is going to have to play a big role. (S Damarious) Randall is back, which is a major plus for us. It is really the next man up mentality.”


On if Burnett would be the primary S to pick up more responsibility:
“Yes, he would be. Again, you are looking at Morgan as well as Randall starting back there. I think (S) Juston Burris has done a tremendous job when he has stepped up and played, as well. It is an opportunity for (S Sheldrick) Redwine to be able to step up and play for us. I am excited about the guys that we have back there, and I am not worried at all that they are not going to get the job done.”


On if social media use is something the Browns staff addresses with the team, particularly after a situation like Whitehead’s:

“(Head Coach) Freddie (Kitchens) has done a tremendous job of really addressing it with the team. I think the organization has handled it well. Again, my feelings for Jermaine as a player or person has not changed. I do not condone what he said or did. It is very unacceptable, inexcusable and it was very insensitive. That is the world and life that we live. Our lives, our job is scrutinized and you know what? We have to play better, and we have to tackle better. We need to put a better product out there for our fans. I am looking forward to getting back on track this week and our players are, as well.”


On emphasizing tackling this season and why it has not translated to games:
“I really can’t tell you and pinpoint the reason why. We are at the point of attack, and we have to learn how to finish. It is a point of emphasis each and every week. That is how we start our practice each Wednesday with our padded practice. Understanding the situation, we missed it out of the post, Greedy was right there to make the tackle, he was trying to go for the strip first and we can’t do that in that situation. We have to get the guy down on the ground.”


On the challenges the Buffalo running game and Bills RB Devin Singletary present:

“I think Singletary as well as (Bills RB Frank) Gore, all of those guys do a tremendous job of running the football. I think they are going to try to establish the run game. We have to do a great job of staying in our gaps and getting off blocks. When you look at their offensive line, to me, that is their strength in the run game. They do a tremendous job coming off the ball, getting to the second level, cutting guys and getting on the perimeter. The challenge is going to be trying to stop the run game and really try to get (Bills QB) Josh Allen in a situation where he has to drop back and pass the football.”


On if the Browns have any padded practices remaining:
“I assume we do. Freddie is in control of that with the number count, but I think we do have some left.”


On having to use padded practices sparingly, given the NFL allotment during the season:

“We use them pretty much every week on every Wednesday that we pad up. To make it quite clear, we work on tackling each and every day, even when you do not have the pads on. It is all about the leverage position, understanding where your hips are coming from, being in position to finish. It is not always about the physical part of it, as well. It is the minute things, the details that we have to make sure we clean up and execute.”


On NFL teams having a limited number of padded practices and its impact on tackling across the league:

“I think you have to be able to deal with the parameters that you have been given. It is part of the Players Association [CBA] so we have been dealing with it for years now. I still think there are ways around that, as I mentioned, just the details. These guys at this level understand the physicality of the game so I do not really think it is that. I think it is more about leverage, angles and positioning yourself to finish, and that has been our point of emphasis and that is what we really need to get back to is the base fundamentals.”


On Ward’s coverage on Broncos WR Courtland Sutton’s TD reception and what he could have done better:
“I thought Denzel was in great position. I thought he did a tremendous job within the down at the line of scrimmage. The one thing that is different with the point of attack right there is he needs to go back and attack the ball as we coach and we talk about all the time. He laid out for it as if the ball was coming over the top, and it allowed for Sutton to go over the top of him. The easiest thing for him to do is to come back and go up for the ball at that particular point in time. He may not catch it himself but he would not allow Sutton to catch it, and that is the key thing.”


On if the size difference between Ward and Sutton played a key factor in the TD reception:
“No, I do not think the size difference was a challenge at all. I thought Denzel was in great position. He just did not execute his technique.”


On not having any concerns about Ward moving forward:
“No. Denzel, to me has the capability and the talent to be one of the top corners in this league with his size, however you want to see it. Did you see his tackle? The guy is physical, and he comes up. That is one of the things that you do not see a lot with corners in this league.”


On getting Browns players to play their best at the most critical moments of games:
“It is just the consistency in which you play because as I alluded to when I started out and I tell this to the guys all of the time, I can’t tell you when those three or four plays are coming so we have to play each play as if it is going to make a difference in the ball game. You can’t see change of speed out there. You have to see guys going full speed on each and every play. Our guys are upbeat. They are very spirited. This is the second half of the season. We talked about it is no different than coming out of the locker room at halftime. We have to start fast this third quarter. That is the mindset that we have, and we are just going to try to take it one game at a time.”


On DE Olivier Vernon’s performance the past two game and how his potential absence may change the gameplan:
“I thought he played well. He stepped up. He has been making a difference when he is out there. It is no different with the corners. It is no different than at the safety position. I have total confidence right now in (DEs) Chad Thomas and Chris Smith and that those guys can step in there and get the job done if Olivier Vernon can’t go.”


On challenges Bills QB Josh Allen presents:

“Very big, strong, physical quarterback that can break tackles. I think he does a tremendous job in really scrambling and buying time and getting the ball down the field. Very strong arm. He can make every throw, and he is accurate. It is going to be a challenge for us. Most importantly, we have to contain this guys and you see again the same situation this past week on third down, we had an opportunity to get off the field and we lost contain. Six plays later, the ball is in the end zone. When it is an opportunity for us to get off the field, we have to make sure we do that. I think he is very talented. I liked him last year coming out of the draft.”


On what DE Chad Thomas has shown to give him confidence in his ability:

“It starts really in the run game. I think he does a tremendous job playing the 6-technique. That is going to be a major emphasis for us this week in this run game – really being physical with the tight ends trying to penetrate and knock the guy out back off the ball – and I think he has been decent in the pass rush. He is quick off the ball, and he has great acceleration. The thing we have to do this week is we have to make sure we get to the depth of the QB and counter.”


On the Broncos’ Wildcat play and how that formation changes defensive scheme:

“Regardless of the situation, you have to maintain contain. On that particular play, we have an automatic check that we go to, and that is what we got to. We just did not do a great job of as you just mentioned of keeping contain. I think it was Olivier right there and then also the safety so we have to do a great job of turning it back inside to pursuit.”


On if the Cardinals made an effort to move up in the draft to select Bills QB Josh Allen last year:
“I have moved on. That is a blur. I am not even thinking about that.”


On if Allen’s accuracy has improved since entering the NFL:
“I think he has improved just based off the things I have seen on film. He is still in his second year. Like most of them, they try to sometimes force some things in there, but I think, for the most part, you can see him with accuracy, particularly in the red zone. He does some good things down there, which has been a nemesis for us this year. We have to do a great job in the red zone.”


On Allen’s struggles with ball security and if the Browns coach a different approach with their tackling, given that factor:

“I think it is different. It is always based on the second guy in there, but when you talk about the interior line, particularly about the defensive guys, we should always be trying to go for the ball. That is the point of emphasis there. He has had some issues in the past. That is something we have been pointing out all week. I know right now we need to do everything that we can to try to create more takeaways to get the ball back to the offense. It is definitely a point of emphasis.”


On preparing for the Brills’ goal line and short-yardage run game with Allen’s involvement:

“He is a big, physical guy. I have talked to the coaches about it this week. My time in Carolina, he just reminds you of (Panthers QB) Cam (Newton) a little bit with just the physicality and how tough it is to bring him down. We just have to find a way to keep him out.”


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