DC Steve Wilks (12.12.19)

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks:

Opening statement:

“Good morning. It was great to see us bounce back last week against a divisional opponent. I thought we did some great things on the defensive side of the ball. I thought the difference in the game to be honest was our performance in the red zone. I thought we did a great job in really holding those guys to field goals, and of course, the turnover on defense that turned into point were great by (CB) Denzel (Ward) and then you look at what we did on third down. What we need to improve is in the run game. A lot of self-inflicted wounds there, guys not executing and getting out of their gaps and also some things we were doing defensively with the man stuff put as at a disadvantage on the perimeter when we were playing man. We got out of that a little bit and started playing a little bit more zone eyes. I thought (Bengals RB Joe) Mixon did a phenomenal job and we talked about all week of trying to control him. It is not going to be any different this week. These guys do a great job in my opinion running the ball with (Cardinals RB Kenyan) Drake, as well as (Cardinals RB) David Johnson and then (Cardinals RB) Chase Edmunds. Then (Cardinals QB) Kyler Murray can make some damage of his own just running the football. It is going to be a task to be able to stop their run game. They do a great job as well when he drops back. I do not think this young man gets enough credit for his ability to throw the football. He does a tremendous job in getting the ball where he needs it to be and then also I think with their receiving corps, they still have (Cardinals WR) Larry Fitzgerald, one of the best in the league. It is going to be a difficult task again this week but we are up for the challenge.”


On having coached Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald and what he is like:

“Phenomenal, outstanding player but even a better person. Everything that he stands for, he in my opinion is a true pillar of the National Football League in the things that he does not only on the field but off the field.”


On challenges of the Cardinals’ tempo on offense:

“No. 1, those guys do a great job in staying ahead of the sticks and really trying to create positive yardage on first and second down. That is where we have to try to create negative plays to try to get them into third down. We can’t allow those guys to sustain drives. They are so potent at doing that just based off of who they have at quarterback. Up-tempo, we have to be quick getting in and out of the huddle. Those guys do a great job of substituting sometimes, again just getting right on the ball. We have to be ready to play. We have to be locked in and focused.”


On what he learned from his experience coaching the Cardinals:
“What I learned is just really how to deal with adversity. As a head coach, trying to prepare each and every week, trying to get your guys up to perform at a high level. It was difficult going through the struggles, but I thought the guys performed and played well and they stayed together throughout. There were a lot of things I learned and a lot of things that I will carry moving forward.”


On if he has shared any of those experiences with Head Coach Freddie Kitchens:

“There are some things that we have talked about over the years of course this year. I think Freddie has done a great job in my opinion of really trying to get these guys ready to perform each week and really staying with a message and staying consistent.”


On areas of Murray’s game the Browns defense need to stress most:

“Really just trying to contain this guy as a whole because as you just mentioned, he is a dual-threat throwing the ball as well as having the ability to escape and make play with his feet. We have to do a great job of really trying to keep him in the pocket and try to contain him. Not a lot of teams have been able to do that this year. It is going to be a difficult task on our part.”


On messaging the importance of containing Murray to the defense:
“Just really trying to pinpoint certain things you see on film with the way you incorporate things this week and how you practice. You have to be real disciplined in the things that you are doing to try to contain this guy.”


On if preparing for Murray helps the Browns also pre[are for Ravens QB Lamar Jackson:

“Right now, our focus is just on Arizona so we will see exactly how much carry over we do have next week. With him alone, it is just difficult trying to contain him.”


On Murray’s ability to read defenses as the season has progressed:

“I think really the offense as a whole helps him out because he gets the ball out so quickly. He is not holding onto the ball, and he has the ability to sustain plays with his feet. We have to do a great job of really trying to get the ball out of his hand even quicker most importantly, trying to contain this guy when he does try to escape.”


On CB Denzel Ward’s performance against the Bengals:

“I told you guys probably maybe two weeks ago, I thought Denzel that he was playing high-caliber football and he did not really have the stats that people look for. As a coach, when I look and break down the tape, he is doing a lot of great things in the run game and coming up and supporting the run, really taking his receiver away at certain times playing man coverage. It just so happened that he got a big play last week that sort of stood out last week. I am not surprised, and as I said before, he practices that way. Each and every day he comes in and really tries to put the time and effort in so it is showing on the field.”


On what DE Bryan Cox contributes to the defense:

“I think Bryan plays with No. 1 a tremendous motor, extreme effort. He is a guy that is going to give you an opportunity and chance to make plays out there just because he plays so hard. He plays within the system. He does a lot of good things, and he is being disciplined and trying to do his job. Along with him and (DE) Porter Gustin, I think we are getting some good play out of those two right now.”


On if LB Joe Schobert is playing at a Pro Bowl level:
“If I had a vote, I would say yes.”


On the LB duo of Schobert and LB Mack Wilson:
“I think Joe has definitely taken Mack underneath his wing, really tried to bring him along and really try to teach him the ins and outs as a rookie how to study at this level and how to prepare. They have built a strong bond. As I mentioned with Mack a couple weeks ago, he has grown each and every week. He is not making the same mistakes. You can see his progress and his growth from week to week in the things that he is doing. I am very pleased right now with him.”


On if DT Larry Ogunjobi played his best game of the season against the Bengals:

“I would not say it was his best game of the season. He has put up some big numbers in the past. The biggest thing we are looking for across the board with Larry and all of the other guys is just that consistency. With the depleted numbers that we have up front, I think those guys are doing a tremendous job. Larry is stepping up. (DT) Sheldon (Richardson) is playing well without OV being in there so we need that continuous push up front to give us a chance.”


On if there is a significant difference with DE Myles Garrett not on the field:

“Of course, you lose a lot when you lose Myles. I think those guys are trying to pick up the slack there, starting with (DE) Sheldon (Richardson) and his performance and the things that we are doing. Can you get more? Do we need more? Of course, but I think that those guys are doing a pretty good job in giving us a chance to be successful.”


On if it is hard to quantify how much Garrett’s absence impacts the defense, considering how offenses would scheme against Garrett:

“I would say yes. He is a guy that you definitely are going to try and chip and turn the protection to, but a lot of the things that they were doing with Myles teams are still doing from a standpoint of six/seven man protection. I think a lot of it is due to our pressure. We are still getting those kind of looks.”


On goals for LB Sione Takitaki in the last three games:

“Just continue the growth – the details, being consistent. To me, this time of the year it is all about the fundamentals and technique., not  only with him, but everybody across the board. This is going to be a big eye discipline game for us, guys understanding because a lot of what they do is a lot of window dressing, motion here, shift there, trying to get your eyes in the wrong spot. You have got to be very discipline across the board to have success.”


On how the Arizona offense is different to others faced, given its use of Air Raid philosophies combined with two-RB sets:

“I think again it is just the tempo. A lot of the runs when you really break it down, most of the things we have seen before but you really can’t practice the tempo that you are going against. We tried to simulate that yesterday as well as today, but they are so fast in what they are doing in their operation. We just have to make sure that we get aligned quickly, get our eyes in the right spot as I just mentioned and just try to play fast.”


On his emotions returning to Arizona:

“To be honest, I do not really have emotions in regards to this week. I want to win this game just like I wanted to win last week’s game, just like I wanted to win the first game against Tennessee. My focus is trying to get these guys in position to be successful. Hopefully, we can go out there and get a win.”


On if Murray’s size is a disadvantage in any way:

“To be honest, I have not seen that on tape. His size is really not a factor in my opinion with the things that I have seen him able to do on film. Tremendous player. I do not think he gets enough credit with his ability to be able to throw the football as well as he does. Not at all.”


On Murray taking sacks with significant loss of yardage as Murray tries to escape pressure:

“You see that on film and again. It is just to his credit, he is trying to make plays and he is trying to make things happen. Guys are doing a great job again of trying to contain him and keep him in the pocket. I have also see his share of where he gets out of that and throws the ball down the field, as well. We have to do a great job of trying to make sure that we just contain this guy.”


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