DC Steve Wilks (12.19.19)

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks:

Opening statement:

“Good morning. A very disappointing loss last week. When you look at the opportunities that we have had the latter part of this season to try and stay in this hunt, it is disappointing how we came out and responded. Just looked flat. I really put a lot of that back on me from the standpoint of getting these guys prepared and ready to play. I have to do a much better job No. 1 of putting these guys in position to be successful. When we are in position, we have to make sure that we finish and execute. We did not make enough plays the previous week. We found ourselves being able to get off the field on third down and in the red zone hold our opponent to field goals. That was the exact difference this past week. A lot of credit to them. They did a tremendous job and just really outplaying us. We talked about a few things. We evaluated the tape, made some corrections and pinpointed some things that we needed to correct and moving forward. We have to make sure that we are ready this week. We are going to see pretty much schematically the same offense with what we had last week in some of the things they do with the zone read.”


On how to uplift the Browns defense after a tough loss:

“It is short-term memory in this league. You have to get ready for the next one. Win or lose, you have to prepare yourself as professions. That starts with us as coaches to be able to get these guys back. That has been our approach and really trying to have a solid gameplan in trying to detail the things that we need to once again to put these guys in position to be successful.”


On if there is a clear explanation for why the defense came out flat last week:

“Not really. You go back and you try to evaluate your process throughout the week leading up to your preparation, going out there two days ahead of time. You try to look and question certain things. The bottom line is we have to go out and perform. As I said before, I have to put these guys in position to be successful. I know right now the Ravens are coming in, they are going to have the same up-tempo offense and we have to make sure that we are prepared and ready.”


On if the Browns have enough fiery players on defense to help motivate the team:

“You are always looking for those guys to be able to extent the message once the coaches are not around. Particularly amongst the players in the locker room and throughout the game when typical situations arise, you want those guys to be able to step up and be leaders. You are looking for those guys. (CB) T.J. Carrie was a guy that stepped up last week when things were going on in practice. We are missing (LB) Christian Kirksey, we are missing (DE) Myles Garrett and those kind of things. We can’t sit here and complain and worry about that. They are not coming back this year. We have to find ways as coaches and players to try and weather through this storm and find a way out of it.”


On how different it will be to try to contain Ravens QB Lamar Jackson without Garrett:

“It is a going to be a complete team effort, particularly up front. Just trying to contain him, cage him, eliminate the A and B gaps where really much he likes to try and escape. We have to make sure that we try to flush him lateral when going east and west and then try to get population to the ball. That is going to be the key.”


On not being able to get to Cardinals QB Kyler Murray as much as other teams have this season:

“I do not really have the pinpoint answer for you. I would say that several times as you can see – I think it was (S) Juston Burris on pressure – we missed him. I think (LB) Mack Wilson came off the edge one time, and we missed him. We had certain guys in his face. We just have to make sure that we gather at the sack with these fast guys at the quarterback position who really are like running backs. You can’t be out of control when you are approaching him when you are ready to finish the tackle. I think it is more or less right there is really just trying to get ourselves in position to finish.”


On if the Browns are having trouble simulating the speed of fast QBs in practice:

“We talked about this last week. I really do not think you can really simulate that based off anybody that you have. You try to, but again, once you get in the game it is a totally different look. You just want to make sure that your guys are playing at a top end speed so they can be able to adjust quickly.”


On how the Browns DL can get off of blocks better in the run game:

“No. 1, it is getting off blocks. We have to do a much better job of really playing with our hands, shedding blocks, staying in our gaps and trusting in the man beside us that he is going stay in his gap. A lot of it is discipline, and then of course, it comes down just to complete execution.”


On if the Cardinals run the same style as the Ravens offense:

“I think it is going to be pretty much a lot of the same stuff that we saw this past week. If any benefit from it, I think that may be the only one based off how we perform. We have to make sure, as have we already started, pinpointing those corrections.”


On if getting off blocks to defend the run better is more about execution or if there is a need to tweak the scheme:

“I do not think it is really trying to tweak it at all. I think it is just more on our end just really trying to understand these offenses this week, as well as last week, are about trying to get to the perimeter. We have to do a great job of really trying to leverage the formation. They try to make you be undisciplined with your eyes by sending motion and different things, different ways to try to get you out leveraged. It is just being smart, having great eye discipline and setting edges on the defense.”


On if the Browns defense gave the desired effort:

“I have no doubt. There were speculation of questions that the guys quit. I did not see that. Did we execute? No. We did not quit. We have to do a much better job of executing and doing the little things right as I have seen us doing before.”


On his message to S Damarious Randall about the DPI play:

“I don’t really look at the ruling on the field. There is nothing we can do about that. My focus is really to take that play and try to dissect it to the point of what we need to do. I thought Randall was in great position. We just need to try to find and locate the ball, and then as the receiver puts his hands up, it is what we call trying to rake through his arms, compete and go down to the ground. I still feel like we had a chance to get the ball out if we would have gone down to the ground with him in that situation if catching the ball. I don’t think in my opinion that the call itself was somewhat maybe questionable in some eyes but there is nothing we can really do about that call. It is the exact same thing with (S Sheldrick) Redwine in the end zone – just really trying to compete and rake the arms there, as well. We just have to execute our technique when we are in position.”


On the Browns missing CBs Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams for a significant portion of the season, followed by stretches without DEs Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon, and if he believes the future is still bright despite the defensive unit not performing as well recently:

“I do. I really feel like we have lost a lot. We have been missing a couple of guys throughout the year. I felt like the guys have stepped up and tried to make the best of it. You talked about our corners being out early, and (CBs) T.J. (Carrie) as well as Terrance Mitchell stepping up and performing well. Right now, it is our defensive line. There is nothing we can do about that. We have to get guys to fill the void. As you talked about the future being bright, you look at the quality of reps and the playing time that some of these young guys are getting in Greedy, Redwine, (LB) Mack Wilson, as well as Taki (LB Sione Takitaki). I think it is only going to help those guys going forward. If there is any good thing coming from that, it is that these guys are getting quality looks and reps.”


On how LB Christian Kirksey has been able to help the team, despite being placed on IR early in the year:

“You can, and he is trying to fill that void as much as possible for still being that leader and that vocal guy that we talked about and that inspirational guy. We definitely miss him out there. He was playing well before he went out. Just that emotional guy that you need out there on the field and in the locker room, that is the one that we are missing, yes.”


On the potential challenges motivating players and keeping a team together late in the season when playoff chances are slim, particularly given his experience as a head coach:

“I think we are together without a doubt. I think the guys are still playing hard. I think that nucleus is still trying to push forward. I think (Head Coach) Freddie (Kitchens) is doing a tremendous job in really trying to continue to echo the message that he is been sending out here – 1-0 – and it is all about the game that is in front of us, and I agree. As men, players and coaches, it is about trying to compete and regardless of the situation, playoffs or not, it is about going out there and performing well. It is the name on the front of the jersey as Cleveland Browns and most importantly it is the name on the back. That is what we represent, and we are going to try to do everything we can to win this football game and try to finish strong. That is our mindset.”


On if he speaks to Browns players about needing to perform no matter the situation:

“You have to. Regardless of the situation, it is about going out there and trying to put your best foot forward. I think you are going to see that this week. These guys are going to respond in the right way.”


On if the Browns have to decide whether to sell out to stop the run and potentially leave the team vulnerable to deep passes when facing an offense like Baltimore:

“No. 1, your priority has to be stopping the run whatever you have to do with regards to that from a standpoint of stacking the box, playing coverage or man or zone, whatever your philosophy may be. I feel very confident in our ability to cover on the outside. If we have to do that with Greedy, as well as Denzel, I am very confident those guys can get the job done.”


On how Ravens QB Lamar Jackson has improved this season, given his now strong consideration for MVP:

“No. 1, I think they continue to gel and they are all on the same page. You can see that a lot hasn’t changed in the scheme that they are doing. They are just executing and they are putting themselves in position to be successful. They are making plays when they have to.”


On returning to Arizona last week and if the loss was harder for him in retrospect:

“No, as I stated going into it, I wanted to win that game as much as I wanted to win the previous one, as well as the first one. Is it disappointing? Yes, it is disappointing because as I stated before in the press conference here is that we have an opportunity to still be in the hunt, and to lose that one it hurt a little bit because now, we are looking for outside help. We just have to continue to take care of what is in front of us right now, which is the Ravens.”


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