DC Steve Wilks (12.26.19)

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks:

Opening statement:

“Good morning. I hope everyone had a good Christmas. In regards to the game last week, we came out and we started fast, which was great. It was disappointing when you look at the first 28 minutes and then how we finished right before the half. Just poor communication on the first one, and then of course on the second touchdown there, I guess really when you look back at it we were in position to make a play and could have done a much better job with the play calling there, trying to get us in something different, but I did not think we finished when we had the opportunity. The guys fought hard. We did a great job initially, as I said before, stopping the run and trying to get those guys to third down. We just did not finish. That is the disappointing part about it.”


On if the Ravens’ up-tempo offense created the miscommunication on the first TD at the end of the first half:

“I thought we were able to get the call in in an appropriate time. It was a little up-tempo there. We just miscommunicated and did not have anybody in the middle of the field.”


On there seeming to be one big play surrendered each game on defense that significantly impacts the result:
“It is just really part of the game, and it is unfortunate that you are right – one or two plays here or there that we do not execute that really determines the outcome of the game. At times when we communicate and we do the things that we need to do and most importantly, when I put the guys in positon which starts with me, we can be pretty good and successful. We have to finish strong this week – a divisional opponent, a team that we beat before and they had some success on us, but we were able to pull it out. They have a great running back in (Bengals RB Joe) Mixon. He is physical. He is tough. I think (Bengals QB Andy) Dalton has done a great job sparking those guys since he has come back. (Bengals WR Tyler) Boyd to me is one of the best receivers in this league with where he is playing. They are very talented across the board, and it starts up front with their run game.”


On DT Sheldon Richardson earning the PFWA Dino Lucarelli ‘Good Guy Award’ honor this year for his cooperation with the media and what Richardson has meant to the defense this season, particularly in his leadership role and during the absence of DE Myles Garrett:

“He has meant a lot to us not just as a defense but really as a team. His role as a leader, his performance on the field. As you mentioned, when Myles  went out, he did step up in more than one way, being more vocal and also just his performance and play on the field. I would not disagree with that award at all.”


On if he feels coaches need more than one season to install their system and culture and the experience of keeping the team focused late in the season among speculation about a coach’s job security:

“No. 1, you stay focused, you stay the course and you try to block out the outside noise. What is going to happen is going to happen, but you try to continue to get these guys prepared and ready to play, which I think (Head Coach) Freddie (Kitchens) has done a tremendous job with all of the things that have happened throughout the year. The guys have responded. The message has been consistent. We just have to find ways, particularly on defense, to make more plays. In regards to your initial question, it takes time build a culture. It takes time to implement your system and get guys on the same page. Sometimes the business is what it is, but without a doubt, I think Freddie definitely is the guy for this job. What he has been able to do in a short period of time, you can see the progress in the things that we are doing as far as moving forward. We have had a lot of guys hurt. We are not making any excuses, but it has been the case, but the guys continue to play hard and find a way to win.”


On if he can relate to Kitchens regarding speculation about job security and keeping a team focused, given his experience in Arizona last year:

“Oh, of course, and I am not speaking for Freddie, but I can tell you that I know he is not paying attention to the outside noise. He is doing a great job as I mentioned before of trying to keep this team focused. Our task is to be 1-0 this last game. There is always speculation. Hell, I dealt with it probably the last five weeks [of last season], but you have to make sure you stayed focused because everyone is going to react off your demeanor and your personality. I think Freddie is doing a great job.”


On if it is jarring for a head coach’s job security to be in question after only coaching 10-11 games:

“You know what? I think we are all grown. We know what we signed up for. I think as an individual, you have to have enough confidence in yourself and in your ability, but most importantly, you have stay focused on the task at hand. That is what I try to do, and that is definitely what Freddie is doing now.”


On DT Larry Ogunjobi’s performance this season:

“Larry has played well. I believe before he went out with the Pittsburgh game, I think he may have had maybe four or five sacks so he was doing a great job. When you have OV (DE Olivier Vernon) and Myles in there, he is going to benefit from that. Last week, I thought he was pretty stout in the run game doing some great things there. I have been very impressed with him not only from his play but also just again another guy that has stepped up from the standpoint of leadership. Very vocal, consistent in his approach in how he practices and how he gets guys to try to do that same.”


On CB Greedy Williams’ rookie year, particularly after his return from a hamstring injury:

“When you really look at the progress of Greedy, I think he is on track. I told the coaching staff and I think I have mentioned this also to Freddie is that we do not really understand that Greedy should be playing for a National Championship right now. The guy is [21] years old. The thing that we have to understand is that you benefit from Greedy, you benefit from (LB) Mack Wilson, (S Sheldrick) Redwine and (LB Sione) Takitaki next year with all the reps and the experience that these guys have received this year. I think Greedy has done some great things. I think he has learned along the way. He has made some progress, and he is battle tested. You can see the difference in when he started to where he is right now, and I think you will see a major jump in his sophomore year.”


On if he feels like the future is bright for the Browns defense, given the return of Garrett and other players:
“When you look at Kirko (LB Christian Kirksey) going out early, a major asset to this defense, a great player and then just that vocal leader as well and then you add Myles and Olivier to the mix as well with two solid corners, I see this defense being very successful. I am excited about the guys that we have. I am excited about the future and the things that we can accomplish. It is always staying healthy down the stretch, but (LB) Joe Schobert and the way he played, and the two young linebackers as I just mentioned with Taki as well as Mack. There are a lot of key guys on this defense that if we can just keep them together, I think we will be pretty good.”


On CB Denzel Ward’s second season and ability to return to a Pro Bowl level:

“I think when he had an opportunity… To be out for a while with that injury and then also, I think it is a level of respect that he really did not get a lot of balls or a lot of opportunities thrown to his side. I think when you look at being a rookie and talking about Greedy, they are going to test him. I think sometimes – I have mentioned this before – when you do not have the stats or the numbers, sometimes you do not see that individual playing well, but he has done a lot of great things. When you look at the number of throws and the percentage of the catches, I think they are pretty low. He is challenging his receivers, he is physical in the run game, he is coming up making tackles when we need him to. I think he is progressing and he is going to do some great things moving forward.”


On S Damarious Randall missing a few games and if it feels like Randall never really got going and not having the type of season he did last year:

“I would agree with that. I think sometimes when you go back to OTAs, he missed some time there so it was catch-up sort of learning the defense and then all of sudden, here comes the injury so he is in and out of the lineup. We all know when he is healthy that he is a pretty good player. I think the injuries and the lack of time initially within the defense sort of hurt him this year.”


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