DC Steve Wilks (12.5.19)

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks:

Opening statement:

“Good morning. You guys would not get offended if I got up and left right now, would you (laughter)? Dan (Labbe), Scott (Petrak), I appreciate your support [during last week’s press conference].


“Last week was definitely disappointing, particularly with the climate of the game, a divisional opponent, the opportunity to continue to get on the streak. We did not finish, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. I thought we did some great things early. We have to learn how to sustain it, particularly at the end of the half keeping those guys out of the end zone. At the end of the game, we had an opportunity. We gave the ball back to the offense, but I wish we could have given it back to them sooner. A couple of third downs, miscues there, not executing, but the guys are focused. They are back this week. As (Head Coach) Freddie (Kitchens) has talked about time and time again, just looking to be 1-0.”


On if Steelers QB Devlin Hodges was able to get comfortable towards the middle of the game based on something the Browns were doing defensively or just due to a natural progression as the game continued:

“That is a really a question, I guess, you would have to ask him. I would say this, I thought we were in position to make plays on the ball as we were in the first game when we played them on Thursday night. Just so unfortunate we did not make the plays. I thought the guys were in tight coverage. We played a lot of man that particular game and were trying to create some pressure. They did a good job of keeping six and seven in as far as protection and trying to help them out. With that, we have to make plays when given the opportunity.”


On if opponents are adjusting their approach with the absence of DE Myles Garrett:
“Myles is definitely a special player so we all know that. We know teams really scheme around him. He is not here. I would say definitely yes in regards to your question, but we still have to find ways to make plays. Just trying to generate things up front, moving guys around, trying to create different pressures. We are never going to make any excuses, but when you look at it, we have maybe four or five guys that are here on the 53 that were not a month ago. We are not cancelling games. We have to find a way to get our guys in position to be successful, and that starts with me.”


On the difficulties with new personnel on the Browns DL:

“I am not going to use the word difficult. I think we have to be creative in what we are trying to do. I think the guys have a lot of energy as I talked about before. I thought we came out playing fast. You look at what (DE) Chad Thomas is doing, Chad Thomas created a spark for us early with that sack. I think (DT) Sheldon (Richardson) is playing well, we are moving him quite a bit inside and out, and he has generated some pressure. We just have to continue to try to mix it up a little bit, and guys have to find ways to execute and finish.”


On if it is unusual to have so much turnover within one unit like the Browns DL:

“It is tough, but it is part of the league. I have been a part of it before. I was in the same situation last year in Arizona – shuffling guys in and out and guys coming in on a Tuesday and playing on Sunday. We can’t sit here and make excuses. We have to find ways to get guys in position to make plays.”


On DBs having tight coverage but not looking back to ball and how much of that is a teaching point:

“Quite a bit of it is teaching and quite a bit of it is just really natural instincts, as well. I put everything back on me, back on us as coaches to try and get our guys to understand when in certain situations what we need to execute. I thought (CB) Greedy (Williams) and (CB) Denzel (Ward) had great coverage. We just have to find ways to turn around and make plays on the ball.”


On S Sheldrick Redwine’s performance last week:

“I thought he played well. When you look at our run fits and how he fitted the run, I thought he came up very physical making tackles and getting off blocks, and you can see his range and speed in the post, particularly on that one play. I thought he had the opportunity to get over there. He just misjudged the ball a bit.”


On why NFL CBs do not look back at the ball more often and the instinctual components to it:
I think it is just repetition, and naturally, some guys have it. When you scout guys coming out of college, that is something you look for – guys who can really have that natural feel of the flash of the ball when they can just see it and play it. Great ball skills, everything is different when you look at the makeup of a player. I always say there is no utopia. A guy may have great ball skills, but he may not be that fast. He may be physical, but he does not really have the range and the speed. As coaches, you take in these guys with different talents, and you have to find ways to make them a complete player.”


On if players are born with good ball skills and ability to locate the football:

“Naturally, yes, but as coaches, you have to find ways to continue to improve that skillset and that is what we are trying to do. Really working on the flash of the ball. Trying to work on deep balls when in position going up. If I can’t make a complete catch on the ball, I have to play through the guys hands and rake his arms.”


On how LB Mack Wilson has played in comparison to his first week starting at WILL:

“He has improved each and every week. I am excited about No. 1, his work ethic and just his ability to really try to study the game. This guy is in here early. He is meeting with his coaches getting extra work in. You can see the improvements and things that he may have messed up on two weeks ago, that is not an issue anymore. The thing with a rookie is it is always something new, which is great. We are not talking about the same mistakes over and over again. I am excited with his progress and the things that he is doing.”


On LB Sione Takitaki’s progress:

“I think Taki is performing well. We have created certain looks for him within the packages that we put in. He is getting in there and getting a lot of what I call game time experience now. Probably averaging between 15-20 plays a game. He is doing well. He is progressing.”


On how Williams has handled other teams throwing his way:

“It is the nature of the position when you are out there on the island by yourself, and it is always that short-term memory we talk about, trying to hit the reset button. I think he is doing great job to understand that I can’t relax, and when in position, I have to make sure that I finish. I think everything he is doing up to the end of the play, he is putting himself in position to be successful. Now, we just have to work on the finish part.”


On Bengals QB Andy Dalton’s performance against the NY Jets:

“I think he was in rhythm. For a guy that has been out for a minute, you can tell he is back in rhythm. Those receivers that they have are pretty good, starting with (Bengals WR Tyler) Boyd, No. 83. They move him around quite a bit, and I believe (Bengals WR John) Ross is going to be back this week, as well, a vertical guy that can take the top off and of course the perimeter screen game. A lot of things that you see out of them are the same thing that we faced really against the Rams. I am sure they have been looking at that film as well as we have.’


On how much playing multiple Ss impacts the Browns CBs:

“Overall, I would say that sometimes the continuity that you are looking for may be a little inconsistent, but the guys do a great job of communicating. I think that is the key to make sure that we all see the formation and we are executing the call the same. When you look at where we are defensively, I believe we are like sixth in the league as far as pass defense. Those guys to me have been doing a great job. We just have to find ways to make plays on the ball when we are in position. We have to come up with some game changing plays as I always say.”


On if the Steelers appearing to break more tackles than the Browns have previously allowed this season:

“That is a fair question, and I would say that the answer is definitely true. We did a good job early stopping the run and what happened – we talked about it on the sideline – is you start seeing guys to me start pressing. They were going for the ball before they ensured the tackle, and we have to make sure that we limit the YAC, yardage after contact, with these running backs, particularly (Bengals RB Joe) Mixon and (Bengals RB Giovani) Bernard, good backs that are going to run hard, physical. We are going to have to make sure we secure the tackle first and go for the ball second.”


On having coached under former Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera and what Rivera meant to his career:

“Definitely disappointed, but we all understand that this is part of the business and what we are in. I would not be where I am today without him. He definitely had a major impact on my career. I spoke with him yesterday, spoke with him this morning. He is doing well and is excited about the opportunity.”


On what Richardson has meant to the Browns DL, given new personnel:

“He has meant a lot, even before those guys went out. Just a veteran guy that brings a lot of leadership in his performance, as well as his play. Since those guys have been out, he has definitely stepped up and really tried to take the reins of being that sole leader. You have seen it in his performance, the way he not so much gets off players but really that accountability and trying to encourage guys to do things the right way. He is definitely an extension of myself and other coaches in the locker room and on the field.”


On how difficult the decision was for S Damarious Randall to not play last week:
“I am not really going to elaborate much on that. I know Freddie has touched on it. As certain things come up that we try to keep in-house, we are going to do the same thing with that. It happens. He was out for us with injuries, as well. We have to step up, and other guys have to perform and play. I am glad he is back this week, and we get him back in the mix. He is practicing hard, and hopefully, he can go out there and make some plays for us this week.”


On if a situation like the one with Randall could carry over into the next week:

“No, I do not think so. We are all professionals in what we are doing and understand right now that last week is last week. He is locked in and focused. I like where he is now. Very attentive in meetings and focused in meetings. He is practicing the way we want him to and being vocal. I am excited about his leadership and the things that he brings, so we are good.”


On Vernon’s return from injury at the Steelers and not necessarily looking like himself:

“He did not, and I commend him for trying to go out there and try to do the things that we were expecting him to do. It is a process and he is going to have to be able to fight through his pain tolerance, and really at this point in time of the year, not a lot of guys are feeling great. He is getting his treatment. He is doing well. He is out there practicing. We will see exactly how much he can give us this week.”


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