DC Steve Wilks (8.1.19)

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks:

On the Browns defensive line:

“I am excited about the guys up front. I think we are moving in the right direction. I would tell you we are still a long way from where we need to be, but you can see right now that is going to be the strength of our team, not only the defense but really the team as (Head Coach) Freddie (Kitchens) has talked about it several times before.”


On if training camp has revealed anything about DL Myles Garrett that he did not previously know:

“He is extremely quick off the ball. We know what he can do from a standpoint of rushing the passer. I am really impressed right now with how he is playing the run, and that is one of the main things that we emphasize and talk about all the time. We have to do a great job of stopping the run first.”


On the key to stopping the run in a 4-2-5 defense:

“No. 1, what we have to understand first of all is where the game is now a days. They are putting more speed on the field. You want to make sure that you are able to match that speed. Looking at that, that is the reason why we go with that look. A safety, as we consider to be a slash-linebacker that can blend in the box and stop the run but also athletic enough right there to be able to play in space. That is how teams try to get you is by trying to get a linebacker out in space. In regards to that, I think we are fine because I think when you look at (S Sheldrick) Redwine, you look at (CB) Juston Burris and you look at those big guys, I think that they have shown that they can play in the core.”


On Browns players being able to play the S/LB role:

“That is exactly how we see it within this scheme. Those kind of guys fit that mode. (Panthers LB) Shaq (Thompson) as well as (Cardinals S) Buddha (Baker) and the same guys that we have here with (S Jermaine) Whitehead and then again with Burris. I want to make sure from a matchup standpoint when they go two [running] backs, it is totally different. Now, you are talking about old school football. When you talk about 12 personnel when you they can split (TE) David (Njoku) out, who is really like 11, those are the kinds of things that you have to look at. That is the matchup that we try to make sure that we can handle.”


On Whitehead being the leader for the S/LB role now:

“Everybody right now is fluent from a standpoint of rotating, but Whitehead has been out there with one’s. Very impressed right now with where he is and what is he doing, but there are no true starters right now.”


On LB Sione Takitaki:

“He is physical. He is still a rookie. He is still making mistakes. Those are things that he has to make sure that he corrects, but I like his physicality.”


On where Takitaki needs to improve most, specifically after a couple missed tackles today:

“Really out in space. Everybody needs to do a much better job of really taking the grass. I tell guys all the time when you think you are in position to make a tackle, take one more step. We have thrown a lot at these really in somewhat seven practices. When you look at what we are doing, I think he is swimming a little bit, but he will get it.”


On the Browns can substitute LBs play by play in the 4-2-5: 

“I think you can.”


On if he has a different defensive sets for down and distance:

“We have a different set really more for personnel, not so much down and distance.”


On if QB Baker Mayfield can give challenges to the defensive side: 

“The guy can make every throw. Very smart. Very intelligent. I think he does a great job right here in really trying to protect the football and he can beat you with his legs. Of course, yes, he can.”


On LB Mack Wilson:

“I love his athleticism. When you look at him out in space, he plays well, good change of direction. When you look at the matchups throughout this league, a lot of times you do not really have safeties that can cover these big tight ends so you need a linebacker that can run. That is the mode that we have right now. He fits that mode right there being able to cover a tight end as well.”


On Takitaki struggling against TEs in practice at times:

“I would say so. It is a lot that he needs to improve on. Of course man-to-man is one of them. We are throwing a lot at these guys. Particularly these rookies, they are swimming a little bit, but they are moving in the right direction.”


On if CB Greedy Williams is doing a good job covering WR Odell Beckham Jr.:

“It is not far off. I think he is doing a great job. I think he is learning. He is growing. He needs to learn how to be consistent each and every day in how he practices. I am excited about what he is doing and where he is going.”


On Williams not slipping or jumping on as many of Beckham’s routes as other players:

“No. 1, he has good change of direction. He plays with good body lean. He is fast. He can run with Odell and mostly all the receivers. What I am impressed with him the last couple days is he is stepping up in the run game and making tackles.”


On CB Denzel Ward and his consistency for a second-year player:

“The No. 1 thing that stands out with Denzel is his speed. He can run with anybody on the football field. That is the key thing. When you look at corners, guys really are inconsistent with their tackling. This guy loves to step up there, and he loves to get physical. I know he had the issues last year with the concussions. It is about how we teach tackling around here, and I think we are doing a great job of that. That is the one thing I love about him right now – physicality in the run game and his ability to play and really cover all the best receivers that we are going to go against.”


On if there are truly only a handful of guys with Ward’s skill level:

“With my experience in the league, I would say so. He is one of the elite players. The one thing we have to get out of him is consistency.”


On the technique Browns coaches are teaching Ward to avoid the concussions from last season:

“The biggest thing is trying to keep your head up. Keep your head out of the fire is what I call it and really try to lead more with his shoulder and not your facemask.”


On why Ward did not tackle differently before now:

“I am not saying why he did it or the reason behind it. I am looking at where we are now and moving forward and make sure that we try to teach him the right way now.”


On if Ward is advancing with his tackling:

“I think so.”


On the significance of pre-snap movements to giving QBs a different look:

“You want disguise, you want to move around. When you start playing the top elite quarterbacks in this league, you can’t just sit there and let them know where you are. You look at what we are doing out there, we are constantly moving around, trying to give Baker different looks right here so that we can try to decipher that stuff on the run. You are going to continue to see us do that. It really depends on what coverage we are playing.”


On preparing to play teams with two tight ends and the ability to prep for it against the Browns TEs:

“We are. When you look at some of the things that we do drill specifics, offense, defense, particularly sometimes you guys are not here at night when we have our walkthrough, we try to emphasize a lot of that – a lot of two (running) back runs, a lot of tight ends, RPOs (run-pass options). Freddie does a great job in trying to create those situations.”


On preparing now for RBs the Browns will face early in the season:

“It is really more of a general approach, and I think right now all the emphasis is on us. Really trying to continue to teach the fundamentals and technique. Limit the lunging and really being in the position to take one more step. Leveraging angles to the ball. I think it is extremely important right here when you start talking about trying to limit the yardage after the catch. Right now, it is just basic fundamentals that we are teaching.”


On if playing good run defense this year is as simple as Browns players taking heed to the coaching:

“It is coaching and execution, always. Right now, that is what we are trying to emphasize and we just have to make sure that we go out and execute.”


On if the Browns defense is more vulnerable to two TEs or if the team has options:

“I think we have options. Really, I do. When you look at the skillset that we have out there, I like (LB) (Christian) Kirksey, talked about Mack, also Takitaki. I am not really concerned about a two-back set. There are some other things that we can do, which I am not looking into trying to indulge right now. There is another guy that can really play that position, as well.”


On DT Sheldon Richardson:

“Excellent inside. He really holds the point. He can split the double team. He can really give you something from a pass-rush standpoint. I am excited about what he is doing.”


On what veterans in the secondary bring to his defense:

“Experience, just like you just mentioned. Those guys do a good job at really trying to work with the younger players. Letting them understand about the preparation in getting ready for a long season. I think it is important that they are leading by example and they are doing the right things.”


On if he likes having different body types at CB:

“We talked about that as a staff. I think it is so important that you are not always like, ‘OK, we are going to take away the best receiver.’ I think sometimes it is based off the size, quickness and how you want to match guys up. I like the matchup that we have right now with Greedy and Denzel.”


On if there is a concern about depth at DT:

“It is not a concern at all. I think when you really look at the success of most teams in this league, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, it starts up front. You can never have enough. When you go back and look at history, I will take you years back with the Giants, to me they had about eight starters. They could really rotate up front. It really can cover up some things on the backend when you do a great job at really stopping the run and getting after the quarterback.”


On challenges for a new coaching staff to mesh together:

“It has been great. I think the communication with Freddie has been outstanding. He is heavily involved in what we are doing on this side of the ball with the communication between him and me. Constantly talking about certain things we need to be working on and trying to create those certain looks within practice.”


# # #