DC Steve Wilks (9.19.19)

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks:

Opening statement:

“Good morning. I do not want to get up here each and every week and sound very vanilla and bland, but really, the formula does not change. We have to do a great job of stopping the run this week, and we can’t give up the vertical shots over the top of the field. That is what they love to do. We have to tackle well, and we have to try and limit possessions as far as getting off the field on third down and trying to create takeaways. Tremendous respect for you guys. I know sometimes some of the questions come across and I want to answer some of these questions with as much detail as I can, but last week it was like, ‘Trevor Siemian is going to start. Is there anything you are going to do differently?’ Well, I am not going to tell the gameplan so I am going to try to dance around those kind of questions so I am just giving forewarning.”

On always needing to be prepared for the unexpected, especially when facing the Rams and Rams Head Coach Sean McVay:

“I think so. Sean McVay is a tremendous offensive mind. He does a great job of putting his players in position to be successful. They have tremendous talent on that side of the ball, starting in the backfield with (Rams QB Jared) Goff and then (Rams RB Todd) Gurley (II) so they spread the ball, move the ball around quite a bit. We have to be ready for anything.”


On challenges facing Rams WRs:

“Not giving up the vertical shots. Those guys do a great job of really trying to take the top off. They set the play action up with a good run game, and we have to be disciplined with our eyes and just play our responsibilities.”


On Goff is doing well this season and his improvement during his career:

“I think he makes great decisions. I think he does a great job of really reading the defense and trying to put the guys in position. He is very accurate with his throws, and he is very poised and patient in the pocket.”


On if he is satisfied with CB Denzel Ward’s performance in the first two weeks:
“I am not really satisfied with any of the 11 out there with the way they have been playing because I feel like we can play better. I feel like Denzel can play better, (DE) Myles (Garrett) can play better and across the board. We have to continue to improve as the weeks progress. We have to limit the foolish penalties out there. It is hurting us.”


On Garrett’s season so far, given his sack totals and penalties:

“I think you just said it right there – some good and bad. I think there are some inconsistencies there as far as the penalties. I know he is just trying to be aggressive sometimes and make plays, but offside we can’t have. I love the production and what he brings in his athleticism and his skillset there, but those plays will eventually hurt us. That is what have to try to eliminate.”


On LB Joe Schobert:

“I have seen it really going back into preseason – very smart, intelligent, understands the defense, can get everyone lined up and put them in the right position. He put himself in position to be successful and make plays. He is good in the run game, very accurate right there out in space as far as the pass game. I like the way he is playing right now, and he is bringing a lot to the table for us and helping this defense.”


On Schobert as a tackler and if some missed tackles can be written off, particularly when facing someone like NY Jets RB Le’Veon Bell:

“We never write missed tackles off as a whole. We want guys to make tackles, but there is an understanding that there are 10 other guys out of the field, as well. We emphasize and talk about pursuing the football, and at times when we do miss, you have to miss on what we consider to be the right leverage so therefore you are forcing it back to your help. I think Joe is playing well as I said before. I think his tackling has improved from last year, and I think he is only going to get better.”


On what Garrett can learn from Rams DT Aaron Donald in terms of maximizing sacks and limiting penalties:

“Just being disciplined and understanding that his greatest strength is his greatest weakness. He is so quick off the ball that teams are going to hard count to try to get him to jump. They are going to change the snap count. We have to be locked in and focused so we do not put ourselves in that positon.”


On if he has talked with Garrett about his goal to ultimately be Defensive Player of the Year and how to reach that objective in comparison to Donald:

“No, I do not really try to compare players in regards to that. I love and respect the individual goals, but we try to make sure they are aligned with the team goals. As I stated probably about a week or two ago, if he is Defensive Player of the Year, we are winning a lot of football games and I am excited about that. I hope he gets it, and in the process right here, we just continue to make sure we are doing everything to help the Cleveland Browns defense win games.”


On if he is more disappointed in offside penalties compared to personal fouls:

“The roughing penalties are going to happen at times. (Head Coach) Freddie (Kitchens) and I have talked about those. We are an aggressive defense, but the one thing we can’t tolerate is pre-snap and post-snap [penalties]. That to me is a lack of discipline.”


On the Browns having zero interceptions and how to create more opportunities:

“It is a concern. We try to pride ourselves on taking the ball away. No. 1, we just have to be closer in coverage. We talked about trying to complement one another with the front as well as the secondary so we have to have a better pass rush to try to force ill-advised throws, but we need to be tighter in coverage so when he does force the ball in there, we are able to get our hands on some.”


On the adjustments and development for DE Olivier Vernon and DT Sheldon Richardson in a new scheme this year:

“I think they are still progressing. I like where they are. They are doing a great job really as teammates, as you talked about, just even off the field in some of the things they are doing. I love their leadership. They are taking control there and not only on the defensive line but really as a whole defense. I think we are learning one another when you talk about as far as players, but I think they are moving in the right direction. I am glad we have them.”


On if he has to remind the Browns defense that last week’s win occurred when facing QBs with less preparation:
“No, not so much because it is the National Football League and really the focus is constantly on us and making sure we are executing the gameplan and putting ourselves in position to be successful. Somebody talked about the tackling. You talked about the discipline of being onside and really not giving up the big play. That is going to really be the key this week. They mentioned already about the receiving corps and how dynamic those guys are. We are going to have our hands full, but we have to make sure we limit the big plays.”


On how encouraging was the Browns defensive performance against the NY Jets:

“A whole lot. No. 1 was our ability to just stop the run early on. I know Le’Veon Bell got some things late in the game, and of course, he is just so phenomenal running the football and a dynamic football player overall in in the backfield and out of the backfield catching the ball. You get a little bit of that with Gurley, as well. We are going to see the same type of running back this week.”


On if the Browns need to re-teach technique in regards to Garrett’s roughing the passer penalties:

“I think you have to understand the exact situation at that moment. For the last probably three or four years, there has been a point of emphasis with the quarterback and the safety in the National Football League, which I agree with totally. We just have to be smarter and understand by being in that position right here. Like you said, sometimes it is just getting our hands up or maybe shoving the guy and doing this (places hands up) instead of just trying to take him to the ground.”


On if the Browns defense needs to change its scheme significantly due to injuries with Ss Morgan Burnett and Damarious Randall:
“We have been really since OTAs and training camp and trying to prepare some of these backup guys. Now, have they had the reps? No, they have not have the reps – the live reps, no. From the mere fact of understanding the gameplan, going out there and executing, I have total confidence in the backup guys.”


On S Jermaine Whitehead’s performance against the NY Jets:

“You guys already know but if you haven’t, Jermaine is one of my favorites. I think he is smart. He puts himself in a position to be successful. I love the way he orchestrates and really runs the back end by communicating everybody. He is good in the run game. He can fit the run just like the linebackers, and he is very adequate out in space, as well.”


On challenges preparing for McVay’s offense:

“No. 1, I think he is great with in-game adjustments. I think he does a tremendous job there. Great feel for the game and for the tempo in trying to create a little bit of a disadvantage for the defense, trying to get us back on our heels. We have to be prepared for it all. We know right now they are going to be fast ball, quick to the line of scrimmage. We have to get our calls in, we have to get set, we have to execute and we have to get ready to play.”


On the style of offense the Rams and McVay have developed over recent years:
“You see it throughout the league a little bit with some teams. Arizona is trying to do the same thing now, as well, as I have heard. I just think he does a unique job in trying to put those guys into position and a lot of what he does is he makes it look the same so we have to make sure that we are on point when executing the defense.”


On if any of the Rams’ WRs stand out more than others:
“They are all dynamic. When you look at (Rams WR Brandin) Cooks from the screen game, he can take the top off and vertical speed. When you look at (Rams WR) Cooper Kupp, I think he can do it all just from a standpoint of a third down possession receiver, over routes and those things. Overall, they are very dynamic in what they are doing. They spread the ball around quite a bit, and I think Goff, as I mentioned before, does a great job of reading the defense and really trying to get the ball where it needs to be without forcing things in there sometimes.”


On if he has noticed differences in the Rams OL play with new personnel from last season:

“Still running the ball well. They are still protecting the quarterback. He does a good job of getting the ball out. I think they do a great job, too, of not really trying to get Goff hit a lot so sometimes it is max look and making sure that he can get the ball off and push it down the field.”


On the Rams coming to Cleveland and the atmosphere at FirstEnergy on Sunday night:

“In my experience here with the preseason games, as well as the home opener, we have a dynamic crowd. Our fans are tremendous. It is very loud in that stadium, and that is what we are anticipating on Sunday night. Hopefully, we can get a few calls from the standpoint of illegal procedures and those things that the noise is a factor come Sunday night.”


# # #