DC Steve Wilks (9.26.19)

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks:

Opening statement:

“Good morning. Last week was a good game, but it was not good enough from the standpoint of we need to find a way to hold our opponents to three points in the red zone. I think that was really the difference in the game when you start talking about red zone defense. It was not good enough last week. We were able to create some takeaways, which was great. I thought we stopped the run well, which was one of our gameplans going in. (LA Rams RB Todd) Gurley (II) was so dynamic. It is not going to be any different this week when you look at what the Ravens are able to do offensively with (Ravens QB) Lamar Jackson and (Ravens RB) Mark Ingram (II). We have to do a great job stopping the run. They are very dynamic in what they are doing across the board. They are able to take the top off with (Ravens WR Marquise) Brown. I think he does a great job for us just putting pressure on the defense vertically up the field.”


On simulating Ravens QB Lamar Jackson in practice and game planning:
“Playing Madden (laughter). To be honest, he is probably the closest thing that I have seen since (former NFL QB) Michael Vick. This guy is extremely dynamic. He can make plays when you do not think there is a play there to be made. He is just Houdini, I guess. Phenomenal not just with his legs but his ability to get the ball down the field, as well. One of the great things that he does when he gets outside of the pocket is he is not just looking to run. His eyes are still down the field. He is trying to push the ball down the field, and that is what they have been successful with lately.”


On if CB Denzel Ward, CB Greedy Williams and S Morgan Burnett will be able to play against the Ravens:
“We do not know yet. Those guys are still trying to work back into the fold so we will see exactly where they are at the end of the week.”


On the performance of the Browns secondary with four starters unavailable:
“They play dynamic. No reservations whatsoever last week. Those guys have started in this league, played a lot of football and they went out and performed well last week. They have the support of their teammates and the support of their coaches. I thought the assistant coaches did an outstanding job in really preparing these guys and getting them ready to play. Particularly, when you look at (S) Juston Burris, (pass game coordinator/secondary coach) Joe Whitt spent probably 48 hours with him around the clock just trying to get him up to speed with the gameplan, and he went out there and performed well.”


On the Chargers limiting Jackson last season and if the Browns will look to emulate that gameplan:
“It is not so much trying to emulate what the Chargers did. We are just trying to put our guys in the best position to be successful. Really, you have to stop the run first with Jackson as well as Ingram, and we are going to try to do that the best way that we can that fits within our scheme. They have so many different weapons. I like No. 89 (Ravens TE Mark) Andrews. He is a dynamic tight end that we brought in to Arizona a couple of years ago with the 30 [pre-draft] visits. He is definitely coming into his own. He is performing well. They find him on third down, and they find him in the red zone. As I already mentioned, No. 15 Brown so we have a lot of weapons that we have to make sure that we try to stop.”


On Ingram:
“Toughness, the physicality, a downhill runner, which is just another element of Lamar being able to pull the ball so you get caught up really trying to play downhill. Then all of the sudden now you are soft on the perimeter. There are different elements to what they do, and I thought he brought a lot to that offense, along with what Lamar was able to do already.”


On how unique the Ravens offense is, particularly with a mobile QB:

“Really breaking them down and pulling back the layers, different personnel groups, you are going to get all of it but it is really all of the same. It is just bodies in there but the illusion, they run the same thing with 13 personnel that they do out of 11. That is where they try to get you a little bit with window dressing. It is all of the same. It is a college offense. It is really what he did at Louisville and those kind of things and (Ravens offensive coordinator) Greg Roman and his background with (former 49ers QB Colin) Kaepernick when he was at the 49ers. Whenever you have the element of the quarterback being able to run the ball, you have an extra blocker. That is what it does. We are preparing well for it. We have seen that offense before so I am very excited to go against the offense. I am very pleased with where we are right now with our game plan.”


On if the Browns begin preparation for the Ravens and Jackson during the offseason:
“We do an offseason study of our division opponents and some of the teams we crossover with in the divisions so yes, we did do that. Very dynamic in what he is doing, trying to find different ways we can come at him and find different ways that we can stop Ingram as well. We started back in the spring so hopefully, we have something good for him on Sunday.”


On if dual-threat QB are sustainable in the NFL from a health standpoint:

“He is very skillful, very elusive out in space. It is a little different in college so I understand where you are going in regards to that. Guys at this level, you have some defensive linemen and linebackers that are just as fast as these quarterbacks. I think as you hear them talk and some of the things they try to get him away from running as much and really get him to push the ball down the field. There is always an element of when your quarterback runs that you put them in harm’s way. We will see.”


On how Ravens RB Gus Edwards complements Jackson and Ingram in the run game:

“Dynamic. A one-two punch. You really want to look at three because all of them have the ability to be able to run the ball. Our No. 1 goal each and every week is to stop the run. I think everybody puts so much on this league being a pass-happy league. I have said it time and time again that there is nothing more demoralizing to a defense than 15, 20, 25-yard chunks right there. It really just takes the wind out of your sails. They are going to rotate them in and out, and we are going to have to do a great job of stopping the run and try to get them into third and long.”


On the benefit of having strong tacklers in the Browns secondary and if that is a benefit:

“It is always a benefit when your corners come up and support the edge, and that is what we believe in within this defense. I have no reservations whatsoever about (CBs) Terrance (Mitchell), as well as T.J. (Carrie). These guys have played a lot of football in this league. They performed well and they did a great job last week, and I think they are going to do the same thing this week, as well.”


On if he shows Browns players tape of defenses going up against former NFL QB Michael Vick:
“We have shown different clips of when Greg Roman was with the 49ers and what he did with Kaepernick. I have not really looked at Michael Vick, no, but I do consider as I said earlier that Lamar is the closest to that.”


On the Ravens having depth at TE, the Browns depth at safety and if that was part of the Browns’ personnel strategy:
“Not so much. I just think we try to keep the best guys that give us the best opportunity to win. I think they have good tight ends. They are going to mix the personnel in and out – 13 and 22 – but it is all going to look the same. They can spread you out and make it look like 11. Andrews No. 89, to e, is a receiving tight end. He is just as good as any tight end that we are going to see in this league.”


On having CB Tavierre Thomas in Arizona and his future potential:
“It is hard to say, we like him here. We let him go early in Arizona. We were going to bring him back on the practice squad and then Cleveland picked him up. He is a major part of what we are doing special teams wise. Everybody sometimes puts special teams to the backburner, but it is a major element of what we do. It is a strong point of emphasis, and that starts with (Head Coach) Freddie (Kitchens) as well as (special teams coordinator Mike) Priefer. I like Tavierre. I think he does a tremendous job for us.”


On the performance of the Browns DL against the Rams in Week 3:
“You always want more, but I thought our D line did a great job. No. 1, really controlling the line of scrimmage in the run game and staying in our gaps. We did a great job setting the perimeter of the defense. We knew they were going to try to get outside on the jet sweeps. I thought that is where it started. At that particular point in time, once they started trying to get the ball down the field, you saw (DT) Larry O (Ogunjobi) get a sack. I thought we were getting good pressure on the quarterback at that time.”


On if watching film is more beneficial when studying Jackson than what can be simulated on the practice field:

“I think it is. I think it is a point of emphasis. You can’t relax. You have to go to the echo of whistle. That is something that you talk about all of the time, but it is very pertinent with this guy and the things that he can bring. You can’t relax on this guy. When you think he is down and when you think you are in position and then all of the sudden now he makes one move and all of the sudden he is out in open space. Yes, it is hard to simulate that in practice.”


On switching the Browns DL’s positioning and alignments:

“The thought process is constantly trying to move our guys around and create different matchups. You are going to see (DE) Myles (Garrett) on the right side, and you are going to see Myles on the left side. Last week, you saw him inside trying to create one on ones with the guards. We are going to do that with all of our guys across the board because teams are going to try to turn protection, and they are going to try to chip. We have to find ways to free our guys up. That is what you are seeing.”

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