DC Steve Wilks (9.5.19)

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks:

On the performance of the Browns DL during preseason and that is expected to carry into the regular season:

“I was very excited with the way we played. I thought we had a great camp. I thought the guys really bought into the system with what we want to accomplish, and I was excited to see that we were flying around. The things that we talk about, the physicality, the effort and our ability to finish, we definitely did that. That is something to build on. As I talked to the guys, this is when the really bullets start flying with the season. I am excited about where we are, and yes, I definitely expect us to continue to do what we have been doing in the past.”


On the importance of giving players like DE Myles Garrett freedom in the defense:

“No. 1, I think it really gives them accountability. It gives them ownership within the defense. That is what we talk about all of the time is accountability, trust and commitment. When they have ownership in the defense, they perform a little bit better. As I tell those guys all of the time, I want to hear what you have to say; it does not mean I am always going to do everything because I still think we still need to work within the confines of the defense. Myles is doing a great job, along with the other guys up front so I am excited about our front four and the things they are doing.”


On input from DE Olivier Vernon, DT Sheldon Richardson and veteran players:

“They do, and what I have sort of created a little bit is somewhat of a leadership committee within the defense. Some veteran guys that I sort of call on, we meet so often – probably maybe three times throughout training camp – just to get a feel in the post of what those guys are thinking in regards to what I am thinking. It has been good open dialogue. As I said before, I just like to hear what they have to say.”


On planning for how the Titans OL will use personnel to oppose the Brown DL, particularly Garrett:

“Not just the Titans, but I am sure most teams throughout league are going to look to try to look and help on Myles’ side and try to chip, which I think is going to open things up on the other side for Olivier Vernon, as well as an inside look for (DT) Larry (Ogunjobi) and Sheldon. We feel like we are talented across the board and they are going to try to come in, particularly being depleted a little bit at the left tackle, try and protect a little bit more and give the quarterback time to get the ball down the field.”


On if Browns fans will be surprised by the defense and if it could overshadow the offense:
“It is a team effort. There is a lot of balance throughout what we are doing on offense, defense and special teams. It is a long season, and hopefully, we can complement each other throughout.”


On CB Terrance Mitchell responding to competition at CB:

“I think he responded well. I think he had a great camp and competition is something we emphasize across the board because we want guys constantly trying to get better each and every day. We really do not want guys to get into any kind of comfort zone. I think Mitchell responded well. I think (CB) Greedy (Williams) had a good camp as well and made some plays. You guys saw in the preseason game. The biggest thing that we need is the consistency throughout the year.”


On if having a high-powered offense allows the Browns an ability to be more aggressive, given the offense could potentially make up for mistakes or risks:
“It is not so much them trying to make up for it. It is really trying to create our own identity. That has just really been my make-up ever since I have been in this system – being aggressive, not really trying to sit back and react to the offense, but allow those guys to react to us. Is it a plus that you feel you have talent on the other side of the ball that can go put points on the board? Definitely, yes.”


On LBs Mack Wilson and LB Sione Takitaki fitting into the defense:

“Taki has been hurt unfortunately. He missed a lot of training camp and a lot of preseason games. Mack Wilson is doing well. I expect those guys to be in the mix. I would rather not say whether they are going to start Week 4 or Week 5 – I could not tell you that – but I am very impressed with what (LBs) Joe (Schobert) and Christian (Kirksey) have done. When you look back on some of the film from last year and some of the things they are doing this year, I love the physicality that Christian is playing with, Joe with his ball skills has been able to play out in space and those guys are doing a great job of playing downhill, which we emphasize a lot at our linebacker position.”


On if the rookie LBs have pushed Kirksey and Schobert to step up their game:

“I do not want to say that. Hopefully, they have the wherewithal to do it themselves, just trying to be a better player. Competition, just like we talked about with Greedy and Terrance out  there at the corner position, it is important that you continue to make sure that you have that.”


On if the Browns plan to rotate between Williams and Mitchell:

“It is one of the things that I have not done in the past a lot. Rotation is always up front because we want to keep those guys fresh. Linebackers and DBs, we play. We want to get into a rhythm. We are going to do everything we can to get these guys ready to play throughout the year because once again, they are one play away. Look for both of those guys to be in there at some point in time.”


On the Titans offense:

“Very talented. When you look at their strengths, it definitely comes at the running back position with (Titans RBs Derrick) Henry as well as (Dion) Lewis. I think they are very talented at the tight end position. You are talking about (Titans TE Delanie) Walker who is dynamic and who I consider is really a receiver and then (Titans TE Jonnu Smith) and the run game and his ability to stretch the field. I think those tight ends are excellent. (Titans QB Marcus) Mariota to me does a good job of really managing the game. They want to try to run first and create that play action. We know that. We have to do a great job of stopping this run game. Henry is a big, physical back that loves to play downhill. He is going to try to test the perimeters of the defense. We have to do a great job of setting the edges and turning him back inside.”


On where WR Odell Beckham Jr.’s talent ranks amongst NFL receivers:

“I think he is one of the top in the league, if not the top. When you look at his ability to catch the ball out in space and make guys miss, that is a threat to any defense. I think you are always looking for that mismatch right there against Odell. Particularly if you put him in the slot, who is going to cover him? I am just glad we do not have to go up against him in a game.”


On how Beckham helps the Browns defense prepare:

“It makes us better competition-wise, knowing that this guy practices hard. I do not know how much you guys are out there, but he is going full speed every day so our guys are getting a great look in what it is going to look like with game speed come Sunday.”


On if recent injuries to Titans RB Derrick Henry change the Browns gameplan:

“I expect him to be ready. As I mentioned earlier, Lewis a very good back, as well. No. 33 does a tremendous job of getting to the perimeter as well and can run in between the tackles. I think they are going to try to come in and try to establish the run game being on the road for the first game of the year. That is what they do and then create the vertical shots down the field.”


On Mariota:
“He does a good job of managing the game. He is not going to try to force things in there. He is going to check it down, but he will take his shots down the field. It comes off the play action.”


On CB T.J. Carrie returning to practice:

“Anytime you have veterans in your locker room, veterans out there that are starting for you or playing, it is extremely important. They have what I call ‘skin on the wall’. They have been there before so it is not too big for them and they know how to respond. It is great to have him back out there. He missed a lot of time, but he is smart enough to be able to understand exactly what we need to get done. It is good.


On the importance of having experienced players like Carrie playing inside CB:

“Of course, because when you look at the nickel position, you are a linebacker in the run game and then they are going to put you out in space as a DB in the pass game. He does a great job of understanding run fits, particularly with this week with what we are going to be able to see and face. It is good to have him back out there.”


On most encouraging aspects for improvements in the run defense:

“The trust up front with those guys, understanding that everybody has a gap. Do no try to do too much. We emphasize all of the time. Just do your job. We have to play with violent hands. Those guys do a great job of cutting up front, the front level as well as the second level so we have to stay alive, stay on our feet, use our hands right here and get off blocks.”


On most coaches preaching trust and defensive communication yet that sometimes still occurring and confidence Browns players will trust each other:

“I hope that will not be an issue. You never know when we get out there but I think so far the guys have built that trust with one another and understanding that it is about the big picture. Guys doing their down and everybody being in their gap. We know right now that our corners are going to be a major part of the game this week with as much as they try to bounce the ball outside. The point of emphasis with those guys, well, is chasing the hip and making sure we keep the ball on our inside pad.”


On if DT Devaroe Lawrence’s performance in the preseason was as much of a surprise to the Browns coaches as it has been to the fans and media:
“Not so much because we saw a little bit of that in practice, which you guys did not see. Those guys up front – I say this all the time to the defense – everything we do starts up front. It starts with our defensive line, how we penetrate and how come off the ball. Devaroe had a tremendous camp. He made some splash plays in the preseason games, and hopefully, we can continue to get that going this year.”


On if the Browns expect any changes in Mariota and the Titans offense with coaching changes:

“I think from a comfort level standpoint with the new offensive coordinator being the former tight end coach, I think he understands by being around Mariota, exactly what he does well and then also being a tight end coach, he is going to lean toward the run game. Dynamic running backs, good tight ends and I think they are going to try and do everything they can to try to manage the game that way.”


On S Damarious Randall’s versatility:
“I think you said the key word, his versatility so we can do a lot. Our safeties are interchangeable in what we try to do, but having that skillset, he can come down and cover that slot, he is a good blitzer off the edge and he has range in the post. You are not limited in your calls in what you want to be able to do so he gives me free range to be able to open up the call sheet.”


On if it is tougher to prepare for an offensive coordinator when not knowing tendencies and style:
“I think it is tough to prepare even if that coordinator is coming back because a lot of teams do not show a lot during preseason and then that first game of the year, it is really about fundamentals and technique and trying to keep everything solid. I have been telling the coaches all summer, we have to make sure we are smart and not trying to do too much. I guarantee if you pop on that film on Monday of the team that loses, it is going to be busted coverages, guys not aligning in their gaps, not getting over and not leveraging the football because again. That is what happens the first game. Hopefully, it is tight for us, we can play fast and run around.”


On how eager he is to see the ‘new and improved’ Garrett on Sunday:

“I am very eager to see that. I think it is important that guys have individual goals that align with team goals. If he is Defensive Player of the Year, I think we are winning a lot of football games so I am excited about that. He is a special talent. I think this guy has tremendous upside and skillset. We will see exactly how great he is going to be this year. I know teams are going to sit here, as we mentioned earlier, are going to try to put protection to him, try to chip, try to slow him down, which I think is just going to open up things for other players around him.”


On DT Daniel Ekuale:

“When you look at Daniel, I call him ‘Mr. Consistent’. He is doing everything we ask him to do. Daniel may not be making the splash plays, but he is allowing the other 10 guys to be effective. When you start talking about the trust that we mentioned earlier within this defense, he is a guy that I trust.”


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