G Joel Bitonio (10.22.20)

G Joel Bitonio:

On what the Browns OL learned from watching the Steelers game film: 

“It is a whole array of things. Like you said and I kind of touched on it, I do not think it was every play, but I think there was one guy on most plays that either made an assignment mistake or got beat. Those things when you play a good defense, you have to be able to fix. They tried to collapse the pocket and they got us a few times. I think us just being a little bit firmer on the inside to give our tackles a chance on a few plays. There was a lot that we could do better. When you play a great defense, one or two guys making a mistake on a play really shuts it down for you.”

On how offensive line coach Bill Callahan approached practice on Wednesday: 

“We went back to work. It was a normal work Wednesday. We went hard. We were in full pads hitting. Just getting back to that training camp-style practice. It was a good one yesterday, but we needed it. We needed to refocus, get back going and try to get back on the winning train this week.”

On the Browns’ lack of production in the run game against the Steelers and confidence the team can bounce back: 

“From a game flow perspective, you go down 10-0 early, it is hard to stick exactly to the run game. Then when you run and you only get three or four yards on a play or you lose a yard, the coach loses confidence and those type of runs. We did not run quite as much outside zone because they have such good edge guys in (Steelers LB Bud) Dupree and (Steelers LB) T.J. Watt, but there were yards there. Like I said earlier, we were one guy away a lot of the times on a couple of those early runs by (RB) Kareem (Hunt), where we are getting 7, 8 or 9 yards and we were really one guy away from breaking for a touchdown. As the game kind of went on, the short-yardage stuff was not good enough. We did not execute good enough on that. It was usually one or two guys away on a play where it is like, ‘Alright, we would have gotten more production.’ Then kind of the game flow. You get down and you have to try and throw the ball more, and against the front like that, it is tough to do.”

On if the next step for the Browns offense is to be able to counter when a team is taking away the team’ strengths: 

“Yeah, we have to improve. That is one of our things where, ‘Hey, if they are not giving us this, what can we take advantage of and do?’ We ran some gap scheme stuff and we actually had some success early, but we just could not keep it going. I think later in the game we had a couple of negative plays and that just loses the confidence of the coaching staff.”

On what it does for a team’s morale knowing people like WR Jarvis Landry are playing through pain: 

“It is big. Jarvis is a tough dude. I do not know what injuries everybody is going through and stuff like that, but for him to go out there and battle through those things is a testament to him. He is prideful. He wants to play. I think he has a pretty good streak of playing most of the games in his career, and he is over 100 now. That is just something that I think it is a mentality and a pride thing, and he wants to be out there for his teammates. It is something you want every guy on your team to be. Obviously when, guys are injured are injured and you can’t play and you are going to make things worse. I am sure it is very painful, but the guys that can play and the guys that fight through it, it is a testament to them and it shows what type of teammates they are and what type of people they really are off the field, as well.”

On expectations from the Bengals DL this week: 

“I think they are much improved. I think they were pretty banged up that first time. I know (Bengals DT) Geno (Atkins) is back, and they are kind of working him in a little bit slowly, mostly on pass rush downs. (Bengals DT) Mike Daniels has the opportunity to come off IR this week. The guys I think are more comfortable in the scheme now and they are doing a few different things than they were earlier in the year. You can see they are taking their chances and their opportunities. They are still banged up – (Bengals DE) Sam (Hubbard) is out,  (Bengals DT) D.J. Reader and those guys – but they have guys that are trying to do their assignment and trying to do their thing. It is going to be challenging. I think anytime you play a division opponent the second time, there are always new wrinkles and new schemes, and it is going to be what team can kind of adjust on the fly and see what the other team is doing against them.”

On if he has learned anything new about Head Coach Kevin Stefanski from Stefanski’s approach things coming of the loss: 

“He is consistent. I kind of knew that, but he is consistent. We lost pretty bad Week 1, as well. It is just one of those things, it sucks. We wanted to compete, we wanted to play better and we wanted to do all these things, but we can’t do anything about the last game. All we can do is move forward. That was kind of what he stressed all week so far and after the game. We have to learn from it. That is the thing is it is one loss on our season. We are 4-2. At the end of the year, whatever our record is, it is not going to be like, ‘Man, Pittsburgh, bad loss. Baltimore, bad loss.’ It is going to be whatever your win-loss record is. We are going to improve from it and grow from it. We can’t let one turn into two. That has just been our motto this week. We are ready to work. I know Cincinnati is going to come and give us a heck of a game. It is going to be a big challenge for us. His consistency and his leadership of, ‘Hey, we are not going to turn this into two. We are going to learn from it, though. You have to have tough skin because we are going to coach you hard and we are going to teach from the things that we made mistakes on so hopefully, they do not happen again.’”

On the Browns being 4-2 as it relates to the playoff picture:

“I think that is a little ways away from us. We are really just trying to focus on Cincinnati, but it is a good start. The two losses we had, we did not perform up to expectations. I think that is tough and I think that makes those losses feel worse, but as a group, we have won a few games and we are trying to move on and trying to get to 5-2 this week, which will be big. It is good to be in position. You never want to be like, ‘Man, they are out of the playoffs already. They are 0-6.’ That is not what you want to hear. We are 4-2, and we know we have things that we want to improve on and work on and that it is a day-to-day, week-to-week business.”

On if he was surprised by ‘the lack of fire’ from the team last week:

“From a mentality standpoint, at least from my position, we were OK to start the game, but then you give up a field goal and you throw a pick-six and I think that momentum kind of hurt us and that is where you kind of see the low in energy. Pittsburgh is a well-coached team and they come to play, and we have to meet or exceed that same energy that they have. It is different when there are 5,000 fans or 7,000 fans in the stands, but it is our job to come out and meet those expectations and really surpass them. No matter what happens in the NFL, the game is so long that you can be down 10 points. We saw it against Dallas. Teams can come back from a huge amount of points in this league, and it is focusing on that next play. I really did think like for most guys the mindset was good. We got down bad in the second half, but the mindset was good. We were trying to just execute a little bit better each time we went out there.”

On if RB Kareem Hunt is anxious to have a breakout performance:

“I have not seen any anxious behavior, but I know he wants to play better and he wants us the offense to play better, and that means he is probably going to run a little bit better. It is one of those things where he has been the leading rusher in the NFL before and he understands what it takes to kind of do those things. There are ups and downs in a season, but the O line wants to get him going. (RB) Nick (Chubb) is a great running back and we miss him obviously, but Kareem is a dude, too. We want to get him going. I think as an O line, we are more stressed about that than he is.”

On confidence Stefanski will be able to make the correct adjustments with the first head coaching opportunity to face an opponent for the second time in a season:

“We are confident in him. He has done a good job this year. Like you said, they are going to have something special for us, but hopefully we have something – offense, defense and special teams – special for them and we can figure it out. It is his first opportunity as a head coach, but he has been around gameplans and he has coaches that have been around gameplans where every year you play at least [twice]. Some teams you play three times if you go to the playoffs. I think we are ready for it. I think we are ready for the opportunity. We had a good day of practice yesterday, and we are ready to stack a good one today.”

On his role this week in helping QB Baker Mayfield rebound from a tough loss, as well as helping the Browns pass game continue to advance:

“I think Baker’s mindset is fine. Obviously, he is disappointed in the way we performed as a team, but I think he is ready to go out there and give it another go. It is such a fast week. You get in, you review the film on Monday and you are off Tuesday, but quarterbacks are never off. They are focused. They are learning. We have to focus on Cincinnati or it turns into two losses instead of just one and winning the next game. I think he is in a good mindset. We talked after the game, and I told him that we did not protect him well enough and that was on us. I think mentally he is fine. He is ready to take that next step. As far as the offense goes, I think winning cures that. Obviously, we have not gotten guys as many touches that they have in the past, but if we are winning games, I think the guys have the right mindset in this locker room to where we are going to be fine.”

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