G Joel Bitonio (12.24.20)

G Joel Bitonio:

On G Wyatt Teller’s execution during the proposal at FirstEnergy Stadium this week: 

“It was good. He was showing us the ring last week so we saw that. We were not exactly sure how it was going to go down, but FirstEnergy (Stadium) on the 50-yard line, pretty good stuff. It was not too bad of weather, I do not think, so he did alright there.”

On if he will show his daughter the former Browns offensive line coach Bob Wylie Santa video from past years: 

“I do not want to scare her too soon – maybe next year (laughter).”

On his emotions this season and if the team’s success this year is any sweeter for him, WR Rashard Higgins and LS Charley Hughlett due to the tough years with the Browns they experienced together: 

“You get here and you go through some tough seasons, and I was telling my wife the other day, it took me like four years to win 10 games at one point where it was just so long. To experience a winning culture and just be on a winning program for once, it is something you want to be a part of and you dreamed of being a part of. Every year, you thought you were part of that turnaround and you are making that charge. It has been really fun this year, and we have a lot to go. We are still trying to fight to get in the playoffs, and we are just trying to beat the Jets this week. Big picture, to get to 10 wins and to start that turnaround and hopefully, start a winning culture here in Cleveland where it is like every year this team is battling for the AFC North and playoff contention and the goal is to win Super Bowls eventually, that is what we are fighting for. To be a part of the turnaround, it is one of those things where you are going to look back, and man, there are some dark days there, there are some things where you do not remember what winning was, and now, I do think you enjoy the wins and the experiences just a little bit more when you have been through that.”

On being named to his third consecutive Pro Bowl: 

“Thank you. It was good. This is the first year I was voted in as a starter so that was kind of cool to get that recognition. People talk about, ‘Oh, the Pro Bowl, it is a fan vote with coaches and players included,’ but anytime you can get recognized by those people, your peers and the coaches that you play against, it is an honor. It is something that someday down the road when everything is over, you will look back on it. Right now, we are focused on playing these games and we have games coming up, but down the road, I will look back and tell my daughter, ‘I was a Pro Bowler that weird COVID season. We made the Pro Bowl. We did not play in a Pro Bowl, but we made it.’ It is something special. It is an honor anytime you can get that. It is such a team [effort], Especially O-line play, you are playing next to guys, you are doing combination blocks that it is such a team thing. I thought we had a few O linemen who were deserving as well that did not get enough recognition. It takes time. I thought there were years where it takes a little bit of time to finally get your name in the circle and stuff like that. Sometimes you have to work a couple of extra years to get into the Pro Bowl. The whole O line is playing well this year, and we are going to try and continue that going forward.”

On being the first Browns G to be named to three consecutive Pro Bowls since Pro Football Hall of Famer Gene Hickerson and if he has ever talked to Browns Legend T Doug Dieken about Hickerson: 

“I have talked to Doug a bunch, but I have not talked exactly about Gene. I know he is a great player, a Hall of Famer. He is on the wall in the indoor. Anytime you are in the same sentence as some of the Cleveland Browns greats from those teams back then is pretty special.”

On the Browns’ two 95-yard drives last week and if he can feel how long the drives are when they are occurring: 

“It depends what the weather is like (laughter). On a cold night, it is not too bad and you can catch your breath in between plays. Especially when we had those penalties where I think it ended up being like 130 yards or something like that that we ended up driving down the field with penalties included, you can tell it is a long, sustaining drive. Those ones are kind of crazy because it usually goes first down, second down and you get a big third-down conversion or you get a penalty or something like that to extend the drive. It feels good. It feels like you are in a rhythm. It felt like (QB) Baker (Mayfield) could not really miss that game where anytime we need to throw the ball, he was finding someone open, they were making a contested catch or he was making a play. It was good. We had good ball control. Our defense played well and held them to a limited amount of points. We kind of took our time on offense, ball control and give them less opportunities.”

On if he feels opposing defenses wearing down on the Browns’ long drives: 

“They would start rotating guys in and out. I think you can feel them getting fresh if you go three-and-out a couple of times and they are coming back on the field. With those long drives and you get a first down and it has been like six plays maybe and you get that second first down and those guys are kind of tapping out and ready to get a blow, you are like, ‘Alright, we got something going here. Let’s get our foot on the gas and try and make something happen.’ Especially in the system we run with the boots, the keepers and the outside zone, those guys are running side to side a lot, and that that kind of wears them down a little bit, too. Anytime you can get a sustained drive, I think it helps everybody on your side of the ball.”

On how T Jedrick Wills Jr. has been playing and if he is hoping Wills will return for Sunday’s game: 

“That is a big one. I was kind of surprised this morning, but we are hoping he gets back. We are hoping he gets back for the game and to play. Talk about a rookie coming in, starting every game and just being focused. Has it been perfect? No, but the way he competes and some of the things he has done in pass pro and the things we ask him to do in pass pro where a lot of rookies get help with chips and slides his way, a lot of the stuff he has done has been on an island one on one. It has been impressive. We have a good rapport now. Me, him and (C) JC (Tretter) are kind of working together on the left side, and you get used to a guy like that playing well. It has been good for him in his rookie year. Obviously, he is a big piece of our offense and a big piece of why we have kind of started to turn the corner here.”

On C Nick Harris filling in for T Chris Hubbard at RG last week:

“That was big time. Next man up for sure. We go through all of these contingency plans every week on the O line of ‘Alright, who is going in at guard, who is going in at tackle or who is going in at center if anything happens?’ He was kind of the next man up at guard. Obviously, you do not expect anything like that to happen, and he comes in and does a good job. He fought. He competes. He is an athletic guy so the system fits him. I think he was probably going up against the biggest go you could possibly go up against in the NFL over there. The guy was a monster, and Nick is not the hugest guy in the world. It was a good battle. He is a tough competitor. He has not had as many reps at guard, but he had a lot of reps in the offense at center so he kind of knows what to do and it is just kind of executing those assignments.”

On if Landry wants to throw the ball during reps as the emergency QB in walkthrough each week:

“The guy is killing it. Every time he throws a pass, he is making a big play in the game. You always have to have those contingency plans and a few reps a week of playing quarterback. His cadence has vastly improved over the year. It took him a while to get it. We were going on silent for a little bit there to make sure he was alright. It is just in case. We can run the same offense. You get those boots in there get them on the edge. He can move both ways and make those throws. He tries to checks some routes at the line of scrimmage, too, so he is creative back there.”

On if he could tell that Landry was freaked out by the hard count in last week’s game, given Landry’s comments about it:

“Oh, yeah (laughter). We knew not to snap it, but he was ready for that one. We practiced it a few times. (Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski, when we practices a play, he is ready to let it loose. I think you guys have seen that with some of our trick plays. We had all of the confidence in the world that he was ready to be the quarterback back there.”

On if the NY Jets defense has done anything differently in recent weeks:

“It is the next week. We watched a bunch of film on them. We came in and we talked on Wednesday about this Jets team. You just have to really put on the tape against the Rams, and they were the more physical team. They were flying around. They made plays, and the Rams are looking like a playoff team in the NFC that runs a similar system to what we run. They kind of shut them down there for almost three quarters before the Rams kind of fought back into it. They have talent. They play hard. It is the NFL. Every week, you have to bring your hat. I was part of teams that went 0-16 and 1-15, and I know the guys in the locker room that have pride and that want to go out there and prove themselves. Everybody is playing for a contract, their next contract and the contract they are on or for another team. There are some good players. They have some good schemes that we have to be ready for. Coach Stefanski has been the same guy. We are focused on where are feet are. When we are in this building, we are focused on playing this week and we are focused on trying to take care of business.”

On if he has ever seen anyone before as big as NY Jets T Mekhi Becton:

“I have not seen him in person, but I have seen some of his film. He moves. There were a few plays in a game that you see him flying or pulling around and taking someone out. That is a big man, and I know he has had a good rookie year. He is a mauler in the run game and a good pass protector, as well. I am interested to see him go against (DE) Myles (Garrett) and OV (DE Olivier Vernon), two vets go against a young rookie. I know he has had a good rookie year, as well, along with Jed and (Buccaneers T) Tristan Wirfs and those guys like that who have had good rookie years at tackle. It will be interesting to see. (Ravens T) Orlando Brown is pretty big for the Ravens, too. I do not know comparison wise who is bigger.”

On if Landry has some of the best hands he has ever seen and if Landry’s catches amazes him at times, including last week:

“He has been making plays. All game long, Hoop (TE Austin Hooper), Higgins and him – (TE) David (Njoku) had a big catch over the middle – they are making some pretty impressive tight window catches. Jarvis comes down with some big ones. I have never caught passes in my life so I do not know how difficult those things are, besides in my backyard. You see him do things in practice where you are like, ‘Alright, that is pretty impressive.’ They practice that kind of thing. You come down and you execute them in the game, it is one of those things where it is like, ‘Oh, is he ever going to do that one-handed catch?’ Then he goes out and executes it. He has been a beast for us. He has really come alive these last four or five weeks for us and been a real threat for Baker everywhere, but especially in the red zone.”

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