G Joel Bitonio (12.3.20)

G Joel Bitonio:

On how DE Myles Garrett has looked in practice this week: 

“I can’t speak to exactly how good his shape is, but I know his pass rush moves are still there. He got some one on ones yesterday, and he was still bending and moving the way he always moves. There was a move today where I thought he was going to fall, and he just somehow keeps his feet and can turn the corner better than anybody in this league I think. I think he is back. I think his legs feel good. I know he did have some symptoms so he was coming back from them and feeling good. He says he is feeling good now. The first week was a little tough with the symptoms and everything, but since then, he has felt a lot better, and I think he is going to be ready to roll this weekend.”

On how good it feels to be in the playoff hunt this year: 

“It is fun. We were in it a little bit my rookie year, a legit playoff race where we had a better than .500 record, and obviously, that season did not end the way we wanted it to, but you felt the excitement in Weeks 10, 11 and 12 of that year and then it kind of obviously fell off a cliff. It feels good. I know the Browns fans and the community have been behind this team and has experienced winning, obviously way back when, even in the 80s and stuff when they were making runs to the championship games and stuff, there is just winning in the fans and all that. It is good. You want to be a part of that turnaround. We have been through a few GMs and a few head coaches and stuff, and hopefully, now this is the norm. The norm was not always great, but hopefully, we get this norm back where this team is always playing meaningful games in December and they are always fighting for those playoff spots and hopefully division championships.”

On if there is any extra juice going into this game to show the Browns’ ability in the running game against the Titans running game: 

“I would not say there is extra juice. Especially for us linemen, every week is just a battle, and you look at it in one-week capsules, but you do respect their game. (T) Jack (Conklin) was over there and you saw how they made a run in the playoffs. It seems like (Titans RB) Derrick Henry gets stronger as the season goes on and into the playoffs and stuff. We do think we have two of the best backs in the league in (RB) Nick Chubb and (RB) Kareem Hunt. We feel like those guys can perform with anybody. Maybe it will be the quickest game in NFL history – we will get like a two-hour game in and everybody will get home early on Sunday (laughter). It is a respect thing. They run a very similar offense. They use the play action like us. It is going to be a battle. We want to go out there and perform our best, and we are both trying to improve our playoff positioning this week. It should be fun.”

On the Titans pass rush: 

“They have some good players. Starting with the guys I am going to block, (Titans DL Jeffery) Simmons and (Titans DL DaQuan) Jones are inside, and they are both big guys that are powerful, strong guys but they also have enough quickness to test your edges. The thing they do best is they run a lot of games. They use some of their linebackers or standup guys. They have (Titans DE/OLB Jadaveon) Clowney and they moved him around. I know he is banged up and he is out on IR. They move around a lot. They run around a lot of different games, TEs, ETs and linebacker stunts. They are always giving you something new and something to look at. They kind of have a flavor of the week where we will see what they bring this week. They do a lot of things. I know they do not have a huge amount of sacks, but they are pressuring the quarterback, they are getting hits and they collapse the pocket really well. They are a good group of guys, and you have to really be on who you are going to and working to make sure you pick it up.”

On how disappointing it was that Chubb barely missed winning the rushing title last year to Henry in the final week: 

“It was tough. I remember me and Nick last year before COVID, our seats on the plane were next to each other so we always flew back and we were next to each other. I remember that game we were flying when the Titans game was happening and we land, and he was still leading. It was kind of all we had at the end of the year last year so we were really rooting for Nick to get the [rushing title]. We were flying, we landed and he still had the [rushing title], and I was driving home, I was listening to the game or I had it on like the game cast and there was like a 60-yard run in the game for Derrick Henry. We were paying attention to it. I just remember that he beat Nick that last week, and I was just crushed for him because I just know how hard Nick works, how hard he runs and the type of guy he is and more for him as a person. The difference was what, 50 yards or something like that? An NFL rushing title and things of that nature are things that you can look back on in 10- 15 years or 20 years and tell your grandkids you led the NFL in rushing. It was tough. You respect what they do. They are a good running team, they finished there year strong and obviously, they were a dangerous team in the playoffs. They were leading the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game.”

On what impresses him most about Chubb: 

“Probably his work ethic. He is a guy that is always doing something to improve. Running back has to be one of the toughest positions. You get beat on the most. You are constantly hit by two or three guys, and you do not know what angle it is coming. He is constantly working to improve his body. When he was banged up with his knee injury this year, it just shows how much he wants to get back out there with his teammates. I think if we were playing in a playoff game before the bye week when he sat or during the bye week, he might have been back for that. It was impressive the way he rehabbed and recovered. It is just a testament to him. He just wants to be the best he can be, and that starts with his prehab, his rehab and the way he works on and off the field and just his humbleness. The guy just loves playing football, and it is really fun to block for him.”

On Head Coach Kevin Stefanski naming a game captain each week and being last week’s game captain: 

“It is a week-to-week thing. We are out on the field and we are stretching and then right after stretch, he calls it up. He just says a little anecdote or a little something about the player and why he is going be captain for that week, if there is a backstory or something. There is nothing like… I am not from Jacksonville or something like that necessarily. It is just something that he had talked about during the week, overcome something, work or just little things like that that he wants to put you in a position to be the captain. It is an honor anytime you can lead your team out there. I know it is different this year with 16 of them and hopefully more in the playoffs. It is definitely a different thing, but anytime you can lead your team out there and just try and be that leadership position for your team, it is an honor. It was cool to do it. I am glad we got the win.”

On why Stefanski named him the game captain for the Jacksonville game: 

“He just said a guy who has been here for a long time who has put a lot of work in and been through some things. It just was my turn.”

On his play on the screen to convert third-and-12 at the end of the game: 

“It was fun. I saw it on film. I usually watch the game on the flight back or as quick as I can watch it just to see all the plays and stuff, and we watched the film the next day. It was good. You work on screens a lot, but you do not really get full-speed reps until you get into the games so we have not had too many of those. It worked out timing-wise, and they were in man-to-man coverage, which you make a block and things spring. I kind of got in the way there, and Nick made the rest work. (C) JC (Tretter) had some hustle down there. It was good. I saw the play, and I knew they had been hold happy the couple of drives so I was making sure they did not call any penalties on me. It was an exciting play. Anytime you can ice a game in a four-minute drive or finish the game off, that is something you look forward to. Third-and-12 is a little bit tougher than a third-and-2, but we pulled it off. It was cool to see it executed well.”

On main reasons for the team’s progress compared to the season openr last season:

“I think it starts top-down structure. I know (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew Berry and (Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski are all on the same page when working through that. I think the guys have had time to mesh. We are just focused on a week-to-week operation here. COVID makes things a lot more difficult, but it also makes things easier. We are just focused on getting to this week and playing this game, and I think if you have that approach as an organization, everybody is going to be pulling in the same direction. It just makes it easier. I do not think it is a drastic difference with players and stuff like that, but I think we are moving in the right direction, the guys are focused and focusing on the right things. I think that really does help an organization move in the right direction.”

On if everyone is sticking to the week-to-week focus due to what occurred last year or Stefanski’s impact on the team:

“I think it is coach Stefanski and his focus on a week-to-week and being the same guy every day. No matter if we win or we lose or we play great or we play poorly, he is going to be the same guy for us and he is going to have us focused on the task at hand. It is something that he has done since Day 1 when we were in OTAs and we could not do this stuff. His focus leads to the players’ focus, and it just all works together. We are focused on going 1-0 every week. It is cliché to talk about, but when you stress it enough in meetings and things of that nature, then it comes because second hand.”

On WR KhaDarel Hodge’s comment that the Titans are not ‘a super team and are beatable like everybody else’ and if that motivates the team to need to back up the comment:

“I have heard him saying that stuff, but from a player perspective, I just do not get that motivated with what other people say until we play the game. Some people do it, and I think it is a great thing and a great storyline and I think people run with it and say it like that, but I know when I go out there, I have to play my best game and hopefully, my teammates come out there and play their best game. We know we are playing a good team. They were in the AFC Championship last year. They have one of the best offenses in the league. They get after the quarterback. They play a good game. I know it is going to be a challenge. We are going to go out there and put our best game forward. What they say and what we say before the game, I really do not think that matters too much. I know it sounds great, but I think when we get out there, we have to play a football game and that is really what is going to matter. I know I give it my all no matter what is said. If they do not say anything about us or say we are the worst or we are the best, I still have to go out there and make that block. That is just from my perspective, but we have our guys’ back. Whatever they want to go do, we have to go back it up when we play on Sundays.”

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