G Joel Bitonio (9.24.20)

G Joel Bitonio:

On Washington’s DL and if they are similar to the 49ers’ DL the Browns faced last season:

“They are a good front. They made the conversion to that four-down front. They have been a three-down front for as long as I can remember, but they switched to that four-down front. Obviously, they drafted a great player in (Washington DE) Chase Young and now they are kind of letting all of those first-round picks get after the quarterback as much as possible. The thing about them is they have depth. They have (Washington DE) Ryan Kerrigan, who is kind of rotating in now, and I think he is the franchise-leading sack-getter. They have depth pretty much across the board, which is tough to deal with. Usually, you get a little break if someone comes out of the game, but honestly with them, it is another guy after another guy. They really disrupted the Eagles in the first week and (Cardinals QB) Kyler Murray did a pretty good job of escaping a few times, but they are a tough test. We are going to have to be ready for them.”

On T Jedrick Wills’ performance in the first two weeks:

“He is doing well. It is early in the season. You get one or two games in and people have film on you now. Before this, there was really no film of him playing on the left side. People are going to start to study that. It is all about improvement. You take what we did good, we flushed it after Friday and now we are trying to improve and get ready for Washington because they are going to be the toughest test we have faced yet from an individual standpoint on the defensive front. He is learning every day in practice. Every day, he gets to watch film and he is taking another step. These reps are invaluable. It is really good. I think he had a little bit of time to reflect this weekend after the first two games. It is a new part of the season so now we are getting out and he is just going to try and perform. That is what I told him is NFL line play is how consistent can you be. It is hard to have ups and downs on the line so if you can be consistent week in and week out, that is when you can make a name for yourself.”

On Young’s performance during his rookie year:

“There is a reason he was the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. He makes plays. For D linemen, sometimes it takes a second to go – you get drafted and you don’t have a preseason – but he is really flowing off the edge from the start. The thing that really sticks out is obviously, he has all the intangibles – the speed, the size, the arm length and the closing speed – but is really football knowledge. You see a shift and he will make a spin inside or he plays off blocks. Those are things you see vets do, usually the veteran pass rushers. He is making moves. He just understands football, which is big for a pass rusher, because you know when the slide is coming your way or you are getting double-teamed, there are ways to kind of defeat that. He already has a pretty good grasp on that. Like I said earlier, all of them teed off on the quarterback, but I think he is the guy that they are putting the red dot on and being like, ‘Hey, this is our bell cow and everybody is going to feed off of that.’

On the challenge when facing a DL that is willing to move personnel to different positions:

“It makes it difficult. If you have a guy that you know you are going to be matched up with every play, you can kind of study that guy a little bit more. Here, they play him on both sides. They move some guys inside and some guys outside. They have a few different looks they can throw at us. They are not a four-down only team. They have shown some different looks. You have to prepare for everybody. That is the beauty of it. I think defenses and defensive lines as a whole are trying to take advantage of people. If they can get their best rusher on one of the lesser protectors or if they think they have an advantage scheme-wise, they are going to try to line guys up, instead of just traditionally, ‘You are the right defensive end.’ You saw (DE) Myles (Garrett) get the strip-[sack] over a guard. I think that is what a lot of teams are trying to get is those matchups they think can be advantageous for them.”

On if he is hearing more trash talk at the line of scrimmage during games, given they are being played with limited or no fans:

“The first game, there were no fans in the stands, which was a little bit weird because the TV timeouts and stuff, it was just dead silent, it felt like. You could hear a little bit more, not even necessarily trash talk but just talking in general. A few times, I wanted to be like, ‘Should we be this loud? I feel like we are calling the play too loud,’ or something like that. In the Cinci game, it felt a little bit more like a preseason-type atmosphere so you heard fans kind of doing things, but you can hear things from the sidelines and you can hear people yelling from the sideline, saying something or talking a little trash from the sideline, which is something you do not usually here when the stadium is packed.”

On if he shared with QB Baker Mayfield that the Browns offense may not need to say as much out loud:

“Before the first game, I was just thinking I did not know how quiet it was going to be and I don’t want to get up to the ball and they are hearing us call passes or call runs. We do not want to give them any advantages in that sense, but I do not think we have had that issue yet. It is something that was definitely in the back of my mind.”

On the 49ers DL playing a five-man front at times last season against the Browns and if the 49ers showed that on tape prior to the matchup:

“I think a lot of teams have where they can put five pass rushers on the field, and it has become more prevalent. We already saw Baltimore do that all game against us. They want to try to get one-on-one matchups. Going back to last year with San Fran, that was like Week 5 that we played them so I do not really recall what I saw beforehand, but a lot of teams have that package in their fronts. It is a Bear front, where they cover up both guards and the center and have the two guys off the edge or they have a guy kind of roaming around and spinning. Every team has those in their repertoire. It is just a flavor of the week of what they think can hit. When you get five bigs out there, usually, it is going to be a lot of one-on-one pass rush and who is going to win their one-on-one battle.”

On if defenses may use a five-man front or Bear front to help stop the run:

“You can do that, as well. Like on early downs, if you watch Baltimore and even Cincinnati last week, they got into that five-big front where they have five big guys, and it is tougher. You do not have as many double-teams and you are really having to gain a guy a lot of times in the outside zone system so it makes it a little bit more difficult, but it does have less guys in the backfield. You might not have five DBs or six DBs out there because they have more big guys so you have a chance with play action and drop-back passes, if you can hold up in pass protection.”

On FB Andy Janovich’ s comment that the Browns could have potentially ran for 300-400 yards, T Jack Conklin’s statement of a goal to rush for 200 yards every game and the ultimate ceiling for RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt:

“They are both good backs. They are two of the top backs in the league. It is tough to run in the NFL, though. I have been around a lot, though, where sometimes teams decide to shut down the run and you have to take what is given to you in that sense. With Chubb and Kareem, they have all of the ability in the world. It is how much are we going to give them. Sometimes they make things out of things we do not block for them. If we can continue to block well and try to improve on those performance, I think the sky is the limit for them. I do not know a yard count. It is how much is it going to take to keep us in the game and give us a chance to win. The more you are winning in a game, the better chance you have to run the ball because you are trying to run the clock out. A lot of times, you see those stats online where, ‘Oh, if they run the ball more than 35 times, they win the game.’ It is an O lineman’s dream, of course, but usually, you are up by two scores in the fourth quarter and you are going to run it 20 times. Those are the chances you get where you want to try to wear down the defense. With those two, it is really fun blocking for those guys. You do not really tell the difference. One guy comes in fresh, and it is just like, ‘OK, here we go. Let’s go.’”

On if opposing defenses may be more reluctant to load the box to stop the run with WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry posing threats outside:

“Yeah, it is one of those things where I think you even saw it last year. Obviously, OBJ was a little bit banged up, but he still could take the top off of a defense. You saw it last week on the long touchdown. Someone is going to have to respect that. He still opens it up for other people and for Jarvis underneath, Hoop (TE Austin Hooper) underneath and for the running game. Teams have their designs. They are going to try and disguise coverages and they are going to try to make things happen. Usually, a team kind of decides, ‘Hey, we are going to stop the run this week or we are going to try to stop the pass,’ and kind of see where it goes from there. I do think Odell really gives us a deep threat over the top that people have to respect.”

On how much pride the Browns OL takes in running game success, including the team’s final TD drive last week:

“It is a big pride thing. Anytime you call six runs and you finish out the game or try and finish out the game with a touchdown on a drive, kill some clock and you give your defense a breather, it is huge. It is a big pride thing. Chubb and Kareem deserve the credit – they are great running backs – but as a unit, we just want to build on that. We are kind of past that game now. I know this is the first time I have talked to you guys since then, but for us, we have been focused on Washington since Friday afternoon. That is something that we are really working for. We want to replicate that. We want to work to replicate that and we know it won’t happen every time, but our goal is to try to replicate that where we are finishing games running the ball in that four-minute offense.”

On if the Browns social justice leadership committee and team have talked about the Kentucky grand jury’s announcement regarding the Breonna Taylor case:

“As a team, we have not talked about that. We did have a social justice meeting on our off day on Tuesday where we actually met with the Cleveland Police Chief (Cleveland Division of Police Calvin D. Williams) and a few other councilmen. We got to discuss with them kind of the steps they are taking to work with the community and how we can help and those relationships that we want to try and build with Cleveland Police, and they want to build a community. We have kind of been preparing for Washington from there. I am sure when we have our next meeting on maybe next Monday or Tuesday that we will discuss it as a team from there, though.”

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