HC Freddie Kitchens (10.14.19)

Head Coach Freddie Kitchens:

Opening statement:

“Win or lose, it is always going to be the same on Monday. We are always going to evaluate and see what we did poor and what we did good and try to build off the good and try to eliminate the poor. That does not change. Offensively, we had four turnovers. You can’t win games against good people with four turnovers. Defensively, we did not get a stop when we needed a stop. There were some good things in that game yesterday that we are going to build on. Hopefully, there are some bad things that we are going to eliminate. Special teams, we opened the game with a huge kickoff return – something we had been looking for all year. Then we kind of minus that out with a blocked kick. You can’t win games giving up blocked kicks. Everybody, coaches, players, we have to focus more on our execution in critical moments. That is what the game came down to was execution in critical moments. We have to continue to try to do a better job of getting these guys in better situations, and then hopefully, we execute better in those critical moments during the course of a game and understand that we are in a critical moment in the game and seize that opportunity.”


On if there is any reason to ‘reign in’ QB Baker Mayfield, given his interception total:

“I think each and every interception kind of has its own story. To simply answer your question, I want Baker to continue to work to make better decisions and then we need to work around him to make sure that we are where we are supposed to be, how we are supposed to be there, catching balls and all those things. I have said it from the beginning that quarterback play is dictated so much by the people around him, being on the same page, being where you are supposed to be, how you are supposed to get there and things like that. We need to make sure that Baker is continuing to get better with his eyes, his reads and his throws. Around him and me personally, I have to continue to do a better job of continuing to put him in a better situation. We have to do a better job around him in protection, in where we are supposed to be and then catching the ball.”


On the Browns’ red zone efficiency and turnovers this year compared to last year, given there aren’t significant changes on the team ‘from the naked eye’:

“With the naked eye since you mentioned it, I would say just to give an example, I do not think that we ran a route… One route yesterday, I have no idea where that route came from, and it is one of our staple routes. We need to do a better job of doing what we are supposed to do. The motto today is everybody just do your job and do not worry about anybody else’s job. Just do your job. At some point, we have to become a team. The difference between a group and a team is significant. To be a team, you have to do your job and then you bring it together collectively and then you become a team and you trust the guy beside you that is going to do their job. That is how you become a team. Until you get to that point, you are a group. The better team beat our group yesterday. That is the same thing that I told our guys so this is not a secret. I think our guys are committed to doing what they are supposed to do – coaches, players, everybody – to becoming a team. We tried to do that during training camp, but you do not get that and you do not figure that out sometimes until you hit adversity. That is when you realize are you a group or are you a team. Hopefully, when we go to  New England, we will be a team. I will say this, too – all of this talent we have, that has gotten us 2-4, OK? Now, let’s try something different. Let’s try to be a team and see if we can be better moving forward.”


On believing the Browns became a team during joint practices in Indianapolis:

“I do to certain extent, yes, but when you start talking about a team, you have to be able to trust everybody out there and trust the guy lining up – look to your left, look to your right and see if you can trust them. We have to develop trust in each other that we are going to do our job. Everybody is going to do their job.”


On what is stopping the Browns from being a team:

“I think everybody doing their job. If I have any hesitation that somebody is not going to do their job, I am not really worried about my job.”


On why WR Rashard Higgins was active but did not play:

“Last week was his first week truly back, and I thought (WR) Antonio (Callaway) had a good week of practice. Hig should have played some in the game yesterday, but the situation did not arise where he was in the game. We were moving the ball with three wide and one tight end. We had a package of… I am not going to get into anything else, and we just did not use that package and did not feel like we needed to.”


On if Higgins is ‘in the coaches’ doghouse’:

“No, he is not.”


On if he ‘has a coach’s doghouse’:

“Do I have a doghouse?”


On if there are instances players do not play for reasons he does not want to say:

“Whether I would say it or not is one thing, but do I have a doghouse, per se? I do not really know what… Do I get mad at somebody… Yes, people will not get on the field for not doing their job.”


On if Higgins knows why he is not playing:

“He just got back last week.”


On if the Browns not coming together as a team is potentially impacted by players concerned with individual goals:

“We are going to find out. I do not mind having individual goals. I am not going to bash the people on our team. There is a commitment level here to doing your job. It could be the punter is going to affect the offense, the offense is going to affect the defense and the defense is going to effect the special teams. Everything kind of goes hand in hand here. This is not rocket science. It is you do your job and that puts yourself in a better position to be successful. In return, it would get the team moving in that same direction.”


On if he is surprised or disappointed that so many Browns players are not doing their job up to this point:

“I think we had a lot of improvement yesterday. I do. I think we found out a lot about a lot of people that did their job. The result is not what we wanted, but we did find out a lot about a lot of our guys that are willing to commit to doing their job.”


On how much turnovers are keeping the team to reaching its potential and if that is correctable:

“I think if you look at the microcosm of the whole thing was yesterday’s game. We played fairly well. We had 400 yards of offense, we had 28 points and that is with the four turnovers. If you take those away – I do not know what else to do – you take turnovers away, of course, the game was won and lost right there with the turnovers. Won on their end and lost on ours. It has everything to do with turnovers.”


On if the Browns have been able to pinpoint a mechanical aspect that is leading to Mayfield not being as accurate as is usual:

“Everybody has to take a hand in that. I think it is me as a coach, and we have to be where we are supposed to be when we are supposed to be there. There are a lot of things that we do that is in rhythm and on timing. If that is off just a little bit, you are not as accurate. Do I think he can get better with his accuracy? Yes. Do I think other people around him need to get better? Yes. Do I think I need to get better? Yes. All of the above.”


On if it has been more challenging to transition from being a group to a team, given the early results of the season:

“Is it more difficult? Sometimes you get into situations where… I think we found out if we were a team yet or not and I think we have gotten that answer. I do also think moving forward we know the answer to that, too. I think we are going to become a team. I think you do not find that out until you get kind of at the crossroads. I think it is time to make a decision.”


On if the Browns are at the crossroads now:

“I think at 2-4 you are at the crossroads. That is what talent has gotten you. That does not mean that we are going to go win the game. That just means we need to be more consistent on our approach and our preparation. Listen, there is no secret that we had our best week of practice [last week]. These guys were focused and ready to play. We lost that game yesterday because we turned the ball over and we could not get a critical stop. If you get one or the other, you are going to win that game yesterday. If you do not have the turnovers, you do not need the critical stop. You had the turnover so you need the critical stop. That is how a team operates. One picks up the other, and the other picks up the other one. You get a punt blocked later on in the game that we had them backed up, we do not score, we got them backed up, we force a bad punt and we score three plays later. That is how teams operate. That is what we need to be more consistent at doing. Last week’s preparation was tremendous. I had no doubt whatsoever that we were going to play well, and I think we played well it spurts. Now, we just need to do it more consistently.”


On how the Browns will be able to galvanize as a team during the bye week:

“I think you have to make decision personally to do that, and not to go into any detail, we have visited as a team. I think the group of guys that we have in there are committed to doing that. Now, you said that about the break, yes, but we have a couple days of work ahead of us that we can try to progress and get better in those areas.”


On if there are team-building and bonding opportunities during the bye week prior to traveling to New England:

“I think we can make sure that everybody is doing their job, and that would be the biggest factor there.”


On what will change most with the Browns between now and the game at New England:
“Hopefully, our execution. Hopefully, our execution becomes better. I think we performed at a high level at times yesterday, and I think we need to become more consistent in doing that. The last drive of the game, I had no doubt we were about to move the ball down the field and score a touchdown. No doubt. Then you have a first-and-20 and then we throw an interception. Hopefully, we eliminate those types of errors. You do that by going out on the practice field and making sure that everybody understands the depth of routes, the angles of routes and good technique in the run game. (RB) Nick Chubb had a 12-yard gain on the first play of the drive, and we get a holding call. You can’t do that. You can’t do it in critical moments of the game. That is what I am talking about recognizing it is a critical moment of the game and making sure we are playing with good technique, and those things do not happen. Making sure that we understand that the depth of our routes matter. Understand and making sure that putting the ball out in front of people matters. It is everything. Making sure I call the right play that will not put them in bad situations like that to fail. Everything counts. Even with all of that, I had total confidence in our guys to execute and make the play. That is the only way that I know how to do it. I have to have confidence that they are going to do that. They have to have confidence in each other that their teammates are going to do that. You can’t play with any hesitation.”


On following up on a player running an unfamiliar route and if that was by choice or accidental:

“I am not getting into specifics like that.”


On if he would admit he mismanaged the final two series of the first half, given the situation and timeouts:
“I would not admit that. I would admit that we need to make a better play call, make a better throw, run a better route. I would admit all of that, but that is all. Every situation is different.”


On if he believed the Browns would score twice at the end of the second quarter in that situation:

“I did. Listen, I am always going to be aggressive always, and I expect our team to go out and stop them after a score. That is what I expect. Why am I saving the timeouts? I could burn them like a bunch of people do. Why am I saving the timeouts?”


On ‘bleeding the clock as a strategy that works’:
“That is a strategy. That is a strategy, and we have done that in certain games.”


On providing the Seahawks an opportunity to score points by not running the clock:

“How many points would that have given us at that time?”


[Response: A touchdown, maybe? 28?]


“So we needed more than 32 to win the game.”


On allowing the Seahawks to get a TD following the interception:

“I agree with that, too. I would also agree that if I am in that situation, I am trying to score a touchdown the best way we can. We had an open receiver.”


On WR Antonio Callaway playing against the 49ers the first week back from suspension but Higgins not playing his first week back from injury against the Seahawks:

“I think Rashard was back so it is a little bit different from the standpoint of Higs coming off an injury right now and I thought an extra week… He was there for a certain package of plays. We did not get to that package, and he did not play.”


On if one side of the ball is closer to being a team than the other:
“I think when you start talking about a team, you are talking about offense, defense and special teams. I think everybody has to be vested in the same area, in the same way and in the same manner.”


On QB Baker Mayfield’s status:

“He is fine.”


On if there are any issues with Mayfield’s hip and if Mayfield may miss any practice time:

“No, I do not think so.”


On if he Browns players are feeling tight under pressure during critical moments:

“No, I think the attention to detail needs to pick up.”


On sustaining a sense of belief the Browns can beat the Patriots dynasty after the bye week, particularly given the team’s record at home:

“I am not getting into a bunch of New England stuff right now, but those guys are NFL players in the New England, and we are NFL players here. We have a lot of talent, right? We are full of talent. Hopefully, our talented guys will all become a team, and we will all go up there as one and put our best foot forward.”


On Mayfield facing adversity during his career and his expectations for how Mayfield will respond to it now:
“I think Baker feels like he faces adversity every time he goes on the field. I expect the best from Baker moving forward. I expect the best from him tomorrow. I expect the best out of him when we line up and play New England.”


More on the final few series of the first half:

“Now, just going back to what Tony (Grossi) was asking, I will always be aggressive. I am going to ask our team to be aggressive so their coach should be aggressive always. I had total confidence that we would score, and I had total confidence our defense to go out and stop them. It is always second-guessed. I understand that. I accept that, I would expect you to ask that question, Tony, but you just expect the answer you are getting in return.”


On if he has to be more patient with the team to develop than originally expected:

“I said it at the very beginning to you guys back in March or whenever, there are no two teams the same. You have different make-ups. You have different guys in the locker room. I do not know when it happens. Nobody ever knows when it happens. Nobody can ever say, ‘OK, we are ready to go’ because you do not know what is down the road, you do not know what is coming in front of you and you do not know what is going to happen so you have to be able to adjust and continue to move forward and be successful. You do that by just doing your job, and that is kind of the motto we are trying to create. Just do your job. Everybody just do their job and try to do their job with a little more efficiency, a little more execution and a little more passion – not emotion but passion. Just do it better. Just keep getting better at your job and then it will all come together.”


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