HC Freddie Kitchens (12.8.19)

Head Coach Freddie Kitchens:

Opening statement:

“It was a good win today. Defensively, we had a pick-six, which was huge in the course of the game. Offensively, we were able to run the ball when they knew we were running the ball, which is critical. We were able to hit some plays in the run game and the pass game. Special teams made two big kicks – one, 53-yarder and the other one at the end of the game there, which kind of sealed the deal. We did a good job of covering the onside kick so it did not get interesting. Overall, our guys fought through a bunch of adversity during the course of the game to maintain their composure and did what they needed to do to win the game.”


On why the Browns waited until the second half to emphasize the run:

“I thought we had some plays there in the pass game. The runs I called in the first half went for 2-3 yards. I need more than that. I thought we could lean on them a little bit in the second half.”


On what changed in the second half:

“We blocked them, and we ran the ball well. We blocked them well. When we run the ball, they usually block them very well and our running backs find the holes and crease them.”


On how much the Browns had to adjust due to new personnel on the DL:

“Anytime you change and you lose guys like we have lost, it is difficult, but those guys are good enough to play and they made a couple of plays today. We look forward to them continuing to make plays as they get more and more comfortable. This is their third game with us for a couple of them, maybe fourth. They were in on several plays today and were real close to making a couple others. As long as they keep getting there or almost getting there, they will get there eventually.”


On how important it was for the third quarter to start the way it did:

“It was huge. It was huge. We would have run it a little more in the first half if we had not turned the ball over twice. Down there, we had a pretty good mix of run/pass and got down inside the 20. I do not know if they ruled it a fumble or interception – an interception – I do not know how they get those. We fumbled one time inside the 15 and then threw another interception later on. That ruins possessions for you. We did not have nothing but 52 plays in the game – not many opportunities to run it. I do not know what the final numbers were.”


On QB Baker Mayfield’s overall performance despite his INTs:

“I thought he was sharp. Sometimes it just does not go your way. I do not think the breaks kind of went his way today, but he was still hooked up. He knew what to do with the ball and made some good throws. He was just close on a couple of them.”


On reports WR Odell Beckham Jr. is playing with a sports hernia and may need surgery in the offseason and another that Beckham wants out of Cleveland:

“I am not going to comment on him ‘wanting out of Cleveland.’ I just know that we have been monitoring Odell since he got back for training camp. He is dealing with something there. I do not know that surgery has been scheduled or anything like that, but we will keep monitoring that. It does limit him during the week. I think he has done a good job of trying to prepare, trying to push through and all that kind of stuff. As far as the other thing, I do not respond to stuff like that.”


On what the win says about the grit of the team:

“I told them on Monday we would find out individually and collectively about the character of our football team and they would find out the character about their teammates. I think we did. I think coming off last week’s game, it was good to get back out there on the practice field. We had good enthusiasm during the course of the week and just get to Sunday. I thought our guys did a good job of putting it behind them the best that they could because it was an emotional game, but we have to understand this is just one of 16, and those 16 individual games are precious in their own right. I think we learned a lot this week.”


On the interception by Bengals S Jessie Bates III that was changed to DPI, given many pass interference calls are not overturned:

“It was an interception so I had nothing to do with [the replay review]. It was called a turnover. I thought we had a good chance once they started looking at it. It depends on what their definition of interference is. What you worry about sometimes in those situations is if they call it defensive holding. If they would have called it holding, then it would not have gotten overturned.”


On indications of the team’s character after fighting through turnovers early in the game:
“I think  their resiliency and their resolve that they had up front, also because we were not running the ball early and those guys just kept trying and they trust when I tell them at halftime that we are about to run the ball. They trust that I am going to run the ball. That is what I told them we were about to do, and they did a good job of going out and executing. Our running backs did a good job and our receivers did a good job on the edge, but then when we needed a pass to convert a third down, we were able to do that, too. I think we were 58 percent on third down or something like that. We were able to manage game in that area, and when you only run 52 plays, mainly because of the turnovers… Listen, they did a good job offensively, too, of managing the clock, moving the ball and converting third downs and stuff like that. That kind of kept it out of our hands a bit so we had to make the most of our possessions, especially after losing two of them early in the game.”


On CB Denzel Ward’s performance and his response to being challenged:

“I think Denzel tries to play hard every week. I think he did a good job this week. I do not know if it is because I challenged him or not. I think he tries to challenge himself, and I think that is what he did.”


On if it feels like the Browns are on a roll after winning four of the last five:
“We are going to enjoy it tonight. I know it is a cliché, but we are going to start tomorrow trying to go 1-0 next week. That is the only thing we care about.”


On Ward’s interception return for a touchdown and having a lead early despite turning the ball over twice:
“I think it was huge because we were up 7-6 and also the defense did a good job of stopping them down there and making them kick a field goal one other time. I think they had first-and-goal inside the 10, and they stopped them and made them kick a field goal. That whole sequence of events in the first half was very crucial. They kind of shut the door when they had to. Then we were able to start moving the ball a little bit and scored. Then in the second half, up front we kind of played real well in the second half.”


On how meaningful it is to win four consecutive home games:
“It is crucial. That gets you back into things. You just have to win your home games and win a couple more on the road. Every year, that should be your goal, but we started 0-3, but that is earlier in the year. Right now, we are trying to win the next one, and it just happens to be a road game.”


On if he sensed any impact of outside noise pertaining to Beckham Jr. on the game:
“No, I blocked it out. I do not know what else to tell you there. I expect our guys to show up, line up and do what they are supposed to do. That is all.”


On the message to TE David Njoku, particularly after the interception when Njoku did not hold onto the ball:

“Yeah, exactly, hold onto the ball. That is it. We were not catching the ball, and when you hit the ground, your arms cannot relax so just because you think you have it, it does not mean your arms are relaxed when you hit the ground. The ball has to be the upmost of importance for everybody on the field. We have to protect it like it is our football because when we have it, it is our football.”


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