HC Kevin Stefanski (10.26.20)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement: 

“I know you guys saw the news on (WR) Odell (Beckham Jr.). Incredibly disappointed for him. I know injuries are part of this game, but I just hate to see that. I am obviously wishing him a very speedy recovery. He rehabbed like crazy this past offseason coming off of a surgery and was ready to go so I really think he will attack that. Obviously, very disappointed for him.

“Going back to the game, after watching the tape, we made some plays there at the end to go win the ball game. We knew it was going to be a close one. We anticipated that throughout the week. I thought the guys situationally really handled that moment. There are always things to clean up. I know we want to do better and get them off the field when we are on defense. Those are some things that we are going to talk about and find ways to get off the field. Really, a good team win going on the road in the division and getting a W.”

On when Beckham will have surgery: 

“I do not know yet.

On how the loss of Beckham will change the Browns offense moving forward: 

“Obviously, it is a big loss. As everyone knows, he is a huge part of what we do. Now we will just have to huddle up and find some different ways and find some different people and put them in that role. Ultimately, we are just trying to do what our players do best. That is our job to figure that out.”


On if WR KhaDarel Hodge is ready to come off of IR and how Beckham can be replaced, given the roles Beckham has in the Browns offense: 

“Yeah, I do anticipate KhaDarel Hodge coming back this week. He is on schedule and he is progressing. Like you said, you never replace a player of Odell’s caliber with one player. We are not doing that with (RB) Nick Chubb. It is going to take multiple guys to replace these players. That is kind of the challenge that we have, and I think our guys will be up to the challenge.”


On his message to the team after losing Beckham for the season, including Beckham’s contribution as a leader: 

“No doubt. Odell, the energy he brings to practice and the energy he brings the games, no one else is going to be able to bring that type of juice. It is our job to find the guys that that can go compete and that we can go put them in spots where they can succeed. I think we will be able to do that. That is not easy. Do not want to have to do it and I am very disappointed for Odell, but that is the nature of this beast. Injuries are part of this game. It does not mean any of us have to like it, but we do have to deal with it.”


On how the rest of the team made it out on Sunday in terms of injuries: 

“Pretty good. Nothing else notable.”


On if he has talked to Beckham today: 

“I talked to him after the game. I have not yet connected with him today, but I will. As you can imagine, he is incredibly disappointed.”


On QB Baker Mayfield’s comment about beating himself up over throwing the INT that led to Beckham’s injury and if that is something that could stick with Mayfield for a while or he needs to address with Mayfield: 

“I do not think so. Again, freak injury. Unfortunate how that unfolded, but you have to move past that.”

On TE Austin Hooper’s status for Sunday: 

“The truth is we do not know. He is improving and feeling better, but that will be something that becomes more apparent later in the week.”


On if there is an update on Chubb’s timeline for return: 

“Honestly, not really. We will not have him this week. We will have that bye week and really reassess. I know this, he is as you can imagine attacking this thing. He is working very, very hard. I know he is on schedule, and I would not be shocked if he was ahead of schedule.”


On what the Browns defense can improve to get opponents off the field and surrender less points: 

“I also want to give our defense credit for taking the ball away. They are doing that better than anybody in the league, and that is part of who we are. We got our hands on some balls yesterday. All of the things from yesterday are correctable. I do believe we have the right people to fix it. The coaches are attacking this and making sure that we are better moving forward. Our defense has kept us in other games before and really been the one that has led the team to victory when the offensive is struggling a little bit. Sometimes the offense is down and the defense picks them up, and sometimes vice versa, but I trust that we will get some of those issues corrected.”

On what he learned from Mayfield’s performance in the passing game yesterday: 

“I have seen him at practice so it is not like I am surprised at his ability to push the ball around the field. Like we have talked about, these games are going to unfold in a variety of ways. Sometimes you are going to have to chuck it around the yard,40-plus times. Sometimes you have to run it 40-plus times. I think it is a testament to the team that we have to find different ways to win. That is what good teams do in the NFL, and it is not always going to be according to script. I think he took advantage of some opportunities yesterday, he put some balls on the money and the guys also made some outstanding catches, and that is part of the precision of the pass game. In terms of what did I learned about him. I think every week you are learning about what type of competitor he is.”


On how Hodge sustained his injury during pregame at Dallas: 

“Muscle pull. Standard fare.”


On how the Browns defense can create more pressure on QBs, in addition to DE Myles Garrett: 

“That is something that we are talking about. You mentioned Myles. He continues to make big plays, and we are counting on him. We just need to have a rush plan. Whether we are rushing four or more, we have to be able to apply [pressure] and affect the QB. A couple of times we did that, and a couple of times – give them credit – they blocked it up. We will look at it and come up with a plan that makes sense and just again, putting guys in position to go play and win a one on one ultimately is we are looking to do.”


On the Browns’ depth at WR and if he anticipates needing to acquire another WR: 

“I think we will see how that all plays out. I will tell you, I like the guys we have in that room. (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew (Berry) and his staff, they look and they scour the league every Monday. They do, but we will work through that in the next few days.”


On how teams may approach the trade deadline differently this year, given COVID-19 protocols and there are reports teams may look to add players in advance of the deadline: 

“I am curious about that, as well, to see if that makes sense to teams to move the deadline up, so to speak, for those reasons. We shall see. Again, I think Andrew and his staff do an outstanding job. Those conversations are ongoing. They happen every Monday. They happen throughout the week to improve the roster.”


On the Browns offense’s ceiling without Beckham and how Mayfield can build off yesterday’s performance: 

“We have high expectations for our guys, whether Nick is out or (G) Wyatt Teller is out and now Odell is out. We hate that part of it, but as an offense and as a team, we do not adjust our expectations. We want our offense to be able to move the ball down the field and score a bunch of points, and vice versa, we want our defense to throttle that opponent, regardless of who is out there. That is something important to the Cleveland Browns in terms of how we play.”

On how to keep the team from being down about losing Beckham and if he feels the need to ‘perk them up’: 

“No, I think these guys have been around playing this game and you lose teammates injury. It is such an unfortunate part of this business, but the guys understand that the show must go on. We have talked about guys stepping up in the past, and when their number is called, they are ready to play. I think you saw that yesterday. I think the guys understand what is at stake and that guys have to step up.”


On if the Browns offense needs to be drastically altered or if the players and their roles will be altered: 

“I would not say drastically altered. We have to do a good job as a staff of understanding the players that we have at our disposal and what they do well and make sure that we tailor a gameplan to those talents.”


On if defenses will drastically change how they approach the Browns offense moving forward without Beckham: 

“Good question. I do not know. That is again our job to huddle up as an offensive staff and talk about how do we find ways to be explosive in the run in the pass. Again, we would rather do it with Odell, but the injury occurred and I feel sick for him, but we will have to find a way. That is part of this businesses is just finding a way.”

On C JC Tretter playing a full game Sunday after going down in the first quarter and appearing to be in significant pain: 

“He is a tough, tough competitor. He does not want to come out ever, and he just keeps grinding. Does not feel great at times, but he finds a way to get it done.”


On why the Browns did not rush the QB on the Bengals’ Hail Mary at the end of the game: 

“That was my fault. Calling that defense was thinking that the quarterback could not reach the end zone – I thought they would be more lateraling ball, but where that return went out and how far it went out, we should have been rushing the passer. That is on me.”


On if S Karl Joseph playing but not starting was part of working Joseph back into the game from injury: 

“Yes, that was just coming off the injury did not want to go too fast with him with muscle injuries like that. Still a big part of what we are doing. Going to be counting on him moving forward.”

On G Wyatt Teller’s status for Sunday:

“I think it is hard to say today. I think throughout Wednesday and Thursday, we will have a better feel for where he is, but I am not ruling him out.”


On if WR Donovan Peoples-Jones showed a readiness for a bigger role and if Peoples-Jones can help take the top off a defense: 

“Really proud of how he played. It was not the first game action for him, but getting his hands on three balls and making plays was great to see. He is Mr. Reliable. He can line up anywhere, a very intelligent player. To see him go make a play with the ball in the air was outstanding. There are going to be opportunities for him moving forward just like that.”

On his confidence in the Browns WRs, including Peoples-Jones and WR Rashard Higgins producing when given opportunities: 

“I think just the guys in that room work really hard. I think (pass game coordinator/wide receivers coach) Chad O’Shea does an outstanding job with them. They are always prepared. They practice very hard. We are looking forward to those guys giving great contributions to this team, but I think it starts with how they prepare throughout the week.”

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