HC Kevin Stefanski (10.5.20)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement:

“I will start with injuries. (RB) Nick Chubb has an MCL injury. We will be putting him on IR. It will be a several week injury, but we do expect him back this year. Knowing Nick, he is going to work very hard in rehab. I know that is hard to see your teammate go down like that, but knowing Nick, he will work his butt off to get back. (DT) Larry (Ogunjobi) has an oblique injury. We will see how that goes throughout this week. (WR) KhaDarel Hodge has a hamstring, and that is really week to week and we shall see on that one.

“Just recapping again yesterday, a good team win. The guys are playing very, very hard. I think that shows up on tape. They are really straining to finish. I think you can start it and end it right there at plus-three in the turnover margin. It is such a big deal in terms of winning and losing.”

 

On how many weeks Chubb may miss with his MCL injury:

“Honestly, I think we have to see how it goes. With Nick Chubb, I hesitate to put a number of weeks on it. I do not know, but it will be several weeks.”

 

On the Browns’ depth at RB and OL as seen by the team rushing for 300-plus yards yesterday despite Chubb getting injured early in the game:

“That was good to see with those guys stepping up. Like you mentioned, the offensive line, the tight ends and the wide receivers, they are all straining, and the runners were running through arm tackles and breaking tackles so that that was good to see. You lose a player of Nick’s caliber, we are going to need those guys to step up really across the entire offense.”

 

On the key to the Browns offense’s success in recent weeks despite the opponent: 

“I think it is still a work in progress. We are in Year 1 of systems on the offensive and defensive side. As we speak, the coaches are in meetings with the players and there are plenty of things to clean up. It was a productive day for the offense obviously, but there are yards that we are leaving out in the field, and we have to do better. We have to improve throughout the season.”

 

On what the Browns need to be clean up on defense:

“There are some things we can do better. It always goes back to the alignment, assignment and technique. There are things I know the guys can clean up, and the coaches are going to work hard on that with them. You get in that game and you are going to have to apply pressure to the quarterback, and you are going to have to find a way to get off. Just late in that fourth quarter we could not find a way to get off, but I have to tell you, those guys are straining, they are flying around the field and guys are giving us great, great effort. We got our hands on a few balls that we did not come down with – that is part of it – and I understand that I am being greedy because they got us three [takeaways], but we have to make sure that we are really trying everything we can to get our hands on the ball and secure those interceptions.”

 

On evaluating S Andrew Sendejo’s play so far this season:

“Playing hard. He is making plays on the ball. He punched that ball out of the runner there yesterday. He can clean things up, just like the whole lot of guys honestly. That is really the message to our offense, our defense and our special teams is let’s find ways to get better today in these meetings.”

 

On if Chubb’s injury will require surgery:

“No.”

 

On RB Kareem Hunt’s physical status today after playing through a groin injury last week:

“He came through pretty good. That dude is a warrior. I love watching that guy play. To make it to that game and to perform how he did, a team player all the way. Really, really proud of him.”

 

On if DT Sheldon Richardson is OK, given Richardson walked off late in the game:

“Yes.”

 

On if the Browns may have TE David Njoku return to the team this week:

“I think we will, yes.”

On his confidence in the run game’s ability to produce yesterday and moving forward, despite it being hard to replace Chubb:

“Like you said, Nick is tough to replace obviously, but we have to just make sure we put a gameplan together today and tomorrow with the coaches and then find a way to move the rock any which way we can. I trust that we will put that plan together and I trust that guys will step up when they are called upon.”

On the success of the Browns running game through the first four games:

“First, you have to start with the players. It takes 11 guys so I think it is easy to start with the runners who are doing an outstanding job, but you have to look at the entire offense and you have to look at the offensive line knocking guys off the ball, utilizing the correct technique and going to the right people. The tight ends are a huge focal point of what we are doing. The wide receivers are blocking on the perimeter. The quarterback is getting this in the correct play and he is carrying out fakes. It really takes 11 guys to make a run game go. Like I mentioned to you guys yesterday, you have to give credit to the coaches. I think (offensive line) Coach (Bill) Callahan and the offensive staff continue to put together strong plans. It is a group effort.”

On the importance of getting WR Odell Beckham Jr. involved early in the game:

“Yeah, I think he is a really good football player so it makes sense to me to get him involved early and often.  It has not happened there in a few of those ball games and there are always varying reasons for that, but he is a major part of our attack and we have to make sure that we are utilizing him as best we can.”

On if the reverse to Beckham at the end of the game could be considered a risky play call, given Beckham eluded a potential tackler 10-plus yards behind the line of scrimmage:

“Yeah, the risk in thinking about the result of these plays it is really I try to just think about the process of what got us there because you are right, if he gets tackled, it is a dumb call. ‘What am I thinking?’ At the end of the day, I trust our guys and I trust the players, and that is really where my focus goes.”

On if it is difficult to get WRs to buy into blocking downfield:

“I think the guys understand that they are a huge part of our success, and they get that when we are throwing it, those running backs, those tight ends and the line are blocking for the quarterback and giving him time to get the ball to them. It goes hand in hand in terms of being a good offense. You have to do your job so someone else can have success.”

On if there was some sense of relief Chubb’s injury wasn’t an ACL injury and Chubb’s mindset since the injury: 

“Yes, I would say there is always relief when it is not a season ending injury. You never like to see your players on the ground like that. Again, Nick does not say much as you guys know, but he is a leader of this football team. His teammates really respond to him and the way he goes about his business. He is disappointed, but I can promise you he is going to attack this rehab.”

 

On RB D’Ernest Johnson’s performance and personality, referring to Johnson spending 2018 working on a fishing charter: 

“He does a nice job. From the moment I got here and watching how he prepares and how he goes about his business, he grinds on this thing. I think (run game coordinator/running backs coach) Stump (Mitchell) does a great job with that running back room and really holds all those guys accountable, and he makes sure they are ready to play. You saw that. D’Ernest was standing at the ready.”

 

On if the field position following the Cowboys’ squib onside kick affected the play call on the last TD run:

“Yeah, a little bit. Probably would not have done that very far backed up so yeah, it did affect it.”

On what occurred when WR Donovan Peoples-Jones let the ball go on the deep kickoff that reached the goal line:

“I do not know. I was running down the sideline. He needs to make sure he makes great decisions there. He did a nice job yesterday for us and he is going to continue to do a nice job for us, but that is one that I would like to make sure is going in the end zone for him to be like that.”

On if the rules on touchbacks and letting the ball go on a kickoff are different in college, given the two different touchback situations in the Browns-Cowboys game yesterday:

“I do not know the rules in college. That was a very unusual play that happened on their kickoff return, and our guys stopped playing because of the signal he gave. That was unique, and we are going to make a phone call to see exactly how they want that officiated.”

On the unique but productive Browns’ offensive numbers, given the Browns had over 300 rushing yards, no one with over 100-yard receivers and approximately 200 passing yards, including WR Jarvis Landry, and a 50-yard run by Beckham in a 49-point effort:

“Every game we kind of go into it thinking about how we get the ball in our guys hands. You mentioned Jarvis, Jarvis had five catches, four for first downs. Those guys are making plays for us. We have to work real hard as an offensive staff to make sure that we are finding creative ways to get it to them because they are really good players. I would mention the tight ends, too. They made some big catches. Yeah, I think unique when you mention those things and the statistics, but I also think there were a ton of plays that were moving the chains, and we will take it any which way we can get it.”

On CB Denzel Ward’s performance yesterday coming off of a groin injury:

“Yeah, I thought he did a nice job yesterday. They threw it over 50 times so they are going to make a few plays, but for him to fight through the injuries that he has been fighting through, to answer the bell and then play the way he is playing and make that play at the end there to seal the game I thought was outstanding.”

On NFL Network’s report that Chubb is expected to miss six weeks due to injury and could return in November:

“I really do not know. I can’t speak to NFL Network, but I can speak to Cleveland Browns. I am just telling you, injury wise we are looking at several weeks. What that ends up being, I do not know. I know Nick Chubb so I really would not put a timeframe on it just yet.”

 

On which Browns players received game balls after yesterday’s win:

“I think we are going to leave the game balls internal. I will tell you, it was a group effort on all sides, and I thought there was winning effort throughout the game. I just go back to you watch the tape and guys are playing hard and guys are straining. That is the type of style we are looking to play.”

On the Browns offense’s red zone efficiency through the first four weeks:

“The red zone, sometimes that comes and goes. Right now, it is going for us and we have to make sure we keep going. Been able to run it pretty effectively down there. Threw it in there a couple times yesterday. It really becomes about attacking the defense and whatever the defensive style calls for in each given week. I am really proud of the guys when they get down there of making sure it is sevens and not threes.”

On the decision to have four RBs active yesterday was related to Hunt overcoming his injury and if the Browns will add a RB with Chubb on IR:

“We will see how that plays out here in the next week. I would say it was maybe a combination of Kareem coming off that injury, but I also point out that both those guys, (RB) Dontrell (Hilliard) and D’Ernest do a great job on special teams so that is a big part of it, as well.”

On if the Browns have made any specific changes to their COVID-19 protocols following the number of positive tests around the league in recent weeks, understanding the team has been vigilant in all of its efforts throughout the season:

“We are following those protocols to a T. We probably met a little bit more virtually as a coaching staff with the recent news, but we are just going to do everything we can to be safe, keep our players safe and keep our staff safe. We are just going to keep following those protocols.”

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