HC Kevin Stefanski (11.16.20)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement: 

“I know you guys received our statement a few minutes ago. Had a positive test this morning so we closed the building. Just following all the protocols with the league. We will have an update for you as contact tracing finishes up. As you know, what we are trying to do is just make sure we follow all of the rules and keep everybody safe. That is our goal.

“As it relates to yesterday on the injury front, really came out of that pretty well. I do not really have any updates for you in that department. Just on the game, like we talked about yesterday, after watching the tape, I think we played the game that was called for, called the game that was called for based on the conditions and was proud of the team to battle there and come out of there with a W.”


On how disconcerting it is to respond to another player testing positive for COVID-19: 

“We have talked about it going all the way back to April. That is the world we live in right now, and we are ready to do whatever is necessary to keep everybody safe, first and foremost – keep our coaches, players and staff safe. That is really where our mentality is. While doing that, we still have to prepare and get ready to play.”

On if the player who tested positive played in yesterday’s game: 

“I am not going to get into that right now. I will kind of let this play out. We will update you as more information comes in.”

On the improvement by the Browns defense after the bye week: 

“Really pleased with the guys flying around yesterday. Had a couple of opportunities to get their quarterback on the ground and then he made a great play so we credit him and we tip our cap to him. The guys were playing fast and understood the game plan. It was not perfect, and that is what the coaches are meeting with the players now to clean some things up, but I did think that there was a great level of effort out there, and holding those guys to seven points is a big deal.”

On his confidence in the Browns run game to call a run on third-and-3 during the final drive: 

“I think there were moments in that game where running the ball was really almost the only thing you could do. I think the people that were in that stadium and standing on the sideline kind of understood that. Then there were times where it was third-and-longer and then we tried to make a play, but I think both teams understood that game was not for the forward pass at times. On (RB) Nick (Chubb)’s big run, it was third down. Felt confident in getting the first down and also felt confident in using the clock in that moment.”

On if he was satisfied with the Browns’ clock management and use of timeouts at the end of the first half: 

“Yeah, I guess I was satisfied with it. My idea there was they were still running the ball so I looked at it as an opportunity to strip the ball, and if you recover it, you are kicking a field goal so that was the idea behind calling those timeouts.”

On the Browns’ clock management on offense during its final drive of the first half: 

“Yeah, the idea there was we had more than 30 seconds so we felt like we had enough time, but if we did give it back, we wanted to take a few seconds off there where it did not hurt us and potentially hurt them when they got the ball back.”

On using the pistol formation in yesterday’s game: 

“I think we called it twice yesterday. It is something where we kind of look at it as it is in some ways an under center with the running back in the dot, and in other ways, it is shotgun with the quarterback four and a half, five-yards deep from the center. There is a package of plays that you can run out of it, and we will kind of grow that and see if that becomes part of the gameplan this week.”

On if he used the pistol formation with the Vikings: 

“We did a couple times.”

On WR Rashard Higgins’ performance yesterday and Higgins’ reception on third-and-18: 

“That was outstanding. Rashard, as we all know, has a knack for making those plays. Drew a couple of DPIs which again were big plays in that game. To be able to toe-tap there and make the play on a third-and-18, we really need those. You are not going to make many of those. That is a tough percentage to make on third-and-18. When you do get that and extend the drive, it usually is good news for the offense.”

On if that play was an example of QB Baker Mayfield’s trust in Higgins: 

“I do think that Baker has great trust in all the guys out there. I truly believe that. Hollywood is one of those guys, and he has a knack for making plays.”

On WR Jarvis Landry’s taunting penalty and LB Mack Wilson’s unnecessary roughness penalty: 

“We have to be better there. We harp a lot on pre-snap penalties and then really those personal foul penalties – the 15-yarders that happen a lot of times after the play – we can’t have them. Both of those guys know that. It is undisciplined that I do not expect from those two players in particular. I know they would love to take those plays back. With Mack’s, there is a physicality that I want these guys to play with, but you have to play within the rules.”

On determining when to pass in yesterday’s game, given the wind conditions: 

“There were moments there where it was just whipping, and there was no way you could complete a ball. There were times in warmups that you could not throw it 10 yards. It was getting knocked down. I think it was a constant communication with myself and the offensive staff – kind of, ‘Where are we? Has it died down enough to call this play?’ Then a couple of times, we just tried to get Baker on the perimeter and maybe get him an easy completion or run it with him out there on the perimeter. That was what the game called for. We did not know that on Monday and Tuesday when you put a gameplan together, but when you see the weather report and when you get there to that stadium, you kind of have to take all of that into account and understand what it is going to take to go win that game.”

On if evaluating Mayfield’s performance is more difficult due to the weather conditions: 

“No, I think you evaluate the quarterback on every play. Getting in and out of the right plays. Obviously as you are handing off, you are grading him. Of course, there were less opportunities to throw it, but in those opportunities, you definitely grade him just the same.”

On the Browns’ resiliency: 

“We talk about it, but I would just tell you it is the type of guys we have. It is the locker room. Those guys have been unfazed with everything that is thrown at them. We anticipate there is going to be something every week, something sometimes every day and you know there is going be something in every game that is not going to go your way. I give credit to how to guys responded in those instances.”

On how exciting it is to be playing meaningful football at this point of the season and in the playoff hunt as a first-year head coach: 

“You probably know how I am going to answer this. We do not get wrapped up in that. I know it is fun for the fans and I get all that, but for us, we kind of try and focus on the task at hand. Today was about learning from yesterday. You try and learn after a win as much as you learn after a loss, and then get ready to play Philly. For our fans, we like having meaningful football games, but for us, really the thing that matters most for us is the game that week.”

On the level of trust he and defensive coordinator Joe Woods have in S Ronnie Harrison Jr. and if Harrison is caught up with the defensive scheme now: 

“I would say to his credit, to (pass game coordinator/defensive backs coach) Jeff Howard, Joe Woods and (assistant defensive backs coach) Brandon Lynch, all of those guys have brought him up to speed. There was a benefit of playing in a similar system down there in Jacksonville, but still, I thought that it was smart with how our defensive staff brought him along. Now you mentioned it, he was all over the field yesterday. He is playing at a high level. He is another player that is all about the ball. I know we did not get one yesterday, but he is very active around the ball, a physical tackler and you mentioned the blitzing. Yeah, I would agree with you in that he was active yesterday.”

On how important it is to have players like Harrison make plays on defense, in addition to CB Denzel Ward and DE Myles Garrett: 

“I put Ronnie in that category of making plays and a guy that we can count on and we are going to continue to count on. I think a lot of guys are contributing and a lot of guys are playing. Certain games, some guys will play more based on how the game is going. I think the guys certainly understand that there is a role to be played, but I do like the role that Ronnie is playing.”

On S Sheldrick Redwine getting more defensive snaps in yesterday’s game: 

“I think it is just we are working through different combinations and getting guys snaps. We will continue to do that really at a bunch of different positions.”

On S Karl Joseph not playing any defense snaps yesterday: 

“I would kind of say it is the combination that we are looking for throughout different games, and we are going to count on Karl. I would tell you he played really well on some snaps on special teams yesterday. We are excited about what all of those guys in the back end can bring in different games this week.”

On how the positive COVID-19 test at the beginning of the week affects the plans moving forward, compared to having one at the end of the week: 

“First time in this scenario for us so we will see. Have to get more information from (Senior Vice President of Player Health & Development) Joe (Sheehan) and the medical staff and then we will plan accordingly. For us, like you mentioned, we have not had one here at this moment so we will kind of see how it shakes out.”

On if Mayfield’s throws during the last drive of the first half were a result of the wind or if Mayfield would like to have some of those throws back: 

“Yes, it was a function of the wind, but I could promise you Baker would want those throws back and complete them. He is hard on himself. We are hard on him. I am also realistic in understanding the conditions.”

On if he has looked at the weather forecast for Sunday: 

“I have looked, but I will wait until later in the week to let it affect us.”

On if he goes into games with two different gameplans if there may be inclement weather: 

“A little bit. What happens is you put a plan together on Monday and Tuesday – your base gameplan, if you will – and you want to make sure that you have enough run and enough pass. If it turns into a game where you need to pass a lot, you are likely going to be in a two-minute mode where you are in your two-minute menu, if you will. If you get into a game where you have to run it a lot, like we did yesterday, you are just going to lean on the runs that you had up already in the base gameplan. I think you saw later in the second half, we got into bigger groupings, got into some 13 [personnel] and some 22 [personnel] there as it became that game. I think you really have enough in your base gameplan to pivot in either direction.”

On how the dynamics of the Browns offense changes with Chubb and G Wyatt Teller back: 

“Obviously, you guys know Nick is a really good player so to have him and (RB) Kareem (Hunt) back there as a one-two punch or No. 1 and No. 1A, whatever you want to call it, I think is pretty unique. You mentioned Wyatt, he has been a productive physical player for us so it was good to see him back out there.”

On what he will remember about the weather conditions during the national anthem: 

“It was crazy. I will remember getting pelted by sideways hail is what I will remember.”

On how impressive it was for Hunt and the Browns run game to pick up first downs on the final drive, given the field position to start the drive: 

“Yeah, that was a big deal. That game was very, very much in the balance there. For the guys to respond, to chew the clock up and to gain a couple first downs with your back up against the wall and you are in the shadow of your goalposts right there, I thought was key to the victory obviously.”

On how Teller looked in his first game back: 

“He did a nice job. It was not perfect, as you can imagine coming back to your first game. A couple things I think kept him off balance, but you did see the physicality and he was straining. He gave up a sack there, which again is just technique and continue to work, so I think he just was knocking some rust off.”

On if Teller’s presence was immediately felt in the run game and if Teller was a part of its success: 

“Yeah, he was. I do not like singling offensive linemen out because they get in trouble when I do, but (T) Jack Conklin is another guy that was really good yesterday. I might as well mention them all. (G) Joel Bitonio battling through the injury. (C) JC (Tretter) playing very smart ball, playing physical. I thought Jed (T Jedrick Wills Jr.) was good yesterday. He got a bunch of guys in the ground and was straining. I would say all of those guys really took the challenge of that game and knowing that we were going to run it, they knew we were going to run it and I think those guys rose to the occasion.”