HC Kevin Stefanski (11.22.20)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement: 

“Injuries, (S) Ronnie Harrison (Jr.) hurt his knee there. We will see what that is. We will get an MRI on that, and I will have an update for you tomorrow. Other than that, came out of that thing healthy otherwise.

“Nice team win. Really thought the defense set the tempo in that game – three takeaways, scoring on defense, five sacks, OV (DE Olivier Vernon) having three of them. I thought (CB) Denzel Ward was outstanding – four PBUs and a pick himself. The guys were flying around. I thought they did a great job. Really proud of those guys. Offensively, hard yards, and that is what it called for today. I thought the guys by and large were pretty good. It was not clean, not going to be. On special teams, I thought the guys did a good job. (P) Jamie (Gillan) was really good today. We played the field position battle when necessary. Made all our kicks… Well, I guess we had one blocked. Bottom line is the guys did a great job. There is no such thing as an ugly win. That was a beautiful win for the guys. We just have to get ready and right back on it this week.”

On how the Browns defense played today and delivered big plays despite missing DE Myles Garrett:

“Really proud of those guys. We talked all week, you lose a guy Myles’ caliber, you are not going to replace him. You need guys to step up, and it is a committee approach. I thought the guys really played hard. (DE) Porter Gustin gave us some great rushes. I thought (DE) Adrian Clayborn did the same. I mentioned OV before. Really proud of those guys.”

On the difference in the Browns’ run game from the first to second half:

“I think the guys stuck with it. We were searching for the right personnel group and searching for the right scheme versus them. That is a good run team. They played downhill until they were gassed. We knew it was not going to be easy. They come off the ball so we kind of were poking around looking for the right run scheme for our guys. I think we kind of unlocked it a little bit there at the end and were able to get again some hard yards. Not going to be easy versus that front.”

On LB Sione Takitaki’s pick-six and how the Browns defense stepped up to make big plays without Garrett:

“I will start with Sione. Thank you for reminding me because he was a game captain today, and the reason for that is he is as tough as they come. He plays through injuries, and he just does his job. He plays his role, he plays it hard. He brings a physicality to our team. To see him make a play on the ball and go score was incredible. So proud of him. To see our defense get their hands on the ball and balls so often is a big deal. We knew we were going to have to go make those type of game-changing plays, and they showed up.”

On RB Nick Chubb’s 54-yard run and RB Kareem Hunt’s TD run:

“Those two guys are pretty impressive. Nick runs hard. When it is not there, he is still churning those legs. When you get him into the secondary, he is a hard dude to bring down. To see Kareem, like you said, take off from the 5, nothing was stopping him from getting in the end zone. Really, those guys push each other. We have talked it about before, they push each other, they root for each other and it is a sight to be seen.”

On the weather conditions today compared to the past two games:

“Much more moisture in this one. The wind was not a factor, but it was wet. That ball, especially if it was sitting out there for a little while and the umpire was not standing on it, it was slick. (QB) Baker (Mayfield) fought through it and the center (C JC Tretter) obviously fought through it, but there were moments where that ball was very slick, but the wind was not a factor.”

On Vernon’s standout performance:

“With Myles out, we were counting on those guys to step up. OV, he did it today. He was defeating his blockers in run game. Like you mentioned, he was getting to the quarterback. We are counting on him. I told him that. He knows that. We are counting on him to continue to affect the passer in the pass game and make big plays in the run game.”

On if the Browns gathered intel for the running game in the first half despite not being as successful as desired: 

“Yeah, I think you are gathering intel, regardless of run or pass. There are so many formations where it may be a pass, but we are looking at the formation to see if the run is there and vice versa. We are trying to have constant communication throughout the game. AVP (offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt), (offensive line coach) Bill Callahan and the entire offensive staff does a great job of having that communication because when you do run into a front like that and you are trying a couple schemes and you trying a couple different personnel groupings and it is not working, you are just constantly looking for what is the answer. We found it a few times there in the end. Ultimately, I think that is a really good run defense. I think they pin their ears back, they defeat blocks and they come off the ball. With that coupled with the conditions, it was going to be tough sledding, and it was.”

On utilizing RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt together late in the game to wear down the opposing defense in back-to-back games:

“It just speaks to we really want to have that lead in the fourth – I think every team does – but if we can get that lead in the fourth, then we can throw Nick out there and throw Kareem out there, and it is a really good one-two punch that is hard to defend. We are trying to get into that four-minute offense so that we can really oppose our will, and that is really where our offensive line wants to be. You talk to that offensive line, one of their favorite moments is when they know they are in a four-minute and the other team knows we are running it, and that is the type of game they want to play in.”

On the Browns run defense making adjustments throughout the game:

“Just listening to (defensive coordinator) Joe (Woods) and the defensive staff talk and making adjustments and moving the front at times, changing the coverage at times and using some run blitzes. You have to always be talking throughout the game and trying to figure out what the answer is. Sometimes they are going to break through on one, and you just have to tackle. I think for the most part, our tackling was pretty good today.”

On the Browns defense’s forced fumble inside the 5-yard line helping set the tone for the game:

“That was a big deal. This offense that we faced today, they have different ways they can beat you and they are an outstanding red zone football team – offense and defense. When they got down there, we were looking to make a play. There are those moments and there are those drives where people move the ball on us, but if we can get a stop or if we can get a turnover in those moments, it is so huge to the outcome of the game.”

On if Chubb was not on the first goal line opportunity due to his contacts as reported on the TV broadcast:

“I think so, but I will say this, I trust Kareem down there and felt good about what we did.”

On Kareem scoring on his second goal line opportunity while running with a ‘would not be denied’ mentality:

“He really was. The guys got out in the perimeter. (G) Wyatt (Teller) had a big block. Kareem had a nose for the end zone, and he would not be denied.”

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