HC Kevin Stefanski (11.30.20)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement: 

“Update on the injury front, (S) Ronnie Harrison (Jr.) is still undergoing testing so I do not have a definitive answer yet there for you on Ronnie. (CB) Denzel (Ward) is unlikely this week. He truly is week to week. (S) Sheldrick Redwine, I would characterize him as day to day with that knee injury. With the COVID list, (DE) Myles (Garrett) is on track to be cleared on Wednesday. (FB Andy) Janovich is cleared for Wednesday. That is really the update I have for you on that.


“Reviewing the game, obviously, watching the tape on the airplane and then watching it again this morning, a good team win. I do think we left plays out there to be had really in all of the phases. I think we can get better. I think that is the focus for us today is we have to get one game better. We are into December football so we have to get stronger. We have to find ways to continue to improve, and that is really our job as coaches to find those areas that we can continue to get better.”


On the dynamic entering the season of building a team with players from previous leadership and those added by the current leadership: 

“At least when I got here and then AB (Executive Vice President of Football Operations & General Manager Andrew Berry) got here, we have the Cleveland Browns here. We brought in a few more guys via trade, free agency and the draft, but we do not really concern ourselves with how a player got onto our roster. That really does not matter. Once we got together and finally got together there at training camp, just trying to put the best group together and then we will continue to do that really each week.”


On if he agrees that the Browns have not played their best football yet: 

“Yeah, I do feel that way. I do not think I have coached my best. I think as a staff, we can do a better job. I know I can do a better job. That is the ideal here to be ascending in the second half of this season. Again, I mentioned December football. That is when you really do want to start playing your best football. We have to put a game together and a series of games together where our offense, our defense and our special teams all play at a high level.”


On TE Harrison Bryant looking to rebound from the fumble and dropped pass in the end zone during yesterday’s game: 

“The two fumbles [this season] are all technique. He is a young player, and we need him to continue to get better and understand that. I do not foresee that being an issue going forward because he is going to work real hard at it. He has made plays for us this season. He has made plays for us in practice. We have a ton of faith in him, and he is going to continue to make plays for us is the way I look at it. He is a kid that works very, very hard so I anticipate that he will bounce back.”


On not having a FB in Sunday’s game and the decision to not elevate FB Johnny Stanton from the practice squad, given the team’s challenges in short-yardage situations: 

“It is just a week-to-week proposition where you are trying to think of the best combination of guys. Felt like what we did yesterday and what made sense in terms of having five wide receivers up so something has to give. In terms of (FB) Andy Janovich, I love Andy and love when he is out there. Excited to get him back this week, but I am not going to say that is the reason we did not convert in those short-yardage situations.”


On if the weather and expectation that the full Browns offense could get going factored into the decision to have five WRs active for Sunday’s game: 

“Yeah, exactly. I just felt like we needed that fifth wide receiver.”


On the decision to go for it on fourth-and-inches and if a desire to be aggressive and show confidence to the team intrinsically has an impact: 

“We talk a lot about it during the week in terms of our matchups and how we want to play the game. No one situation is always going to be the same. We could be in the same situation this week and think of it differently. Knowing the result, obviously, wish we had kicked the field goal, but felt good about the play calls. I just think it is an area that I will continue to look at what we can do better. With all of those decisions, you try to have as much of the conversations during the week and how you want to play the game, and then as the game is ongoing, you are continuing to talk about your matchups and the plays that you have up and if you like them versus certain looks. It is really an evolving conversation, if you will.”


On if there is value in ‘I believe in us’ mentality when deciding to go for it in those situations or if the team already knows he believes in the group: 

“They know that I believe in them. I think you also get moments like we did in the four-minute situation there at the end of the game. When we are in those situations and we have a lead and we are running the ball that, we call that four-minute – that does not always mean that there are four minutes on the clock. Those are the scenarios where we are running it, they know we are running it and that is when you really rely on your guys. Very similarly in a short-yardage situation, you are relying on your guys. Now, that makes it sound like I am putting the blame on the players; I promise you, I am looking at how I can put them in a better position to succeed in those moments.”


On areas the Browns need to improve most to play their best football late in the season: 

“I think it is just an all-encompassing thing, I really do. At that bye week, we pulled it apart and said some things that we felt like we could do better. I think we made some adjustments that have helped us. I just think all in all, we need to be better situationally. Like I mentioned to you, I know I can do a better job, but I do not think it is a one thing or a two thing, I think it is really across the board, we can play better football.”


On if he likes that Browns players have the attitude that their best football is yet to come: 

“Yeah, I think they understand where we are in the season and you have a bunch of ballgames left, and you can’t just rely on what you have done to this date. We need to get better. We need to get stronger. There are a bunch of things I feel like we can improve.”


On if the COVID-related situations faced by the Broncos and Ravens this week have changed the Browns’ approach leading into the last month of the season: 

“I am looking at it like everybody is and certainly trying to learn from those situations as much as we can. We are just going to continue to follow the protocols to a T. We are going to be ultra-cautious where we can. I applaud the guys in that I feel like they are making sure they are doing the smart things in the building and outside of the building. I keep harping on this, the high-risk close-contact thing is a huge deal, and we have been fortunate there because the guys are following the protocols.”


On if WR Jarvis Landry is ready to play QB if needed: 

“If you ask him, he is always ready.”


On if Garrett has hit all of the checkpoints necessary thus far for him to potentially return by Wednesday: 

“He is trending that way, yes.”


On Garrett’s symptoms: 

“I am not going to address those. I do not want to address those.”


On the impact if Garrett is available to return this week: 

“Obviously, we talked about when Myles went out – we do not want to win without him; we will do it, but he is a good player so we want him out there. I think the guys get a big boost when they see No. 95 out there with them. That is just based on how productive he has been for us and the game-changing plays he has made for us throughout the season.”


On if he has a sense of confidence Garrett can return as the productive player accustomed to seeing if available this week: 

“I do because I know the kid and how hard he works, but the truth of the matter is I have not put my eyes on him yet. I will be able to answer that better throughout the week. Just knowing the pro that Myles is and how hard he works, I do feel confident there.”


On G Joel Bitonio’s impact in the running game on Sunday and the significance of having three interior OL who can be mobile and make plays in space: 

“It makes a huge difference. Joel was outstanding in that football game yesterday, as really is to be expected. He is a good football player. He does everything you ask of him. He was a game captain yesterday – correctly called tails in the air, which was great, so he was one for one there. He does everything that is asked, and he plays hard and his teammates know how much this matters to him. I singled him out so he is going to get a big fine this week.”


On if Garrett has been able to work out while away from the facility: 

“There are definitely limitations on what you can do when you are not in the building and you are at your own home and discretion. We have tried to be there for him to make sure if he needs anything, he has it. Again, we just have not had our eyes on him. When you are on that list, you are really quarantining and self-isolating.”


On the game captains continuing to have productive games and the process for selecting game captains: 

“If this was the case, I would make all of the active guys a captain (laughter). I try to think long and hard about the game and the message of what is going to be necessary in that game and why maybe this player plays into that message, I guess is the best way to describe it. Then make sure that we have offense, defense and special teams represented throughout the season. It is just always guys who are a big part of the team and understand how important the team is.”


On when game captains are selected: 

“We announce that on Friday.”


On DE Olivier Vernon’s penalty in the fourth quarter and what he would tell Vernon to do differently on the play: 

“Those are tough plays. I understand how the NFL officiates those type of plays. You want your defenders to play hard and then understand where their target has to be. What do you do differently? You try to get your helmet out of it completely and just use the shoulder. Again, it is hard when that is a moving target. It is a classic example of you just try to play with great technique and play hard and through the whistle. That was an unfortunate situation.”


On how the Browns defense can help shore up the run defense ahead of the Titans game and facing Titans RB Derrick Henry:

“It is going to be a big challenge this week, you are right. I think we have to make sure that we are gap sound, No. 1. You have to defeat blocks versus a team like this. You have to defeat your one-on-one blocks, and then you have to gang tackle. We are not yet there on Tennessee preparation, but just understanding how this team plays and seeing them over the years, it does present a big challenge.”


On if it is a coincidence that two of the Browns least desirable performances in the run game occurred when Garrett missed the game or significant time within it:

“I do not know that I would go that far. I would just tell you Myles is a very good player for us. Excited to get him back.”


On if coaching December football is different this season:

“I think every team I have been a part of in every season you hope that you are getting better when December rolls around. Especially for a team like us, an outdoor football team, these are the games where you really have to play your best ball. We are excited about the challenges that are out in front of us and really have a huge one in front of us right now with a very good football team that we have to go into their place, and they are playing at a very high level. It is just the nature of the season. The games get bigger each week, and that is understandable, but we just really are focused on making sure that No. 1, as coaches, we put together a plan for our guys to go succeed.”


On the NFL closing all team facilities on Monday and Tuesday:

“Whatever the rules are, we will play by them. The message I gave our players today is every team in the league is in the same boat as us these next two days, and how can we get better in these next two days? How can we do this better than anybody else? How can we make it a competitive advantage by getting our work in any which way we can is a big part of it.”


On if building chemistry and leadership is a work-in-progress throughout a season, particularly for a first-year head coach:

“I do think it is organic in a lot of ways, but I think in a season, there are ups and downs. You certainly learn from the downs. You do not like those losses, but you hope you learn from them and you hope as a team you come back stronger from them. I think we have learned a lot of lessons in the games we have lost. We have learned lessons in the games we won. That is why as we speak our coaches are meeting with our players, and we really have to treat this game like any other one where we have to make corrections. We absolutely have to find a way to be better, and that starts with pointing out some things that we would like to do better. I think that the players understand that, and they understand that they are eager to taking coaching in that regard.”


On if the team is able to enjoy having an 8-3 record together in the moment during a unique season, despite the 1-0 focus:

“Yeah, I think so. Those locker rooms after a win, that is the fun part in this business. You definitely relish it, and you celebrate it. There is less celebration on the airplane. You can’t walk up and down the aisles and talk to your buddies about the game. You are sitting in that seat with the N95 mask on so that is unique. The feeling in that locker room is a great feeling so I think the guys really relish those moments.”


On if any other Browns players are potentially expected to be cleared from reserve/COVID-19 this week, in addition to Garrett and Janovich: 

“I will know more on those guys later in the week. For now, Myles is on track to be cleared Wednesday, and Andy is cleared for Wednesday.”


On differences building a gameplan for this week when team facilities are closed on Monday and Tuesday and coaches cannot physically be together:

“We did a lot of it last week – the building was closed in the morning so this is the year of the home office, and the coaches are working really hard in that regard. We are taking pictures with our phones of drawings and sending them to the quality control coaches to draw. It is just finding a way. It is no different than everybody in the country and in the world is finding a way to get their job done.”


On if this the first time of the year that the full gameplan will be developed virtually during the week:

“Yes, for Monday and Tuesday, yes.”