HC Kevin Stefanski (12.28.20)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement: 

“On the injury front, (LB Sione) Takitaki has an ankle injury. He is day to day. (LB) Tae Davis also has an ankle injury. He is day to day. (C) Nick Harris has a knee injury. He is day to day. (S) Ronnie Harrison (Jr.) and (G) Wyatt Teller, we will see on both of those guys by the end of this week. Jed (T Jedrick Wills Jr.) with the illness, I do not have an update yet today, but I know the doctor was checking in on him and I just have not heard yet. We will see how he does coming out of this.

“For yesterday, disappointed obviously. The guys fought like crazy to put themselves in position to go get a win, and we did not take care of business. We did too many things that are going to cause you to lose a game with the turnover margin, not getting takeaways, three fumbles and seven drops. Just was sloppy. You have to play clean ball on the road, and we did not do that. We are going to make sure that we work really, really hard today within these meetings that the players are in as we speak. We have to own this thing, and we have to make corrections. Today will go a long way in our preparation moving forward.”

On the earliest that Browns players placed on reserve/COVID-19 as a result of being close contacts would be able to rejoin the team: 

“I think Thursday is the day, provided they all continue to test negative.”

On if Browns players ‘let their guard down’ that resulted in them being placed on reserve/COVID-19 as close contacts: 

“I am not going get into specifics, but it is something that I definitely have addressed with the team and addressed with those players, and we absolutely have to learn from this.”

On why the Browns offense struggled to run the ball yesterday: 

“First of all, the Jets did a nice job. They had good schemes. Their players did a nice job. It is a combination of could have called some better plays and could have designed some better plays, but they did a really nice job. They did not allow us to crease any, especially early.”

On if the gameplan all along this week was to throw more than run prior to learning that multiple offensive players were being placed on reserve/COVID-19: 

“I would not say that. I would say we adjusted some personnel. We just did not have much success early running it. Obviously, you always look back and wonder if you could have run it more would that have increased your efficiency. In that second half, we got into a two-minute tempo mode and had some success so we kind of just stayed in that because we had those touchdown drives there.”

On why QB Baker Mayfield was not able to establish the same rhythm yesterday as done in past weeks, given Mayfield was hard on himself after the game: 

“Baker is hard on himself. We will coach him up. I know he will get better, and he is already looking to get better in these meetings. It is s not one thing, and it is definitely not one person. He had some great plays yesterday and had some plays he wishes he had back. I have a ton of confidence in him.”

On areas where he could have been better yesterday: 

“For me, it is always looking at the result of the play and could I have put the guy in a better position with a better play call, a better play design, a different personnel or the sequence of calls and could that have been better. I really do that every week. I just feel like when you get out of that game, I have to own that thing just like the players. I am going to never just blame execution. We all own this thing, and there are play calls that I want back.”

On throwing the ball 53 times and what he would have done that differently: 

“You look at all of these games, you pull it apart and you have some tough conversations about these games. As you can imagine, the plan was not to throw it that often. In the second half, that is kind of where the game went as we were moving the ball, and we got into two-minute at the end of the first half. We felt confident in the plan and felt confident in the tight ends and the running backs. The wide receivers equipped themselves just fine. We just did not make enough plays. You go into it with a plan and then you have to be ready to pivot and adapt based on what they are giving you.”

On who he speaks to when preparing for a big game like Sunday and how he handles the pressure: 

“I really think all of these games are big games and all of that pressure is really external. In terms of who I talk to, I have a really strong coaching staff here. We have a really good support group here, and we talk through all of those types of things.”

On how preparations change this week if the Steelers announce they will play some backup players on Sunday: 

“I am going to really concern myself with the Cleveland Browns, and we will get into our preparation for Pittsburgh in the next couple of days.”


On if he tried to call a timeout ahead of the QB sneak on the final play, given what the TV copy showed: 

“No, I was not trying to call a timeout.”

On the challenge preparing for Sunday’s game with so many variables involved, including not knowing who will be on the field for the Steelers, in addition to the teams being different from the Week 6 matchup: 

“The challenge is playing a really good Pittsburgh Steelers team. They are well-coached. They have a bunch of good players. I have a ton of respect for how they play. We have to have a great week of preparation. That is the challenge for us is a really good team.”

On if Browns players who were placed on reserve/COVID-19 as close contacts have all tested negative for COVID-19 to this point: 


On if WR Alexander Hollins was signed because there is reason to believe one of the Browns WRs on reserve/COVID-19 will not be available next week: 


On if the 1-0 mantra changes this week, given the Browns will be playing for a playoff berth: 

“The guys coming off of a loss have made sure that they learned from it this season, and that is where our coaches have to do a really good job of identifying things that we have to get better at, we have to make our corrections and then we are going to move on. We are going to make sure that that we are putting all of the focus on the work we put in. That is just how we do things around here.”

On the Brows not using RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt on the field together more on Sunday: 

“In regards to those guys on the field together, that was not something that we could wholesale change late in the game. There are moments that we have had them on the field together and we are going to always explore those opportunities because like you mentioned, it is two really good football players. We will see how the gameplan shakes out today, but it just did not feel like it was fair to put Kareem in a bunch of spots without practice on short notice.”

On Harris and K Cody Parkey seeming to struggle yesterday and if the Browns will consider replacing either of those players this week: 

“Nick battled like he does. There were a couple of times where they got him. We threw the ball so often in that game for those guys I thought, even with the four sacks, based on how many times we threw it, I thought the protection was by and large decent. Nick had his moments in that game so we will see how he progresses this week. As it pertains to Cody, he knows what is expected of him. We are counting on him, and I have a ton of confidence in him.”

On the Browns signing Hollins and his history with Hollins: 

“(Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew and his staff do a great job. They are always looking to manage the roster. Alexander is somebody that I have some experience with and kind of just told Andrew and his group what you are getting – a tough receiver, good speed and knows the system.”

On how much easier it is to move on from the loss knowing the Browns can make the playoffs with a win on Sunday: 

“I try to put them all behind me right after I get off this call and move on. You have to learn from them, you really do. Today is very, very important for me, for the coaches and for the players. It is really important to learn from these, but then you move on and we have to get ready for a really good football team coming into our building.”

On if it is comforting to know that the Browns have bounced back from previous losses this season: 

“Yeah, listen, this team has been resilient, and that is going to be required moving forward. That is what it takes this season. I give a ton of credit to the players. They get it. They own whatever happened the week before win, lose or draw, they try and learn from it and they move on.”

On the impact of not having LB B.J. Goodson as the play caller yesterday: 

“B.J. is the signal caller, like you mentioned, calling the defense, but the other guys practice it, as well. That was nothing new in that regard. Just came from a different voice yesterday.”

On CB Denzel Ward also being hard on himself after the loss: 

“That just speaks to the players we have. They have high expectations for themselves. They want to help the team. They feel like if they come up short, they are hard on themselves. Denzel, that is an example of a team player, but again, somebody that I have the utmost confidence in.”

On if Teller will be able to practice this week: 

“I think we will see how he looks tomorrow, but I am hopeful that he will be on the field Wednesday.”

On if the Browns have to develop two different gameplans with the uncertainty of if the WRs on reserve/COVID-19 will be able to rejoin the team later this week: 

“Listen, I am hopeful obviously, but we will hedge our bets and have a contingency plan should we not. The good news is we have today, tomorrow and Wednesday to plan.”

On if it is fair to say that if the situation on Saturday happened 24 hours earlier that the Browns could have made more significant changes to the gameplan: 

“It was late in the week where you were not going to get a full-speed practice regardless. Yeah, obviously, any extra time or any extra lead time would theoretically be a benefit, but I do want to reiterate that is not why we lost yesterday. We got beat. I got out-coached. We have to be better. We had the players we needed to win that game, and we did not get it done.”

On if the last QB sneak was called by him or Mayfield: 

“We had two sneaks before that were successful – gained four and two. That was a call that we made and Baker executed, but we did not [convert]. That was unfortunate, but that is something that we will learn from.”

On the opportunity to win on Sunday and send the Browns to the playoffs for the first time in 18 years: 

“Like you said, it is the opportunity, and we have put ourselves in position to have this opportunity. Before we get there, we really have to own this one from yesterday so I am not moving there just yet.”

On how much the Browns offense has missed Teller in the run game: 

“Wyatt is a good player. I understand that and everybody knows that. Again, we trust the guys who are in there. We have high expectations for our offense for our run game and pass game really regardless who is in there.”

On if he got the sense that Browns players were ‘rattled’ by the changes on Saturday and Sunday: 


On how this week will be different than past weeks for him: 

“I will stick to the routine. I think the players here and the coaches understand how we operate, and we will focus on the process of this week and focus on our meetings today as we gameplan. Really stick to the process that we have put forth this entire season. The outside and all of those things on the outside that we do not control, we are going to make sure we just kind of keep the focus on our work.”

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