HC Kevin Stefanski (3.2.21)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement: 

“As coaches, right now, we are in the middle of our scheme evaluation like we talked about before. We have a couple of weeks left of that. We are also putting our scout hats on for half of the day and watching free agency and watching some draft-eligible guys this week and into the future. We have been on some Zoom calls and some FaceTime calls with some draft-eligible prospects so that is taking up the majority of our days. As we sit here in March, my focus and our focus as a staff and as a team is we have to get better. We have to improve, and as coaches, really pull this thing apart and find ways to improve schematically. We have to evolve. I think that has been a big part of our process to date. Also, as coaches, we have to get better. I have to be a better coach next year for this team, and that is my goal. We are working really hard to find different ways for each of us to get better. That is really the charge of what we have been working on the last few weeks. As we move forward in this offseason, we will see how it all shakes out and see what it looks like, but in the meantime, the focus is definitely we have to get better.”

 

On if he has received any indication from the NFL as to what the offseason program might look like this year:

“I really have not, and that is something that we are used to – the unknowns. We will see when that comes out, and I will take a look at the schedule and we will plan out what that looks like. We will be ready to pivot with whatever the league and players agree upon.”

 

On if there is in area in particular the team needs to improve this year:

“I would not tell you anything in particular. I would tell you, certainly, offensively, defensively and I know Prief (special teams coordinator Mike Priefer) is working on it when we talked about his special teams, with your scheme year to year, you evolve. Sometimes, that is a different personnel group. Sometimes, that is a different play type. It really varies based on the players you have and moving them into different positions. To say that we will get completely away from who we are either on offense or defense, I do not think that is fair to say, but I will tell you that we are going to try to evolve within the scheme and continue to try to make ourselves difficult to defense on offense and defensively find ways to frustrate an offense. That is what we are working really hard on right now.”

 

On TE David Njoku potentially indicating on social media of not seeing a future or right fit with the Browns and his general thought on having someone on the team who may not be ‘all in’:

“David is somebody who I respect and value, the production he gave us on the field and the teammate he is. As it relates to him in particular, I am not aware of that. I know I have had a lot of conversations with a lot of players over the course of the season and over the course of many seasons so I will continue to have that dialogue with all of our guys to see where they are, but I am not aware of anything in particular with David.”

 

On if he was disappointed the Browns were not able to sign Arizona Cardinals DE J.J. Watt and the future for the DE position opposite DE Myles Garrett:

“I would not get into specifics about any player. I would just tell you (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew (Berry) and his staff work really hard as they walk in this building every day to find avenues to improve our team. Whether that is the draft, free agency or trades, that is something that they work very hard on.”

 

On if there are many strong opportunities for the Browns to address DE in free agency or the draft and if that is a strong class this year:

“I can’t tell you if it is a strong class or weak class. I would just tell you there are always going to be opportunities to improve our team. We know year to year the faces change – new guys come in and guys leave. That is just the nature of this beast. There are always going to be opportunities to improve the roster.

 

On if it would be disappointing if the offseason program was fully virtual again this year:

“I would not call it disappointing. I think we are ready for whatever is thrown at us. As you can imagine, as coaches, we would love to have our hands on our guys and take them through drills, but we will see how it shakes out. We will be ready – whatever the rules are – I think that is what is most important to me and our coaches. We are just looking forward to finding out what those rules are, and we will go from there.”

 

On how different it is to have virtual NFL Combine interviews and if the team is potentially missing out by not hosting in-person interviews:

“I think we have gotten pretty good at this Zoom. We have had a lot of meetings with potential players like this. We have been doing it this week already – a few days into it – and we are going to continue to have more of those this week. We hired a coach via Zoom this offseason so that is a first for me. That is another segue into what I think is a really big deal in bringing our coaching staff back. We did hire Jonathan Decoster as an offensive quality control coach, but the fact we are bringing all of our coaches back is what I think is a very, very big deal, and I am very proud of that fact.”

 

On the current status of the Browns’ pending defensive free agents and how many may return in 2021:

“I would tell you that I would love to bring everybody back. I have had great relationships with all of these players and you want to bring them all back, and we just realize that this is a business and sometimes that is not possible. I will tell you, we have had a lot of really good conversations with Andrew (Berry) and his staff and coaches and trying to outline a plan for this offseason. Will there be new faces? Absolutely, there will be. How many? I do not know. That is the process that we are working through.”

 

On how much he anticipates virtual elements will continue to be incorporated into the NFL offseason overall:

“That is a good question – something we have talked a lot about. If portions of this offseason are virtual, we have been through it. I will tell you that we found out things we really liked about it and some things we did not. We changed the way we were running meetings throughout the course of the spring. We are always going to search for the best way to do it. That has been a major focus of ours in the last few weeks and months is if this thing is virtual, what is the best way to do this? I think that the answer is probably constantly evolving. One week we may try one way; and then the next week, we may try a different way – I am talking just Zoom, how we meet, those type of things. We will make sure that we think long and hard about how to do it. I will tell you having one season of that under our belts should help.”

 

On what led to QB Baker Mayfield’s growth during the second half of last season:

“I think Baker definitely became more comfortable in what we were doing, but I would tell you that I became more comfortable with his skillset, and going across the board. I was learning about our players and our coaches were learning about our players throughout that beginning portion of the season. I just think it was the natural evolution of us an offense as we all learned about each other a little bit more.”

 

On DT Jordan Elliot’s development:

“With Jordan, I was really pleased with how he came along. He was a young player and was very, very eager to learn and very eager to do it the right way. He practiced hard. He got in some games and had I do not know maybe 16 snaps and then maybe the next week the matchup did not call for him to play as much. He was somebody that we brought along. I think he is trending absolutely in the right direction. This is a big offseason for him to take that jump from Year 1 to Year 2.

 

On how an offense develops from Year 1 to Year 2:

“I think the answer it may not be apparent in Week 1. I think for us, we just need to make sure that we are putting our guys in a position to succeed. That really can be any type of run or any type of pass, any personnel or formation. We want to make sure that we are exploring all of those avenues and stay true to who we are but also allow our guys to grow in this scheme and just very simply find ways to be explosive on offense. I know that is a very general question, but I think for us, what we talked long and hard about as an offense and a coaching staff is we want to have our core, but we have to  make sure that we are pivoting week in and week out.”

 

On DE Curtis Weaver and Weaver’s potential to contribute this upcoming season:

“I think it remains to be seen for any of these young players. Curtis, it is really his first year really with us because he spent so much time rehabbing so it is first year with us and second year in the NFL. Those are the type of guys that we are going to give them every opportunity to grow, and they have to put the work in to make it happen. I love Curtis, and really, you can put him with the second-year players or you can put him with the rookies and say this is truly his first year with us.”

 

On T Chris Hubbard’s status:

“I do not really have an update per say on Hub. I did get to see Hub in here for the first time. He looks great. He is progressing nicely. Got to catch up with him for a couple of minutes this morning.”

 

On if evolving the offense involves mainly internal evaluation or also watching other teams that run a similar scheme:

“I think what we are trying to do is fine tune and hone in on the things we are good at while looking at what other people are doing and seeing if that fits us. I make no bad bones about it – we will steal from everybody if it is a good idea. We are watching a lot of tape of the NFL players and we are watching college tape, and if we think it might help us, we will definitely make it part of our offense.”

 

On how much emphasis he places on coach development:

“I put a ton of emphasis on it. I am kind of on our coaches right now, and they know it. I want each one of them to get better. We are going to spend some time in this offseason as it relates to professional development to make sure that we are giving all of our coaches every resource we can to help them become better coaches because it makes us better for the Browns and also it obviously improves their job.”

 

On Mayfield’s trajectory in terms of development and moving forward following the first year in the offensive scheme:

“I would not put any parameters on any of our guys when it comes to their trajectory. I would just tell you that I know he can continue to get better. He is another person who is eager to get better. He is chomping at the bit. When he walks in this building or we virtually see him next, we will make sure that we outline some things that he can improve on. I think you all know this about Baker, he works really, really hard at his craft. When you do that, you have a chance.”

 

On an update on WR Odell Beckham Jr.’s recovery:

“I do not really have an update other than I know he is doing great. Our medical people are in contact with guys he is working out with. As you can imagine, he is attacking this thing so I know he is doing great, but no update to say where he is in the rehab, but he is doing really well.”

 

On if he will give Chief of Staff Callie Brownson an opportunity to assist with position groups or add to her role:

“That is something that we are doing with all of our young assistant position coaches, if you will – moving them around and making sure that the guys are working with positions that they did not work with last season. Callie in Year 2 – I can speak from experience – that job in Year 2 will be easier than Year 1 so she will have some time freed up where she is going to work with (run game coordinator/running backs coach) Stump (Mitchell) and the running backs in her free time and on the field.”

 

On if Brownson will receive a title change to assistant running backs coach:

“No.”

 

On the rehab status for Beckham, S Grant Delpit and CB Greedy Williams and if they can be ready for the start of training camp:

“I think they are all progressing. I would not lump them all together because they are all different injuries, but I know they are all progressing. I can specifically speak to Grant. I saw him in there today. He looks great. He is coming along. I did see Greedy today. Again, we will have more updates as we go, and then like we talked about with Odell, I know he is feeling great, but I do not have a specific timeline or anything like that.”

 

On if there is a need for the Browns to build insurance plans at DB in free agents or the draft due to players returning from injury:

“I think with every position, you look at who is coming back, who is coming off of an injury and how they are rehabbing so that factors into all of it.”

 

On if Beckham is still positioned to take a significant jump in the second year of the offensive system like other Browns players after missing so much time in 2020:

“Yes, I do. Again, as you can imagine, he is very, very committed to getting back to 100 percent. He is well on his way in his rehab. Excited about his future.”

 

On the Browns need to add another speed element to the WR room, in addition to Beckham:

“I think Andrew and his staff will work through that as it relates to free agency and the draft and make sure that as we bring guys in here that they fit the type of mold we are looking for. Speed is an obvious thing in the wide receivers room. That is always the No. 1 trait you are looking for, but ultimately, it has to be the right fit for us.”

 

On if he can sense a change in culture this year as the team builds upon last year’s success:

“I really look at it as Year 1 for us. I was not here prior to last year. We laid a foundation, but it is really, really important that everybody in this building and all of our players understand we have to get better. To say we are just going to be right back where we left off, that is not the case. It just does not happen that way. We have to work at it.”

 

On if he has fully recovered from COVID-19:

“Yes, smell and taste came back three weeks post-COVID, which was cause to celebrate.”

 

On if he would like to schedule a joint practice if training camp and the preseason are both back to normal:

“Yes, I would. Yes.”

 

On if he would look to schedule one or potentially more than one joint practice during training camp, if NFL rules permit:

“I would have to work through that to see how long the preseason is and see what the schedule looks like, but I do think there is value in that, if we can do it.”

 

On how he felt watching the postseason after the Browns were eliminated and how close he felt the Browns may be to reaching the Super Bowl after watching the game:

“Definitely watched the Super Bowl. Every year, you want to see what they are doing in that game. I think as coaches, we are always looking at what the schemes are in that game because everyone is watching, and it is amazing how a play in that game will show up in Week 1 of the season for everybody. Definitely looking at it from an X’s and O’s standpoint. As it relates to us, I would just tell you we go back to square one in 2021. We have a lot of work to do, and we are eager to get that work started, whenever that may be.”

 

On similarities and differences between this offseason and last offseason for him in his second year as head coach:

“I am really excited that I am sitting here on March 2, our whole coaching staff is hired and we can go full speed ahead from a schematics standpoint of how we are putting this thing together. Really, you hit the ground running this year as opposed to last year where you are coming up with different words you want to call things. That is honestly a big part of this. I do want to go back to that virtual offseason program we had last year. We found a way to do it. It was never perfect – we are always looking for ways to tinker and make sure we are doing it right – but I think it is a benefit that we know some of the shortcuts on Zoom to begin with.”

 

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