HC Kevin Stefanski (6.25.20)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement:

“I would like to first congratulate (Browns Alumni WR/return specialist) Josh Cribbs and (WR) Webster Slaughter for being added to the Browns Legends. Their induction is awesome. Congratulations to them. Two great additions.


“This week, you know we are wrapping up our offseason program. What we did this week was – this is Week 10 for us – we had a big team meeting on Monday and really had the administrative meeting, if you will, and knocked out a lot of housekeeping issues, kind of setting the guys on their way into this break before training camp with a lot of information. We did that on Monday, and then what we did also was we scheduled an exit meeting with all the veterans Monday and Tuesday. I gave the veterans off Wednesday and Thursday. Really, after their exit meeting, they were free to go. With the rookies, just kept meeting with them like a normal week, and then we are conducting exit meetings with the rookies today. I just think it is important with the exit meetings to review this offseason, review their performance, make sure they know our expectations for them going forward, ask for feedback on things that they want to work on over the next few weeks and really just set them into this break with some things on their mind of ways that they can get better and make sure that they use each one of these days as an opportunity to get better.


“Really pleased overall with the work we were able to get done. Credit goes to the position coaches, the coordinators and to the players themselves. I really think these guys, they attacked this thing. That was great to see. The coaches put out a lot of content, more than I am sure that they have ever done before, so they will be ready to speak at any clinic come next year. We will have plenty of content for those. Really, the players, we required them to do the workouts and send the video of the workouts in, and they did a great job. Just the message of seeing some of our guys lifting in their garage or seeing a player – I don’t know if this is safe – bench press and having two weight coolers on either side be his bench rack. It was pretty cool from a message standpoint of whatever it takes, these guys are willing to do to put the work in. Credit to our players. A successful offseason.”


On if the team is still operating under the assumption that players will be back in the building in late July:

“Yeah, I am operating under that assumption. I just think for us all offseason long, we have had a plan and then we are ready to pivot. We have a plan for the players to get back up here. We have the vets coming on July, 28, and the rookies, the quarterbacks and injured players coming on July, 24. If we hear differently, we will pivot and we will adjust when we get that information.”


On challenges if the preseason is condensed to two games or fewer:

“If that does happen, we will be ready. Obviously, you want reps for your players from a learning standpoint and you want reps for players from an evaluation standpoint, but I am sure that whatever the rules are, they will be the same for all 32 [teams] and we will deal with it as it comes.”


On RB Kareem Hunt stating he was planning to work out with QB Baker Mayfield soon and his stance on players getting together for independent workouts, given the NFLPA advised players not to gather on their own in small groups:

“I really encourage our players to stay safe, and that is from the moment we started talking to these guys back in April. I have told them that the No. 1 priority is their safety and their family, and we want to make sure that we are here for them and providing any resource for them. I have reminded them ad nauseam to wash their hands, social distance and really heed the advice of these experts. I will just continue to make sure that these guys are knowing that they are being encouraged to stay safe while they are out of this building and in this building. We want to make sure they are staying safe.”


On if he will discourage players from coordinating independent in-person workouts:

“I will talk to those guys. Again, it is their offseason. We can’t really direct them to do anything football wise in this break so I will talk to them and just reiterate that I want those guys to stay safe.”


On if anyone on the team has tested positive for COVID-19 and if he expects there will be a process set by the NFL for people who test positive for COVID-19:

“Not that I know of in terms of anybody testing positive [on our team]. I will say this, I am optimistic and I’m also going to follow the advice of (NFL Chief Medical Officer) Dr. (Allen) Sills, and then I think we have some really smart people on the case here. I will just continue to do my part and lead this team.”


On confidence the season will happen, given unknowns and concerns about COVID-19, as well as recent spikes of cases in some areas: 

“I am comfortable being uncomfortable so whatever comes our way, we will be ready. I think for us, I understand why that may be a concern for some, but we are just going to plan with what is in front of us. Right now for us, that is July 24 for the rookies and the QBs and then July 28 for the vets. If we hear otherwise, we will be ready to pivot.”


On logistics for the start of training camp and how it will be different this year:

“I wish I knew. That is one of my questions. I do not know. Again, that is OK. We have a plan. If that plan will not do, another one must. We will be ready.”


On if he agrees with Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh’s comment that it will be ‘humanly impossible’ to do everything teams need to do following the league’s memo on COVID-19 protocols:

“I know this, whatever the rules are, I am ready to abide by them and adhere to them. I do not know what is going to look like. I know what our rules are right now in our safe return to work and being in my office right now. I have my door closed so I can have my (face) mask off. We have stairways that go up and stairways that go down. Credit to our whole group here who have really done a nice job of making this a safe environment. Whatever the protocols are that the league agrees on and puts out, we will be ready to roll.”


On if the team has discussed plans to conduct training camp and the regular season under those protocols, including as it relates to team meetings:

“Yes. We have plans for meetings. You can’t have a meeting over 20 people. Whether you are virtual with everybody – that is a possibility – or whether you broadcast into each position meeting room for a team meeting or an offensive install – that is certainly possible – we are working through all of that so we have some options once the players return.”


On clarifying if his comment that he is not aware of any Browns personnel testing positive for COVID-19 applies to all people in the building, including front office staff:



On what he learned about the team during the virtual offseason program that he did not previously know:

“We started out with this offseason teaching one way, and that is not necessarily how we ended up. What I mean by that is the coaches have done a really good job of taking feedback from the players and finding out what works. Early on, we had a lot of taped lectures, if you will, and we were pushing 15-minute, 25-minute videos out to the players for them to watch. Then, we pivoted a little bit more to live stuff. Then, we pivoted to having the players annotate on their screens. For instance, with the offense, AVP (offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt) would share a play, the quarterback would call the play and then we would have five guys drawing on the screen to make that play. Just different tools and different ways that we tried like crazy to reach these guys. The coaches did that, but as importantly, the players were so responsive to that. I think the guys were really yearning for understanding and getting all of the information from this as they could. I was very impressed by that.”


On the mood in the final offseason team meeting and if anyone had a powerful message about the season:

“Not in that meeting. I think when you get to this point in the offseason, whether it is a regular normal-looking offseason, you get to that final team meeting and guys have their minds on getting ready to get out of that building, whether it is literally or figuratively in this case. I had their attention for about 25 minutes, covered all of the things I had to cover and then said, ‘Adios, muchachos.’”


On if he will take time off before training camp:

“Yeah, I think we are looking forward to getting settled here and getting around town as much as we can. Maybe make a trip down the shore, which is now in driving distance for us – an undisclosed location so PJB (senior vice president of communications Peter John-Baptiste) can’t find me (laughter). We are looking forward to going for the fresh.”


On if the team has discussed an ideal division of carries for the RBs:

“I am concerned that you may have a hidden camera or a bug in here (laughter) because I actually went over that with the offensive staff this morning, just talking about carries, touches and what that looks like. It is definitely on our mind. We know, having been on different teams with different offensive players, sometimes you have a great running back, great receiver or great tight end, and certainly, you have to be mindful and intentional about how you want to go about that while understanding that each week calls for a different gameplan. I think we are fortunate enough to have players at each of those levels that can affect the game, but it is definitely on our mind of how you divvy that pie up and how you design plays. That is definitely something we are talking about.”


On if he will share what the ideal division of carries may look like:

“No, I will keep that on my whiteboard – unless you have a hidden camera in here and you will know (laughter).”


On if the offense may need to scale back at all due to the virtual offseason:

“Again, that is something we are discussing. We are going to wait to see what the framework of the practice schedule and meeting schedule looks like, but it is definitely something that is on our mind, making sure that we are covering all of the things we need to cover and then being very mindful about how we do that.”


On the status of WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry and if they will be ready for camp, as well as if other players may be limited at the beginning of camp due to surgeries or procedures this offseason:

“I do not have any updates on anybody else. As it pertains to Jarvis and Odell, they had two very different surgeries. Odell is free and clear. He is 100 percent. He is looking really good. Jarvis, to his credit, he is looking great, some of the videos that I have seen of him moving around. We will have a plan for them with (Senior Vice President of Player Health & Development) Joe (Sheehan) and the athletic training staff. We will make sure that we wrap both of them up appropriately.”


On if there have been additional conversations about the assignment of offensive play calling duties between him and Van Pelt, particularly due to a possible shortened preseason potentially impacting that decision:

“I think that really remains to be seen. I would like to get everybody back in the building, get out there practicing and get together before we make that decision. That decision will be made before September 13, I promise you that.”


On takeaways from the 2011 season, when the lockout resulted in no offseason program:

“I remember a lot from that year. This is so different because we have had meetings and we have had lots of meetings. We had 10 weeks’ worth of meetings. At that moment, you had no contact, zero contact with your players. I feel like this is very different from that regard. I am confident that the work we did in that 10-week program covered a lot of ground schematically on the Xs and Os, and I know the guys have been really working hard in their workouts. I understand and we have talked a lot about that year, some of the things we learned and how we have to be smart when we do get going from a physical standpoint, but I think it is so different in how far along we are having been able to have meetings with our players.”


On if there is anything different he learned about Mayfield from what he knew prior to taking the Browns head coaching job:

“No, I do not think so. I have been very impressed, like I said before, with the work that he is putting in. He is all ears. He has taken everything and he is taking it all in. I think Alex Van Pelt and the coaching staff are really giving him a lot, and I do not see any limitations with Baker. He has done a really nice job. I talked to him actually this morning, and he is raring to go and hopefully, we will get him back in here and with his teammates. Part of this with leadership positions like Baker and our players, it is harder obviously on Zoom in a virtual program to build these relationships so that is certainly something when we get back in the building, it is going to be about understanding your teammates, getting to know your new teammates and start to build this team.”


On if soft tissue injuries in training camp could be more of a concern this year and how the team will look to minimize that potential, given the virtual offseason format:

“It is definitely something that we are talking about and definitely something that we will want to be smart about. We have the information, we can use sports science to our advantage in this case and we can use the medical staff. Injuries are part of the game – everyone gets that – but as much as we can use the information to our advantage to make sure that we are putting our players in position to practice safely is definitely something that we are thinking about right now.”


On Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry’s email and social justice challenge to Browns staff members, the response and the team extending it to fans through the #BeTheSolution campaign:

“I thought it was outstanding. That is what leadership looks like. Our organization and our ownership group has always taken diversity and social justice to heart. There are so many initiatives that they are involved with over the years. I just think what Andrew is doing and what this organization is doing is leading from out in front. It is awesome.”


On if the team and players have had more conversations about social justice and what they plan to do this season, referencing his comment earlier this month that he wanted to discuss aspects of those plans in person:

“I told the players when we do get back that we will have our social justice committee and we will sit down and continue, continue, continue to be about action and things that we can do in the community. Those are ongoing, but definitely something that when we get back together, it will be easier for us to all make sure that there are action items that we can put into place once we get back together.”


On his conversations with his sons related to social justice after attending a protest with them earlier this month:

“I hope the conversations that I am having with my kids are similar to all the conversations going on in our country, regardless of where you live, where you are from, how you are raised or any of that. I think dialogue is so important. I think our words matter. I do have young kids, and there are a lot of questions and a lot of them are hard to answer – the innocence of young children that just don’t understand why somebody would be treated differently because of their skin. It is so sad that there is an environment out there that needs change, but we need to be a part of it. I just feel very strongly that we need to leave this place better than we found it and we need to do our part with this next generation. My kids, their kids, we have to do our part with this next generation and making sure that they are part of a really, really positive amount of progress. That is something that is not a one-conversation deal. It is not something where you do one thing, you have one conversation and you put that away; it is ongoing.”


On indications that the players grasped the team’s scheme during the virtual offseason program and are prepared to perform when returning to the field:

“We have done a lot of testing. There are certain apps that you can use, and the coaches have done various ways of putting the guys on the board, if you will, virtually. That is how you can gauge the amount that they are learning. Now, as we all know, one major part of learning is doing. While it is true that we have installed a lot of offense and defense, reinstalled it and then reinstalled it again and have done a nice job in the classroom, there is definitely an aspect of doing that hasn’t occurred yet. I do believe that we will have time to do that, and we are at no disadvantage based on the other 31 clubs are on the same equal footing as us. Whatever the rules are, we are looking forward to getting the players back to where we can continue to teach, continue to build the foundation and then get on the field, like you mentioned, and have an aspect of doing because that does really let you sync concepts into your brain once you have physically done them.”


# # #