Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (1.2.23)



Opening statement:

“Injury front, like I told you guys yesterday, (T) Jack (Conklin) is dealing with an ankle injury, and (CB) Denzel (Ward) is dealing with a shoulder injury. We will see how this goes throughout the week on both of those. I don’t know definitively, but we will monitor that throughout the week.


“Like I told you yesterday, proud of the guys. Proud of going down there and getting that win, fighting like crazy and competing like crazy. Some really good moments. Some really good individual moments. Have to build off of those and also have to look at the things that we didn’t do great and find ways to do them better next time. We will watch that tape together with the players – already watched it with a few of them – just to make sure that we can continue to improve. Then excited about the challenge this week. We know what is at stake, and we are excited about it.”


On what led to QB Deshaun Watson’s and the Browns offense’s improved performance in the second half:

“As you know, it is never one thing. Especially when you are talking about the run game, the pass game or whatever it is, you need precision. You need 11 guys on the same page. Obviously, we as coaches have to give the players concepts and things that they can do well. At times, I would say it was protection. At times, it was maybe a missed read, maybe not running the route perfectly or maybe not a great play call. It is always one of those things. When we all get on the same page and operate with precision, I think you can see that we can be real dangerous through the air. I thought that is what you saw in the second half”


On if the Commanders’ 21-play TD drive was the result of not being able to get off the field on a couple of third downs:

“It wasn’t a couple of third downs – that is the first problem (laughter). It was too many. Listen, our defense played really, really well yesterday. That one drive was really what we didn’t do well. I will tell you what I was proud about was that was the last drive before the end of the half; then they come out, get the ball and they have a chance to double dip – we have seen that – and they didn’t. They went three-and-out. We stopped the run on first and second down and had a great third down to get off the field. Credit to them for that long drive. They made their plays. All in all, I thought the defense just played really relentless to the football, rushed the passer well, good in coverage versus some very good wide receivers and tackled well. Just guys running for the ball I think was the difference.”


On Steelers QB Kenny Pickett’s game-winning drive against the Ravens last night and preparing to play the Steelers in an intense environment with Pittsburgh playing to keep their playoff hopes alive:

“I did watch the tape on both sides this morning. A talented player who we have to be ready to go against and get to know the young player. He can make plays off schedule, as you saw in that last drive. Made some impressive throws throughout the day. It is going to be a challenge as it always is when it is Browns versus Steelers. We are excited about that.”


On how much the Browns’ ability to help keep the Steelers out of the playoffs will be a focus for the team this week:

“It is not our focus. We understand those type of things, but this is a division game and it is a rivalry game. We have a ton of respect for that organization, those coaches and those players. We get to lace them up Sunday – don’t know what time yet – but we get to compete for 60 minutes, and we are excited about that.”


On if improved protection in the second half was the result of schematic adjustments or players executing better:

“It was a little bit of both, as you can imagine. I know we gave up five sacks. I would say at least a couple of them we can avoid. Deshaun is going to fight for those extra yards. He is very, very strong in the pocket. He got out of a few plays that were very impressive. We understand that with Deshaun at quarterback these plays can go on for a long time so we have to continue to work up front and we have to work as receivers, tight ends and running backs in the scramble drills and those type of things. The guys fought like crazy. They protected by and large well versus a very, very good front.”


On if Watson has ‘turned the corner’ after throwing three TDs in the second half and if Watson running the ball more in the second half was by design:

“I just think he, like everybody, you just want to continue to progress, and I think that is what you are seeing with Deshaun. I thought obviously in that second half he made a lot of plays. Made plays that were designed. Made plays off schedule. Designed runs, had a really nice one there on second down up the middle and broke free to the outside. You saw him making a lot of football plays. At the end of the day, obviously that is what you are looking for from your quarterback.”


On Watson showcasing talent in the second half with two explosive quarters:

“Kind of what we said earlier, as an offense we just didn’t play well enough in the first 30 minutes of that football game. The reasons are it is never one thing. I think offensively, the guys were committed to staying in our rhythm, staying true to who we were, making plays, getting open, making the throws and all of those things. (RB) Nick (Chubb) running hard really the first half and second half. The guys straining to finish. I think it was more about those guys committing to finish that football game.”


On factors in determining when to go for it on fourth down and what play to call:

“A lot of that decision making you discuss during the week really all of those scenarios where you want to be aggressive and where you are not going to be aggressive. A lot of it comes down to what type of moment it is in the game, how your defense is playing and then the play. Ultimately, that play down there in the red zone did not work, but we have to look long and hard and say, ‘Why didn’t it work and what could we have done better?’ That is really where your focus goes. I think our players, they want to play aggressive. They want on fourth-and-1, you get it to stay on the field and stay in a big drive. There have been moments where you are able to stay on the field and turn them into points, and we understand the risk that is involved, as well. We get it. It is just ultimately trying to make aggressive but smart decisions.”


On K Cade York making all four kicks yesterday and if he has noticed anything different with York since missing two FGs against Baltimore:

“I haven’t. I would tell you he is a young player that is very, very committed to working on his craft. He works really hard throughout the week, makes adjustments to anything technique wise and very zoned in on improving his technique. I think he is just a young player who is going to continue to get better. That is what it is with young players being consistent, and your performance really comes back to being consistent with your technique. I think that is what he’s doing. I should also mention I thought his kickoffs were excellent yesterday. He had really, really good hangtime down at the goal line there that allowed our guys to cover.”


On in his opening statement commenting that he knows what is at stake this week and what will be prioritized when talking to the team this week about what is at stake when looking to win the last game of the season:

“I guess when I say, ‘I know what is at stake,’ you know that they are fighting for the playoffs and you know that a lot of eyeballs are going to be glued to the TV watching this one. That is what is the exciting part for us to be in a meaningful game. We understand that it is our last one, but we are excited about going against a division opponent. We know how tight these games have been so that is the exciting part to be able to compete for 60 minutes.”


On if the Browns will give more reps to younger players this week, given some received additional opportunities in yesterday’s game:

“Those are all things that we will talk about this week, and where appropriate, we will get some young guys in there where we feel like it makes sense.”


On RB Jerome Ford’s performance with additional reps in the backfield:

“He has obviously helped us as a kick returner this season. I think you see his natural ability in those moments. I just felt like it was the right time to get him some carries. Obviously, got some tough carries there in the four-minute drive. A young player who we feel like deserves a chance to see a little bit more from.”


On S Grant Delpit’s development this season:

“I think he is playing at a high level. Obviously, getting his hands on those balls. The one in the end zone, that is a very difficult play. That is a high degree of difficulty to track that ball and get your feet down. He is tackling well. I think he has a ton of tackles just on the season. You are right, he is playing well. Like young players, he is playing well with more opportunities. I think that is really the nature of young rookies and second-year players – I know Grant is in his third year – but these young guys when they get more opportunities, they learn from them. I think their play improves throughout the season.”


On the talent level of AFC North QBs:

“We know this division is very, very talented. Really good coaches. Really good offensive players, defensive players and special teams. It is a very talented division, and that is the nature of how it has been. These are tight games throughout. That is kind of where my mentality goes looking at these teams, less so the quarterbacks.”


On Chubb and DE Myles Garrett potentially having the opportunity to lead the NFL in rushing yards and sacks, respectively:

“On all of those type of things – we have talked about it – any individual accolades, any individual statistics or whatever are great, we want the guys to achieve those and you ultimately achieve them with the help of your teammates. Anything that can come out of this last week in a positive light for any individual guy I think ultimately would be a great reflection on the entire team.”


On if he recalls being part of games prior to yesterday where his offense only had the opportunity to run 53 plays on offense:

“Not off the top of my head. We have been in some games where you don’t get as many drives as you thought you would. Obviously in that game, they possessed the ball as they do. We had a couple of short drives and a couple of long ones. Ultimately, you go into it typically thinking you are going to get about 65 plays is where you are typically thinking and then you try to build your gameplan appropriately. We have a ton of stuff still left on the call sheet for the next week.”


On if there is increased significance to the play calls when only having the opportunity to run 53 plays on offense, particularly when the Commanders possessed the ball for the majority of the second quarter:

“I think so much of that speaks to just staying on the field and being good on first down helps you be good on second down and stay out of third down or get into a manageable third down if you do land on third down. I think big picture wise you just distill it down to doing your job as small as your job may be on a given play. That is what ultimately leads to success in those plays.”


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