Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (11.29.21)

Opening statement:

“Injury front, it is a ruptured patella for (T) Jack Conklin so he is out for the season, which you are sick about. Obviously, Jack is a big part of what we do. He is a good man and good teammate so I feel for Jack. (TE) Harrison Bryant has a high ankle sprain so we will see what that means in the next couple of weeks.


“Just recapping last night, really just disappointed ultimately not to come away with a victory. A hard fought game, a really good opponent and we just did not do enough of the things you have to do on the road to win. Defensively, some really good moments – four takeaways. I think they averaged 3.9 [yards] per play so they were playing really good football for a large majority of that game. Offensively, we have to play complementary football. When we get those takeaways, we have to turn them into points. We have to find a way to stay on the field. Special teams has to do its part, as well. It is all connected. This week is a very, very big week for the football team. We are determined to get better, and we are going to use this week to get better. Getting better is getting healthy, going for the fresh, recharging and then also as coaches for us to pull this thing apart and find ways for us to improve.”


On how the Browns offense can get going again after a few less productive games:

“There are a bunch of different things that we can do better. When we spend some time looking at it and pulling it apart, the first thing we are going to say is, ‘Alright, what are we good at? Can we do that more? How can we add nuance to it? How can we add wrinkles to it? Then what are we not so good at and can we get better at that? Can we do that play type or whatever it may be?’ If the answer is yes, then we are going to spend some time finding ways to do it. If the answer is that is just not who we are, then we are going to move on and look for something better. I think that is just where this bye week can be a deep dive into really who we are.”


On the need to get Browns offensive players open and if it comes down to individuals needing to win their matchups:

“Again, I would say it is complicated. There are times where they did a nice job and they had tight coverage and times where we worked a route concept and guys sprung free. There are always going to be moments when you are one on one, and we talk about winning all of your one on ones across the field, whether it is a pass pro one on one or a route running one on one versus a DB, but then there are also ways we can help to spring guys open versus man coverage in particular.”


On if he has considered turning offensive play-calling duties over to offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt:

“We talk about a lot of things every single week. I am comfortable with the communications that goes on throughout the week and on gameday. The offensive staff is outstanding, especially (offensive line coach) Bill (Callahan) and Alex throughout the game so I am comfortable with how we are doing it right now. We just have to be better. I have to be better. That is the truth. We just have to find ways to stay on the field and get sevens when we are down there in the red zone.”


On if Conklin’s injury will require surgery and if G Blake Hance will start at RT:

“Yes on surgery. We will work through all of the roster-type things over the next of couple weeks.”


On if Conklin will be able to return from the injury in time for 2022 training camp:

“I can’t say right now.”


On the difficulty establishing the running game last night while playing one of the NFL’s top running defenses and the thought process behind not running the ball as much as the Browns have in other games this year:

“We knew the matchup was going to be difficult. Like you mentioned, they are a good football team. We still have confidence in our run game. We have very, very high expectations in our run game – whatever we are, top three or whatever it is – but we were really were not very efficient last night. We can be better. I know we can be better. We will be better. Ultimately, we did not have enough opportunities to let our run game come through for us. When it was not coming through, we pivoted at times to the pass game.”


On how the Browns can help QB Baker Mayfield during the final five games of the regular season as Mayfield has been battling injuries in recent weeks:

“I think like he told you guys last week, he was feeling the best he had in a while so I think that coupled with this time off, I think he will be feeling ready to go for Baltimore the next time. It is our job as coaches, like we talked about, to dive into this thing and make sure we are putting Baker and all of our players in a position to succeed.”


On Mayfield remaining the Browns’ starting QB:

“Baker is our starting quarterback. He is healthy and getting healthier. We just need to be better as an offense. I think Baker needs to play better, I have to coach better, we have to block better and we have to run routes better. All of the above is true. We just have to be better both individually and collectively.”


On if there is a potential for division between the Browns offense and defense after a game like last night:

“This team understands that we win as a team and we lose as a team. That is just how we operate.”


On if the Browns WRs and TEs are getting enough separation, given the tight windows for completions last night:

“Certainly, every time you are out there, you want to have maximum separation, but as you know in the NFL, those defenses are pretty good. They have some good cover guys so sometimes the separation is not huge, but that is the NFL. There will be times when guys will shake free and there were times where that happened last night, but in those other times, you have to make contested catches. That is just the life in the NFL.”


On Mayfield’s status after last night’s game:

“He is no worse for the wear.”


On if RB Kareem Hunt was on a pitch count last night after returning from injured reserve:

“I would not say it was a pitch count, but we were trying to be intentional about how we used him and when we used him.”


On if Hunt’s calf tightened up in the fourth quarter, given he said last night Hunt was not on the field for the final offensive possession due to tightness in the leg:

“It was, but he will be OK. He is fine.”


On if Hunt re-injured his calf last night:



On the Browns’ schedule during the bye week:

“We have the players in here today. We will have them tomorrow for some more meetings and for a workout. They are going to be free until the following Monday. It is important that they get away and they get with their families and their loved ones and unplug for a couple of days. Coaches will work this week because we have a lot to do like we talked about.”


On if WR Rashard Higgins was inactive yesterday due to the need for special teams personnel:

“Yes, and that is what we do every week. The inactives, it is a puzzle that you work on each week based on who you think you need, and special teams factors majorly into that.”


On FB Andy Janovich being inactive last night and if Janovich is healthy:

“Similarly, Kareem is coming back and there are guys coming off of injury. Andy is healthy. We think very highly of him. We just felt like that was the right thing to do for that game.”


On Hance’s development and opportunities moving forward at RT with Conklin out for the year:

“Blake is a very smart, tough football player. He will give you everything he has. He is very sound in what he is doing. There are some tough matchups on the edge when you are facing some of these teams. He battled like he always does.”


On if the Browns will continue to be able to use three-TE formations following Bryant’s injury:

“We have to look at that. 13 personnel is a big part of what we do because of those three guys. Without Harrison, definitely we need to pivot. It remains to be seen exactly which direction we go.”


On the Browns having challenges establishing the running game against stacked boxes last night despite the team’s success against other teams in similar situations this season:

“They did a nice job. They played their defense and how they play it – a lot of fronts we have seen – and there were opportunities where we ran the ball versus Cover 2-type looks. We just did not make the yards that we are accustomed of making. Again, I believe in this run offense. I believe in the players. I believe in the scheme. We have very high expectations for ourselves. I give them credit – that is the first thing I would do is I give them credit – but ultimately, we have to find a way in a couple of weeks to make sure that we have a good gameplan to make some yards.”


On LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah’s performance last night when healthier after returning from injured reserve in recent weeks:

“That is a big part of it is just getting healthy. He came back but was [not] 100 percent healthy and still feeling that ankle injury so I think he is on his way to feeling really, really physically right. He is somebody who when he makes a decision to go, he goes. I think you see his length and speed show up on the field, which is so important when you are going up against an offensive attack like the Ravens.”


On Mayfield’s comment about not having answers for some of the Ravens’ blitz packages:

“They brought some pressures, especially late, that I could have given him a better play call definitely. Now having said that, I thought protection at times was really good last night. The guys worked very hard on IDing and communicating those multiple looks. We had our opportunities, and a couple of times when they bring one more than you have, you have to make sure that you get the ball out of your hands, and I thought we did that.”


On if the Browns expected pressure on the fourth down pass to TE David Njoku late in the game:

“I think the play before we had a max protection look. The last play there, did not max it up. There are certain things that we could have made call wise up front, but at the end of the day, I have to give those guys a play that can gain the 10 yards.”


On if he ‘wants the buck to stop with him’ when things are not going well as it relates to the decision to maintain offensive play calling responsibilities:

“I would just tell you, yes, the buck does stop with me. I am responsible for everything that goes on offense, defense and special teams. Ultimately, it is my responsibility of whatever is happening out there on the field. That is why we are going to work real hard this week with the coaches and make sure that we are giving our guys the best chance moving forward.”


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