Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (11.30.22)


Opening statement:

“Excited for the challenge this week going on the road against the Texans. We are looking forward to having a great week of practice and getting down there. You watch them on tape, a lot of things jump out. (Texans RB Dameon Pierce) No. 31 their running back is outstanding. He is a load to bring down. You see him running away from people and breaking tackles. He has speed out there. They have multiple receivers who are big play receivers. A tight end for them that is making plays for them in the pass game. Big, big offensive tackles. A unique challenge with our defense on the field, but in particular, I think their running back is outstanding. Defensively, it is a (Texans Head Coach) Lovie Smith Led defense. That presents all sorts of different challenges. Obviously, Cover 2 starts to show up, which you don’t see a ton of week in and week out so you have to be really, really precise in what you are doing and then pressure, man pressure. On first and second down, they are doing a really nice job of being an aggressive front and line movement. Really a focal point for us in defending that scheme. Special teams, they have a really, really good special teams unit and a bunch of guys that we know. They are outstanding and playing relentless on that side of the ball. Looking forward to going down there, and looking forward to the challenge.”


On QB Deshaun Watson not meeting with the media today, given many NFL QBs host their media availabilities on Wednesdays ahead of Sunday games:

“That is not my department. That is PJB (Senior Vice President of Communications Peter John-Baptiste) over there. You can ask him.”


On if there is a difference in the energy with the team due to Watson returning to the active roster, understanding he is ‘not a big vibe guy’:

“I like the ‘not a big vibe guy.’ Again, Deshaun as been here for five weeks and has been around his teammates and been out at practice and been in walkthrough [for two weeks]. I have said it to you guys before and you know this, but this is about us versus the Texans is really the focus.”


On how the Browns and Watson will be able to handle expected backlash in Houston, given that is Watson’s former team:

“Again, I think it goes back to control what you can control. We have to have a great week of practice and be ready to play a great game on Sunday.”


On Watson’s struggles in the preseason game at Jacksonville and if he believes Watson’s mental state due to stress at that time was a factor:

“No, I really don’t. I think a lot of that was just getting back in uniform, in the huddle, hearing my voice in the headset and those type of things. That was all about the preparation. No, I don’t put much stock on that.”


On if he expects any of those preparation factors to be an issue for Watson on Sunday:

“I don’t.”


On if the Browns anticipate Watson having to shake off any rust this Sunday:

“It is a totally fair question. I don’t think I can predict that type of thing, but I know this, he is focusing on his work. Really in any endeavor, you have to focus on your preparation for Sunday. You can’t really worry about Sunday until you worry about Wednesday.”


On if he as the Browns offensive play caller has to ‘resist the temptation of playing with this new toy’ with Watson on the field:

“I get the question. For me, for us as a team and for us as an offense, we really want to maximize the skills of all of our players. Obviously, with the change at quarterback, there are as you can imagine certain things that we will do differently, but ultimately, the goal is to go win and the goal is to go play good offensive football. I don’t look at is in terms of ‘resisting temptation.’ I just look at it in terms of trying to do what our guys do best.”


On how much Watson’s mobility and ability to run the ball may open up opportunities for the Browns RBs:

“I really think it is wait and see. There is plenty of tape of Deshaun out there so the Texans know what to prepare against, so to speak, but he hasn’t played for us so there is an element of we will see.”


On if the Browns expect to opposing defenses to put eight defensive players in the box less frequently due to Watson being on the field:

“No. Again, played good offense the first 11 weeks so I expect that to be the same.”


On if the Browns view it as having an extra offensive player due to Watson’s threat to run the ball, similar to how some teams view Ravens QB Lamar Jackson or Eagles QB Jalen Hurts:

“I think we have seen going against some of the players this season – think about (Bills QB) Josh Allen and Lamar – that is frustrating to a defensive coach when a quarterback can make plays. (QB) Jacoby (Brissett) has made plays with his feet – just in this last game made a bunch of plays with his feet. That element of any offense can be really frustrating to a defense. That is part of Deshaun’s game in this case, but Jacoby has made some plays, as well, this season.”


On expectations that the Browns offensive will be more explosive with Watson as starting QB:

“For this football team, for Deshaun and for the offense in particular to your question, they need to focus on playing good football this week. The big picture of what that means and that type of thing, I don’t think our guys are worried about that. We have to worry about our preparation this week and make sure that we have a good plan for Houston. We are excited that Deshaun is able to play for us. We are excited that he is back out there. The guys have enjoyed, like we mentioned, back in the room the last few weeks. Having him out on the field will bring an element to our offense that is different, but how different I think remains to be seen.”


On if it will take time to put the suspension behind Watson or if it is simply focused on football moving forward:

“I think part of our job is that is what we have to do. When you are in this building, you control what you can control, and you are where your feet are. For us right now, the focus is on Houston and having a really good week of practice. I understand that there is more out there outside of the building, but inside of the building, we really have to focus on our jobs.”


On if TE David Njoku not practicing today is related to the previous ankle/knee injury listed on last week’s injury report:

“No, it is a different injury so we are just going to work through it and be smart.”


On if the Browns are ruling out Njoku for Sunday’s game:

“Have not ruled him out, no.”


On the status of DE Myles Garrett’s shoulder, given Garrett was not listed on the pre-practice injury report as a DNP:

“We will give him some rest today, but he is right where he has been. These guys, as you know, just played an overtime game on Sunday so trying to be smart about what we do with the guys and make sure that they are fresh come Sunday.”


On the importance of having players like LBs Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Sione Takitaki who have stepped up in recent weeks when facing the Texans running game and Pierce:

“It is a huge challenge just period. He is a really good football player. They have good run schemes. Again, just turn on the tape, and he is running away from people, he is bouncing off of people and he is making people miss. It is not one person’s job when you are going up against a rush attack like that; it is really an 11-person job, making sure that you are sound in all of your run fits and then you really have to gang tackle this player. He is really good.”


On the Texans defense playing a significant amount of  Cover 2 under Smith:

“They are playing the most Cover 2 as anybody in the league. I would have to think of who the near neighbors are of him – (Bears Head) Coach (Matt) Eberflus in Chicago similar. I would have to look at across the league. It is a unique challenge. It is scheme that I have seen work at a really, really high level. It keeps you off balance when you can play Cover 2 and keep everything in front of you. Then you can crawl up and play man. They bring a good amount of pressure. With that pressure and sometimes without that pressure, they have really, really outstanding line movement so you are seeing their 3 technique, their 6 technique and pirate. It presents a big challenge because you have to block movement when you are playing against a Lovie Smith defense.”


On Owusu-Koramoah’s comment about reading run fits at the right speed and if Owusu-Koramoah is improving in that area:

“He is working hard to get better. As you know, JOK plays with a unique speed. When he sees it, he goes. A lot of times, it is a really, really good play and he is making the right play. If it is not, he can put himself in a bad position because he goes so fast. He works very hard with Coach Tarv (linebackers coach Jason Tarver) and (run game coordinator) Coach (Ben) Bloom making sure that his reads and his keys are true. Ultimately, when you are playing linebacker in this system or any system really, once you see it, you just have to go.”


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