Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (11.9.22)


Opening statement:

“Starting the work week on the Miami Dolphins, a good football team, 6-3 and won their last three. They are operating at a high level on all three sides of the ball. They are well coached. I know a bunch of their coaches. They do a great job. They are doing a nice job. Obviously, offensively, the quarterback (Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa) is playing at a very high level. They are dangerous on the perimeter. They are just doing a nice job scoring a bunch of points. Defensively, really impressed with their defense in total. The front is big, stout and long. They can rush the passer. They can stop the run. In the back end, they have playmakers with (Dolphins CB Xavien) Howard being as good as it gets in the NFL, a really, really good player. Special teams, really well coached. (Dolphins special teams coordinator) Coach (Danny) Crossman coaching the [special] teams does a nice job. Quite the challenge going on the road playing a good football team so we have to have a really good work week, and that starts really today.”


On if CB Denzel Ward has been fully cleared from concussion protocol:

“I don’t know that he is fully cleared yet, but again, he is hitting all the benchmarks right now.”


On if Ward finished yesterday’s practice OK:



On LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah’s status:

“Rehabbing. Working through the injury.”


On Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill:

“I think they are doing a nice job utilizing his speed. He has world class speed, can make plays down the field tracking the football and can get the ball in his hands early and let him go. We have played him a couple of times in Kansas City so you know that speed. It is real. Just the way they use him with motion, it is almost like Canadian football where he has a full running start at the snap. He gets into your defensive secondary very quickly. The quarterback does a nice job of getting him the ball in areas that he can catch, pluck and go.”


On how to try to combat Hill and Hill’s speed:

“Every team goes into it trying to slow him down. It is difficult. There is not one thing that you can do to say, ‘Hey, we are going to stop him by doing this.’ It is just he is good, and they have other players who can hurt you so you try to give them a couple of different looks. It might be one plan on this play and one plan on another play and try and just be sound in what you are doing. He is a good player. You are just trying to limit the big explosives.”


On the challenge facing WR Jaylen Waddle and Hill:

“That is a big part of that. Waddle is a really, really good young player in his own right. Different but fast and dynamic with the ball in his hands. They complement each other in that way, and again, it is a challenge for our defense.”


On the Dolphins offense attacking the middle of the field and the pressure it puts on a defense:

“I think they do a really nice job. The quarterback works the middle of the field. Their route concepts are around the middle of the field. When you do that, you are not going to run out of grass. You are going to not use the sideline sometimes to your advantage as a defense. When you work the middle of the field and you work in between the numbers, you can catch and turn and get YAC. They can do it from a shorter pass attack and they can do it from an intermediate and deep pass attack, but so much of it comes back to defensively being true to your rules, being true to in your zones and your mans and then ultimately when in position to make a play, you have to make a play.”


On if the Dolphins’ skill on the perimeter sets up success over the middle of the field:

“I guess when I say ‘perimeter,’ I am saying their receivers, but their receivers can make plays all over the field. They can throw just go routes and that type of thing. They can also off of some of their RPOs get the ball into their receivers’ hands really using all 53 and a third [yards width] of the field.”


On Dolphins LB Bradley Chubb recently joining Miami:

“Really good player. (Defensive coordinator) Joe Woods knows him well so speaks very highly of him. We obviously did a lot of study on him back to his Denver time. Just one game to watch there in Miami. Very, very strong at the point of attack. Sets the edge well. Very good motor. Only one game look of how they may use him from last week. They may move him around. We are not exactly sure. They have multiple edge rushers, but adding him to the mix, he is a real good football player.”


On difficulty of maintaining the sense of urgency to win during the second half of the season:

“For us, it really does go back to a one-game season. One game, this one is important, the next one is going to be important and so on. For us, we totally understand where we are, but we have to focus on going 1-0 down against a very, very good football team on the road.”


On how the team prepares for having six of its final nine games on the road:

“The NFL game, you have to go on the road and win in some tough environments where it is loud, and that has an effect on the offense, particularly on third down so you have to be great in your operation. We have one more road game than home game this year. You can’t control how the schedule shakes out and those type of things. You really do have to have the mentality that you will play anybody anywhere wherever it shakes out.”


On LB Sione Takitaki’s performance this season, particularly following injuries at LB:

“He has played really well. You have seen an increased number of snaps, and I think what he has done with those has been impressive. Sometimes when you are that base linebacker that comes off in nickel, you just don’t get the opportunity and you don’t get the exposure. I think with added exposure, he has done a nice job. He plays very physical, a good tackler, smart and in the right place. Excited for him to have a continued role in what we are doing moving forward.”


On if increased opportunity has been the biggest change in Takitaki’s game since last season:

“Yeah, I do. I think it is simply that, just opportunity.”


On how important it is for all three phases of the team to communicate with each another:

“It is vitally important. It is the greatest team game there is. You need all three sides of the ball. To play these team games to get a team win, you really have to play together. You go back to that last game, our defense played really well early and kept the team in it. I think that is really important. Then you are going to make a play on special teams which is going to flip the field and that is winning the field position battle. It all plays into it. I think our team has been in situations where we know if we have fallen short we just needed one more play from this side or one more play from this player or whatever it is. We know the margins are so small in this game. That is why it is so important to play that complementary football and understand that it is going to take all three sides of the ball.”


On TE David Njoku’s status for this week’s game:

“I don’t know. I think we will see. He is rehabbing very, very hard. He is trying like crazy. I can’t peg it right now on a Wednesday, but I wouldn’t rule him out.”


On the Browns having a 2-0 record after the bye while he was head coach and if the team has done anything differently following bye weeks during his tenure:

“No. Coming off the bye is a time to get healthy so it is important for some guys who are battling. (Cleveland.com beat writer) Mary Kay (Cabot) mentioned David, there are guys who are battling to get back. I think that is where the bye helps you. I think it helps you, like we have talked about, self-scout to really understand yourself and then to dive into your opponent ahead of time. I don’t know what everyone’s record is coming off the bye, but you would think it would be an advantage to most teams.”


On if there are significant similarities or differences in the Miami offense under Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel and the 49ers offense under Head Coach Kyle Shanahan, given they shared time coaching together in the NFL, including Cleveland:

“I think everybody kind shares a little bit of DNA, and there is a thread woven throughout these offenses in similar ways, and then what is so interesting to me is how different they can seem, as well. Sometimes like ourselves we may feature different run types more so than others. What they are doing in Miami with a lot of the pre-snap motion is unique, and the way they are throwing the ball and the actions off of which they are throwing the ball is unique to them. I do think there are similarities, but the differences are pretty stark when you watch the tape.”


On RB Kareem Hunt remaining with the Browns following the trade deadline and if that will affect how the team uses Hunt during the second half of the season:

“I understand what you are saying, but it really doesn’t affect me or us in any way. Kareem is a big part of what we do. He always has been and always will be. He plays hard. There are going to be opportunities for him. In relation to the trade deadline or anything like that, it doesn’t really affect me.”


On if there are significant differences for an offense with a left-handed QB:

“You don’t discriminate. Lefty or righty doesn’t really matter. I think there is a little bit of the element of the receivers getting used to catching that all, but that comes pretty quickly once you get used to that because obviously it is spinning differently. At times, you run certain plays for righties – a lot of quarterbacks are more comfortable rolling to their right when you are a righty – so some things may be mirrored when you have a lefty. Tua in particular, there are no limitations to what he can do. He is playing at a very high level. He is making throws to every area of the field, operating their system, showing accuracy and making good decisions with the ball. He is doing a nice job.”


On if the desire on defense with Tagovailoa is to try to keep the QB in the pocket, similar to Ravens QB Lamar Jackson:

“He is athletic and he can make plays with his feet, but I think he is just a very good thrower of the football. The ball comes out of his hand quickly so in terms of keeping him in the pocket, they will designed movements and those type of things, but he does a nice job of processing quickly and getting the ball out quickly, which we would expect to continue. It doesn’t make it any easier because he is still playing at a high level.”


On if the Browns are monitoring the pending weather conditions in Florida this week as it relates to travel and gameday:

“I think travel plans we should be OK. It is going to be warm. It will be 82, it sounds like, on Sunday. It will be warmer in the sun on our sideline so we will have plans for that. I always tell the guys we don’t control the weather, we deal with it so whatever it is, it is, but I do want them to know ahead of time just to have the hydration and do the things that can help them leading into Sunday.”


On the significance of the Browns having a player like RB Nick Chubb who is an elite player and can also serve as a role model for the younger players:

“Nick is a great example of you don’t have to be loud, you don’t have to be vocal, you don’t have to be boisterous and you don’t have to be giving pregame speeches in order to lead. He is a great leader by example. He will speak up when necessary, and he has done that. It is always good when there is an example of how to do it the right way. That is helpful in the running back room. I think it is helpful to the offense and helpful to the team. When you have a guy that is a pro’s pro who does his job, I think everybody sees that. The fact that he doesn’t say much doesn’t change his standing to me, to his teammates or whatever. I just think they see a guy who knows when it is time to get to work.”


On if there is an ‘extra punch’ to Chubb’s messages when choosing to speak up, given Chubb is a quieter person:

“With Nick, anytime he speaks, you know it is coming from somewhere that is important to him. He is part of our leadership group so he shares his opinions to the group. He has earned that role on our football team.”


On if the Browns ever see a successful scheme or play from another team and the incorporate it into their system:

“Oh yeah, absolutely. You get into the season, and game planning, you are watching a lot of tape and you are always looking for inspiration. Sometimes, I have coaches who grab tape of certain teams that I always want to see the stuff that they are doing week in and week out so you can steal it. Sometimes you steal it exactly as is, and sometimes you grab it and say, ‘OK, they did it this way. It probably fits us to do it that way.’ There are teams that we share similarities with that we watch every single week to help us with ideas.”


On if opponents have ever run plays that they have taken from the Browns against them:

“Yeah, it happens. Listen, I don’t know that there are any original ideas anymore. We are all stealing from each other, and I am not afraid to admit it either.”


On if he has experienced anything at a stadium that created a potential homefield advantage due to weather, in reference to the sidelines at Miami:

“I remember when we played the Seahawks in the playoffs when it was -6 degrees when I was with the Vikings. At the Vikings, we were purposefully put on the sideline where we did. It was on the other side of the Gophers. We were actually on the visitor’s side than the Gophers but knew that in cold weather, that would be the shade. It was -6 in the sun, and I do not even know what it was – it was colder in the shade that day. Now, the Seahawks played great, but that is one example of where you can do some things homefield advantage when it comes to weather.”


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