Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (12.18.22)



Opening statement:

“Injury report, JD, (DE) Jadeveon Clowney is in the concussion protocol. (S) John Johnson (III) has a thigh contusion.


“Like I talked to you guys about last night, really proud of the effort. Proud of the guys to fight versus a really good football team, a division opponent, a night game and all of those things. Just was a really, really hard-fought, solid team win that we set out to go achieve. Proud of the effort, and then we have to get to know the Saints this week, a team we really haven’t played since I have been here. We really got to do our homework and understand our opponent coming into next week. That is where our focus goes.”


On why QB Deshaun Watson is well-suited in the no-huddle offense and the potential for it moving forward:

“I think Deshaun is certainly getting more and more comfortable in what we are doing. We did do some no-huddle in this last game. We did some no-huddle down in Cincinnati. It has been a part of who we have been this season. Back when we played Baltimore in the first game, we did some no-huddle with (QB) Jacoby (Brissett). It is certainly part of our system. I think it is really game by game, the matchups and the certain things you are trying to do dictate how often and if you get into it at all. This week, you could be in no-huddle the whole game or you may not get into it at all. It really is just dependent on what you are expecting from your opponent.”


On Watson’s postgame comment yesterday about wanting the opportunity and having the ability to make big plays, similar to Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes like no-look passes:

“I see it in practice so I certainly know what Deshaun is capable of. He sees it really, really well. He had some plays in the game yesterday – one in particular that I am thinking about – where has an uncanny ability to make some throws in tight, tough windows. It is definitely a part of his game and a part of our game that will continue to grow.”


On why the Browns run game was successful against the Ravens defense yesterday when evaluating the film:

“They are really tough. I think they were maybe [ranked] sixth going into it. They have a very good scheme, and they have very good players. They are stout up front. They have good edge players. The two linebackers Ravens LBs Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith) are very, very instinctive and fast safeties that can fill. We knew it was going to be a challenge. We tried to get into some advantageous looks for us throughout the game. Then really in the second half, I am really just proud of the guys. I think we possessed the ball over 11 minutes in the fourth quarter. I know it didn’t have a ton of points to show for it, but kept the ball away from them and grinded it out when we needed to.”


On why the Browns had more success running the ball yesterday compared to last week at Cincinnati:

“It is complicated. It is a bunch of different things. I would start with myself and us as coaches making sure we give these guys a plan that they can execute and asking them to do things that they can do. Then I thought again the individual effort was outstanding. The offensive line was really, really good in the run game and in the protection. I thought they protected very, very well yesterday. You win some one-on-one matchups up front, and that is when (RBs) Nick (Chubb) and Kareem (Hunt) can get going making one guy miss and then they can be big plays.”


On the most important areas of growth for Watson in the Browns offense:

“That is another good question. I think it is a lot of things – simple operation things, in and out of the huddle and getting into the right looks. For Deshaun and really all of the players, there is a comfort level that comes with game reps, and there are certain situations that come up in games – you cover a lot in practice, and we have covered a lot of situations – and then sometimes situations come up in games that are unique, and it gives you an opportunity to cover them in the moment. Then this morning sitting down and watching the tape with all of the quarterbacks, we can go through all of those moments, take our time and talk through them. I think for Deshaun in particular but for all of our guys, for Deshaun getting into these game reps, getting into these situations and understanding why we are calling things and how we are trying to attack the defense.”


On if he is seeing Watson’s swagger and leadership continue to grow as weeks progress:

“He doesn’t lack for confidence, and he is a great leader in the building, outside the building, on the practice field and in the locker room. I do think there is certainly confidence that comes from playing, winning and those type of things. That always leads to confidence.”


On defensive coordinator Joe Woods’ comment earlier this week about simplifying the scheme and play calls to ensure Browns players could play fast:

“It is always a unique gameplan when you are playing Baltimore. They have a varied attack. As you know, they can get big. They have the quarterback run game that you have to concern yourself with. You are always trying to play simple but give your guys answers and give your guys some different movements or what it may be to try to slow down that run. At times, we did it. At times, they got us. They had some good plays. They had some good schemes. At the end of the day, we made enough plays in some critical moments, but we are going to continue to try to put together a plan that gives our guys a chance to play fast.”


On what has led to the Browns defense’s strong performances in recent weeks:

“I can kind of just think about yesterday. Guys, we made plays. It is always a game where you have to make some plays. (CB) Denzel’s (Ward) making a big interception. (S) John Johnson (III) having a big forced fumble. We have alluded to takeaways and how important they are because it does cover you up. You may give up some plays in the course of a drive, but when you take it away, that ultimately is what you are looking to do.”


On if yesterday was Johnson’s best game of the 2022 season:

“It is hard for me to compare it to the rest of the season, but speaking of yesterday, he was all over the field. He is our green-dot so he makes the calls in that huddle so when he is not out there, obviously there is a transition that has to take place. He was around the ball. He tackled well. He is the type of guy who he does have versatility where we can play him down low, we can play him in the post and he can play half-field. He does kind of show up. He has played really well for us on our punt team, as well.”


On Clowney’s performance yesterday prior to sustaining a concussion and the team’s approach if Clowney is unavailable for one or more games:

“We have talked about JD a lot and just about his length, his disruption and certainly he has been productive for us in the run and the pass. If we are without him – as you know, with concussions it is hard to predict – you need guys to step up. (DE) Alex Wright had some really good moments in this game and (DE) Chase Winovich, as well. Guys will have to step up if we are without him.”


On if yesterday’s defensive performance was a good lesson that even if the team gives up a significant amount of yards, including in the running game, that takeaways and making key plays at the right time can still help lead to a win:

“That is why we put so much emphasis on turnover margin and how we take care of the ball. Zero giveaways versus that defense and that team is a big deal. Taking it away versus that team is a very big deal. It is definitely something you emphasize. In the course of emphasizing it, you don’t say, ‘Hey, let’s give up a bunch of yards,’ but there is an element, as we all know, and you watch football – you can watch it today on Sunday – of bend but don’t break. That does happen on defense at times. When you make a big play on a third down or a fourth down or when you make a big play on first-and-10 like JJ did to knock the ball out, those are changing the course of the game when you talk about turning the ball over.”


On a significant number of K Cade York’s missed FGs occurring at FirstEnergy Stadium and if Ravens K Justin Tucker missing two FGs yesterday further substantiates how challenging it can be to kick in Cleveland:

“I do think there is an element to that for sure. Our stadium being on the lake, you are going to deal with the elements and you are going to deal with the cold. You are going to deal with the cold this week as you look at the forecast. Certainly, the wind picks up. I don’t think the wind was real big factor yesterday. That is part of the elements that really both teams have to deal with. I think there is not an advantage or disadvantage in that since both teams have to deal with that.”


On previous comments that Watson needed to ‘get through’ the first start of the season and if the same sentiment can be extended to York’s rookie season at FirstEnergy Stadium:

“I wouldn’t characterize it that way. I think rookies in general you have to get through Year 1, you have to survive Year 1, break through that rookie wall and all of those type of things. I don’t see it that way. He is a kid who continues to work at his craft, and that is what he will do this week, as well.”


On if the tight window Watson completed a pass in yesterday’s game mentioned earlier in the press conference was in reference to the out to WR Donovan Peoples-Jones on the sideline:

“It was not – nice try (laughter). It was the throw he threw that somehow got by their nickel No. 14’s (Ravens S Kyle Hamilton) arms and shoulder.”


On if the Browns have to compartmentalize the evaluation of the season into the times before and after Watson was available:

“Honestly, I am so week to week it is hard for me to think that way. I understand the question, but for me, the focus really does go so much into week to week because as I know you guys know, it is hard to win in this league. You get some really tough matchups. You have played some really good teams and well-coached teams. Once you get through Baltimore, you kind of look at the schedule, look and we have another really good team coming in here and I know they have good coaches. That is really where my focus is.”


# # #


***Visit the Browns Media Center for materials provided by the Browns communications department, including media schedules, press releases, quotes, photos, media guides, rosters, depth charts and more.***