Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (12.27.21)

Opening statement:

“No real updates on any injuries. Like we talked about after the game and how we feel watching it on the tape, certainly frustrated. Felt like we had a real good opportunity to come out of there with a win versus a good team, and we did not come through so frustrated. We are going to watch the tape with the players tomorrow, pull it apart and see ways that we can get better. That has to be our focus. Our whole focus is on Pittsburgh, and we have now a long week going into this one, get some guys back hopefully off of the COVID list and then put a plan together to go find a way to get a win in Pittsburgh.”


On if he has any regrets about the play calling during the Browns’ final drive of Saturday’s game with three timeouts after watching the film:

“We felt pretty good about the calls. Specifically, we had potential for an explosive on first down. We had a screen on second when the screen game had been good to us. Then third down, obviously, we turn the ball over, but we are always considering many different ways to go there. You are right, we did have those three timeouts. We felt like we were in control there, but ultimately, when you do not come through, you second-guess everything – you second guess the first play of the game, the second play of the game or whatever it is. When it does not work, we are definitely second-guessing ourselves.”


On if there is a sense of relief that that Browns can still make the playoffs after the adversity faced in recent weeks:

“We have to control what we can control is really the biggest thing there. That is right in front of us is this game. That is what is the most important. Certainly, frustrated with how the last game went, but we – coaches, players and staff – have to put all of our energies into this game this week.”


On the Browns defense’s performance on Saturday while missing some key players:

“Holding that team to that amount of points again in that building when they have the ability to run their offense and the quarterback does a great job, as you know, in their operation, I think limiting the points was a big deal. Obviously, I think we could have played better in the first half. We gave up a couple of plays there in the red zone that I think we can be better as players and as coaches. We can just do a better job that first half. Having said that, second half defense was really good. Again, limiting the amount of points in that building, I think, is a big deal.”


On conversations with QB Baker Mayfield about the four interceptions:

“With any of our players, you have to learn from each one of these. With the quarterbacks, it is no fun to watch the interception reel, talk through them and learn from them. It is again not fun because you do not want to turn the ball over, but we do have to learn from them because we have to take care of the ball. It is important to how we win. We did not do a great job there, but we will have to look at the tape together, watch it and then make sure we get better moving forward.”


On if Mayfield was ‘rusty’ after not practicing the past two weeks and Mayfield’s confidence following Saturday’s game:

“I think Baker told you the other night, he did not play up to his standard, and we expect him to play at a high level. I think confidence-wise with the quarterback position, you get too much credit, and you get too much blame. That is just how it is. He will bounce back, and I think he will be better for it.”


On using more 11 personnel against the Packers than previous weeks:

“I think it was certainly gameplan specific to who you are facing and the different looks you are getting to certain personnel groupings. It just felt like 11 was what we wanted to be in that game. It could be moving forward, but we just have to make sure that we are doing what we may think makes sense versus that particular defense.”


On how using more 11 personnel and spreading out the offense helped the run game and RB Nick Chubb:

“We ran essentially the same run scheme quite a bit in that game and did it from mostly opened-up sets. We were able to get some pullers on the perimeter, and Nick did a nice job with his patience with those runs.”


On if there is a connection between the Browns’ six losses by one score:

“I think that is frustrating. Obviously, this is the NFL, and the games are going to be close. We have to find a way to come through, and I have to find a way to come through for the team when we are in those moments. That is really the frustration because you get into this part of the season, and I am sure it is easy to say the ‘would have, could have, should have’ type of things. For us, again, all of our focus has to just go right back into this week this game versus this opponent.”


On Mayfield’s footwork on the interception in the red zone:

“I think he mentioned to you guys he did not have his feet set on that one. He has an opportunity to potentially climb and make a throw. As you all know, the pocket is going to be dirty in the NFL with some of these pass rushers so it is not easy, and I fully understand that, but there are definitely some things we can clean up.”


On preparing for Pittsburgh this week after the Steelers lost at the Chiefs, 36-10:

“A division game, an opponent that we know really well, very, very well-coached and a bunch of great players so we know that it is going to be a 60-minute fight. We get that. That is what we expect.”


On if the Browns can use WR Anthony Schwartz more as a threat down the field moving forward after Schwartz returned from the concussion, given WR Donovan Peoples-Jones filled the role in recent weeks:

“For sure with Anthony, like you mentioned, coming off of the concussion protocol, getting into these games and getting him some touches, I think his role will grow as he is just playing more football. He was not playing there for a little bit.”


On if the Browns considered using a timeout during the final drive in order to give Chubb a rest and be able to return to the field:

“We were definitely ready to use the timeouts when necessary or when we were going to stop that clock. We were anticipating getting a new set of downs there. Then certainly, you would be ready to stop the clock in that situation. Again, unfortunate how it turned out, and we have to look at everything.”


On how conversations unfold about using timeouts during games:

“I think it is prior to that drive, understanding that you have all three and you had the two-minute [warning] there so we had one more play before the two-minute. Felt confident that we could run our core stuff. Ultimately, we are trying to go score a touchdown and/or kick a short field goal, and we just did not come through.”


On if the Browns will bring in another K to compete with K Chris Naggar, given K Chase McLaughlin may not return from the reserve/COVID-19 list prior to Monday night’s game at Pittsburgh:

“I will leave all of those type of roster decisions to AB (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry).”


On his comments about looking to score a TD on the final offensive possession and if that was due to a lack of confidence in Naggar’s ability to kick a game-winning FG:

“I would not characterize it as ‘lack of confidence.’ I would just tell you, I think to be fair to Chris in that type of game, did not want to attempt a long field goal with the game in the balance. We wanted to go score a touchdown – something that we had done throughout that game moving the ball. Certainly, if it came down to a field goal, he is our kicker, and we have confidence in him, but our mentality was not just to get the ball to the 35 or the 40 and attempt a long field goal.”


On the gameplan against the Packers seeming to rely heavily on Mayfield, who had not practiced in two weeks:

“Just trying to put a gameplan together that could score points. All of the things that we did in the pass game were things that we have done all season long. Felt confident in the work that our team – the quarterback, the receivers, the tight ends, etc. – had put in throughout the season, and we felt like our run game was serving our pass game and our pass game was serving our run game.”


On Mayfield’s third interception of the game when targeting WR Jarvis Landry:

“A bit of a miscommunication, it seems, but I think ultimately, Baker probably feels like he should throw that ball away or move on in the progression, but a bit of a miscommunication.”


On if the Browns were scheming to use all of the final minutes of the first half on that drive with the hope of not giving the Packers and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers the ball back with enough time to sustain a drive:

“Everything factors into those decisions. Certainly, a great quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, we do not want to give him any time. We felt like we were in control of the clock with our timeouts.”


On if the Browns will consider keeping G Joel Bitonio at LT and moving T Jedrick Wills Jr. to RT, where Wills played in college, if Wills returns from the reserve/COVID-19 list this week and is healthy enough to start:

“We will obviously talk through all of our lineup changes as guys come back, but if Jed is ready and healthy to go, then he will play left tackle for us.”


On if he will have his kids rooting for the Chiefs and LA Rams this weekend:

“They can do whatever they want to do.”


On if there is something Mayfield could have done better on the final interception of the game or if Mayfield made the right read and throw, including if Peoples-Jones did not have contact on the play that it would have been a completion and first down:

“Each play that goes by, every single one of our players, they are going to want something back on any given play. I know it gets magnified when it is the last play of the game. It was unfortunate that the ball got intercepted there. I think we certainly feel like there was potentially a flag on that play, but we did not get it so we are not ever going to hope for a flag to help us in those situations. It just did not happen.”


On the Browns’ use of 11 personnel against the Packers and if the four interceptions may cause the Browns to pull back on use of that group in future games and run more 13 personnel:

“I think it is all things that we will talk about. I think so much of it is who is available to you in that given week players-wise and where the health is at certain positions, and then it really is dependent on your opponent and how does your opponent respond to those personnel groupings. Certainly, we did some good things. I do not want to discount that. There were certainly some good things going there, particularly with that run game so those are all things that we have to consider as we move forward.”


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