Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (12.28.22)


Opening statement:

“Excited to be working for heading down there [to Washington]. That is what the guys understand. This is a big work week for us. The focus this week is on what we have to do to go down there and get a win against a team that is in the playoffs right now in the NFC. We know that they are talented. I have a ton respect for (Commanders Head) Coach (Ron) Rivera and his entire staff. I know a lot of their coaches. They are very, very good. You watch the tape, very impressed with the things that they are doing offense, defense and special teams. They really are doing a nice job schematically. It is a great challenge for us, and the guys again are excited for the work.”


On the Commanders starting QB Carson Wentz rather than Commanders QB Taylor Heinicke and how the decision impacts the Browns gameplans:

“There is plenty of tape on both players in their scheme. I would say things are a little bit different with each guy. They are playing to their strengths. Carson Wentz is a player who I have competed against and we have competed against. We know how talented he is. He is really big. Great arm strength. Can make a ton of plays off schedule. Coming off of the injury, I think he looks healthy and he looks fresh. He did a lot of nice things. That wide receiving corps is explosive. He is surrounded by some really good players, a good tight end and big, powerful, physical running backs. It is a tough task, and he is a good player.”


On if the Browns will rest any players for the final two games due to being eliminated from playoff contention:



On DE Jadeveon Clowney’s status:

“I expect him to practice so he is getting better.”


On T Jedrick Wills Jr. being listed on the pre-practice injury report with a back:

“We are just working through something. We will see how the week goes and see how the next couple of days go.”


On Commanders DE Chase Young returning from injury:

“He played I think about 30 plays for them last week so you can tell that they are getting him back into it. Incredible physical makeup – size, power, speed and length. Just even in this last game, a few plays where he turned it on and was running things down. He is a very, very impressive player. I think he will be one week better so we know what to expect.”


On if Browns players speaking in the locker room with media about focusing on the last two games and competing and if the team has the right players to have the desired mindset:

“I do. Really, you have professionals. These guys understand – I get all of the things that are going on and they do – but we get to compete. We get to go down there versus a good football team and get to do what these guys love to do.”


On T Jack Conklin signing a contract extension with the Browns:

“Very happy for Jack. I think Jack’s teammates are very happy for Jack. They were excited to see him after that news broke because you know how hard he works. When you see a guy put in the work that Jack puts in the offseason rehabbing from the injury, you see the work that he puts in during the season just keeping his body right and you see him play on Sundays and how hard he plays, and he is just a quintessential team guy. When a guy like that gets rewarded, I think the team in kind responds very favorably.”


On the significance of having stability on the Browns OL with Conklin and Gs Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller secured with long-term contracts:

“I think it is important. I think you look around the league, it is hard to play with the same five guys for a season just with how injuries occur and those type of things. When you can have stability and you can have those five guys functioning as one, which is so important when it comes to a communication standpoint, I think it really does help.”


On the importance for the Browns offense to play a complete game, particularly with the expectation for good weather conditions on Sunday:

“For us focus-wise offensively, obviously you want to continue to take strides, make strides, score some points and do our part to help our team. I think that is the focus for the offense, the focus for the defense and the focus for the special teams versus a good Washington team is to go do your part.”


On if he ‘expects extra resolve’ from Browns WRs after dropping passes in frigid weather conditions last week:

“Again, I think I go back to we have a lot of pros. The guys, last week was last week. They are really focused on doing their job. They are excited to get that opportunity to go compete.”


On the significance of young Browns players gaining more experience in the final two weeks of the season:

“I think every rep is valuable. I think practice reps are valuable, but anytime you can get young guys in game settings and see them respond, yeah, I think it is good. We have had a lot of young guys play for us. Going back to Week 1, guys have stepped up and played a lot of football. I really try to evaluate all of it from the meeting rooms to the practice field to the game field. Yes, of course, two more games to see how guys respond in certain settings I think is important.”


On the decision to play the team’s starters in the final two games after being eliminated from playoff contention rather than giving young players like RB Jerome Ford or WR David Bell more playing time:

“We will make decisions on players, like you mentioned. Guys may get a couple more opportunities. Bottom line is we are going to do everything we can to try to win this game. That is really where our focus is. If a young guy warrants getting some extra plays, he might.”


On Ford not having much kickoff return experience prior to entering the NFL and if the Browns identified Ford for the role to create opportunities with the football:

“Yes – I am joking, but yes. (WR) Jakeem (Grant Sr.) went down, and you look around. When that happened, we talked about it. We had multiple guys who were capable of doing it. We weren’t short on guys, but you saw a young player in Jerome that we were all excited about, and he has speed and he has vision. Those are so important when you are talking about kick return. He also has good hands. With a kick return ball, it is a little bit different than a punt, per se, so a little bit easier, if you will. It felt like even though he hadn’t done it, there would be an easier transition. He worked like crazy at it. That is extra time that he has spent on the field with the JUGS. That is a ton of extra time with Coach Prief (special teams coordinator Mike Priefer) watching tape. He has worked hard at it, but we did look at his traits, look at his skillset and say that probably will apply, and let’s give the kids some opportunities.”


On how CB Greg Newsome II has performed with the challenge of playing both outside and slot CB this season:

“I think there has been some really, really good moments for Greg. Obviously, like any of our players, there are plays that you want back. It is a challenge. A lot of guys do it and can operate at a high level inside and outside. I think Greg can do it, as well. I think he has shown that. Again, has it been perfect? No. I am sure there are plays that we can do better, but if you can do that, the versatility that brings to your football team is a big deal. I think with him, he can cover on the outside, he has the speed, he has the length, he has the ability to blitz and he has the ability to fill the run so his versatility is a big part of what we do on defense.”


On if winning the last two games could help further establish the importance of creating a winning culture and potentially carry into next season:

“I am kind of a little bit smaller picture when it comes to that. I just want to do everything in our power to give our guys a plan this week so they can go play fast, and like I mentioned, go try to get a win on the road against a good football team. That is really where our focus is. What it means past that, there will be a time for that. For us, really focus is on this week.”


On why the Browns defense has not played as well in the first half of the season as the second half during the past two years and what the unit has changed to have more success in the back half of the season:

“I don’t know that there is a specific thing that we are doing differently, but it comes down to just being sound and doing your job really. I think for the guys, the focus is always there from Week 1. You are going to hit some rough patches as an offense, as a defense and as a team, but you just have to push through them.”


On Watson continuing to develop in the Browns offense and if there is an expectation for a significant jump in performance and points scored during the fifth start, including with much improved weather conditions this week:

“For me, obviously the focus goes to just doing our jobs so specifically to Deshaun, obviously doing his job. We want to play better. We want to play better as a team. We want to play better as an offense. That comes with doing our job a little bit better so there is not a threshold or benchmark that I am holding him, the offense or the team to specifically. Just have to try to do our job a little bit better.”


On if Watson’s fifth game is a sense of ‘the past is the past’ and can be closer to full speed:

“I think we kind of talked about getting that first one out of the way was important. I think since then I really have seen him take steps in each one of these games. Even in the last game, I think with those conditions I saw him take steps forward.”


On how Ford has handled primarily contributing on special teams and not knowing what opportunities may come each week on offense as a rookie after being the lead RB at Cincinnati:

“He has done a really nice job again embracing special teams. He made plays on kickoff early in the season where I don’t know the last time he covered a kick in his life – you may be going back to freshman year of high school type of thing. He embraced it. He has embraced that role as the kick returner because he knows he can impact the game. He gives a great look in practice. It is just one of those things with your roster. Sometimes you have guys who are in front of you, and you just have to keep your head down and control what you can control. I think he has done a nice job of that.”


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