HC Kevin Stefanski (4.20.21)

Opening statement:

“Just finished up Day 2 of the offseason program with the players. Had some really good meetings on Zoom. Looking forward to a couple more meetings this week with the guys. We are in the middle of our draft process. (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew Berry and his staff have done an outstanding job to date. Some really good discussions, a really collaborative group and I think the coaches have contributed to that. Really pleased with where we are with some more work to do. Excited for the draft for our city. We get to showcase our city across a global audience so I think it will be a great time for Cleveland.”


On if it is disappointing that OTAs are starting in a virtual format:

“No, I am excited. We started meetings yesterday, a really good one today. Looking forward to covering a lot of ground with the guys. It is an exciting time for us as we start the offseason program. I think the guys are engaged. We are in Phase 1 so it is just Day 2 of Phase 1, but I think the guys are doing a nice job.”


On his conversations with Browns C and NFLPA President JC Tretter and discussions about NFL

players potentially skipping mandatory in-person minicamps later this offseason:

“I have had good discussions with (C and NFLPA president) JC (Tretter). He is very transparent. I am very transparent. This program is voluntary. Again, we are in Day 2 of Phase 1. It is a virtual program that I think the guys are doing a nice job with. We will deal with anything else that comes down the road, but I am just going to make sure that the communication continues between JC and really any of the players and myself.”


On if any Browns players are currently working out at the practice facility in Berea:

“Player health and safety is very important, as you know, to our organization. We are always ready for guys and making sure this building is ready. Credit to our entire staff in doing that. We will have guys who are rehabbing and we will have other guys coming in, but that is no different than any year.”


On if the Browns plan on having mandatory in-person minicamps:

“Really, I know that we are in Day 2 of the offseason program. As you can imagine, I respect our players. I respect the voluntary portion of this. You also know I am a coach and I think we have really outstanding coaches here who cannot wait to get on the grass with our players. We will figure it out as it goes, but we are just going to make sure we are in the here and now as we go.”


On how to help develop QB Baker Mayfield during the virtual offseason program:

“All of our players are meeting with their position coaches this week throughout tomorrow and Thursday, and they are going to go over their player improvement plan. Baker is no different than the rest of the guys. They will have a list of things they need to work on, and as coaches, we are giving them the resources, the tools and the things they need to do to improve those. Some are watching more tape, some are drills and really all of the above. Baker, as we have talked about, is somebody who constantly wants to get better. (Offensive coordinator) Alex Van Pelt has a really, really strong plan in how we are going to attack that with Baker in particular, but I can also tell you I have 70-plus improvement plans on my desk for each player. We just think it is important everybody understands we have to improve and then it is our job to give the avenues to improve.”


On Mayfield hosting Browns players in Austin for workouts last offseason prior to the NFLPA recommending that they not occur due to COVID-19 protocols, and if he has a position on that potentially not occurring this offseason, given the NFLPA recently shared the same recommendation:

“I think I can only focus on the voluntary offseason program that the NFL puts forth. It is hard for me to think about anything the guys may do outside of that. That is not really my jurisdiction, if you will.”


On how the Browns virtual offseason program may change this year after conducting an all-virtual offseason in 2020:

“We want to make sure that we are reaching our guys where they are, and we need to adapt what we are doing from a Zoom standpoint. We have had many meetings on the best way to teach, and the truth is we have to teach and reteach our systems right now on Zoom. That is part of what we are doing. It is a challenge, if you will, but it is a challenge I think everybody has – I do not know if we are getting good at it, but it is something over the last calendar year that we have definitely gotten a lot of reps on Zoom. Hopefully, we are getting better.”


On what is missed most by having a virtual offseason and players and coaches not being together on the field:

“Again, I am not going to go too far ahead. I am just going to focus on where we are right now. I think our players understand that, based on our meetings we have had the last couple days, and the focus is going to be on getting better. Really, I do not want to get too far ahead of myself.”


On if there can be a happy medium where players can receive the same preparation doing less in an in-person team setting and more virtual work in the future, particularly given the data the NFLPA discussed yesterday regarding injuries across the league:

“I understand the question, and I saw the press conference and I have heard that position. I can really operate on what the parameters are of our offseason looks like currently, and it is hard for me to go past that. Like I said before, I would love to see our guys on the grass. There is no coach that would not love to coach their guys – that is very, very obvious – but I am going to respect the process, respect the position and let those things play out.”


On Berry’s and Browns recent acquisitions to improve the defense and team:

“You hit it right there. We are trying to make ourselves a better football team. I think Andrew saw some opportunities to add players to this roster. We feel like we have gotten better on the defensive side of the ball, and we are creating competition. We are going to have a draft where we are going to create even more competition and hopefully bring in good players. Excited for bringing in guys at all three levels of the defense and what that can mean to us moving forward.”


On DE Takkarist McKinley calling him ‘Coach Ski’ and if that name will stick:

“I answer to most things (laughter).”


On the data the NFLPA shared yesterday regarding injuries following an all-virtual offseason and if the team’s research matches the union’s findings:

“Player health and safety is very important to me, and it is very important to this organization. We have a sports science group that uses all of the information we can to make sure that we are having safe practices and having safe workouts. Obviously, that is very important to me and that is something that we will always take into account as we start to plan training camp, start to plan our practices during the regular season and those types of things. We will absolutely use data to our advantage.”


On if he could envision potentially endorsing in the future the NFLPA’s and Tretter’s stance that the league and players could benefit from long-term changes to the offseason program:

“Hard for me to speculate. I will just tell you that I respect his position, but I also understand that there are rules here and I am just going to adhere to them as best as I can.”


On Mayfield’s understanding of the offense now compared to last year at this time, as well as his understanding of Mayfield’s abilities:

“I hope it is significantly better. I hope as he starts to listen to the installs with AVP and you are hearing it for not the second time – he has heard these plays over and over again. We have streamlined concepts, and we have tried to adjust what we do based on his strengths and our players’ strengths. I would hope he is much more comfortable from that perspective. That is what time allows you to do – time together.”


On an update on WR Odell Beckham Jr.’s status:

“He is progressing very well. He is trending in the right direction. Odell, (S) Grant Delpit and (CB) Greedy (Williams), I think they are all on track. I do not know the exact date that is for all of those guys, but really like how they are progressing. In particular, Greedy continues to get good news, and I am just so happy for the kid. He just battled his butt off in the rehab room for months and had a great attitude throughout. I am just really, really happy for him as he keeps getting better and better. He has a ways to go, but he is trending in the right direction.”


On the Browns having success last year despite a virtual offseason program and COVID-19 protocols throughout the season and how it could have potentially been better if the team had more time in person during last year’s offseason program:

“The first thing, I will tell you is that we lost our last game like 31 other teams or at least the teams in the playoffs. We look back at last year and try to put that into perspective. We and I need to understand that we have to get way better. As it pertains to last year and how we did last year, I do not think it is just apples to apples. I think this is going to be a different offseason – we have different players, and we have some players in and some players out. The 2021 season is definitely going to stand on its own there.”


On if the team can be more creative schematically now that the group has more collective familiarity with the season, even if the offseason program is fully virtual this year:

“I think we will deal with the parameters and whatever they are – if it is virtual or on the field like you mentioned. I think it is our job to get creative offensively, defensively and special teams. It is something that we recognize as we get going that you do not pick up where you left off. We really need to focus on the work and focus on reinforcing the foundation that we built last year.”


On if DE Jadeveon Clowney is versatile enough to play inside and outside:

“Yeah, I do think he is versatile enough to play inside and outside. He has shown that over the course of his career. He is a disruptive football player in the run and the pass game. He is somebody that over the many years and certainly in the last few has seen a lot of attention. Teams have slid to him and put a tight end in there to chip or their running back. We feel like he will have opportunities here playing opposite of (DE) Myles (Garrett). That should help him in the pass game. He is a disruptive player. Excited to add him to the front.”


On how the Browns can help ensure 2021 is not a repeat of what occurred in 2019, when expectations were high entering the season but the team ultimately finished with a 6-10 record:

“It is something that I talk to the players about and some of those aspirations that you have heard them talk about. It is very, very easy to talk about that. It is very easy for me to say that we want to do this and we want to be this, but we are going to focus on the work. That is what we did last year, and I promise you, that is what we will do this year. We are not going to focus on anything out there that people are talking about because ultimately, we are going to be about the work.”


On how this year’s draft process may be better or different, given he and Berry have worked together for a full year:

“Andrew is talking [with the media] Friday at 11:30 a.m., I am told (laughter). I was really pleased with the communication that we had, even last year as we were in different states and different locations, and with the communication we were able to have. We want that collaborative spirit to constantly be a part of what we do. I have already seen it in our preparations to this point, and it will be important to us as we go forward. That is what Andrew and his staff, but Andrew in particular, do a really nice job of listening to everybody and gathering as much information, and ultimately, he knows that he makes the decision, but I do think he does a great job of procuring all of that information.”


On the Browns current roster and how it helps rookies and the team that competition is already in place at most positions and rookies may not face as much pressure to contribute immediately:

“I think it varies based on the player and the position. Last year, (T) Jed (Wills Jr.), we installed him at left tackle starting him right away – I know he was the 10th overall pick – but it depends on the player, and we need to do a good job as coaches of developing these players. They are all a work in progress. From Week 1 to Game 17, we want those guys to get better, and we need to recognize that they are going to get better through X, Y and Z that we do with them. Player development is a big part of what we do, and also understanding that those players should in theory be getting better as the season goes on.”


On the Browns releasing DT Sheldon Richardson and if there is a potential scenario for Richardson to return to the team later this offseason:

“I think I mentioned it to you the last time we spoke, as a coach, I want to keep everybody, and there are some salary cap constraints that I think everybody understands and they are hard decisions. Sheldon in particular played really productive football for us. He played through injuries, and he took great pride in getting to the playoffs for the first time in his career. He was a big part of that. I hope there is a scenario like you mentioned, but those are the hard decisions that are made. I really want to point out that Sheldon was such a big part of what we did last year.”


On how the Browns releasing Richardson may impact the team’s draft plans:

“For all of those positions, as you look at the draft board, you want to add good players. I know it is easy to say, ‘It is definitely going to be here’ or ‘It is definitely going to be there.’ We are looking to add good players to this roster. I know we have multiple picks – I do not know the exact number off of the top of my head – but we have many picks that we are looking to bring in competition at all levels – offense, defense and special teams – because I think that is what makes you better. Every one of those decisions as a roster plays into that, but I know that we feel like we can add good players to the roster throughout. I would encourage you to ask Andrew about that on Friday.”


On if the Browns’ draft setup will be similar to last year when the group was all virtual and spread out across different buildings:

“We are going to be in the building here, but we are going to each be in our own office so it will be virtual in that regard.”


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