Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (6.3.24)

How much do you know about the new offseason proposal at the NFLPA or how much have you heard about it and what are kind of your thoughts about it?
“Honestly, I’ve heard none of it. I’m sure some people way above my pay grade are talking about it at some point, but we’ll just, whatever the rules are, we’ll adhere to them and really focus on what they are right now. But I have not heard that at all.”
 Do you think 18 games is coming?
“Do you?”
“Okay. Zac (Jackson) said it’s coming. I don’t know. Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. We certainly, as coaches, we talk about it and it seems to be the narrative that it’s coming. Wherever they line them up and tell us to play, we’ll play.”
You’re very conscious of how you space things out. You think that there would be significant change?
“You know, I’ve seen it said or written that there’d be an extra bye week. That seems to make some sense if they ever went that route. We think long and hard about those 17 games right now and how to plan training camp, how to play in your early part of your season, how to plan the late part of your season. So it’s if the numbers were to change, the variables were to change in terms of number of games, you’d obviously have to take that into account.”
Hey, Kevin. We were talking to Jameis Winston last weekend and he just kind of casually mentioned that Ken Dorsey is calling plays. Is that a sign that it’s how it’s going to be in the future?
“No, we rotate at practice. I don’t always radio the plays into practice. I never have. We’ve always mixed it up.”
As you head into the third week of OTAs, will Deshaun (Watson) do pretty much what he’s been doing every other day and sort of not against the defense?
“We’ll see, Mary Kay (Cabot). I think I’m really waiting on medical when it comes to that. If they say he’s ready to go, we’ll throw him in there. But until then, we’re trying to keep it by the day. And he’s doing really, really well.”
I thought a couple weeks ago you seem like he wouldn’t be in every other day in minicamp. Do you still feel like it’ll be more than he’s doing now?
“I think it’s all being talked about with the medical groups and I know you could talk to Deshaun, he wants to be doing everything. But we’ll continue to listen to whatever the doctors tell us.”
I know the last time we talked to you and we asked you about Deshaun, you said he looks like himself. Does he look like he’s made any progress or he’s feeling better?
“He looks like Deshaun Watson. Yeah, I mean, again, you guys should talk to him. Doing everything he’s supposed to do. He’s attacked this rehab from day one of the rehab. When he gets out there and throws it around, which I know you guys saw last week. Looks like Deshaun Watson to me.”
Do you have any update on Nick Chubb, Kevin?
“No update. Nick’s continuing to do well, saw him this morning, but no update per se, Jeff (Schudel).”
This is probably a better question for Bubba (Ventrone), but we didn’t think to ask him. Right after that, Andy Reid said he’s going to put his safety as the kicker. Obvious advantage is you get another defender there. Is it that hard to train someone to kick the ball 40 yards as a kickoff? And are you thinking of it?
“Well, again, I think it goes into what we’ve been talking about all along. I don’t think anyone knows exactly how this is going to play out. So, we’ll see. If that first game they have their safety out there, they might. I know this, that ball placement becomes really important because the ball landing at the ten versus inside the five versus, as you know, in the goal line, just in the drills that we’ve done, the closer that ball lands to the both return unit and kickoff unit, there’s an opportunity maybe to gain yards in a kickoff return. So I don’t think the premium of ball placement has changed for the kicker. If you have a position player that is really good at it, obviously that’s a major bonus for them. But I think so much of it we’re interested in where that ball is placed by your kicker because remember, hangtime means nothing now. It’s just literally, how can I hit my spot? Are people going to want to put the ball at the goal line inside the five? Are they going to try to put the ball outside the numbers? There’s obviously risk involved when you kick the ball outside the numbers that it could go out of bounds. How do people treat it indoors versus outdoors? Because as you know, at our place, it’s one thing to say you’re going to place it here, but it’s harder to pull off. So, I think it’s going to be based on each team. Obviously, if you had a position player that you felt could be consistent in ball placement, that’d be an advantage.”
Is there any conversation to train someone to do it?
“We feel really good about our guys. I feel really good about Dustin (Hopkins), his ability in that phase.”
Kevin, we had a chance to talk to Elijah (Moore) last week. How do you kind of see his role evolving here in year two?
“Yeah, I think evolving is a great word. I think he’s getting better as a player. We’re lining him up in different spots. He has the mental ability to line up in different spots. There’s some newness, I’d say, that we’re excited about for Elijah. I look back at his last year with us and some of the big plays he made for us. And as you know, he got a ton of opportunity in that Jets game with Amari (Cooper) going out and he’s having a great game and he got injured. So, I think he’s somebody that knows that there’s more there. But I don’t want to be dismissive of a really good year they just had.”
You guys were trying him in a bunch of different spots early last year. Did you learn anything about him in particular?
“Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s our job as coaches. You try things and camp and then you try it in the games, and then sometimes you expand those roles, sometimes you pivot in those roles. So definitely learning. We learned more about Elijah over the course of the season, and he’s very vocal. He’ll communicate with me and with the coaches and kind of say what he’s seeing. So, he’s been a great partner.”
Kevin, I know you’ll adjust to whatever the rules are and you show that, you know, during the COVID year, but how valuable do you think it is having the guys around? Where there isn’t the six-month break, right. You get the guys in April, May and June.
“Yeah. Again, mother hen, you want all your players there every single day. Whatever the rules are, we’ll abide by them. I feel really strongly that we have a safe, competitive, fun environment for our guys to get better, be around their teammates. So I’m definitely an advocate for that. I have no idea what the rules are or how they’re going to shake out, I have no clue.”
Kevin, do you anticipate that maybe Amari and David Njoku might be at your OTAs this week? And just wondering, has your passing camp, have you been able to accomplish everything that you want to without some of those guys?
“Yeah. Again, I think the OTAs are voluntary. We don’t say who’s in, who’s out. Mary Kay, as you know, and the guys that are here, I think we’re getting better. They’re definitely taking strides, and like you mentioned, passing camp. That’s how the rules are written. So we’re very heavy on the seven-on-sevens in our camp. I think the guys have gotten better. Understanding some of the nuance and different things that we’re doing has been important offensively, defensively. But I do anticipate seeing all those guys next week.”
What is the importance of this event for you guys to be here today? Supporting the foundation.
“Yeah. As you know, Kelsey (Russo), what the Cleveland Browns do in the community comes right from Dee and Jimmy (Haslam), and the philanthropic efforts that they’ve had throughout our community have been unbelievable. And with the Browns Foundation, it’s a huge part of what we do. And having this event, which is a great, fun event for sponsors and having people out here, we are able to just raise a bunch of money for the Browns Foundation, which, as everybody in the community I’m sure can see, this money goes a long way within different aspects of northeast Ohio.”
What does it mean to have your guys out here together on the golf course, away from the football field while you’re raising money? You’re also kind of bonding and getting to know each other a little bit more.
“Well, we got our work done early, so we got in early, the guys worked out, we had a walkthrough, we had meetings, so we didn’t take a day off, but they still got some good work in here. And then, again, great cause. I told the guys, it’s fun that we’re all going out there to play golf, but don’t forget why we’re doing this. We’re doing this for a great cause.”
Kevin, I go back to the passing camp aspect of things, like with these choice routes. I mean, obviously, no pads, no contact at this stage of the offseason, like, is it just laying the foundation for reading those leverages and figuring out what the quarterback and receivers look for in certain situations?
“I think you can get a lot done in seven-on-seven settings. Obviously, the scale is tipped to the offense. There’s no pass rush, there’s no D line. The quarterback doesn’t have to navigate a pocket and that type of thing. But I do think you can teach a lot off of those drills and specifically to your question about choice routes. So much of a choice route is the decisions are made post-snap. Obviously, there’s a pre-snap that you’re seeing the triangle and the contour of the defense. But making our players make quick decisions in with a lot of bodies around them, with people buzzing the flat, with people coming down from the third level, if you will, I think you can certainly teach off of those reps.”
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