Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (8.18.22)


Opening statement:

“It should be a good couple of days with Philly coming to town. We are their hosts; they are our guests. We are looking forward to having them out here and having really good, productive days of work. Met with (Eagles Head) Coach (Nick) Sirianni and his staff last night. Got the two coaching staffs together just to get ready for today, go over the plan and all of those type of things. I think it will be really good for us. This is a playoff team. Schematically, they are very different on offense and they are very different on defense so I think that is really helpful for us to get two solid workdays against each other and then the game obviously on Sunday. Looking forward to that.


“I am sure you have questions about the Deshaun suspension news and settlement news and I am happy to answer them, but I will be respectful of the process.”


On the ‘level of relief’ that the Browns have clarity on the number of games Watson will not be able to play in 2022:

“You are right in that throughout this process, trying to be respectful of it, and then knowing that there would finally be clarity I think is helpful for us. Then we just kind of stick to our plan moving forward.”


On if he feels like all of the team’s goals are in front of it with Watson being able to play the final six games:

“I am more so focusing in the moment really. Like I have told you, we are excited about (QB) Jacoby (Brissett) and have a ton of trust in Jacoby. When Deshaun is ready, he will rejoin the team.”


On if Watson will play in Sunday’s preseason game against the Eagles:

“He will not play.”


On why Watson is practicing so much this week when not playing in the Eagles preseason game:

“I think part of it is making sure we get a lot of work for Jacoby and for Deshaun because eventually he will be playing. We want to get a good look at some of our scheme versus another scheme, if you will. Ultimately, as we transition out of this week, Jacoby will get really all of the reps.”


On some Browns players joining Cleveland to play with Watson, including DE Jadeveon Clowney, and moving forward with the team and accomplishing its goals with Watson’s 11-game suspension:

“I understand the question. I would tell you this is a team. The guys have trust in each other, and I know they have trust in Jacoby. Ultimately, this is the best team game there is.”


On expressing confidence and comfort with Brissett before and his confidence and comfort level with Brissett as the starting QB for 11 games:

“Same. I have been around him now since April and watching him at practice, we are confident in his abilities.”


On his reaction when learning Watson would be suspended for 11 games:

“All along, I have kind of made sure that I kept any of those type of news at bay and was just awaiting the final word so that I could make sure we have a plan in place. We are pretty comfortable with how we are operating right now, knowing that we will get Deshaun back after 11 games.”


On the entire team receiving clarity on Watson’s suspension and availability and if he is anticipating a difference in how the team responds or if it is a weight off the team’s shoulders:

“That is something that we have talked about, and I know you guys have asked that – it is a fair question. I do think our players do a really nice job of focusing on the things that they can control, and that is what we will continue to do.”


On Dee Haslam sharing the Browns have an opportunity to proactively further advance education and awareness regarding sexual assault and if he has talked with Dee Haslam about how or what the Browns can do similarly with players:

“I would not get specifically into what we have talked about, but you are absolutely right, in any situation, there is always an opportunity to make the best of it. I think this is an opportunity. I think Dee spoke about that. I know Dee is committed to it and the Haslam family is committed to it, and I know I am as the head coach of this team committed to bettering every single one of our players we can and coaches included.”


On the message to fans who feel upset or that they cannot root for the Browns now based on acquiring Watson:

“I understand the question. That is something that we talked about when we first acquired Deshaun. I will tell you, I think the support from our fans has been unbelievable, not just out here at practice but throughout the community and my interactions with them. They have been very, very supportive. I am respectful of people who may feel differently. I am. I understand that, but I am just going to continue to play my part in making sure that they have a team that they are proud of.”


On his role assisting Watson becoming the best version of himself, particularly off the field:

“For all of our players, I want myself and I want all of our coaches to be people who help them in their career to be a better football player, but it is our job to make them the best version of themselves, as well. That is something that we do as coaches. When you have your position meeting room, those are your guys. When you are a coordinator, you have the offense, the defense or special teams. My role is to make sure that for all 85 guys on the roster that I am providing anything that they need to make sure that they are getting the best out of themselves.”


On if the Browns have done enough to build leadership qualities and repetition with Watson so that Watson can hit the ground running when returning from suspension:

“I am really comfortable with our plan and how we have operated with the uncertainty. Now that we have certainty, I feel good about where we are. I feel good about getting those guys ready to play. Ultimately, like you mentioned, when Deshaun is back and ready to play, we are excited about that opportunity for him, but there was a lot of work that needs to go in prior to September 1.”


On if Watson’s workload at practice will decrease significantly between now and when the suspension starts:

“In the practices, yes, and the repetitions at practice, but not in what he is doing here in the building. More working off to the side than taking the reps, per se.”


On Brissett as a leader in the locker room and meeting rooms:

“Jacoby, as you guys get to know him better, and I am getting to know Jacoby, as well, I think back to when we were acquiring Jacoby and just the phone calls that I made to people who he has played for and people who he has played with, it was very, very consistent that you are getting a pro’s pro, somebody who is going to lead from out in front, works very hard at his craft and just is an outstanding teammate.”


On having plans based on how long Watson’s suspension would be and if the plans have to change course now or stay the same:

“It is a good question. Yes, we have pivoted at times in this, trying my and our best to understand what ultimately the ruling may be, but where we are is really where we wanted to be in terms of the number of reps that we have gotten all of our guys, and I think that is inclusive of (QBs) Josh Dobbs and Josh Rosen.”


On when Watson is allowed to return to the building during the suspension:

“I am not sure. I don’t know.”


On if Watson will play in the final preseason game against the Bears:

“He will not.”


On if he can communicate with Watson during the suspension:

“I will look over those rules when that occurs. I do not think [I can communicate with him based on the rules], but I will make sure when it is time that we are in full compliance.”


On Watson saying he stands by his innocence and if he feels that Watson is innocent of wrongdoing, given he has spoken highly of Watson’s character and actions in the building:

“I am going to let Deshaun speak for himself. I could just tell you from my interactions with him from the time he has walked into this building – I spend a lot of time with him on the field, in the meeting room and outside of normal practice settings – and I know that he is someone who is committed to growing as a person.”


On if he ever envisioned when acquiring Watson that the QB could be suspended for 11 games in 2022:

“We kind of went into it understand that there was potential to a suspension, but I would not get into ultimately where our thought process was. We understood that it was a possibility.”


On if it is hard to reconcile Watson maintaining his innocence while the team has also said Watson has been remorseful:

“Again, I am going to let him speak for himself. Again, with all of our players, I have been pretty consistent in telling you guys that conversations that I have with them and those type of things I keep internal.”


On if DE Myles Garrett is with the team today:

“He is not, but we expect him back soon.”


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