Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (9.8.21)

Opening statement:

“Good to see everybody. Game week so we have a big challenge this week going into Arrowhead Stadium. A really well-coached team. Really across the board on offense, defense and special teams, they have great players. Our preparations are underway. We had meetings this morning and walkthrough, and then we will get out here for practice this afternoon.”


On DE Jadeveon Clowney not practicing due to illness today and if it is due to a COVID-19 positive test:

“He is negative. He is just ill.”


On if Clowney is expected to return to the team tomorrow:

“Hope so.”


On using simulated crowd noise during practices over the past few weeks and how the Browns can prepare for a loud crowd like the one at Arrowhead Stadium:

“We have been working crowd noise really since the spring, just because we felt like going into this year without teams dealing with crowd noise for a full calendar year that we needed to make sure that we were on point in our communication and our silent count. We were on the silent count in Arrowhead the last time we were there in the playoffs, even with whatever it was – 20,000 [fans]. We know it is going to be loud. You kind of deal with it matter of factly and understand what you are walking into. Really just have to make sure that our preparation, our communication and our operation are on point.”


On the continuity with Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid and Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and if that is evident with the overall success of the Chiefs offense:

“Yeah, you certainly see that with their offense and some of their concepts and schemes that show up. Throughout the years, they put different wrinkles on them. They have an outstanding coaching staff – offense, defense and special teams or you name it. They really are good teachers. I know a bunch of those guys. I know they are really good. Not surprising that they evolve over the years.”


On stating last week that the Browns were still focusing on themselves and what they needed to accomplish before moving to full Chiefs preparation this week and if it is possible to spend too much time preparing for one team:

“I think you do have to be careful there not to have paralysis by analysis in some ways. We spent extra time on them obviously because you have extra days, but we need to make sure that we as the Cleveland Browns are on point before you turn your attention to your Week 1 opponent.”


On if there is an awareness that some opponents’ offenses and play callers will be ‘up and down the field’ to create offensive shootouts and the team has to adjust accordingly with the gameplan:

“I think you know obviously it is Coach Reid, it is Patrick Mahomes and it is a great offense. We get that. It is a great challenge for our defense. I know our offense versus that defense is another great challenge. We know how they play. It is physical. It is fast. They give you a bunch of different looks. We need to just play the game that is called for in that moment. How it shakes out, I do not know.”


On being the offensive play caller in close high-scoring affairs like the Browns had on a few occasions last season:

“In those moments, I think some of those games really just become for me, I get to watch the players execute and watch them light up. That is the nice part as a play caller and as an offensive staff is we feel like we have a bunch of guys who can make a play. When you get in those moments, you really think about the players and not the plays so much but making sure you are getting the ball in the right guys’ hands.”


On turning the page from last year with it being a new season but if he still wants the team to feel what they did during the AFC Divisional Round loss at Kansas City last year:

“I think we are so far past last season. We obviously go back and look at the tape and see what we could have done differently, what they did and what they might do this game. In terms of taking last season into this season, I think we are way past that.”


On QB Baker Mayfield making big plays last year with his legs and if that was a byproduct of Mayfield’s comfort level with the offensive system:

“Baker is a good athlete. He has done that over the course of his career. I think he is going to continue to do that. I do not know that there was any marked change throughout the season.”


On if his check list for situations and game management is different or more advanced this year compared to last year:

“I do not know that it is different. Certainly, we have been together for a year, have been through a bunch of those games and had a bunch of those situations come up and been able to communicate through them. Even in this preseason, we had a bunch of great situations to talk through. We have a year under our belt in a communication standpoint, but I do not know that we are going to do anything differently.”


On how obvious it is that Mayfield’s comfort level in the offense is much improved in Year 2:

“I know we all want to single Baker out, but I would just tell you, for each one of these players, having another year in the system is really beneficial. For us as coaches, we want to make sure that the guys play fast and do not think. A lot of times when you are installing a new system, there is a lot of thinking going on and it is harder to play free so I would say that is true of all of our players.”


On what Chiefs S Tyrann Mathieu means to the Chiefs defense and the impact if Mathieu is unable to play on Sunday:

“He is a great player, somebody who I have a tremendous amount of respect for and I know our players have a tremendous amount of respect for. He plays hard. He plays physical. He plays fast. He has coverage ability. He can be in and around the box and make plays around the box. He is a great player.”


On what he has learned about CB Greg Newsome II, who is listed as a starter on the team’s depth chart:

“He has done everything that we have asked him to do. He has practiced every day. Made a mistake and corrected it. I just see a player who has continued to take each one of these days and trying to get better.”


On how important it was to add veteran players like DT Malik Jackson and S John Johnson III on defense who have played in a lot of big games:

“If you look at the free agents that came in here with some of those veterans you mentioned, even add (LB) Anthony Walker and add (CB) Troy Hill in the mix, guys who have seen a lot of football and have won football games in different programs. I think it is invaluable to bring that veteran leadership to a bunch of these young players.”


On if he ever uses offensive line coach Bill Callahan to evaluate the opponent’s OL:

“Coach Callahan and really (defensive line) Coach Kiff (Chris Kiffin), sometimes you will pop into their office and ask what they see on some of these guys. That is something you can do. These guys have played. They have good players. I know it is a new offensive line from last year, but they brought in some good players and they have some really good young players in that mix. We expect a challenge here.”


On how critical he is of himself as a play caller:

“Very critical. I have to be better. I have told the players that before. I do not think I did a very good job in a bunch of moments last year, and then we have tried to identify some ways we can be better this year. I cannot ask the guys to improve and not look inward, as well.”


On Mayfield’s trip with WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry and TE Austin Hooper:

“I was not invited to that either (laughter). I think it is great. I was not aware of it. They told me when they got back in, but any time you can get together away from this building safely and build the team chemistry, I think it is a big deal. It is something really last year you could not do. You just were prohibited from getting together outside of this building. Maybe they are making up for lost time.”


On if it is true that RB Nick Chubb talks now, given Mayfield says that is the case:

“That would be news to me – I have not seen it (laughter).”


On if he sees changes in rookies entering Week 1 who are expected to receive significant playing time:

“I think everybody going into your first NFL game, of course there are going to be butterflies involved and those type of things. I think the rookie class that we have is very conscientious. They are very diligent about their work. I anticipate them making sure that they focus on the process of this week to make sure that they are ready to go.”


On how he has empowered players on the team to take the next step in leadership roles:

“I think for our guys, we have a bunch of players in my opinion who are really good leaders, and they do it in a bunch of different ways – some are vocal, and some are not. I am always encouraging guys to be themselves and be the best version of themselves. I think that is ultimately what will ring true with your peers and with your teammates.”


On if he considers Kansas City one of the toughest red zone teams:

“They always are. Coach Reid does an outstanding job in there. They always have some wrinkles, some gadget plays and some core plays that they do. They really make you work. They make you defend the whole field down there.”


On if there is anything else for coach Reid to insert into the red zone offense:

“I am sure there is.”


On if he wants Browns coaches and players to use the result of AFC Divisional Round in the playoffs as fuel in the offseason:

“Yeah, I would say for sure. Any time you are one of those 31 teams that do not [win the Super Bowl], you take that last loss personally and you carry that with you in the offseason. I think once you get into training camp that you turn the page and you are on to this year, 2021.”


On if he senses a little more excitement for this game with two strong teams matching up in Week 1:

“Obviously, they are a great football team and we know that this is going to be a challenge, but it is Game 1, and we have to pour everything we have into it into Game 1.”


On if he evaluates all of the data from last year and if it has changed anything for this year as it relates to coin toss decisions:

“I would tell you, we absolutely look at the data from last year, look at what we did and talk about what we may have done differently, and that will inform us going forward.”


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