Linebackers Coach Jason Tarver (12.2.22)


On LB Sione Takitaki’s transition to MIKE:

“Just really proud of Sione for lots of reasons. Three years of his progression is just amazing working together and how he works with players. The first year, he is SAM and WILL and he is learning, and he got better as the year went on. Last year, he was just dominant at the SAM position and just kept getting better and better. This year when we had some people out in camp, he started to learn the MIKE. Now, it is all three, and it is really cool. The first couple of times he struggled a little bit, but we knew it was something that was going to happen and he just took it over. He works really hard and he is really focused at helping the guys get aligned and making sure everybody is on the same page. He has just gotten better, better and better at setting our defense and adjusting, and his movement behind the ball has just improved weekly. We are real excited with where he is and where he is going to go, and we are going to go with him.”


On differences in Takitaki’s play this year compared to last season:

“Sione when we got here really learned how to build his body, build his mind and how to study and how to do the NFL preparation week by week, just becoming a pro. When he was on the field last year, he was doing this. He just got better, better and better in his assignments and his technique. Now, he has just been able to do it at all three positions, which is awesome. That is development of the player, working together and just staying in the process. He has just grinded, and he is getting some results because of it.”


On if the Browns staff knew Takitaki might have the potential to be an NFL MIKE, given Takitaki played MIKE in high school and college:

“Again, it is the progression. When you come into the league, what we do with our teaching progression is to try to keep things the same the eye angles for our players. Even with (LB) Tony Fields who is playing more or (LB) Jeremiah (Owusu-Koramoah), we want them to be in the same position until they master it and then move. Sione is so valuable on the edges of the defense because he is powerful and he sets great edges. His edges over the past three years has been outstanding. He is a good rusher. He was really good at those things and that was where he was very comfortable. Then we had different guys, say (former Browns and free agent LB) Malcolm Smith, (LB) Anthony Walker (Jr.) and (LB) Jacob Phillips, so we had a mix to roll everybody around. It is not to say he couldn’t do it then, it was just what we were doing. We use everybody. That is what we do. We know our personnel and we use our personnel, and we love that part about it. Our guys are flexible and love that about themselves. Did we know it? Not necessarily, but when you are in the progression working with the guys who are in the room and just watch how their level mastery of the defense comes up, all of the sudden he is making all of the calls even when he wasn’t the MIKE. It is pretty cool because they are ready, and now, you can do that with him. You can tell I am proud of him, but we have more to go.”


On if the Browns’ success limiting the Buccaneers running game was as simple as players doing their jobs and keeping gap integrity:

“It really is. Stopping the run – you have heard it from (run game coordinator) Coach (Ben) Bloom because he does a great job teaching us – the first thing is setting the edge. We need the edges set tight. Then it is building the wall. That is everybody else getting there. Then it is getting off of blocks. Some of the things we are doing better is playing with length away from blockers and getting vertical off of blocks. I will give an example of a rip: my elbow all of the way to my ear. You throw a rip like this, the big guy is going to grab you, right? You can rip all of the way up and you get vertical… You can see I am getting excited about it. We are improving at the basic fundamentals. Now we have to do that right one play at a time every single play. We have to keep our grind. We have to stay the course on that. We are improving in that, and some of that started to show in the last football game. We are going to need more of it this week.”


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