OC Alex Van Pelt (10.29.20)

Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt:

On WR Rashard Higgins’ big catches against the Bengals: 

“He made every play that came his way. That was really impressive and good for him. It is kind of the theme of our season as a team right now, the next guy up. He came in and did not flinch at all. I know Baker has confidence in all of our receivers. He showed up huge. That catch was one of the biggest ones in the game. Really proud of him because he puts in the work off the field and on the practice field. To have that opportunity and step up and make one of the biggest plays in the game, that is what it is all about. Really proud of him.”

On Higgins facing adversity in his career and producing with opportunities: 

“That is resiliency. That is that is what it is all about. In this league, it never is easy. It is very rarely easy. You have to keep fighting and continue to work and then wait for your opportunity. That is what he has done. He made most of that opportunity.”

On if the Browns offense will lean more on WR Jarvis Landry without WR Odell Beckham Jr.: 

“Yeah, I think so. He is a leader of the offense. He really got us going in that game. He completed the little keeper to him in the flat. He broke tackles and had an explosive gain that really got us started offensively. Moving forward, obviously he is a big part of the offense. Without pressing, we are going to have to find ways that he can help us.”

 

On if Landry likes taking on the extra workload: 

“Absolutely. All of those guys like that, the dominant alpha guys like he is, they love having that that put onto their shoulders. We will be smart with what we do and how much we asked Juice to do, but he can really get us going, and he did in that game on Sunday.”

On how he expects opposing defenses to gameplan differently without Beckham: 

“Often times, you will see when you have an elite receiver like Odell that teams will try to double him in some form or fashion, whether it be man or zone coverage with the safety over the top. Maybe not quite as many as those coverages. We are going to have to find ways to distribute the ball and fill that void because that is a big void Odell not being here is going to leave us so we have to fill it from multiple places.”

 

On RB Kareem Hunt’s value in the pass game: 

“It is a huge part of his game and his skillset. He is a really good receiver out of the backfield. Finding ways to get him as many touches as possible, whether it is handing it to him or throwing it to him. He is very valuable as a receiver, as well a runner.”

On if Hunt could see more opportunities in the passing game with Beckham out: 

“He already has a big role right now, and part of that is coming out of the backfield as a receiver. Like I said, it is going to take all of us to fill that void. We have to run better, we have to protect better, we have to get open we have to use multiple receivers and highlight what the guys do well. We will do that moving forward.”

 

On the Raiders defense: 

“They are a big group of guys up front. Their end are long, tall guys, they are big. The thing that stands out is they all play with a motor and that they are finishing to the football on every snap. You can tell that as you watch the tape. We have to do a great job of finishing our blocks and being great with our ball security because they chase to the football. In the back end, they are a talented group back there, as well. They have been in that scheme now for a few years. They have a good understanding of who they are and what they do, and it shows on defense. It is going to be a big challenge for us, no question.”

On if Mayfield can use his finish against the Bengals as a jumping off point for the rest of the season:

“I hope so. I loved the way he played. He was locked in through the course of the game. His week of preparation was one of the best up to that point. That is really the blueprint. That is what we expect each week. Hopefully now, he is after the Steelers game and has a little confidence and a little swagger back in his game. You can see that in practice. Moving forward, you just have to keep that same consistency, protect the football first and foremost and then you give your guys chances to make plays, which he did.”

On conversations with Mayfield after starting the Bengals game with five incompletions, including an interception:

“Really did not talk much with him. Spoke a little with (Head) Coach (Kevin Stefanski) on how we can maybe get him something easy to get going. Things like that. It is gameday, and that stuff is going to happen. You are going to go through streaks. At the end of the game, I had no idea that he had gone on the hot streak that he had. Just operating one series at a time, talking through the series on the sideline. I did not even know that he had five touchdowns until after that game. That is how focused we were, one series at a time going back and seeing how they played us in each series and getting calls ready for the next series. That is the focus that we all need to have. He was extremely locked in. At the end of the day, you look up and complete the balls as many time as he did in a row and have the touchdown production, you are like, ‘Oh, wow. OK. I did not realize that.’ Like you said, it is a good starting point and launch point for what we are expecting from him.”

On if it was pretty remarkable that Mayfield finished the game the way he did to help the team win after watching it on film:

“Definitely is. I actually looked back on it, and it definitely is. Guys obviously made huge plays and huge catches, but Baker gave those guys the opportunity to do that. Some of those balls may have been incomplete, but our guys went up and they made the plays. As far as quarterback play goes, it was definitely one of those days that you look back and say, ‘Wow, that was pretty good ball play by the QB.’”

On if he thinks there is something more to the connection between Mayfield and WR Rashard Higgins:

“I do. I see a good relationship there. They have fun with each other. They enjoy being around each other. Kind of busting each other’s chops a little bit so that is fun to see. I think the reps is where it comes, the repetition of practice. Like you said, he has thrown a lot of balls to him in a lot of different situations. The more you have those opportunities, the more comfortable you are with the guy.”

On if Hunt is getting healthier:

“I hope so, I do. I was really impressed with his ability to break tackles. He ran hard in that game and got us a lot of hard, extra dirty yards. Hopefully, he is feeling better each week moving forward.”

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