OC Alex Van Pelt (12.17.20)

Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt:

On what has led to QB Baker Mayfield’s improvement during the second half of the season: 

“The hard work, really. He is working his butt off. A better understanding of the system probably. Probably understanding him a little bit more too in that process of calling plays and designing plays for him. He has worked extremely hard. He has made a conscious effort to take care of the football, and that has shown up. He had the one interception Monday night, but before that, he was on a hell of a streak. Really proud of the way he has worked. He has put the work in.”

On Head Coach Kevin Stefanski as a play caller: 

“He is good. He is aggressive, there is no question. I love some of the calls that came out. There was one play on the [out-and-up] throw to Kareem that we talked about during the week. He designed that play to get the matchup on Kareem. It was third-and short there, and as soon as we got in that position, it was funny, I kind of looked at (QB) Case (Keenum) and had the big eyes like, ‘Is he going to call it? This is a pretty aggressive call.’ He did. He does a great job. He understands how to keep defenses off balance. He does a great job. Very aggressive, but at the same time, smart.”

 

On how Stefanski is able to get the one-game focus through to Browns players and if that can be tough with only three weeks left in the regular season and the team being in playoff contention: 

“No, absolutely not. This crew is locked in. We all preach that. That is something that is very important. That is really the backbone of our mindset, and it is just how we can win this week? What is it going to take to get this one game done? It is always the biggest game of the year because it is the next game. That is the mentality we all adopted. I think we are all living by that. You get in trouble when you start looking ahead. That is something we are very conscious about keeping our guys in a narrow focus on this week’s opponent and going 1-0 this week.”

On the Browns OL’s performance this season: 

“We have a good group of pros up there – really great workers, smart guys and talented guys, as well. Bringing in a rookie in Jed (T Jedrick Wills Jr.), an extremely talented guy who has also put in a ton of work. I mention it every week, (offensive line) Coach (Bill) Callahan and the job that he does with (assistant offensive line) Coach (Scott) Peters with that O line, they are a group that is always ready to go and they are always on point when it comes to everything from pass protection to blocking to cadences. They are always prepared, and they work hard. Hats off to them. Obviously, we have done some good things in the running game. A lot of that and most of that has a lot to do with them opening up those holes for those great backs. That is a group of guys up front I am really proud of. We were in a meeting this morning and just told them again how proud I am of the way they work and the job they did, especially last week in pass protection.”

 

On his mindset and readiness to potentially become the play caller on short notice if needed as NY Giants TEs coach Freddie Kitchens recently received the play calling duties for Sunday night’s game late in the week of preparation: 

“I relate it to being a backup quarterback. You have to prepare like you are starting each week or else you are not going to have a good time on Sunday if things happen to fall your way and you are in the game. Much like a player, you have to anticipate that you never know what is going to happen, especially in 2020. You might be the play caller on a Sunday all of a sudden, really up until the point before a game or even of the day of the game. Just continuing to prepare like there is a chance that you could be thrust into that role and being ready. At that point, you are working within a system of plays that have been developed by obviously your guys and it is your offense so you just stay within the parameters of that and trying to call it as much like Kevin in my situation as possible.”

 

On how valuable T Chris Hubbard’s versatility has been this season: 

“It is awesome. He is a swing guy at four positions. If you asked him to snap the ball, I bet he can do that, as well. The value that he brings, plus the quality of play, is very impressive. That is a guy that on a lot of teams would be a starter. To have him in the bullpen ready to plug in any of those spots, it has been great to have him. If he does have to go – we will see – but we do not expect any drop off there.”

On TE Harrison Bryant and how tough it is for a rookie TE, particularly this year: 

“It is tough for any rookie at any position really to come in and play extended time. Hats off to him, to Jed and those guys that are doing it. (WR) Donovan (Peoples-Jones) has done a great job, as well. It is tough to come in and make an impact as a rookie, but he is a guy that – all three of these guys, they work hard. That is the biggest thing. Harrison had the fumbles, but I bet you he does not do it again for a long time because you can see him even in practice he is conscious of it now. He is a guy that you can expect exactly what you ask him to do, you are going to get it. He had a comment to the quarterbacks earlier in the season when he just said, ‘I will be where that ball was,’ meaning I will do whatever I can to get to that spot. He always tries to do it right. He is a good young pro, and he is only going to get better.”

 

On where the resiliency of the Browns offensive rookies derives: 

“I think that is the mindset that we have. You are a rookie, we understand that and we understand the difficulties that you go through. We know there are going to be mistakes, and we expect you to bounce back. That is what it is all about is how you respond to adversity, and these guys have done a great job.”

On WR Jarvis Landry hanging in the pocket on his pass last week: 

“He did exactly what we told him to do. It was great. He looked him off. I wish I could take any credit for it whatsoever and with his perfect quarterback rating. He is a stud. He took a shot last week. The week before that, he drew a penalty on it. Just sold the heck out of it looking down the field and throwing it back across the field and took another big hit. That is Jarvis – unselfish. He is going to do exactly what you ask him to do, and he can throw the ball well.”

 

On if the Browns have to be careful not to tip off pass plays with Landry before the snap: 

“You have to be careful about when you put it in. Probably have to put it on the back burner for a few weeks so hopefully teams forget about it. That is an asset that he has and it is a talent that he has. We would be crazy not to utilize it. Maybe, but we will see what happens.”

 

On what Mayfield has to do to help combat the NY Giants’ ability to disguise coverages: 

“Film study. A lot of that is going to be film study and then post-snap recognition and kind of training your eyes to see the big picture at the last second. Feeling the safety rotations is a big part of moving those safeties. They do a great job, there is no question. Very rarely is it what you think it is, which makes it tough for a quarterback. Everybody in the passing game has to be really good with their post-snap recognition of the defensive shell and where the safeties are. Is it close? Are they going back to a version of their Cover 2? Those are things that we have talked about this week. They do an excellent job in their disguise.”

On if Mayfield has improved this season on evaluating coverages:

“Yeah, I think so. He has made a lot of improvements in his game, and that is one of them. He will be tested this week.”

On how impressed has he been with Wills’ development this season:

“I do not want to pass judgement without talking to Coach (Bill) Callahan. I know Coach Callahan is always good to be tough on everybody as far as grading, but he has done a nice job. There is always room for improvement. He is going to only get better as he gets older and more mature in his game. Just the availability, he has been available for us. He has played a ton of snaps. He has played at a high level. He has had a couple of things to clean up here and there. You are asking a guy to come in and switch from right to left and start as a rookie with no offseason is pretty impressive of what he has been able to accomplish. As always, we are looking for more.”

On the NY Giants defense and the team winning four out of their last five, including a victory over the Seahawks:

“They are a solid, very, very good defense. In a lot of categories, they are up at the top of the rankings. They are very stout inside. Their inside three are very good players. (NY Giants LB) Blake Martinez is a very productive linebacker and their safeties, it really just starts down the middle of this defense. They play well within their scheme. (NY Giants defensive coordinator) Coach (Patrick) Graham does a good job of putting those guys in the positions to be successful. As you watch tape early on, the record definitely does not reflect how well this defense plays.”

On how difficult it is for the play caller to be mindful of not scoring too quickly in late-game situations like last week:

“There is discussion. Kevin already alluded to that we were throwing a short pass to (RB) Kareem (Hunt) in the flat, and he made the play and broke tackles. You can’t ask him not to do that. You would obviously like to leave them with as little time as possible, but at the same time, you are rolling dice. The two schools of thought: you score when you can score and you have to hold them or if you are down there even closer maybe you start thinking more clock and burning up a little more clock, but we are already in that position and we were thinking we have to score first.”

On if there were conversations between him and Stefanski as it related to clock management:

“Always. There is always conversation going on. (Football research analyst) Ryan Cordell does a great job with the game management. There is constant communication about time on the clock, timeouts, what they have left and what we think we should do. When you throw a hitch out in the flat to Kareem and he breaks tackles and scores, you can’t be upset.”

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