OC Alex Van Pelt (12.24.20)

Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt:

On T Jedrick Wills Jr. being placed on reserve/COVID-19 list today, another late week adjustment for the team this season: 

“It is part of the deal in 2020. I do not think anybody flinches at this point. When I heard the news, I was like, ‘OK, that is the way it is.’ Our team has really been resilient in the fact that the next guy steps up and plays well. Hub (T Chris Hubbard) went down, (T) Kendall (Lamm) went down and Hub came in. Hub went down and (C) Nick Harris came in and played well. We expect if Jed is not available on Sunday that Kendall would come in and play well at left tackle. That is the mentality that everybody takes. It is 2020 so we just go with the punches.”

On what he likes about Lamm behind the scenes: 

“The work ethic you see. He is a smart guy. He is very conscious of what he is doing out there. He does a good job. He did a good job in the end through training camp. I fully expect him to come in and play at a high level. We are fortunate to have the depth that we do have at the offensive line. Those guys have played well when they have stepped in. We expect nothing less.”

On how familiarity and comfort between QB Baker Mayfield and the Browns coaches factors into Mayfield’s recent success: 

“It is very important. It is all about relationships at every level, building those relationships, building that trust, getting to know each other inside and out and knowing what he likes and what he does not like. That is a big part of it. Just having that transparency and open conversation a lot of times during the week of how a guy feels about a certain play, those things are critical to how the game is called on Sunday. I have been proud of the way he has played. Obviously, he is playing at a high level, and that is where he should be. Happy for him.”

On how long it takes for coaches and QBs to develop a comfort with each other: 

“It takes time. There is definitely a time element involved. I think the more open he is to coaching and the more we as coaches are open up to his ideas, as well and like I said, if there is that constant communication and that constant trust, it can happen quickly. I think we see it now. Baker really is on the same page as the coaching staff and what we are trying to get done on each and every play. Like I said, he is performing at a high level so I think we have gotten there. We always get closer as time goes along. The Zoom meetings have made it tougher and harder and the lack of the offseason has made it a little tougher, but we are getting close to where we need to be.”

On using WR Jarvis Landry in the pre-snap motion and in different positions across the field: 

“It dresses things up. You have to be conscious of where he is. Obviously, he is a playmaker for us so to do the things we can do with him, whether it is bringing him back into the backfield or motioning him across the formation, he is going to draw attention. It was a big part of what we did against the Giants. It is good to get him involved at every level – come back and play some running back for us, he can throw the ball, he can catch the ball and he can run reverses. He is a very talented guy. The more we can use him within the formations to draw attention maybe as a decoy or to use him as a point of attack as a weapon, it gives us that versatility.”

On if pre-snap motion takes a long time for the offense to perfect and be on the same page: 

“It does. Our gameday operation is critical. Having clean operation and being able to have multiple shifts, multiple motions within the same play, it gets us in a good situation offensively where we are able to attack some certain looks. At the same time, it makes the defense respond. They have to make calls, change calls, change coverage and adjustments so all of that is beneficial for the offense. You have to be able to practice it and you have to be able to do it. I would say we do it at a high level. That is one of our main goals each week is to have a clean operation, and we have been pretty good at it.”

On Wills and C Nick Harris’ development and ability to improve and stay ready, particularly given the virtual offseason program: 

“First and foremost, they are good football players. Our scouting department has done a great job of identifying them as football players first. Yeah, it stunted the growth a little bit as far as their development, but you plug a guy in and tell them to block that guy, they have the ability to do that. They should be able to get that done. Really hats off to bringing the right guys in. Really been happy with all of the rookies, especially offensively, that we have brought in this past year. They have all contributed. They have done a great job of picking up the offense and fitting in or the ability to start a whole season at left tackle so far has been impressive. Hopefully, we will have Jed Sunday – we will wait and see. Those guys are good football players.”

On the TD pass to Landry when TE David Njoku initially stumbled but ultimately became open and that type of thing being a normal occurrence during the course of a game: 

“That is funny you say that. As I stood and watched that play from behind, I saw the same thing Baker saw. I knew how the play was designed, and I knew where we were going with the football. It was David first and Juice second. As soon as I saw David stumble, I got off of David, as well, and got right to the backline where Jarvis was. For starters, the quarterback, things happen quickly, especially in the red zone, so the ability to jump off of a read and back onto your second part of that progression is what he did. To David, he regained balance and he was definitely wide open. As I watched the play develop the same way that Baker did, I saw the stumble and I knew we were going to have him, but when he stumbled, I immediately put my eyes back to Jarvis to see where he was. No, I do not think there was anything there. We will take touchdowns any way we can get them. Jarvis made a heck of a catch to convert that one. As a quarterback and plays in the red zone, things happen fast and you have to move quickly.”

On if he feels for young QBs like NY Jets QB Sam Darnold, given the team’s and Darnold’s struggles this year, and comparing Darnold’s situation it to what the Browns have done to support Mayfield: 

“To be honest, I really have not paid attention to much other than who we are playing and what we are doing offensively. I know he has struggled, but at the same time, there is really no comparison. We are just trying to get our guys ready to play. I feel like we are doing a good job as far as offensively of getting these guys coached up, and they are performing at a high level. To make a comparison, it would be tough for me.”

On if the Browns offense sustaining multiple extended dives, include two 95-yard efforts last week: 

“That is nothing new to this last game. We have really been doing a good job of sustaining long drives. A lot of that comes down to converting on third and fourth down, staying on the field, getting first downs on first down and being able to move the chains. It is impressive to put together two 95-yard drives. That is obviously something we will be able to look back on and reflect on how we move the ball down the field. We have done it all year to be honest with you. We have had a lot of long drives for touchdowns. That is a good offense that has taken everything that is given and then converted on third and fourth down and punched it in in the red zone. That is critical. That is really a blueprint to success – convert on third down and score touchdowns in the red zone.”

On if he was aware of Landry’s versatility before joining the Browns:

“I knew he could throw the ball really well. I did not probably pay enough attention to the type of route runner he was and the ability to separate versus tight coverage, make contestant catches and all of that. I am pretty sure he hit the Bengals with a nice throw down the right sideline against us a few years ago so I obviously knew he could throw it well.”

On TE Austin Hooper’s performance last week after returning from injury:

“It is huge. The tight end group as a whole, (tight ends coach) Drew (Petzing) does a great job in that room of getting those guys prepared each week. They have stepped up and made plays all over the field. All three of them made plays. Hoop is a big part of that. Obviously, if we can get Hoop going, it takes a lot of pressure off of the other guys. To have him back, that was critical. He is a big target for us on third down and in the red zone. He does a great job of blocking in the run game so getting him back out there on the field was good for us.”

On grading G Wyatt Teller’s proposal at FirstEnergy Stadium this past week:

“I heard about it. I have not seen it yet. Anytime you have a chance to make a special impact like that and doing it is pretty cool. I congratulated him this morning in or Zoom meeting. I will take a look here when we get some time.”

On confidence provided at this point in the season that the Browns offense has demonstrated it can score in various ways both in the running game and passing game:

“I think so and I think the guys feel that way, also. The course of the season has really built us for where we are right now. It has grown us into this offense that can throw the ball, we can run the ball and we are all on the same page right now and operating at a high level. That happens through the course of the season and really just the ups and downs of the season and the growing pains that you go through. A season with the bad weather games we had there in a three-game stretch kind of gets you to rely on the run game a little bit more. Obviously, we have run it well this year, and now, we have shown that we can come out and throw the ball, as well. You always want to play your best football in December, and I feel like offensively we are getting there.”

On G Joel Bitonio being named to the Pro Bowl, Bitonio’s performance this season and if he believes more Browns OL members could have been selected to the Pro Bowl, given the unit’s performance this season:

“I definitely do. I would put our line up against guys across the league. We have a very good offensive line across the board really, and Joel anchors that group up front. His play has been outstanding this year. He is physical in the run game. He is very good in pass protection. He is really a complete player up front, and he is a great leader for us, too. Very happy for him. Like you said, there are a lot of candidates up there that could have been Pro Bowlers in my mind. Just happy to have that group together. It is a really solid group and foundation of our offense.”

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