OC Alex Van Pelt (12.31.20)

Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt:

On WR Jarvis Landry returning today and how much Landry missed not playing against the NY Jets:

“I am sure that killed him. That is tough as a player and you are a competitive guy like he is and what he means to this team. For him not to be there personally, I am sure it was tough for him. It was really hard not to have him there as an offense, as well. Really happy to get him back in the building.”

On how strange it was to have to tweak the offensive gameplan late last week with four top WRs out:

“It was not easy. (Head Coach) Kevin (Stefanski) did a great job of adjusting on the fly. There were a lot of meetings. (Pass game coordinator/wide receivers coach) Chad O’Shea did a hell of a job of getting those young guys ready to play. They did a great job of doing what they could in the game. It was not easy, there is no question. This is the year for that – adapt and adjust – and I thought we did the best we could. I thought the guys were ready to go.”

On if the Browns WRs returning from reserve/COVID-19 may be even more motivated after missing last week:

“Any time you miss playing, it is hard to watch. Especially watching it on television from home, that has to be really difficult for those guys. Not that they have never needed motivation, but maybe this does give them a little extra spark.”

On if there is a possibility for TE David Njoku to line up at WR, if needed:

“We do multiple things with those tight ends and that tight end group. There are times where we will split them out wide, and that is something that we have definitely have done during the course of the season and can always do.”

On how QB Baker Mayfield is doing after Sunday’s loss and expectations for Mayfield to bounce back on Sunday:

“Obviously, expect him to bounce him. Probably was not his best game – he would be the first to tell you. Obviously, he is kicking himself for the fumble there at the end. He is a guy that is resilient. He has had his back against the wall multiple times in his career, and he comes out swinging. That is what we expect from him. He has been great meetings. We have had really good meetings, a little bit longer than normal at this point, just making sure everything is detailed up and the fact that we could not get together until later yesterday. Practice yesterday was incredible. He threw the ball with extreme accuracy. Everything was perfect. I think he had the perfect day of practice. I know he is locked in. He is dialed in. Now, we just have to go with the bumps in the road here and then turn it loose on gameday. The guys have done a great job in these virtual meetings of staying on top of things. They have been really interactive, and we will continue that throughout the course of the day. Hopefully, we will be able to get in at some point. If not, it is what it is, and we will be ready.”

On lessons from the Week 6 matchup against the Steelers that should make this game different:

“We did not play our best game across the board. That is the things that these guys have learned. They went back and watched that game, and they understand that when you are playing good defenses like the Steelers have you have to be on top of your game. Just a little more, whatever it takes this week, just bringing a little bit more. Playing with physicality is important against this group. We were in a different than we were then, and it will be interesting on Sunday. I feel really good about our week of preparation at this point, as disjointed as it has been. Like I said, the guys are focused, they are ready and they understand what happened in the game and who we were at that point and where we are going to be on Sunday.”

On if he would be open to changes in the offseason program and how important the offseason program is to the on-field product on Sundays, given C JC Tretter’s recent letter that this past season could be an indication the offseason program could be significantly altered moving forward:

“For starters, I have a lot of respect for JC. I have had the chance to work with him Green Bay, too, so I know what he brings to the table as a player and what he means to this league. As a coach, obviously, we would love to have them in the spring to coach them. Reflecting as a quarterback and a quarterback coach, that is valuable time that we missed in the spring of talking footwork, details, protections and adjustments and everything that comes with the mental aspect. For years, I participated as a player in QB school, which is a big part of tearing the offense all the way down to the nubs and building it back up with the QBs in the room. That is a process that we really miss. Obviously, the health and safety of everybody is most important, but if we could get together, we as coaches would love to have them in because there is a lot of stuff that gets missed not going through the OTAs and seeing the looks and seeing the different issues that come up. All of that you put into that memory bank that you use during the season. I think it is valuable, but health and safety is ultimately the most important.”

On if this season has allowed him to rethink anything about the value and execution of the offseason program, given the team’s success this season:

“I feel the same about the value of the offseason. I know it is important being a part of it on both sides. JC is a veteran player. He can probably do without an offseason but you look at a rookie who comes in for the first time and how valuable those reps are for him to get those reps under his belt. I obviously will listen to JC and I have a lot of respect for JC, but at the same time as a coach, you want to have those guys around so you can teach.”

On how Stefanski has managed everything this past week: 

“Unbelievably. He never waivers. We do not use excuses at all. To a man, that is the message that gets reflected to the team every day. There is no excuse. Whatever it is, it is, and we will have to adapt and adjust to it and make it work. At the end of the day, nobody really cares. Pittsburgh could not care less whether we are in the building or not, and that is the reality of the NFL. Too bad for us, but we have to find a way to get it done, and we will get that done. Like I said, we have done a great job this week so far.”

On if the Browns offense has to change a lot schematically or with play calls from the Week 6 matchup because of what the Steelers did in that game: 

“Obviously, we are in a different place right now. We have a better understanding of who we are and how we operate on offense. That will change. Going in saying, ‘Hey, we can’t call this, we can’t call that and we have to do this,’ you are going to do that every time you have a second matchup versus a division opponent. That is nothing new, but we just have a better understanding of who we are how we operate now.”

On the difference it will make having RB Nick Chubb and G Wyatt Teller available this week: 

“Those are two guys who are big players for us. That will help us for sure. Anytime you can get premier players like Nick and Wyatt back in the lineup, that is a plus for the offense for sure.”

On Steelers LB TJ Watt and Steelers DT Cameron Heyward likely not playing this week: 

“That is part of the deal this time of the year, but it is not really about them; it is about us and it is about our focus on our work and what we need to get done. That is a decision that they made – we will see – but at the same time, not really focused on who is not going to be in there. We are really focused on who we are, what we are going to get done what we are trying to accomplish.”

On if the Steelers pass rush getting to Mayfield in Week 6 has been a point of discussion this week, even if Heyward and Watt do not play this week: 

“They are obviously a very talented group. You take two first-rounders out of the mix, and you still have a bunch of first-rounders on that defense. Once again, it is about us. It is about improving our technique, our fundamentals, protecting the quarterback and getting the ball out and rhythm and on time, and those things all play a part of it.”

On why he said Mayfield had a ‘perfect day of practice’ yesterday and if that would be supported by Mayfield’s statistics in practice: 

“He was very sharp. He was laser focused. When I walked in, [Mayfield was in] a little bit of a surly mood and just a different day so I could tell that he was locked in and ready to go. He ripped every ball he threw and bounced one off of a helmet that was just absolutely fired (laughter). He was locked in. We did not have a long practice, but he was perfect, and yes, statistically, yes.”

On if Browns players have a sense of the team’s playoff drought and understand what is at stake with a win this week: 

“I hope so. I think so. I know for the guys that have been around here – the veteran guys who have gone through the tough times – I think they definitely understand what is at stake. You win and you are in. That is as simple as that. Everybody is aware of that. Nobody is putting any more stress on themselves. We are just really focusing in again on our work and how we as a team and as an offensive unit can be better than we were last time. That is what it is all about.”

On if the COVID-19 disruptions have potentially brought the team closer together, given it has been a tough past two weeks: 

“It has been, but this is a resilient team. I am sure it has brought guys closer. That is the ups and downs of this year. Again, we will never make an excuse, but we are looking forward to getting back out there and playing better than we did last week.”

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