OC Alex Van Pelt (6.3.20)

Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt:

On how QB Baker Mayfield has done with the installation of the offense and his footwork:

“For the installation of the offense, obviously, it is different for everybody this year, but I think we as a group have done a good job of understanding what we are trying to get accomplished. Baker has been asking every right question that we have. At the end of the day, we get together for live meetings. There are some recorded portions of the installation that go out, and you always get feedback from Baker, from (QB) Case (Keenum) and the quarterbacks. They do a good job. I think anything that is not clear to them, they get it cleared up in that meeting before the end of the day is over and then they move onto the new information that we are installing the next day. So far, it has been good. As far as the footwork goes, that is the part that you can actually coach over the internet, which is cool. The quarterbacks sending the videos of their footwork to me, I can now go back, break it down and get on a one-on-one Zoom meeting with them and kind of coach them through the correction process of all the footwork we are going to use.”


On if the virtual offseason program has been more productive than initially anticipated:

“I think so. Initially, you are kind of concerned, obviously, as a staff coming in for the first time and not being in a face-to-face meeting with your players. That is something that is lacking right now, that connection and building that connection. There is a lot of great information from a lot of great coaches that are now recorded that they have the ability to go back and not just hear in an installation meeting or I might get up and talk about Install 3 pass game, and then it is gone, and then you go to your coaches and then it is gone. Now, it is in a library. You can always go back to Install 3. You can pull up the recordings again and refresh yourself. There are some benefits to it, but it has been different and unique. I think we are getting the most out of it that we can.”


On if the team has been able to come up with creative ways to make sure everyone is connecting on a personal level:

“Coach (Stefanski) has done a great job of putting out some challenges to the guys, whether it be a slam dunk challenge or movie poster challenge and things like that to keep it competitive and fun. The big part is when you come into a meeting is just do it like you would if you were in the room. That is where those connections are made, the friendships are made and trust is built. I also try to allow those guys to have five minutes of ‘Hey, what did you do yesterday? How was your weekend? How are your mom and dad doing? How is the baby?’ just to connect and get to know each other deeper. It is different from a meeting aspect than doing it in person, but it still allows those guys to communicate with each other, kind of catch up, get on each other a little bit, hold each other accountable and bust chops a little bit. We still do have some of that connectivity that is going on. It is just not face to face.”


On if he was able to see any film of the workouts Mayfield hosted with teammates in Austin:

“Nothing was recorded. We obviously were not involved as far as setting that up or anything. That is something they did on their own. We did not see any footage from that. I did just get one quick video of Baker just showing the guys in full lather after a workout, but no, we did not see any of that footage.”


On helping Mayfield with his footwork over the internet:

“The technology I got was from a golf lesson I had 10 years ago where they use this app that I still use to this day, and you can really slow-mo and break it down, and you can draw on the app, as well. It gives me the ability to share my screen with Baker, watch his feet and really you can zoom all the way into just the feet and you can talk about each step, the position of each step and the length of each step. It is actually a pretty cool tool. It is the first time I had really used it extensively to teach footwork, but it has been useful.”


On the commitment, focus and leadership from Mayfield during the virtual offseason program and the team’s excitement about the offense with the personnel added this offseason: 

“For starters, I think Baker is keen on it. He has done everything I would expect from him as a starting quarterback. His work ethic is great. He jumps into other meetings that are not required, and he will sit in the receiver meetings when they have them and will sit in running back meetings from time to time, as well. He is all in. He is doing exactly how we expect him to do it. As far as the standpoint of our offense and people we have added, obviously, extremely excited about the additions to the offense through free agency and through the draft. Hats off to the scouting department for bringing those people in. I thought we hit it out of the park there. Extremely excited about what we have. Can’t wait to get together to see it all unfold in person. If you just look at the players that we have acquired and people we have added, I think that you would say our side of the ball, we look like we are in pretty good shape from a personnel standpoint. Just excited to get in front of these guys and get to know better as people.”


On Mayfield previously having his right foot forward in shotgun formation and now transitioning to left foot forward and what was wrong with the previous stance:

“Nothing was wrong with doing it [that way]. It is just the philosophy of the offense and the way I coach the quarterback, that is what I am looking for. I have done them both. I have studied all three different types of gun footwork, and I have decided this is what fits the quarterback the best in the system that we are running, and that is it.”


On ensuring players are working on what is desired for the offense from a quality control standpoint when players conduct independent workouts like the one in Austin:

“To be completely honest with you, when guys get together and work out, they run through a list of routes. It is the route tree. They are generally the same. You are going to go out, you are going to throw a slant route, you are going to throw a speed-out or whatever route you call it, but the tree is the same. There really is no quality control. I would expect any professional quarterback and group of receivers to go out and be able to put themselves through a great workout on air. You are picking form a list of routes. Now, the installation portion and how we call those routes, that might be something different than what they are used to, but an okie is an okie is an okie. It does not matter if you call it four different things, it is still a speed-out. Those guys get themselves lined up and run those routes. They know the routes we have in the system just through the installations, and they should be able to go out and have a great workout on air by themselves without quality control.”


On how RB Kareem Hunt fits in the offense:

“We have an idea of what we see his role playing in this offense. I think that is something we have to keep growing. Being away is probably not as good as doing it together and having the ability to see green, run routes and all of the things that he brings as a player. Not having that access to him right now has probably had a little [impact with] where we are headed with that. We have to find a way to put the best players on the field and the matchups that will come with that each week, and it will change weekly. Kareem is an extremely talented runner as a running back, and he is exceptional out of the backfield, as well. He is fearless, and the selflessness of him blocking and lead blocking, he is just a football player who loves to play. We have to find ways to get him the ball.”


On if Mayfield’s footwork under center has changed at all this offseason, in addition to the shotgun adjustments:

“Baker’s footwork from the gun will change. We talked about left foot forward. From under center, we would like to take some of that giant stagger step he has out. I think our philosophy is we want to be west coast footwork. There is a way to teach that, and it is not with that giant stagger. Under center will change slightly for him, too, but I think it will ultimately add to the rhythm and the timing of the pass game.”


On acquiring Ts Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills Jr. and Wills’ transition to the left side of the offensive line:

“Extremely excited to get Jack. Solidifies that right tackle spot. He is a guy who has done it and proved he can do it. He will come in and help us right away. Jed going over to the left side, I think the sky is the limit for him. Having (offensive line) Coach (Bill) Callahan and (assistant offensive line) Coach (Scott) Peters on board, that will only accelerate his growth and expect him to be a left tackle for a long time in this league for the Browns. We are excited to have him, as well.”


On TE David Njoku and his potential, given the use of TEs in this offensive system:

“He has been excellent. Really enjoy him in the meetings. He is a guy who speaks out. He is a smart guy. He understands what we are trying to get accomplished. He can answer the questions when you ask him. He has been really interactive in meetings, and that has been great. I am excited to get to know him. I know obviously he is a talented guy. He got in the doghouse a little bit last year, it sounds like, from the old staff, but it is a fresh, clean slate for him. He is going to add to that tight end room. There will be times we are out there with three tight end sets – that is part of this system – and to have him with the ability he has both athletically to play in line or get him out in space and get some matchup issues with safeties and linebackers covering him, I am excited to see what he has to offer. He has been excellent, and I look forward to working with him.”


On WR Odell Beckham Jr’s participation and commitment in the virtual offseason program:

“He is all in. He has bought in. He has been there, and it is awesome. It is good to have him there. It is good for him. He obviously needs to learn this system, but to have him involved and everybody involved, everybody’s attendance has been outstanding and that is a tribute to Kevin and the guys that are buying into the program.”


On joining a new coaching staff and having to quickly adjust plans due to the virtual offseason program and the eagerness to get on the field with players:

“It has been hard. It gets harder each week we are apart. You kind of get in the Zoom meeting mode, which is where we are right now, but definitely, definitely dying to get everybody back in that building at some point to get this thing going because I think the more that we are together in these meetings, the more we understand the system and how are going to attack people with the talent that acquired now on offense. I am excited. I can’t wait to get back.”


On how the coaching staff strategizes using personnel and formations in an offense with so many weapons:

“That will change weekly. One thing about our offense is we intend to be multiple in personnel groupings. One week, it could be a three tight end day, and the next week, it could be a three wide receiver day. We are going to try to give ourselves the best chance to beat you each week, and whatever personnel group that calls for, we feel like we have good people in those positions and depth at those positions, too. If it is a day where we come out with two running backs, a fullback, a halfback and two wide receivers in our regular package, we are going to put ourselves in the position to win each game and that might look different each week. We feel like we have the players at the positions where we have the ability to dictate on our terms how we are going to run the offense each week.”


On the Browns’ initial plan for him to call plays during the preseason to get a feel for the process with Stefanski before ultimately determining which of the two will call plays during the regular season and if there has been more discussion about the direction, particularly given the virtual offseason program:

“It is actually something that we haven’t even discussed to be honest with you. I think it is still a fluid situation. Until we get together and feel more comfortable with each other, and him with me more so, on the field in live action when there is no script and you are just calling offense against the defense, ultimately, until he feels comfortable with that, I think we are in the same spot as we have been.”


On the team’s discussion about social justice and George Floyd in a meeting this week and the messages from Stefanski and WR Jarvis Landry:

“Obviously, it was a horrific event, and to talk about it helps. It starts the healing process or starts the process of change. I think Kevin did an excellent job in the team meeting of letting the guys know that we need more than just words, we need actions and he is there to help us help those guys put those words into action. Provided a lot of different ways for them to help and support right away. I thought it was excellent. Jarvis speaking from the heart on how he feels and having the opportunity to listen to him explain what it is like for him, it was very powerful and very moving. I stand with the organization that there needs to be change ultimately, and we can’t just say that and we have to go out and show it by actions.”


On the team’s slam dunk video and movie poster competitions:

“There were some good slam dunks. I think there was a young rookie linebacker from out in the country somewhere that dunked into a milk bucket that was hanging on a tree and was in work boots and overalls. I thought it was pretty cool. That was my favorite. The movie poster one, our rookie quarterback (Kevin Davidson) put together a Photoshop picture of the ‘Tiger King’ with the quarterbacks in it. That won in my mind. Guys are having fun with it. It is just a way to kind of get away from football and do something to get to know each other a little bit better.”


On getting to know Beckham during the virtual offseason program and if Beckham has surprised him at all:

“It has been great. I have known of Odell, obviously. (Former NY Giants Head Coach and Jaguars quarterbacks coach) Ben McAdoo had Odell in New York, and everything that Ben talked to me about him, I have seen. He is a worker. He loves football. He is smart as hell. He has just been a model guy this offseason. I can’t wait to get him in the building and get him on the field. He has been outstanding.”