OC Todd Monken (11.21.19)

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken:

On the impact TE David Njoku’s return could have on the offense, if Njoku is able to play this week:

“We will have to see where he is. I think that is the biggest thing is just seeing where he is after being out for a number of weeks. Really has not been with us out there. He has been working with the trainers working to get back. I think yesterday was a good first step.”


On elements Njoku brings to an offense:
“His athleticism, his speed, being able to get down the field vertically. He has made a number of plays in the past in the red zone. I did see that during training camp and saw that during in the offseason.”


On QB Baker Mayfield playing with more confidence in recent weeks:
“I think he has always had that. Obviously, we have played better around him. He has played better. We have continued to be able to run the football for the most part. A couple of games in between there not nearly as well, but when you are in the game, you are not having to throw it, you are not putting yourself under duress and you are not maybe doing things outside of yourself to try and win the game, which happens and has happened in the past with a number of quarterbacks where you are trying to win the game and you are making decisions you would not normally make. I think he has played well all year. It has just come about the last few weeks in terms of everyone doing it better.”


On using RBs Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb together last week helped take Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick out of the game:

“He is a good football player. It is hard to imagine the streak that he had in terms of making plays, creating turnovers and scoring – like we talked about earlier about some of the penalties and turnovers, it being a week-to-week league and you do not anticipate that it is going to carry over – same there. He is going to go weeks where that does not happen and where the ball does not just fall his way or a fumble does not come his way. He is a good football player. He is certainly capable of making those game-changing plays. Whether that had something to do with it, sometimes the ability to run the football does that in not turning it over. Those are the plays he had making when the ball is in the air or the ball happened to be on the ground.”


On the Browns offense’s performance against the Steelers and potentially evaluating it as playing against one of the better defenses the Browns have played this year:
“We went into that game looking at the number of talented players they have, high draft picks they have hit on the last few years and then Fitzpatrick, who they traded for to add to that. We knew it was going to be a real challenge. Very similar to, maybe not schematically, but to Tennessee. We started the year off with 11 guys, good football players that you have to earn it up front. We knew it would be a heck of a challenge, and our defense really stepped up with the four turnovers and the two times they stopped them on fourth down. We had great field position all day.”


On if preparing for the Steelers on a short week was a factor in not introducing many new plays or schemes with Chubb and Hunt:

“Some of that is true. You really only have so much you can do in a short week. You try as best as you can – to kind of coin a phrase – with your plays to have the songs you know the words to and that it is easy for your guys to recall for that week. It is hard to come up with too many things when you are trying to assess timing with your receivers in terms of different blocking schemes and you try to revert back to what you do well.”


On if he has seen an improvement in Mayfield’s ability to handle the pass rush and buy time in the pocket:

“I think overall, the quarterback is going to have those improvements the better you protect, the quicker you get the ball out and the more comfortable he is. He has done a better job over the last few weeks. You would have to ask him about how he felt, but we can continue to do a better job of protecting him, doing a better job from a route concept that he is comfortable there because that is also part of it. If the quarterback is not comfortable with what he is seeing or what you have designed, then they just start to take off. I am not saying that is what he is doing. I am just telling you in things I have been around. It is tough because I do think he is elite outside the pocket. That is tough because he is capable of making some plays outside of the pocket.”


On making sure the Browns offense’s mind is right ahead of the Dolphins, following a win against a tough Steelers defense:

“It is a challenge every week. It is a challenge, whether you win or lose, to get your team’s mind right. That is one of the toughest things you deal with, with a week in between playing. I think one of the hardest things you deal with is just the media, good or bad, the sky is falling or you are great. You can’t get beat. It is one of those things you deal with every day with your players that it is a week-to-week league and you can’t carry over points. You can carry over momentum in the way you feel and the way you practice, but in terms of once you get on the field, it is a different opponent, a different style and everybody is capable of beating anybody. Just a couple weeks ago, the team we are going to face is a team that beat the Colts on the road, a pretty good football team. We have to be ready to go.”


On his reaction to the altercation against the Steelers and how the team can move on from it:

“I do not know. I think you will have to ask them. I have not even given it a thought. I really have not. We are on to Miami, and I know everyone says that but that is our job. Our job is finding a way to fix the puzzle and to figure out a way to do it better than they do it with whoever you have, whoever you take the field with. It impacts us less obviously on the offensive side, and that is who you are speaking to, someone on the offensive side.”


On the release of WR Antonio Callaway and its impact on the Browns offense last week:



On if having two dynamic players and personalities in WRs like Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry in the huddle can add some pressure to a younger QB’s job and distributing the football:

“I think there is a challenge when you have multiple skill players. There is also going to be that with Kareem and Nick. They are paid to showcase their ability to make plays and with that is when the ball is in their hands their ability to make plays. All of our skill players, David included when we get him back on the field. That is a challenge at times because I do not care how much you throw it or hand it off to a skill player, they want more opportunities. I understand that. With all that being said, in my mind, you can never have enough talent. In my mind, speaking to me, you want to have talent. You want to take the field with enough weapons to give yourself the chance to score as often as you can. With that being said, sure, there is. You are talking about highly competitive people who have been very successful in their life and have shown they have the ability to make plays. That is the part you have to deal with, not only us as coaches but especially the quarterbacks. Good question, but in the end, you certainly want to find a way with the guys with talent to get them to play at a very high level in a way you want it to look when you take the field.”


On how Mayfield has managed the Browns offensive personalities during games:

“I can’t speak to it exactly. I am up in the box. It is hard for me to say exactly when they are on the sideline, but I have not heard anything or seen anything that would lead me to believe anything other than positive. ‘This is the way I see it. This is the way we need to do it moving forward, this is the way that we have designed the play and how we want to attack this given opponent,’ whether it is in practice, meeting rooms or on gameday.”


On Landry’s improved performances in recent weeks and what it is like to be around him in meeting rooms:
“He is a heck of a football player, one. Highly competitive and prideful. Sometimes it just works out that. There were times earlier in the year where it did not work out that way. Like I said, you only have one football. I think Baker has a load of confidence in Jarvis in terms of where he will be and in terms of the plays he can make. He also does a nice job underneath so there are some things you can do with him that have worked out. Sometimes it just kind of works that way where you get some extra targets.


On if WR Rashard Higgins is healthy and capable of all that is asked of him in the offense:
“Yes. He is healthy. That is for sure.”


On if Mayfield’s footwork, eyes and vision have improved as the season has progressed:

“I think so. I think the more comfortable he is with schemes, protection, the routes, who you are playing, what to anticipate and when guys are coming out of their breaks, there is no question a quarterback is going to play better. That is a big part of it because the windows are tighter, the time you have in the pocket is shorter in terms of college so those are the things that you continue [to develop]. That is why you practice. That is why you get on the field. That is why you develop the timing and the consistency and then you carry that over to the games. It is rare that you do not see that in practice. It does not happen in practice or it happens in games. It is a byproduct of what you do in practice.”


On if Mayfield is beginning to grow into the QB the Browns want for this offense, given Mayfield’s improved performance in recent weeks:
“Sometimes it is just opportunities. Sometimes I think that is. I do not think early on he played poorly. It is just sometimes you get other opportunities, and then as he gains his confidence back, and I would not say he lacked confidence – that is not him, he is a very confident young man – but then you start to see him make a few plays. Then all of the sudden, you start to build some things around for him and feel good about it. He is a good football player, and we thought that from the begging. You only have one ball and you only have one opportunity to get it to your skill players.”


On if TE Stephen Carlson showed him anything he did not know with his TD reception against Pittsburgh:

“It is just amazing. Guys that do it right all the time and you can count on if they have a certain level of skillset – now they have to have a skillset because you cannot just take anybody because they do stuff right – but he has a skillset. He will do it exactly the way you want. Obviously, it was a big play in the game after the turnover, a third down. We still would have had a chance to kick a field goal and go up two possessions, but Baker did a nice job of escaping. We really had nobody open. Baker did a nice job of initially escaping and then for him to redirect and then take the ball off the defenders helmet. I think a lot of people were really excited for him, and usually, when your teammates get excited for somebody, it is someone that they really respect the way they work and go about their business. You do not see that from a coaching staff or from players unless they really respect the work that a player puts in.”


On if there is still room for the package with Chubb and Hunt to grow:

“Sure. The toughest thing you have is he was not able to practice with us so you are playing a little bit of catch up. He was not obviously [missing practice] when you are in training camp, but we knew we would not have him for the eight weeks so there is catch up there. There is also a certain amount of reps that you have during the week. There are only so many reps that we have leading up to the game, and it is a race against the clock to get the gameplan in and to see where you can fit all of our pieces, not just those guys, to give us the best chance to win. They are obviously two really good football players so we have to continue to find ways to get them touches in a number of ways.”


On if he has ever a RB tandem close to the talent of Chubb and Hunt during coaching career:

“I would have to think about that. If we did, I would not say it was better, I guess is a way to put. I have had places where we had good running backs. I would say this, we (Jaguars RBs) Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew in 2007 in Jacksonville. It was comparable. Both of those guys were good players. Fred might have had one more year with us, but that year in 2007, we had two really good running backs. It is rare. It hard to collect and keep talent in the NFL. A lot of times not only at one position but on offense, it is hard to be elite at every single spot. As players develop, you lose them to free agency, some guys get hurt and you only have so many draft picks. When you are really talented at one end, you have some other pieces that you have to continue to build, grow and develop some younger players so that you can put a good product on the field on any side of the football.”


On if he used Taylor and Jones-Drew together on the field at the same time in Jacksonville:

“Fred and Mo-Jo? No, we did not do that nearly as much, but similar to here, we were a run-first team. I can’t remember, amazingly enough, 12 years ago. I can remember both of them having success. I just do not remember. We did not do a lot with both of them in the backfield. I do not remember if we did it at all, and I do not remember how we distributed it. I just remember them both having really good years and both of them being really good pros.”


On if the Browns offensive mindset has changed with recent losses on defense in order to help the defense following the loss of personnel:

“I do not think it ever changes the mindset. I have not thought ever once. You would have to ask Freddie that. I have not ever thought our job would change depending on what the defense is. In my mind, you try to score every time you have it. I do not know how you would change that. I think during a game it changes in terms of how it is going and the feel of your risk-take in terms of you thought process, in terms of how it is going and how the other side is playing. Every team loses players, and every team has someone there that is one of the best in the world to step in. We do too on the defensive side, and we expect them to play as well as the other ones collectively. Great players, like I said before, are hard to replace, but it is a team sport. You have to find a way to win with whoever you put up on the field. Our job – at least you are asking me on the offensive side – has not changed other than you try to put collectively the best plan you can together so that you can to create as many points as you can without turning it over.


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