Offensive Coordinator Alex Van Pelt (12.14.22)


On QB Deshaun Watson’s biggest areas of improvement last week:

“I thought with the accuracy. That was the biggest thing that stood out. He made some really nice throws. Got through the progressions. Got to second and third targets through the progression. I think that is where I saw the biggest jump. His footwork was improved for sure. He is just going to continue to improve. I thought it was a good step.”


On if he notices any hesitancy from Watson, including the deep cross last week when WR Michael Woods II appeared open:

“I think on that particular play he lost vision on that corner that Mike was running to that side. Probably looks worse from than when you are standing in the pocket and you have the tackles and guard in front of you and you haven’t so I think he is playing safe. That would be the biggest thing I would say on that particular throw. He had a good reason for not trying to throw that, ball which ball security [is top priority] If you are not sure… Uou have to make sure you are sure and see the throw, and he wasn’t sure. No problem with that one. You look at it now, and you go, ‘Man, that corner was really low,’ but if you can’t see him, then you don’t know. He continues to grow. His week of practice last week was very good, and it translated over to the game. He played a lot better. Continue to focus this week on the practice and then to carry that over to the game.”


On if Watson scrambling more often is beneficial for the Browns offense:

“Yeah, it helps us a ton. There were some plays where he used his legs. We didn’t have a lot of options for him through coverage, and he got first downs on his own. That opens up a whole other can of worms for the defense to defend. It wasn’t the greatest day on third downs for us, but he did make some plays with his legs that gained first downs.”


On if Watson’s lack of deep completions is a component of being new to the offensive system:

“Yeah, for sure. I think that is part of the growing through the system and applying it on gameday. There is definitely nothing stopping him from throwing it down the field. Thinking back, I don’t know if we had a ton of opportunity to throw the deep ball. The far cross we talked about earlier, that is an intermediate deep route, not bombs over Baghdad. He will continue to grow. I really do just expect strides each week.”


On Ravens LB Roquan Smith’s impact:

“A very good player. A different team. They got a lot better since we played them last through guys coming back from injury and acquisitions through trade. A very, very good linebacker. Spoke earlier, those two (Smith and Ravens LB Patrick Queen) remind me of (former 49ers LBs Navarro) Bowman and (Patrick) Willis from the Niners days. They are very solid players, good speed, big bodies and do a lot of things really well. He definitely adds to that defense.”


On attempting a pass on fourth-and-1 with QB Jacoby Brissett rather than running a QB sneak:

“Had he hit the touchdown pass, which was close, it would be a non-issue, what a great call and what a great coaching job he did. We were all on board with that play. We loved it. We have had so much success sneaking the ball with Jacoby. In his times in Miami, he came in and snuck the ball off the bench. Something he was comfortable doing. We thought maybe we would have a chance. If not, they would pack all down in there and we would have a one-on-one opportunity for an explosive play. Didn’t happen. Hate to turn it over on downs in that situation, but there is not a coach upstairs in that room that wasn’t on board with that play call.”


On if there was an option on the fourth-and-1 to simply convert rather than attempt the long pass:

“We had check-downs underneath that were not wide open, but they would have been a contested catch and run. The read is starting from the deep throw down, and (WR) Donovan (Peoples-Jones) had a step. I think Donovan kind of got bumped at the top and didn’t find the ball when it came out. Again, if that is a completed pass for a touchdown, we aren’t even having this conversation. We will continue to try to put the best plays out there. We felt like as a group that was a play that we all felt good about and liked.”


On the Browns OL not having as much success last week as earlier in the season:

“Hats off to Cincinnati. They did some things in their front that caught us and that really hurt some of our runs at the point of attack with some of the things that they did schematically. I thought those guys pass protected extremely well. There were some really good pockets at times. I think the biggest thing for those guys with the holding penalties is it is a little different now that Deshaun is going to be able to escape and use his legs. We just have to be more fundamentally sound in those situations and understand that is a new element. We are all growing through this transition, not just coaches and not just the fans but the players, as well.”


On if issues running the ball recently are due more to the opposing fronts rather than the ability of the Browns OL:

“Oh yeah, I have 100 percent confidence in those guys. We had some runs. We didn’t hit as many runs as we usually would hit in a game. We have had a lot of success running against that defense over the years. Hats off to them for not allowing that to happen Sunday.”


On if opposing defenses are playing the Browns the same with Watson at as they did when facing Brissett:

“I don’t feel like there is any difference there. I think we still have to stop the run.”


On the challenges facing the Ravens’ strong run defense:

“They are a very good defense. Huge challenge for us offensively. We talked to the offense early in the week that again they got better since the last time we played them through healthy bodies and trades. We understand it is going to be a big challenge for us offensively. We have to play at our best.”


On if the Browns have opportunities to stretch the field with WR Amari Cooper, who is battling an injury:

“Just see how he feels going into gameday. I know he was sore late in the week, and it kind of carried a little bit into Sunday. Hopefully with some rest, it will get him back to feeling great again. We will find other ways to get that done if it is not Amari.”


On if Peoples-Jones should have done better at high-pointing the ball in the end zone:

“That is the goal. He does such a great job of contested catches. It was a back-shoulder type of throw. Usually, eight out of ten times, he is coming down with those. You see him toe-tap on the sideline and making contested catches. Yeah, high point is what we coach and teach. He is running fades at the back pylon and reacting to a throw that stopped him. Again, that is the first time throwing a back-shoulder fade to a receiver and the quarterback doing it for the first time on Sunday. We will continue to grow and get better in those areas. Those are the little things that we are not quite hitting on all cylinders yet but we expect to.”


On how much he has talked to Watson about weather conditions heading into this week’s home game:

“We will practice outside when we can, if it matches the gameday weather. It is something any quarterback in the northeast has to deal with or the Midwest up there. It is part of the deal. No excuses. It is cold. It might be wet and it might be windy, but that is football in the northeast in December and January.”


On advice for QBs when playing in challenging cold weather conditions:

“Keep your hands warm. I have made mistakes of not wearing sleeves and trying to be a tough guy, and I did that once (laughter). You have to stay warm, you have to be comfortable and obviously you have a good system for keeping your hands warm.”


On advice to Watson about now facing the Ravens twice per season:

“Just play on time I think is the biggest one, especially in the pass game. Trust your feet. Listen to yourself. Ball needs to come out. They have good pass rushers up front. They have a good pressure package and bring it from a lot of different looks. Us understanding the pressure package and where the ball needs to go in a timely manner would be one of the things that we talk about this week.”


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