Offensive Coordinator Alex Van Pelt (12.21.22)


On the passing of Pro Football Hall of Fame RB Franco Harris:

“Sad. Tough one. He was a legend. Actually lived over on the north side when I played for the Steelers early on, and he was maybe two blocks down on the same road. He always stayed there, and it was pretty cool. Good guy. Sad.”


On if he knew Harris well:

“No, I just meet a couple of times in passing but didn’t know him personally well. I know he was a hero in the city for sure and for what he did in the community, as well.”


On the process of reestablishing a connection with QB Deshaun Watson after returning from suspension:

“I think obviously when you are not communicating every day it is tough, but once he got back in, it was like riding a bike in the quarterback room. He fit right back in. (Quarterbacks coach) Drew (Petzing) does a great job in that room in getting those guys ready to play. I think he really didn’t miss a beat.”


On why Watson is such a good fit within the Browns offense:

“I think we do a lot of things that help him be a better player. It starts with the run game really. If you don’t have to rely on just passing the ball, you are going to be more balanced and more sound. I think we have that ability to do both. Obviously, a big part of our game is the keeper game off of the play-action, and he is really good on the perimeter. It kind of marries up.”


On if defenses are now expecting that Watson might run more keepers and as a result hold on the edge rather than crashing on the RB at this point of the season:

“I think it goes back and forth really each game. You will see them hold more now, which helps the run game. He does a great job of making everything look the same, whether it be the run or the keeper. That makes them play it honestly, and that is what we are looking for. Any time they are chasing down the line of scrimmage then they are not playing the keeper, and it is coming.”


On why Watson can perform well in a no-huddle offense:

“I think for a guy that has just got into the system for the first year and not been a part of it for a chunk of the season, it allows you to operate quickly and communication is less at the line of scrimmage. I think that is something that all of our guys really respond to well. Just short quick calls, precise and we know exactly what to do in those calls.”


On if building stronger connections with Browns skill players helps Watson grow and get more comfortable in the offensive system:

“I think so. I really do. I have seen growth every week. Yesterday, I thought he had his best practice he has had, just command of the huddle, command of the play calls, his footwork, his timing, his rhythm and his accuracy. Yesterday, I really was impressed. Those guys, really proud of the young guys who stepped up – (WR Daylen) Baldwin and (WR Michael) Woods (II). They are going to be a big part of us moving forward. They are good players. For him to come in and not shy away from throwing those young guys the ball is good. Again, he has progressed each week with the help of the young receivers, but really impressed with this week of work yesterday starting off this week.”


On if the game has to slow down again for Watson after missing a significant time, similar to how rookies have to adjust to the speed of the NFL game:

“Absolutely. Absolutely. When you are out of football for as long as he was, live action it is chaotic when you start doing it again until you get that feel and that rhythm again. That is what I am seeing now on the field for him. It is slowing down. There is not as much angst in his body. You can just tell he is more comfortable with what he is doing.”


On Watson’s ability to extend plays and Browns skill players learning to stay alive and available in those moments:

“Yes, that is something in the skill room when we talk to the receivers, the tight ends and the running backs, we talk about the scramble drill daily. It is part of our game. It is a big part of what I am used to from Green Bay with (Packers QB) Aaron (Rodgers) so I know exactly how important it is that everybody is on the same page once we break contain and once we get out of the pocket. There are rules, and we definitely go over those daily. If a clip comes up from practice, whether it be in a game or practice or another game that you are watching somebody else do, we will pull those apart and just say, ‘Here is what they did well,’ ‘Here is what we did well,’ or, ‘Here is where we can improve when we break contain.’ That is a big part of explosive football is outside of the pocket and broken plays.”


On there being rules within the offensive scheme related to scramble drills rather than it sometimes appearing to be a ‘fire drill’:

“It does sometimes look that way, but hopefully, we are all on the same page and know exactly how to execute when we do break the pocket.”


On if the Browns anticipate running the ball a specific number of times due to expected tough weather conditions on Saturday:

“We will adjust and adapt to conditions. It is what it is. We are fortunate to get to play in it being from up here and facing a team from the south. We like that. If it is one of those days that you can’t even take a shotgun snap because the wind is blowing too hard, we will adjust and adapt. I think we have a good plan going in and contingency plans if it is one of those days where you just can’t really do anything but get under center and run the ball. We are ready for that. If we get lucky and it is not as windy as they are calling for, we are ready for that. Just should be fun. It is cold. A lot of energy in the stands when it gets cold like that so it should be a fun day.”


On how RB Kareem Hunt is suited in the offense with Watson in the run and pass game:

“I think both of our backs are really good. Obviously, (RB) Nick (Chubb) is just as good in the gun as Kareem. I think they probably see a little more gun, if you did a statistical breakdown with Deshaun and (QB) Jacoby (Brissett), and both of those guys are good runners, but Kareem especially does a lot of good things from the gun out of the backfield and on third down, as well.”


On WR Amari Cooper, who is approaches 1,000 receiving yards this season:

“Hoping so. Really proud of him. Getting to know him over the course of the season and how seriously he takes it, it means a lot to him. His route running is as good as I have ever been around. His [ability] to create separation, his suddenness, his ability to put his foot in the ground and break with violence at the top of the routes to create separation and just tries to do it right every time, I think that is the biggest thing. His film study is really, really strong. The quarterbacks and he will text on the side often, ‘Did you see this clip?’ or they will send film clips back and forth so I know how hard he works at it.”


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