Offensive Coordinator Alex Van Pelt (12.8.22)


On QB Deshaun Watson’s mechanics when returning as starting QB last week:

“Not to get over-analytical on mechanics but just saw some rust there. That is very natural and very expected. As hard as you work, no matter what you do to try to simulate game reps is really impossible. Just little things from shortening the drop a bit, not getting as deep in the pocket and keeping your feet under you and balanced, things like that we have worked on this week.”


On Watson having strong performances in practice but it being a different environment when playing in a regular season game:

“Absolutely, absolutely. The more reps he takes, the more live reps he takes in practice and the more game reps he has, obviously the rust will come off. Expect him to see improvement each week.”


On takeaways from Watson’s mechanics and areas from improvement after returning as starting QB last week:

“Again, there was a lot on his plate going into that game both on the field and off. Now that we got that one under the belt, expect to see strides each week. Yeah, there were definitely some things that we have addressed, and he has worked really hard to improve those this week.”


On if part of making improvements is Watson getting more live game reps:

“Yeah, it is its own animal. I think he will be more comfortable each week.”


On confidence that Watson can make significant strides this week:

“We have seen it prior. His past history would say that he is a lot of those things that you didn’t see. He is those things. Those will come back as we get more reps and more game experience with him. Again, it was kind of what we expected with some rust there, and that is real. Again, just the work he has put in this week to improve those areas has already shown up.”


On the emotional elements of Watson playing the first game of the season and returning to Houston last week and if those elements not being present this week could make a difference for Watson:

“I think so. I think it is a little bit of weight lifted off his shoulders and to be able to go into a different town now as a starter in your second start.”


On if there is concern that the team is asking too much of Watson to perform at an elite level after not playing in nearly two years:

“I don’t think that is anything we have ever expected from him, quite honestly. I know there are expectations, but those are not ours. We understood that there was going to be some growing pains in through it. Coming back from not playing for that long, it is natural and expected.”


On if he expected that level of rust from Watson last week:

“I wasn’t really sure of the level of rust (laughter). He got better as the game went on. He really made some good plays. He did some great things with his legs, avoided pressure and threw some really nice balls at times, and then other times, it didn’t come out of his hand the way he wanted it to. You see what it looks like when it is all pretty and it looks right. I think that is what we will start to see more of moving forward.”


On if Watson saw the field and moved as quickly as usual last week:

“I think he saw the field well. I think he understood what he was facing, what he saw and the coverages they gave him. I don’t think that was an issue at all.”


On if Browns saw plays that work or may not work through one game with Watson when building the gameplan this week:

“We did expand our playbook a little bit with some of giving him the ability to run with the ball as well in our run game. Things like that we have added in. Just personal preference on things you might take out. There might be certain concepts he is not as comfortable with that maybe (QB) Jacoby (Brissett) had comfort levels with that we ran a lot earlier. Those may go to the back a little bit and get some of the thoughts, ideas and concepts that he is familiar with up to the front of the list.”


On if the Browns are prepared to potentially use Brissett some if Watson struggles against the Bengals:

“I think you always have the ability to call the game for Jacoby. That is the easiest part. I don’t see that happening, but that is always easy to get to.”


On why the Browns would not play Brissett this week against the Bengals if Watson struggles early in the game:

“That is a question for (Head Coach) Kevin (Stefanski). I think personally, I would like to see [Watson] get as many reps as he can regardless of how it is going. We need to work through the rust, get it completely knocked off and feeling good about the end of the year.


On his experience working with Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor:

“A great young mind. Very good with the players. Really sharp offensively and schematically. Does a great job of relating to the guys. I enjoyed my time working with Zac, (Bengals offensive coordinator) Brian (Callahan) as well and (Bengals quarterbacks) Coach (Dan) Pitcher on that side of the ball. Really young minds down there.”


On comparing Taylor and Stefanski as coaches:

“Don’t want to make comparisons. Just don’t want to get into that. They are really sharp guys, that is the one thing I would say. Offensively, the consistency level of how they operate in day to day is some of the similarities, but don’t want to get into comparisons.”


On Stefanski’s and Taylor’s ability to make adjustments:

“I think all good coaches have the ability to adjust or adapt or else you get left behind. You have to put plays in for your players. You may come from a run-and-shoot, but all of a sudden you have a great offensive line and running backs, you have to run the football. If you don’t, you get passed by. All good coaches should be able to adjust and adapt, and these guys do very well.”


On WR David Bell’s status this week after sustaining a thumb injury last week:

“I am not sure what his status is right now. Hopefully, we will get him back out there. Hopefully, with his injury he will be able to make it back but not sure at this point.”


On who will serve as the Browns’ No. 3 WR if Bell is unavailable and if RB Demetric Felton Jr. is an option:

“We will have to fill that role if that is the case from the roster. (WR) Mike Woods (II) would be another candidate to fill that role. Not sure where his status is at this point but hopeful he can make it Sunday.”


On Bengals DT D.J. Reader:

“We played him once so far in our five previous games. He is obviously a force inside. He is a big body. He plays extremely hard. He has some mobility. He can get up in some range running down the line of scrimmage. He is a guy who we have talked about as being one of their quality players on that side of the football. We have to make sure we have an idea of where he is at all times.”


On challenges facing a division opponent for the second time in a season:

“I think we know this team well like we do most of our division now at this point. There will be changeups, as always, and we will have them, also. We know the personnel really well. The scheme might change, but we know who these guys are and they know who we are.”


On how much TE David Njoku returning to the lineup could help Watson:

“Any time you can add a body like David’s, a talented guy who has production, it is only going to help. Tight ends are generally close to the quarterback in proximity so they got a lot more chances to catch the ball.”


On how calling running plays from shotgun formation changes fundamentals of blocking schemes:

“I think our backs are adaptable. Gun runs, under runs, tosses, handoffs and misdirection, I think they can do it all. I don’t think it has much of an effect. Some of the run blocking up front might change. Aiming points really is the biggest part of it, but it is something we did a lot of in the spring and summer. Anticipate us moving more towards the gun.”


On identified areas of growth for Watson from last week’s game:

“I think there is always growth throughout the course of the game. Yes, I do. I think he improved. There were plays later in the game that I thought he looked better than earlier on. It was a big deal to go what he went through. I thought he handled it well. Again, after getting that one under his belt, I think we will see improvement each week moving forward, but he got better as the game went on.”


On if emotions like the ones Watson dealt with last week can affect physical performance and mechanics:

“I am sure there are some data out there that might suggest that, but I am not sure. I am sure it was a lot, and I think it is past him now so we can  move forward.”


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