OL coach Bill Callahan (10.23.20)

Offensive line coach Bill Callahan:

On how important TE Austin Hooper has been to the run game and Browns offense: 

“All of our tight ends have contributed to the running game in a lot of different ways. We ask them to do multiple things, not only from a gap scheme and wide zone scheme but there are a lot of specials that get inserted into the gameplan that they are pretty involved with. (Tight ends) Coach (Drew) Petzing does a great job with those guys. In a lot of ways, they are unheralded and not given a lot of credit for all the dirty work that they have to do off the edge, but they are instrumental. When you look at your running game, and if you are going to work to get the ball on the edge or off tackle, they become a vital component to your scheme. They have added a tremendous amount of value to what we have done.”

On how the Browns OL can help QB Baker Mayfield and the Browns offense when defenses take away bootlegs and rollouts: 

“Each week, based on the defense that you are playing, you are going to face defenses and structures that will not allow you to bootleg or get out there in your keeper game so you are relegated to do more things in terms of moving the pocket, maybe like what we would call a drift or a half-pocket movement, like you saw in the Pittsburgh game, where we threw a pretty good route to Austin Hooper on the backside. I think those things come up from time to time. Again, if you are playing 3-4 defenses, those defensive ends when they set the edge and they come up the field, they are not going to allow you to get outside and bootleg. Your complementary pass game, your run-action game, your three-step game and your ability to move the pocket, whether it is a half-roll, a quarter-roll or a half-run action type pass action, those are the types of things that generally people kind of revert to.”

On the biggest issues the Browns OL faced against the Steelers: 

“Every game is different in that regard. I think the Steelers, they did not present us issues; we knew exactly what they were going to be in. It is a matter of execution, and I thought we could have executed better across the board. We had some breakdowns, like you do in any game, but they are costly against a good team like that. You have to be more consistent, you have to be on the up end of the sticks and you can’t allow yourself to get backed up in the down and distance obviously. I just thought the Steelers are a good football team. We learned a lot from the tape study when we reviewed the game. There are a lot of things that we learned that we could improve during this course of the week of practice. Yeah, there are a lot of things they do well and a lot of things that we did well, but we just came up on the short end of the stick. We just did not execute some of the things that we needed to get done at critical times.”

On if he was surprised by the Browns OL’s execution in the Steelers game, given how well the unit played in previous weeks: 

“I think the players were a little bit frustrated in that respect. I do not think they are discouraged by any stretch of the imagination. Again, I go back to what we learned and how we can improve. I think that game is behind us. There are things that we have learned relative to our protection techniques and also our run game techniques that we will learn from and get better when we see the next 3-4 defense that we play.”

On how T Chris Hubbard is playing at RG, given Hubbard had not previously played G in a game: 

“Surprisingly, he did very well in the Colts game. Against Pittsburgh, he had some struggles here and there, but for the most part, he competed hard. He is learning some of the intricacies of the position, which is hard to do when you move a tackle inside. It takes a little time. I commend Chris for making this move on such short notice, doing the things he has done and having some success that he has had. The success he had in pass protection in the Colts game, he really came through very well. Playing the Steelers, it is a different matchup, it is different players and a different technique. I think he learned from that, as well. To make that transition, it is awfully challenging and awfully tough because things happen so much quicker and so much faster inside. I think we spent quite a bit of time this week pre-practice and post-practice trying to really dive into some of the detail of those specific techniques that I think he is comfortable with now, but we will see.”

On the team practicing in pads on Wednesday and if that helps the Browns OL in particular: 

“Yeah, it does. We had some injuries going into the Pittsburgh game, and you really try to protect the team and keep the team healthy. Sometimes you can bang away and practice hard in pads, and some other times you have to back off. We had to back off a little bit last week because of the injury status of our team to keep our team healthy obviously. I think it was good to be back in pads this week, just from the standpoint of timing and fundamentals. When you get away from pads, I am one who believes that your fundamental techniques begin to erode. If you do not hone those techniques and have the timing and crispness of the striking and the things that you need to do from that emphasis, I think you lose a little bit of your edge at times. Being back in pads was really good, and hopefully, that will pay off for us.”

On what he has learned about Head Coach Kevin Stefanski’s from his approach after the Steelers loss: 

“I think Coach has been great with the players, been great with the team and the staff and on so many levels. Just his consistency, his demeanor and his expectation level is always high. He is always demanding, but he has a really great way about communicating his message to the players week in and week out. Obviously, we were not where we wanted to be last week. This is a new challenge and a new day. Every game is different. Even though we are playing the Bengals again as a divisional rivalry again, it is a different game. It will be different than the first time then we played them. He has been great in that respect.”

On the Browns OL’s philosophy on blocking, given C JC Tretter’s comment about ‘their objective to block for forever’ and QB Baker Mayfield’s comment about needing to get the ball out quicker:

“We keep playing. We really do. We do not pay any attention to any of that necessarily. We just really focus on what we need to do and do our job. Our focus has always been to go longer and harder than anyone. That is something we pride ourselves in. Whether he gets the ball out quick, whether he has to hold it for an extra second or whether he is going to hold it for more, it does not really matter to us up front. We have a job to do, and we really want to be able to hold the ball and obviously hold it when we need to and give him that time to make a big play. Again, there is nothing coming out of our room that says anything differently than to do our job and do it better than we did last week.”


On how the Browns OL may have exceeded his expectations entering the season, given the unit’s rankings in pass protection and the run game:

“I think it all begins with the players’ work ethic. I think if you have players that are committed, like the work, want to work and get better, see the value of improvement and can really critique themselves and be honest with themselves and are smart enough to make the adjustments, you will see that rate of improvement on a weekly basis. Again, it starts with the players. No. 2, the coaching staff, I have two fine assistants – (assistant offensive line coach) Scott Peters, who joined us this year and who is an outstanding hands technician; he brings a different aspect to the line room where you can really kind of hone in on the players’ hand technique and the punching that they do and the striking they do; and then (coaching assistant), Ryan Cordell does an outstanding job of putting it all together, whether it is helping us with the run gameplan or putting those pieces together to keep our unit together with all the drawings and information that they need. I am kind of fortunate in that respect that I have two line assistants, not just one. That is a real bonus. It kind of helps me in terms of my workload. Then of course, our staff has been great. Every week when we sit down and do the run gameplan, it is a collaborative effort. Guys like AVP (offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt) and the depth of his experience, (Head Coach) Kevin (Stefanski) and what he has learned from (Vikings assistant head coach and offensive coordinator) Gary Kubiak and the wide zone system and then (run game coordinator/running backs coach) Stump Mitchell is a real pleasure to work with on so many levels with his experience coming from multiple systems. It is a lot of fun. I am reenergized here. I like our staff a lot. I like how we approach the game. I like our approach to study and research, and obviously, putting new things out on the table. It makes it fun. It makes it enjoyable.”

On if he challenged G Wyatt Teller this offseason, given Teller’s strong performance to start the year prior to his injury:

“Going back into the draft when I was in Washington, we had him in for our local day and had him in for a workout. I thought he had talent then when we worked him out. We eyeballed him in the draft. Obviously, he was picked by Buffalo at the time, and things worked out for him. Obviously, he got traded to Cleveland and when I got here I thought, ‘Oh, that is pretty good.’ I know his agent pretty well and I know some of the guys that played for me who have his agent, and he has done a good job with him. This kid is a hardworking kid and he wants to be good . He dives into it, and he gives everything he has. He plays with good effort. You can’t complain about a guy not giving the max effort on every play, and he does that. I think he provides an example for everybody else in that respect. A lot of fun to coach, definitely.”

On how exciting it is for his son Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan to be working with an exciting young QB in Bengals QB Joe Burrow and his experience coaching Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor:

“Brian and Zac go all the way back to when I was at Nebraska. In the summer time, they would get together, and we had multiple camps at the time – 7-on-7 tournaments and things of that nature where teams will come in, and they had an opportunity with quarterbacks in the quarterback camps that we had. Things kind of moved forward, and Zac got into coaching. I thought he would be a tremendous coach. Of course, Brian got into coaching, as well, when he finished up at UCLA. Their paths crossed quite a bit in the National Football League, and they have worked really hard together. They are on the same page philosophically. When they acquired Joe Burrow, I think it kind of lit up their world to open up some new things and new opportunities to grow with the young quarterback, a top talent obviously. For Brian’s standpoint, he is really excited about Joe. He loves Joe. He likes the talent and likes what he does. He is really, really high on him in so many aspects. More so than anything, I think it is his makeup that they really love, his approach is to the game, what he loves about the game and how he studies and delves into everything. They are really excited about him. I hope that they are not too excited Sunday, though.”

On if it will be a fun rivalry for him between the Browns and Bengals in the coming years with his son Brian Callahan on the opposite side:

“Our family is our family. We try to keep business aside from that respect. We do not rub it into to each other. We never have. We have played each other several times when he was the quarterback coach at Detroit and when he was the quarterback coach in Denver. We always talk. We talk all week during the season and the offseason. It is just a shame we are going down there and I can’t see my grandkids. That is the tough part of this. As a family, I think the one who gets more nervous about anything is my wife because we are both competing against each other, but at the end of the day, it is all good.”

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