Pass game coordinator/DBs coach Jeff Howard (10.23.20)

Pass game coordinator/defensive backs coach Jeff Howard:

On the challenge Bengals QB Joe Burrow presents: 

“When you watch him play, I feel like he sees the field well. That is something that he did well in college. He throws a good ball. When you watch, he does not play like a typical rookie quarterback. I feel like the game is moving slowly for him. He processes information well, sees coverages and gets the ball where it needs to be, and he has some weapons outside that he can give it to.”

On S Ronnie Harrison Jr.’s pick-six against the Colts and what he has learned about Harrison since he joined the Browns: 

“That was exciting. That was an exciting play. When I really look into it, it was like third-and-4 or third-and-5, and it was really just kind of a marriage defensively of situational awareness, good call at the right time, executing the rush and putting the quarterback in an uneasy situation. He turns and tries to throw it to the sideline, and Ronnie was at the right place, right time and caught the one that they threw to him, which was good. Obviously, scoring on defense is such a huge part. When you do that, it really helps the team. That was exciting to see. The second part of your question, I really enjoy working with Ronnie. The reason why is because I think Ronnie loves football. He does not really talk about that, but you can see it in his play. When we go out to a walkthrough and when we go out to practice, he just enjoys playing ball, and you can see that with his effort, his focus and his questions. That is what I have really enjoyed working with Ronnie.”

On what it would do for the Browns defense to potentially get both Harrison and S Karl Joseph back this week: 

“We have been given some different challenges on the back end with injuries, and it is just trying to navigate those as best as we can. Having consistency amongst the group would obviously help, but that is something that we have not been afforded. We are not using it as an excuse. It is the next man up, and it is my job to train them and make sure that they are ready. With Karl, we are playing it by ear and seeing how he does, but he has made some plays for us. I look forward to him doing that for us again in the future, whenever that may be.”

On if he has seen S Sheldrick Redwine improve with his increased playing time: 

“Yeah, Sheldrick, I think everybody remembers the Indy game. His first series in a game, he comes in and executes the plan well and ends up getting an interception on that third down, which was exciting to see. It was exciting to see because Sheldrick was playing, and I think he was really intentional when he got in the game. I think he was looking at what he needed to look at. He was not just reacting. I thought he did a good job of staying ahead of the plays and just played faster. Then he kind of rolled back into last week starting. I think I have seen some improvement from Sheldrick, and I am optimistic moving forward.”

On how the Bengals WRs have improved since Week 2: 

“You could see the emergence of (Bengals WR Tee) Higgins, especially last game. On the third-and-7, he ends up running the takeoff route down the sideline and has a 67-yard touchdown. That really kind of spurred his usage to the rest of the game. His targets were up all the way around. Cincinnati, as much as they throw the ball – they are throwing the ball 41 times a game and I think they lead the NFL and attempts – they are trying to get the ball to those receivers, and they have a good plan of how to utilize each and every one of their skillsets. Joe, he spreads the ball around. (Bengals WR) A.J. (Green) is obviously their No. 1 target, and they have a sizable investment, the organization does with him, and they are going to find ways to get him the ball, but the other two guys do a good job, as well.”

On the importance of having CB Kevin Johnson in the nickel spot against the Bengals: 

“Yeah, absolutely. Looking at Cincinnati, what is unique not only an amount of three wide receiver personnel groupings they use but they will use four and even five and have guys on the field, which is a little bit unique. They feel like that is a strong point of their team. Having a guy like Kevin or really having multiple DBs that can cover in man-to-man situations or not only that but in some of our zone coverages, where it is more matchup zone, it is beneficial for us when they can go in there and be tight in coverage, which hopefully will get the quarterback to hold the ball and allow our rush to get home.”

On CB Denzel Ward getting beat on the out-and-up route against the Steelers: 

“I feel like in that situation, really on both of those plays, those the corners end up in a man-to-man situation and the whole focus in those man to man spots is, most of the time, you are going to end up knocking the ball down before you end up giving the pick. Making sure we stay focused on that and keeping our eyes right. That is so much of it, especially playing DB, is one, you have to be immensely talented to live outside the numbers, but also, you are going to be challenged and you have to be focused on the details of your work and focused on your eyes so that you can play through those progressions and play with footwork so that we can win those situations. I am confident in our guys that we will win those situations moving forward.”

On S Joseph’s personality and what drives Joseph, given Joseph plays with a chip on his shoulder: 

“Just really going all the way back to the offseason – I know it was unique in that offseason setting the way it was this year because you do not have one-on-one interaction with guys – but you could really just sense in our Zoom meetings that it was important to him and that this year meant something special to him and he wanted to make the most of it. You can see that when he comes to meetings with the questions that he asks and his focus on taking care of his body. Just like the day in nitty gritty of what he looks like, you can kind of tell that football is extremely important to him and that he has something to prove to guys.”


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