Run game coordinator/RBs coach Stump Mitchell (10.16.20)

Run game coordinator/running backs coach Stump Mitchell:

On his assessment of the run game last weekend going up against the No. 1 Colts defense and playing without RB Nick Chubb:

“I think we were able to do pretty good. Those guys were giving up 77 yards [per game], and we ended up rushing for 124 with the things that we did. Relatively speaking, I think you had two good teams going against one another – two good lines, their defensive line and our offensive line. We stick with it running the ball, and when we had to have it, we got it.”

 

On how RB Kareem Hunt has embraced the offensive role with Chubb out:

“Kareem has been a No. 1 before so it is not a big deal that he has the opportunity to get out there and perform. When he is not feeling all that well, we have other guys that go in and get the job done.”

 

On how Chubb is doing:

“Nick is doing well. He is in all the meetings, of course. It is just a matter of time. We can expect guys to play with pain, but they can’t play with injury, and that is what Nick has – he is injured.”

 

On how tough it was to see Chubb sustain the injury, especially given Chubb’s start to the year:

“It was difficult considering that he did not have the ball in his hands and he was on the backside blocking and ended up getting rolled up on. It was a difficult way to see him get injured. Like you said, he was off to a great start. All that means is that you all have not seen the best of him. His goal still remains the same. He will have to be twice as good when he gets back.”

On working with offensive line coach Bill Callahan:

“It has been awesome. When I was in Arizona, I thought Coach Callahan did a heck of a job with the Oakland Raiders. To see them release him I am like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ To have him come here, it was just an awesome thing. These guys have gotten better. They are working extremely hard, he is demanding and they are accepting the challenges that he offers.”

 

On being one of the veteran coaches, along with Callahan, that Head Coach Kevin Stefanski has leaned on this season:

“It has been great. We both have a core of guys that we are responsible for getting the best out of them we can every week or every day in practice going up to the game. I think he has definitely done that. I know the running backs can see the improvement in the guys that are playing in front of them, and we are just trying to match their improvement every day.”

 

On the Steelers run defense and how it compares to the Colts run defense:

“Both of those teams have the top-rated defenses when you are talking about against the rush. Again, we are in for a battle that we feel that we are definitely up to accepting the challenge, and we are going to go and do what we are supposed to do.”

On FB Andy Janovich through the first five games, given he said Janovich has the potential to be a Pro Bowl player:

“I think he is definitely where he needs to be. He is on pace to be that guy. I have coached some Pro Bowl players in (former NFL FB) Mack Strong, (former NFL FB) Mike Sellers, and (former NFL FB) Leonard Weaver. All of those guys played fullback during my time coaching, and I think Andy is right there in terms of being the eyes for the tailback. He has great hands out of the backfield. I definitely think he is there.”

On the type of physical play and intensity expected on Sunday, given the Browns-Steelers rivalry and both teams’ records entering the game:

“I am loving it. Our guys are loving it. It is an opportunity to have home field advantage through the playoffs. You have to look ahead. You can’t just look at one game when you are talking about what you are trying to accomplish – that is to win the division, get in the playoffs and then go all the way. That is the goal. We know they are playing at their home. We are intending to go up there and give it our best. Like you said, you have two great teams playing one another, and may the best team win. Hopefully, that is the Browns.”

On if the Steelers defense make it more difficult to get outside in the wide zone scheme, given how the Steelers play their OLBs:

“They do, but we have running backs who understand what they need to do. We have tackles or tight ends that understand what they have to do. We are going to take what they give us, but we are going to get what we want.”

On if he knew RB D’Ernest Johnson had this type of playmaking ability prior to receiving the opportunity in recent weeks:

“(LB Sione) Takitaki made D’Ernest [last year]. During blitz pickup or during any type of drills, Takitaki, all he did was constantly bull rush. It kind pissed me off because the only coach, (Buccaneers Head Coach) Bruce Arians, I coached with Bruce Arians, and he allowed the running backs to cut in pass protection and stuff with the linebackers, but we were not going to do that. (NY Giants TE coach) Freddie (Kitchens) gave us the opportunity to do that, but he was too valuable to the team so I told D’Ernest he was not going to cut him and he has to man up. Takitaki definitely brought the best out of D’Ernest in terms of me having confidence in him because he never backed down as a blocker, and that is the most important thing. I knew he was not going to play much at running back with Nick and (RB) Dontrell (Hilliard) at that particular point in time, but we were looking for someone who would step up and block, and Takitaki definitely made D’Ernest have the opportunity to make this team last year.”

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