Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer (10.13.22)


Opening statement:

“Good afternoon, guys. A big AFC opponent this week – New England Patriots. Very, very well coached, as you guys know. They always have been. They are going to play hard. They are going to play physical. That is going to be our task this week is to match their physicality because they are a group that gets after it on every phase, and on special teams, kind of where we need to go and that is where I am trying to lead our guys in doing the same thing in being fast, physical and playing sound, disciplined football. We are not there yet. We have a little ways to go, but I like our group and I like how we are progressing in certain areas. We just have to put a full game together. When we do that, I think we are going to really help our team start winning some games.


On if his time with former Vikings and Raiders K Daniel Carlson can help him as he works with K Cade York:

“That is a really good question. I know I learned when Daniel got to the Vikings, there were certain members of the Vikings that were not real fired up that he was drafted. I was very fired up. I know he is a very good kicker. They, we in Minnesota, did not handle that situation very well. We did not help him – Daniel I am talking about, mentally. He was probably not as strong as Cade at that age. I know he is now. He is doing a great job. He is a great kicker, as you guys know. I think Cade is much stronger mentally and because of that situation and the way our Head Coach (Kevin Stefanski) handles Cade and has handled Cade, which has been fantastic and really good for his psyche and his confidence. We learned from that situation. I know that when you have good leadership form the head coach, along with me and helping the young man stay positive, that speaks volumes for our football team. That is why I think I know he will be just fine because he is in a good place mentally. He kicked the ball really well yesterday. He has never really lost his confidence. He was just as disappointed as any one of us and as any one of our fans, but we did learn from that situation to answer that question.”


On why the west side of FirstEnergy Stadium has become a problem for Ks:

“It is funny because it is really not. We actually want that side of the field more than the other side. It wasn’t even that windy to be honest with you. It was a beautiful day. I don’t think that wind or that side of the field had anything to do with it.”


On explaining York’s explanation of ‘pushed it’ on the final FG miss last week:

“From that hash, he knew he had to get it over a little bit right from that distance. He followed his line. I thought he hit that ball really well. The one at the end of the first half, he didn’t hit well as I am sure he told you. The one at the end of the game, he hit very well. It had followed his line. His line was just a little bit too far to the right. I thought he hit the ball well there.”


On talking to York about technique and process after missing two FGs in a game for the first time:

“We just kind of let it go after the game and let him process it. We watched the tape together the next morning, and he knew exactly what he did. Studied it again yesterday, went through it and then went through all of his kicks from yesterday this morning. He will be just fine. He is a very talented young man, as you guys know. He has stood up big for us before, and he will again in the future. I will never use an excuse of youth because he is young, but when you go through something like this as a young player, I think it shows his intestinal fortitude coming back from this and seeing how he reacts, and I have a lot of confidence in Cade York.”


On if a situation such as missing two FGs in a game can build up York’s confidence after experiencing it and bouncing back from it:

“It could. It really could. I would not doubt that. Like you said, you never want to go through that situation. I fully expect him to make every kick because he is good enough to do that. Realistically, we know that is not true, unless you are the guy on Baltimore (Ravens K Justin Tucker). I think he is working to get there, and he is working for consistency. He is only going to get better in my opinion.”


On if the holds on FG attempts last week were good:

“Snap and holds were fantastic. Protection was really good. We did not protect as well in Atlanta. Nothing major, but we fixed those issues. I thought we did a nice job protecting the launch point.”


On if there is added pressure on York due to the number of close games to start the season:

“It is crazy , but it has been like that across the league. It has been a crazy year. Every game comes down to one score or a field goal here or a touchdown there. It kind of makes it exciting. It ages me quickly. I think because he went through that situation, he will learn and he will continue to improve.”


On the identical return averages for Browns returners:

“We were hoping to get a big one this past week because we knew we felt that we could get a line drive kick and the only punt they had was a line drive. We came up and fair caught at 36 or 37 yards. I think the more opportunities we get, we will be able to get (WR) Chester (Rogers) going.”


On Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick’s remarks comments that the Browns special teams units are even faster this season:

“I think he is probably talking about (S) D’Anthony Bell because he is really fast and he has done a nice job on kickoff and on punt coverage. I would imagine he is the guy that jumped out. We didn’t have anybody with that kind of speed. (Former Browns and Texans CB) M.J. Stewart was fast but not that fast, and M.J. is doing a great job in Houston. We had (former Browns and Patriots LB) Mack Wilson (Sr.). Now he has Mack Wilson. Mack Wilson made a lot of plays for us on kickoff. I don’t know if we are any faster, but we have one guy who is probably faster than the rest.”


On Belichick being a special teams coach at heart and if Belichick is considered to be among the fraternity of special teams coaches across the NFL:

“Coach Belichick, I think in fraternity is looked at as a great coach. He is a hall of famer. He won all of those Super Bowls. The thing I like about Coach (Belichick) is that he does things the right way – situational football and emphasizes special teams. Knowing that kind of like our head coach, Coach Stefanski, he emphasizes how to win each game. Every game is different. I worked for (former Raiders Head Coach) Josh McDaniels in Denver, and when Josh was young and came from Coach Belichick’s tree obviously, that was the one thing that always jumped out at me with Josh was from Coach Belichick was the situational football, complementary football, playing great special teams one week, playing great defense the next week and playing great offense the next week because every game in order to win a game is different. I know our head coach does the same thing.”


On Patriots K Nick Folk’s consistency:

“He is amazing. He hits a true ball every time. Every single time he goes out there, it is the same process for him, the same ball strike for him and the snap and holder where they should be, and normally they are because their snapper of course is from the Naval Academy (Patriots LS Joe Cardona) – he is a  great player. Then their holder (Patriots P) Jake Bailey has done a nice job. He is just a very consistent kicker and has been for a long, long time. You don’t stay in the league this long that Nick has done this and not be consistent. I think that is the key for him is doing the same exact thing over and over and over again and hitting that same ball, no matter the wind or no matter the weather.”


On if it is ‘safe to say’ that Rogers will be returning punts moving forward:

“How safe do you want to be (laughter)?”


On P Corey Bojorquez:

“Corey has been very consistent. He can hit a big ball of course when we need it. I get on him about outkicking his coverage sometimes. I tell him that 60-yard 4.9 [hang time], I would rather have 50-yard 5.3. He has the ability to do that. He has been very good directionally, where we have not had that in the last few years. He is a very good directional punter. He has been outstanding inside the 20 and inside the 10, giving us opportunities to pin people deep. I knew that. We looked at him two years ago coming out of Buffalo and then of course this past year out of Green Bay, we knew that he was the type of guy we needed here in our weather. He has really responded well. I am proud of him, and I hope he continues to get better.”


On if there is an advantage to a the Patriots having a left-footed P:

“It can be. Not as much anymore because there are more left-footed punters in the league. It used to be. There would be out of 32 teams, there may be four lefties. When you play a left-footed punter, it is different. You can change the Jugs and the spin on the Jugs and make it a left foot punter. When I was in Minnesota, we had a right-footed punter the whole time I was there so we would have to bring a left-footed punter for a workout so our returner can get some work in against a lefty.


On if the NFL is now closer to split evenly between left-footed and right-footed Ps:

“I don’t know what the stats are. I have way too much to worry about than that. I probably should [know] – I apologize (laughter).”


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