Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer (10.14.21)

Opening statement:

“Good afternoon everybody. I hope you guys are enjoying the great weather. Cleveland is God’s country as we talk about all the time. Coming off of a tough loss last weekend, a game that we felt like went down to the wire. We hoped obviously that we had won that game. We did some really good things on special teams, but to be quite honest, at the end of the game, we need to finish. We did not have the kickoff return we needed to set up the offense on that last drive, and we did not have the put we needed to set up the defense on their last drive. It was disappointing in that regard, but we did do some good things. We played physical. We played fast. Our kickoff team was outstanding. I told our guys this week, we need to take that physicality, that effort and that energy from kickoff and then continue that – it is a lot of the same guys – with all of the phases. Our field goal team did a great job, as well as (K) Chase (McLaughlin). At the end of the day, we need to do a great job on all six [special teams] phases to beat a good football team like Arizona because they are really good as we know offensively and defensively and they are very good on special teams. They are well-coached. They have the veteran specialist (Cardinals K Matt Prater and P Andy Lee) and they have an outstanding rookie returner in (Cardinals) WR Rondale Moore, who I think is outstanding. He is a real good football player. I really liked him coming out of Purdue last year.”


On how P Jamie Gillan can clean up some mistakes, given the Browns want Gillan to be a weapon despite hopefully limited opportunities:

“You are exactly right, and he knows that. He had a great punt remember against Houston, and he had a nice punt against Minnesota at the end of the game. We call it an angle punt. I think we explained that after that game of getting it out of bounds so we do not give their returner an opportunity for a big play. He needs to be more consistent. He knows that. That is what we are working towards. We have worked on some technique issues, but quite frankly, for him, he just has to go out, relax and do his job. It was funny, we had a conversation on Tuesday evening via text, which I am not very good at and most people can attest to, and then we came back and had a similar conversation yesterday morning. He went out and had his best practice he has had all year, including training camp. I was excited about that yesterday. Again, I do not know what the weather is going to be like on Sunday, but for him, it should not matter because he is strong enough to punt in any type of weather.”


On if he can spot something in Gillian’s technique that is having an affect:

“Sometimes. Every now and then, he might get wide with his base or he will take a jab step when he normally does not, and that throws off the timing. Any young punter, he has to clean that stuff up. That is why you guys see us on the low HUGS all of the time. We do line drills back and forth with the center, and he flips him the ball and does some of the line drills to keep his hips tight to keep his footwork good, and he works on his drop constantly. It is little things. It is tough to be a consistent punter. We really see that around the league. (Cardinals P) Andy Lee is coming into town, and he is a phenomenal punter. He will hit a line drive punt, and the next one will be a five-second hangtime. There are a lot of inconsistencies, and I think the consistent punters are the guys like Andy who stick around the longest, and that is where Jamie has to get.”


On if Gillan’s muffed punt at Kansas City is still in Gillan’s head:

“No, I do not think so. He is a mentally tough kid. It is funny because Andy had one of those on Sunday. Andy Lee, he dropped it, picked it up and punted it 57 yards. You learn from it, and you move on. I think he has learned from it, and I think he has moved on.”


On Seahawks P Michael Dickson’s ‘double punt’ last week:

“What is funny is when I was coaching at Youngstown, we blocked a punt, and their punter went back 30 yards. The punter outraced everyone to it and punted it again. That was 1997 so since then, I knew it was possible. You just do not see it very often. That is the first time in 20 years in the NFL I have seen it. It was a great play by that kid.”


On the process of finding K Chase McLaughlin before adding McLaughlin to the team:

“We knew about him because I went and worked him out at Illinois when he came out three years ago. I knew he was good. He had a good college career. I did not think his leg was quite strong enough back then. He was somebody who instead of drafting – we drafted (former Browns and Lions K) Austin (Seibert) that year – it was somebody who we were interested in signing as a free agent. We did not think he was draftable at the time. He has gotten stronger and then obviously he has always been on our list. We had that workout, and he came and had a really good workout. We signed him to compete against (former Browns and free agent K) Cody (Parkey), and he has done a nice job. He won the job, and so far, so good.


On the number of missed kicks across the NFL this year:

“I do not know. That is a good question. Pressure has always been good. Pressure has been good every year from different teams. I can’t really explain it. I know the Cincinnati-Green Bay game was insane. I have been in one of those games before. When I was with the Vikings, we had (Packers K Mason) Crosby and we had (Raiders K) Daniel Carlson, and they both missed several down the stretch, including overtime. It kind of reminded me of that game. It was a bad memory. We ended up tying that game. I can’t put my finger on it. As long as our kicker is making kicks, that is all I really care about.”


On if McLaughlin kicks more of a line drive than others:

“A little bit, depending on the situation and depending on how long the kick is. I kind of like that, especially in the Dawg Pound end. (Former Browns and free agent K) Cody (Parkey) hits such a pure ball, sometimes it would come up and then would just fade because of that wind. Chase’s ball, if we protect it like we should, should cut through a lot of that.”


On if WR Anthony Schwartz should not have taken one of the kicks out of the end zone:

“Yeah, there was one. It was about four [yards] deep. We had lined three deep, it was four deep and that kid was pounding the ball. He had a big time. I think it was a 4.3 hangtime. He should have kept that one in or just let it hit the end zone for a touchback.”


On the Browns kicking it to the goal line and causing opponents to return it:

“By design. 100 percent. The other day, we had four tackles inside the 20. I think the best field position they had after a return was the 18-yard line. That really sets our defense up for good field position, and that is what we are looking for there.”


On the Cardinals special teams philosophy seeming to be opposite with their high touchback percentage:

“They have had three returns against them, which is crazy because his hang time has been really good and they really cover kickoffs well. (Cardinals special teams coordinator) Coach (Jeff) Rodgers does a great job there with all their phases, but their kickoff team the last several years, they have players. They have No. 51 (Cardinals LB Tanner Vallejo); No. 45 (Cardinals LB Dennis Gardeck) has come back off of IR; No. 47 (Cardinal LB Ezekiel Turner); and they have a lot of guys that can fly down. We will see what happens on Sunday.”


On the decision to have Schwartz to return kickoffs:

“We had the two indoor games in a row. Head Coach (Kevin Stefanski) and I talked about when we wanted to use him because he had never done it before so he has been a work in progress since May. That first game, he just had the one return. He got hit in the knee and that kind of took him out being cautious. Last week, other than the decision to bring that one out that he probably should not have –that is a young player and he has to learn from that – I think he did a really nice job. He made people miss. He has got great speed. Took a couple of hits, kept rolling and broke some tackles. I really like what I am seeing from him so far.”


On if the Browns ever want to allow a kickoff to bounce short of the goal line with the hopes of it entering the end zone for a touchback:

“No. We are going to air on the side of we want to return it because we have a lot of confidence in our return game, and our guys should be blocking that up.”


On how to replace FB Andy Janovich’s and S M.J. Stewart Jr.’s contributions on special teams:

“I am sick. It happened during the game. I never get made a the trainers because they are just doing their job, but (Browns assistant athletic trainer) Gordon Williams, poor guy, he came over and to me M.J. was out. By then, we had like three guys out and I did not get upset with him. Obviously, I could not, but I wanted to and I was like, ‘You have to be kidding me.’ He is one of our top two or three guys. He has been good in the meetings. He helps guys. We will have a different person protect on our punt team, and we will prepare for that. They pose a lot of challenges with their rush team and with their young returner back there so that is going to be key. Missing M.J. and Andy is going to hurt us.”


On if he gets excited seeing CB A.J. Green get opportunities on defense after working so hard on special teams:

“100 percent. In fact, I told (CB) Greedy Williams when he had his first pick a couple of weeks ago and I told him in the special teams room, I said once he made that pick, ‘Yeah, there was a core teamer making a play.’ Greedy was not a core teamer his rookie year and then of course last year he missed, but his attitude has been fantastic. We really have a great locker room. They have all brought in. Our head coach really helps us with that with the special teams and our (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) and General Manager Andrew (Berry) brings in those right type of guys so there is nobody who is off limits on our team that helps us on special teams. That really helps us.”


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