Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer (10.28.22)


Opening statement:

“Good afternoon. We had an extra day to prepare this week so I took the time to look back. Looking back at our first seven games, I think we have done some nice things and we have made some good plays, but overall, we are not playing at the level that we need to play at to help our team in terms of field position. We really need to play a more complete game complementary-football wise in order to help our team, and that needs to happen on Monday night against Cincinnati. That has been our sole focus all week.”


On the Ravens long punt return last week:

“The left guard and left tackle lost leverage. We kicked it right. They thought we were kicking it left because it was on the left hash and (P) Corey (Bojorquez) did a nice job of getting it over on the right numbers, and we just lost leverage. It is something we preach all the time. In fact, I was so shocked that play – not because Ravens (WR) Devin (Duvernay) couldn’t do that because he is a great returner – but that we lost leverage like that. I think it has been five or maybe six years since a team that I have coached has given up a return that long – it is a long time. There is no excuse for that. We just lost leverage, and that can’t happen again ever.”


On if the Browns wanted that punt to go to the right side of the field:

“He did it on purpose. We wanted to kick it right there.”


On the TV broadcast showing Bojorquez confused when looking at the sideline tablet after the play:

“Once I saw it and once I saw where our guard and tackler were, I knew exactly what happened. (RB) D’Ernest (Johnson) did a good job of setting the edge. (LS) Charley (Hughlett) actually did a really nice job of slowing him down. He just needs to be over the ball. D’Ernest just missed the tackle. He was in position and then Taki (LB Sione Takitaki) does an unbelievable job and he saves a touchdown. I called that a four-point tackle because our defense did a great job in forcing a field goal.”


On the false start on the final FG attempt and if the Browns were trying to draw the Ravens offside:

“What happened, we didn’t do anything – we don’t do that; we are not going to try and draw people offside. Even if we had it in our gameplan, we certainly wouldn’t do it in that situation. I know (Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski talked about the risk-reward there. It is ridiculous. We never would have done that. When they moved, our left end moved, and he was not an adjacent lineman. When that happens, it is on us. They called the wrong number, but I think that is what they saw the officials. You can’t argue that. It happened just before they made contact. Their whole left side of their defensive line, at least two of them, moved and hit our guys, but we had moved on our left side, which was not an adjacent lineman so that was a mistake that we made so that cost us the five years.”


On if there was miscommunication on the final FG attempt, given it appeared Hughlett and Bojorquez were potentially 1 yard closer to each other than the previous attempt:

“Maybe, but there was communication between them. They were on the same page. I think we were probably about a foot. I thought initially because I saw it happening, and I thought it was going to be a yard, but it was more like a foot because Charley actually moved the ball up a couple feet so we were probably about a foot off there. I honestly don’t think that had anything to do with the kick because of where it hit (Ravens LB Malik) Harrison. What a great play that kid made because he is at the line of scrimmage. Our protection was phenomenal on that play coming off the edge. (DT) Taven Bryan came off, and Sunday was his first game ever playing at wing on field goal. We started training him back in the summer so he has had a ton of reps but first time in the game. He went out there and did a great job because we had a couple of injuries. The inside, we did a great job. He actually leaped and jumped up at the line of scrimmage. There is nothing you can do about that. He didn’t get any closer than he would have been. Just a great play by him.”


On if there are any significant changes a K makes on long FG attempts:

“Good question. Most kickers are going to have to drive it a little bit lower, which he did. It wasn’t that windy, but you still have to drive it. Then you tilt the ball a little bit forward, the holder. That is typically what most kickers do. I don’t know about all of them, but a lot of guys will tilt it forward a little bit so you can get that drive. Because of that, it was just a tad bit lower than it would be. I thought he hit it great. It was a great hit. Great protection, great hit and a phenomenal play by Harrison.”


On if Hughlett moved the ball on the false start that potentially led to the Ravens’ movement:

“He didn’t do anything that he normally doesn’t do. If you watch all his – I went back and just to double-check – he looked back and (K) Cade (York) wasn’t ready yet so he took his one hand, wiped off his left hand, put his head up then he puts his hand down. He was not trying to draw anybody offside. It is his normal routine prior to snapping the ball.”


On if the false start should not have been called:

“They moved, but they moved and before they hit our guys, the non-adjacent lineman moved. Now, our adjacent linemen are allowed to move. When we moved on the right side, we were good, but because we moved on the left side, one guy moves slightly, and that is what they saw.”


On if he initially saw the Browns’ line movement on the FG attempt that resulted in a false start and if the Browns spoke with the league about it:

“I saw it when I saw the tape. I didn’t see it live. I saw their guys, and I thought it should have been on them. Then when you look back at the tape – I know Coach talked to the league office – and that is what they explained.”


On if there is a ‘gray area’ with Hughlett ‘flexing the ball with a little bit of a rock to it’:

“I think all snappers have some sort of routine with long and short snaps.”


On Hughlett moving the ball a little bit:

“He didn’t do anything out of his normal routine.”


On if Bojorquez, Hughlett and York talk about where to position the ball of FG attempts:

“Oh, we do it all of the time. We do it all of the time. In fact, I give them situational kicks – we did it yesterday on our own, and we will do it tomorrow when we kick field goals again – we will put the ball right in the middle of the hash and then let Charley communicate to Corey where the ball is going to be because you always want to hold it on a hash – unless it is a PAT or middle of the field – on the edge in the corner of the hash mark for a reference point for the holder and the kicker. Ninety-nine times out of 100 when we do that, Charley is going to put laces perfectly. That is what we are looking for there.”


On his reaction when the false start was called on the final FG attempt:

“Move back 5 yards, let’s keep our cool and let’s go hit a 60-yarder because we have a kicker that can make that kick.”


On determining the Browns’ best options on punt return and if the team considers being more conservative in that role:

“The testing probably happens in practice. That is a great question because you have to determine whether or not if this is the type of punter we can go after or is this a guy who has great get-off and do we have more of a return look or do we double-vice when it is fourth-and-long. A lot of those factors come into play when you gameplan during the week. We went against (Ravens P) Jordan (Stout) who is a really good young punter. We thought we would pressure him a little bit. We didn’t get a ton of opportunities to do that, but he actually punted the ball really well. The one he hit over (WR) Donovan’s (Peoples-Jones) head, Donovan did a great job getting there. We just have to get the ball up field and get 10-15 yards rather than go sideways. That has been the big emphasis this week. I thought Donovan did a great job of fielding those long, low kicks.”


On Bojorquez fielding a snap from Hughlett that rolled more like a groundball:

“I said [to Hughlett], ‘I have never seen you do that before.’ He goes, ‘I have never done that before.’ That was the extent of the conversation. We kind of briefly talked about it on the airplane before we took off. I just kind of mentioned it to him, and he saw it on the iPad. We watched it Monday morning on the bigger screen. I don’t think he really wants to emphasize what happened – don’t even think about it and move on. I will give Corey a lot of credit and I will give Cade a lot of credit because you guys see us [working] on the low [snaps on] JUGS constantly two or three days a week now and during training camp it was every single day, almost to the point where Corey it is driving him crazy doing it. That is why we do it. Corey was prepared. I know the knock on him was he was not a great holder coming here. I think he is a great athlete, and he did a phenomenal job on that play. Cade did a good job because the get-off was only 1.4 (seconds). You would expect that to be a 1.5 or 1.55 where they could block it off of the edge. Cade stuck with it and put it through. It was a great play and obviously a huge play to keep the game at three points.”


On not having recent success on kickoff return and why the team has chosen to bring out certain kickoffs that could make the team susceptible rather than taking the touchbacks, including one holding call last week:

“You sound like everybody else in our building (laughter). You are exactly right. We have to be smarter there, and that is not (RB) D’Ernest’s (Johnson) fault; that is me. I was trying to be aggressive. We felt like we had a really good scheme for what they do. I still thought it was a good scheme. We were really close to popping that thing. The holding call was a good call. I think we got tripped up, and he pulled the guy down with him, which you can never do. You are right, 5 [yards] deep in that situation. You know me, I am pretty risky.”


On the Browns work more on special teams during the practice week after recent issues:

“I am always trying to be creative. I always try to figure out different ways to reach guys. I firmly believe in what we do here is the right way to it. I firmly believe in the ability that we have coaching, our schemes and the fundamentals we are teaching these guys on a day-in and day-out basis. I think we just have to stay the course and stick the nose to the grindstone. I am not one to panic ever. Like I started my intro, I think we are doing some good things. We just need to do them more consistently, and we need to eliminate some of those errors that you are talking about.”


On the difference in Bengals K Evan McPherson this year compared to last year:

“Down the stretch, he was amazing. He is still hitting the ball great. I think he had the one bad game when he had the snapper issues. Other than that, he has kicked the ball really well. He is a really good young kicker.”


On if McPherson’s range has changed this year:

“I think his range was pretty good last year. He has hit some deep ones this year – you are right about that – probably more so than they probably had him… I don’t remember what they kicked early in the season last year, but they have kicked more deeper kicks this year because they have a lot of confidence in him.”


On his comment about the importance of playing complementary football and if it is more disappointing that special teams has not been able to contribute at a higher level:

“Absolutely. Of course, it does. I am used to having special teams play at a high level, and I have my whole career. I know we all have ups and downs as coaches, but I expect our guys to play at a high level. When we don’t help our team win… Even when we win games, you are happy you won, but you are like, ‘Man, I wish we had done this, that or the other to help our team.’ Especially when you do lose close games, you are thinking, ‘Man, we could have done this. We could have done that.’ We are still going through that. We are still fighting through it. We plan on coaching hard, playing hard and getting after Cincinnati on Monday night because that is the goal. We have to go get a win.”


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