Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer (9.30.21)

Opening statement:

“First off to recap the Chicago game, I told our guys Monday morning in the meeting I thought they did a great job. I thought we impacted the game in a positive way. I thought our punt return game got going, other than the two blocks in the back. As my follow up, I would say that blocks in the back are bad. We had two of them, which are unacceptable. We have to correct those. We covered kicks well. Obviously, our field goal team did a great job snapping, holding and protecting. (K) Chase (McLaughlin) did a great job making his kicks.


“Moving on to Minnesota, as you guys know, I spent eight years there with the Minnesota Vikings. My wife and I really enjoyed our time there with our children – other than the winters; those were pretty harsh. Our oldest daughter, Samantha, would come home from Auburn University in the summers, and she had her first couple of internships there so we had a lot of good memories there. Three of our children graduated from Mound Westonka High School. The Minnesota Vikings were a great organization from ownership to personnel to the coaching staff, players and front office, and there some really good people. I enjoyed my time up there, and going back there is going to be fun.”


On if US Bank Stadium is as loud as the Metrodome:

“It is louder. I think it was louder. The Metrodome was extremely loud. I do not know what the attendance is. Maybe it is more people. I do not know if it is less. I think the way it is structured, it is a beautiful building. The Wilf family did a great job and the state of Minnesota did a great job with building that place. It is a very first-class building. It will be very loud on Sunday, I know that.”


On when he first knew Head Coach Kevin Stefanski could ultimately become a head coach:

“I did not give it a lot of thought early on. He was young, but you could see him develop. I think we have answered this question before, he is a very fine football coach. He works very hard. He is extremely smart. I knew he had the makeup to be a head coach. I do not think I really started thinking about it until when I got the job here. I know he was up for the job before (former Browns Head Coach and NY Giants senior offensive assistant) Freddie (Kitchens) got it, and he and I were talking about going together because he knew my contract was up so that was the situation where I was like, ‘Huh, maybe you know he could be a head coach.’ That is kind of how it started.”


On Stefanski’s ability to convey his vision and get the team to follow it:

“Consistency. I do not think he changes. He will adapt to every situation, but he has a consistent message to our team. He hired guys who are going to promote that consistent message to our players. We are bringing in guys and (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew Berry and his staff are bringing in guys that are not choir boys obviously all of them, but they are good people who want to win and who are going to follow that consistent message. That is what we want to develop. We want to develop a winning attitude and win a lot of games.”


On his confidence level in McLaughlin now:

“He responded extremely well. He does not bat an eye. He is a very mentally tough young man. He is a much stronger and a better kicker than he was when he came out of Illinois. I think at the end of the day, his confidence will continue to grow, but he knows every kick is extremely important. He has to have the same focus and intensity that he approached the other kicks with on Sunday.”


On the Vikings special teams units:

“They play hard. They have good specialists. They have good returners. They are well coached. They are going to play hard because they know they are two plays away from being 3-0. They really are. It is a very, very good football team. We have a huge challenge ahead of us. I know they will be ready to play.”


On RB Demetric Felton as a returner:

“Other than the penalties where we left some yards on the field, I think there were some other plays where he knows – I meet with him, we talk, we watch tape together and we talk about situational football all the time; he did not return punts in college so all of this is very new to him – I think with every game and with every experience he has and with every return, he is going to continue to get better. I am really excited about what he has contributed thus far. The No. 1 thing we tell him is ball security. That is all we preach. The rest is a bonus. You can get 5 yards, 10 yards, 20 yards or 30 yards on a return, that is all a bonus. Ball security is the thing we that we preach all of the time.”


On if he was surprised that Felton was not previously used as a punt returner, given Felton has displayed a natural ability to do it and make opponents miss:

“No because at a lot of colleges, these guys they are primary offensive weapons and sometimes defensive weapons if they are DBs. He did return kickoffs, which he did well, but he has that skillset. When we drafted him, we were excited about that. We knew that was going to be a plan for him going forward to become our punt returner.”


On what leads to block in the back calls across the NFL:

“It is hard. A lot of it is discipline. I like to think our guys are more disciplined. One call was certainly a good call. The other one was close. What we preach all the time is do not give the official an excuse to throw a flag. On the first one on (LB) Elijah (Lee), his hands were here and the guy fell forward. He did not touch him, but it looked like he did and because of his body position, it looked like a flag. It is very hard. You have guys like me getting on them about executing their blocks, and they know that they want to stay on this unit, they want to stay on this team and they want to do their job at a high level. Sometimes a little bit out of control, the guy does something at the end of the play and the guy covering does something at the end of the play where all of a sudden, ‘I am in a bad spot. What do I do? Do I pull off?’ That is what we preach – pull off and go find work. Hopefully, the returner will make that guy miss. That is very difficult to do at full speed.”


On what he has seen from CB Greedy Williams on special teams, given Williams will fill the starting CB role this week:

“Greedy did a nice job on kickoff for us. He is in the right spots. He did an extremely good job on punt return as a holdup corner. In fact, all four vice guys – it was Greedy, (CB) A.J. Green, (CB) Troy Hill and (S) Grant Delpit – all got game balls for the way they played on punt return. They did an exceptional job. It is extremely hard to do, especially single press. I think that Greedy graded out – what we had seven punt returns – six out of seven. I think Troy was seven out of seven. Grant and A.J. were like six or seven out of seven or something like that. They played a high level and gave us an opportunity. We had over 100 punt return yards, and that is hard to do. They were a big part of that.”


On if he senses the Browns organization supporting him, players and coaches from the top down, given DE Takk McKinley’s comments today:

“Oh, 100 percent. I have done that my entire career. These young men – we have said it before, and it is kind of cliché – really all they care about is how much you care about them. At the end of the day, they are going to play harder for you if you care about them as people. I do not do it just so they play hard; I care about them as people. I got into this business because I love the game and I love to affect people in a positive manner. I mean that sincerely. I think Takk is one of those guys who needed that from the organization. I am sure he is very, very happy he is here because from the top down, we do care about our players as people first.”


On Williams playing on special teams and embracing all assignments with the team despite starting as a rookie:

“He came into the year, and I was pleasantly surprised because I know it is hard after an entire year – we did not see him much; we saw him every now and then and tease and joke with him or whatever; he is a good kid – he came into the year with a positive attitude. He knew that we drafted a young man (CB Greg Newsome II) who could beat him out. He competed against him, got hurt and then once he became healthy again, he looked at me and said, ‘Coach, whatever you need me to do, I will do.’ Because he is so athletic and because he is a second-round draft pick and he is a great athlete, he has put himself in a position to help us win on special teams last week and this week on defense.”


On 50-yard FGs almost seeming commonplace now and if it has to do with better strength, coaching or technique than in the past:

“It is probably a combination of all of it. You are not going to try a 57-yarder if you do not think he is going to make it. I will be honest with you, if it was going into the Dawg Pound end, I do not know if we would have kicked that one. We had a little bit of wind behind us. Chase had made a 61-yarder in pregame. Coach and I had talked about that, and that is what we talk about every week before the game – ‘Hey, what is our distance going this way? What is our distance going that way?’ If you could give or take a couple yards on some of the longer ones, you never go into the game thinking, ‘We are going to kick a 57-yarder today,’ but the opportunity presented itself. The wind died down in the second half, but there was still a little bit of tailwind kicking in that direction. He did not hit the perfect ball – I am sure he told you guys that on [Sunday] – but he stroked it, and it went through. He is a mentally tough kid. He did not even bat an eye. ‘Let’s go.’ A lot of kickers would not want to kick that kick, not in our stadium, and he did.”


On how much a kicker’s range increases indoors:

“Not having the wind behind you will obviously decrease it, but if they have those big old windows open, they have a little bit of air flow in there. It will not be windy but it will have some air flow in there, it will help with distance.”


On if the air flow may add three or four yards:

“I do not know. I am not an analytics guy. I am not that smart. That is why I coach special teams (laughter).


On if 57 yards is essentially McLaughlin’s top range:

“In that situation, probably. At the end of the half, we may have tried one longer because he smoked a 61-yarder in pregame. He hit a really good ball.”


On Ravens K Justin Tucker’s game-winning 66-yard field goal on Sunday:

“I do not know. I do not like Baltimore (laughter). That was a great kick. He actually did a crow-hop. You guys probably saw that. What an amazing kick. He is an amazing player. He is the best in our business and may be the best of all time. It did not surprise me when someone after the game told me he made a 66-yard field goal. It did not surprise me one bit. I would have rushed him a little bit differently. We may have knocked one down because it took a long time. With his crow-hop, it was a 1.42 get off that I think I timed it. I hope that we would put more pressure on that kick. That was a great job by him and his whole team.”


On what a normal get off time is for a FG attempt:

“We want it between 1.27 and 1.32 seconds.”


On if there is a teaching moment from the Jaguars’ 109-yard TD return following a missed FG:

“We have that in. Most teams have that in. You do not want to cover that with offensive line typically. We had to cover one against the Jets. (G) Joel Bitonio made a nice play because we did not hit the ball well. That is when (K) Jamie (Gillan) kicked that field goal last year. If (Jaguars WR) Jamal Agnew is back there, I am not kicking a 68-yarder. I have worked with Coach before. It has been a 58-60-yard field goal at the end of the half, we are just going to take a knee, Hail Mary or something like that on offense. We are not going to kick it because of that situation. You are covering with offensive linemen, and that is not fair to those guys. Jamal Agnew is the best in the business. I think he is outstanding.”


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