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  • Writer's pictureJoey Jarzynka

Browns' LB's Coach Jason Tarver Quotes 8.20.20


On the state of the Browns LBs after the injury to LB Mack Wilson: 

“We have had great competition through camp. We have been rolling people anyway, even when Mack was in because we wanted to see what we had. Like we have spoken about before on our Zoom press conferences, it is a competition, top to bottom, so we have been rolling our group. What has been impressive about our group is their ability to communicate. We have moved different players to different positions and see how they speak to each other and how well they can function because it is our job to get the defense lined up and be the in between the D line and the DBs. (LB) B.J. Goodson has done a great job being a pro in the room, running the show, running and hitting and lining everybody up and really getting in front of the huddle, being confident and taking advantage of his opportunities. (LB) Tae Davis has done a nice job getting stronger in the offseason and really working on shedding blocks well, and he is playing all three positions. (LB) Sione Takitaki is a ball of energy, and he loves contact. He has gotten better and better and better at his space movement. He had a great day of practice yesterday. (LB) Jacob Phillips really loves contact, and he is fast. Like any rookie, sometimes he is fast the wrong way and sometimes it is fast the right way. What is great about Jacob is he is a one-time correction young man. You tell him, he writes it down, he analyzes it and learns from his mistakes. (LB) Willie Harvey is working his way back off an injury, is fast, loves contact and has done some good things. (LB) Montrel Meander is another guy, who is fast, loves contact and learning the linebacker position, but he is learning how to shed blocks and improving. (LB) Solomon Ajayi is very, very smart. If you are ever going to be a rookie free agent in a year without an offseason, you have to be wired like Solomon. He makes very few mistakes and is tough.”

On having LB B.J. Goodson in a leadership role for the Browns LBs: 

“The first commandment of our linebacker mantra is run and shed, and he does that. He has been great. He knew there is an opportunity. He is just a pleasure to be around in the classroom. He writes notes, asks questions and then he gets on the field, and he does what you want guys to do. They fight and they go to the next play. Whatever happens on that play, he is right back in front of the guys with energy, running, doing the things we want to do and attacking the ball. Like where he is and proud of where he is, and just keep doing that every day.”

On Takitaki’s performance during yesterday’s practice: 

“One of the hardest things to do at the linebacker position sometimes is to let things go because you are right in the middle of everything. The position is named linebacker because you are backed off the ball and you are right in the middle. Sione has done a nice job of focusing play in and play out. We have a phrase that (former NFL LB) Takeo Spikes, a great linebacker that I was fortunate enough to work with, used and that is ‘The next place the best play.’ That is one of the things we are using because Sione is so explosive. He will see things and he will take it, and if he did not make it in the past, then he might be thinking about that the next play. Sione just focuses, and when he sees things, he will go and he will hit it. The better he gets at play in and play out doing of that, the better he is going to be.”

On if asking LB Jacob Phillips to play a lot right away and get snaps in the regular season may be too much for a rookie: 

“First, it started with our young men in the room. They did a good job this offseason of really learning the positions, not just the MIKE linebacker or whatever you want to call it – the MIKE, the WILL. They learned them all because we know that in this season, not just for the Browns but everywhere, you are going to have to be able to adjust. We are going to be great at adjusting and not worrying about what is going on. Jacob has done a nice job of studying all the positions. It is a competition right now so the better they play, the more they will earn. You can see combinations of a lot of our linebackers because there are some things that they all do well, and we are going to use them to the best of their ability.”

On if Goodson has the ability to play in a 4-2-5 formation: 

“Yeah, our personnel groups will change based off of what the offense is doing or the personnel that they have on the field. More wide receivers, sometimes you want match them with more [defensive backs]. Sometimes you may not based off if you want to stop the run by down and distance. We have packages with three linebackers and two on the field. B.J. was in those packages and he will be. We are rolling everybody through. To give you an example, B.J. did a great job in one of those packages on an option route in the red zone where our new tight end (TE Austin Hooper), who is pretty good – and there are a few tight ends out there that are pretty good, big and fast so they are great to work against and we are glad they are on our team – ran a route where he can either go underneath or go vertical, and B.J. stayed in perfect position. He has done a great job of working his body through the offseason to where he can do that. I know B.J. was excited about the opportunity here because we want players to feel like they are limitless. Build your bodies and then learn the positions, and we will use you for what you are really good at. Hey, there are opportunities so go out and compete.”

On if Goodson is most likely to call defensive plays: 

“In our room right now, all of us are learning to be able to call the position and call the whole huddle calls. There are a few of the players that are not doing it as much as others, but we have trained them from the start to be ready to make the huddle calls. B.J. has done a wonderful job in front of the huddle in camp and so has Tae and so has Jacob. Sione is calling out things that he is supposed to call out, and they been great. We have rolled them in groups so that they have to work with a new guy. So far, they have just done a great job with that because you do not know who you are going to be next to all the time in this season.”

On what roles the LBs must fulfill in the defensive scheme: 

“Our linebacker mantra is run, shed and tackle the guy with the ball. The first thing we have to do at the linebacker position is we have to make a call, help everybody line up and set the defense. We have been good at that so far. That is No. 1 is we have to make sure all 11 players can play together. Our system allows the linebacker to make those calls pretty quickly here, and the guys have been great at that. That is No. 1. We have to make sure we are on point mentally so that everybody can play fast. That is No. 1. Then No. 2 is what I just said, we need to run. Our defense is built on running to the ball. Great defenses run to the ball and attack the ball. We want to be known for that. We have to get off of blocks. This group has put themselves in a position where, although there is not as much NFL video on some of these young men, they are shedding blocks right now. The key is finishing the down unblocked and getting to the guy with the ball. If we do those three things, then then that is our goal to help the defense run, to make the plays and hustle and to make the plays we are supposed to make by getting off of blocks.”

On if Phillips can fill in at WILL, where Wilson was taking many snaps: 

“The WILL possession, a lot of our guys have been playing it, and Jacob is plenty fast enough. The WILL position, you just have to learn your angles will when we are in our zones and you have to be able to cover man – tight ends and backs. We are in the process of evaluating some of those things with Jacob, but so far, he has done well.”

On his comfort level that Browns LBs will be able to contribute despite the experience in the room: 

“I think it goes right back to how we train them. It goes right back to our coaching philosophy and everything we are trying to do in this building and everything we have set out to do, the plan laid out by (Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski and (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew Berry. We are approaching everything one day at a time. It really is the next play the best play. We are coaching them that way. We are expecting them to go fast, be physical and play so that we can figure out who can learn. Of course, there are times where the lights are going to come on and there is noise in the stadium. Now, this year, I do not know if it will be as much noise – it might be pumped in noise. We are going one day at a time, and we are letting them earn it. In our room, they have put themselves physically in a position to have a chance by having a great offseason. So far, they are shedding and running to the ball. We are just going to leave it at that. We are going to compete, and we are going to let the best man win. Then as coaches, we are going to see what they can do, which we are starting to learn – I will not share all that right now – and then we will put them in a position to be successful.”

On if all of the Browns LBs are cross-training for every position: 

“There are guys playing specific positions. Like we mentioned on here, B.J. Goodson is in front of the huddle the most and has done a great job. We know a little bit more of how that is going to roll, but there are a solid four guys with Sione, Tae, Jacob and B.J. that are all rolling in and have a chance, and they are competing. We will use them in certain situations. There are certain things that they do well. Some of that we will see as we go through. We still have a long time in camp, not as long as normal but we have some weeks here. Most of the scheme is in, and we will see how they keep progressing. If they keep going like we are, we feel like we have a group that will do the things we just talked about.”

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