Mike Priefer — whom the Browns decided to retain as special teams coordinator — spoke first on Wednesday.
“He’s smart. He’s a good leader. He’s got charisma. He’s got kind of that ‘it factor’ that most good head coaches have in that you can lead a team,” Priefer said of new Browns coach Kevin Stefanski. “He’s got humility, and I think he’s got the ability to stand in front of a room and lead a football team, and I think that’s what all great head coaches need to have.”
Stefanski and Priefer coached together on the Minnesota Vikings staff from 2011-2018.
Priefer is one of three coaches the Browns have retained from 2019.
The team has also kept running backs coach Stump Mitchell and assistant special teams coach Doug Colman.
Priefer said he wanted to stay with the Browns even with a head coaching change after the team fired Freddie Kitchens.
In 2020, Priefer said he wants to see more consistency from kicker Austin Seibert and better return units.
Van Pelt — the Browns offensive coordinator — spoke second on Wednesday, and said he’s “touched base” with quarterback Baker Mayfield.
“Most of the great quarterbacks I’ve had a chance to be around were extremely competitive to a point where they would try to beat you at darts or pool. It did not matter. I see that in his game, and that’s exciting.” Van Pelt said of Mayfield. “Obviously, he has the skillset. The talent, the arm, throwing the ball on the move to escape pressure. All of those things. I think the future is bright.”
Van Pelt said plans to help Mayfield with his footwork as a passer.
“I want the feet to be like Mozart and not like Metallica,” Van Pelt said.
In 2019, Mayfield completed 59.4 percent of his passes and threw 21 interceptions.
Van Pelt said Wednesday he considers a 64 percent completion percentage as a “benchmark” for NFL quarterback play.
“Anything above that, you’re playing really well and efficient,” Van Pelt said.
He will be both the team’s quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, but did not say Wednesday whether he or Stefanksi would call plays for the 2020 season.
“Not having worked with Kevin in the past, I’m sure he needs a comfort level with me as a coordinator,” Van Pelt said. “As we work through it, at this point, we’re just trying to put together the best offense for our guys.
“At the point, when it becomes a decision of who calls it, I think we’ll all know each other a lot better and feel good about whichever decision we go, but right now it’s nothing I’m getting hung up on.”
Van Pelt has experience as a quarterbacks coach with the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
From 1995-2003, Van Pelt compiled a 3-8 record as the Bills starting quarterback.
Van Pelt said he would utilize running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in a zone-running scheme to set up the play-action passing game.
Woods — who also coached with Stefanski in Minnesota — spoke after Van Pelt and Priefer.
“We have a talented roster,” Woods said. “I mean there’s some guys that are very talented on the defensive side of the ball at the right positions. So, I feel like I’m really coming to a very fortunate situation where we have some pieces in place.”
Woods spoke about working with defensive end Myles Garrett, whom the NFL reinstated last week after the Nov. 14 brawl with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.
“It’s an unfortunate situation what happened. I think sometimes the emotions of the game get to you. I’m sure it’s something he’s learned from and he wants to put behind him.” Woods said. “My job is just to coach him. He’s very talented.”
Woods compared Garrett to Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller, whom he coached as Broncos defensive coordinator.
“I see them both as the same type of player, so I just look forward to getting him on the field just to see what he can do,” Woods said of Garrett.
Woods said he didn’t know whether general manager Andrew Berry plans to re-sign linebacker Joe Schobert, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent on March 18.
Woods said his defensive philosophy takes a mixture of the places he’s coached, which includes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos, and San Francisco 49ers.
“Really, everybody kind of runs the same defenses,” Woods said. “It’s just they get to them different ways.”
Woods said he wants to see the Browns increase the number of takeaways considering they only had 20 during the 2019 season.
The Browns plan to keep their 4-3 defensive base because “that’s what the personnel here is,” Woods said.
Woods credited several coaches for his professional development, including Brian Kelly, Urban Meyer, Dan Quinn and Raheem Morris.
However, one coach really stuck out to Woods.
“My mentor is definitely Mike Tomlin. He has helped see the game a different way just in terms of how to prepare and that’s the way I do it,” Woods said. “It takes some time. You gotta grind through it, but really if there’s one guy, he’s the guy that’s helped me the most.”