AFC North Notes: Browns, Ravens, Steelers

     

Browns

  • According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Browns QB Baker Mayfield is excited to have some continuity going forward with new HC Kevin Stefanski as he’s going on his fourth offensive coordinator in three seasons. 
  • Stefanski says he’s also excited to begin working with Mayfield: “I spoke to Baker briefly yesterday. Looking forward to hunkering down with him and getting to work. Still in the infancy studying last year. I think the sky’s the limit for the kid.” (Mary Kay Cabot)
  • Stefanski added it won’t necessarily be him calling the plays this year: “It doesn’t have to be me, but I’m going to work through that and see as we put this staff together.” (Nick Shook)
  • In his introductory press conference, Stefanski said the fact that his predecessor was fired after just a year didn’t give him pause about interviewing: “I’m undeterred and undaunted, and I think the challenge is there and I can’t wait to be a part of change.” (Nate Ulrich)
  • Stefanski rebutted a report that he will be required to meet with the analytics department to go over the game plan on Friday. (Scott Petrak)
  • He added he’s looking forward to using analytics in his coaching: “I’m looking for any edge we can get on game day. We’re looking to make informed decisions. Information is power.” (Petrak)
  • Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said he believes the Browns have got it right this time by hiring Stefanski: “We’re highly confident he’ll be our coach for a long time.” (Cabot)
  • Haslam expects the Browns to be able to compete in 2020: “Not one person we talked to felt this was a rebuild.” (Cabot)
  • Haslam confirmed he’ll meet with Stefanski on Mondays after games and an analytics expert will have a headset during games, but added those have been the standard in Cleveland for years. (Ulrich)
  • He also said Paul DePodesta would remain with the Browns as their chief strategy officer. (Jake Trotter)
  • DePodesta also isn’t concerned about his expiring contract:  “I expect to be here.” (Ulrich)
  • DePodesta acknowledged the Browns have a poor history when it comes to head coaching hires: “There’s a cost to turnover. We’ve got to get this right.” (Cabot)
  • Creating stability is one of the top priorities for the Browns, per DePodesta: “We need some stability. There isn’t one way to go about it but we have to create ours and own it.” (Cabot)
  • Whomever the Browns hire as their next general manager will determine the futures for Browns assistant GM Eliot Wolf and VP of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith, though DePodesta says both have been helpful in the search. (Ulrich)

Ravens

  • The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec writes adding another pass rusher is the top need for the Ravens this offseason even if they are able to re-sign LB Matt Judon.
  • Zrebiec also identifies interior offensive line as a need for Baltimore with the potential retirement of G Marshal Yanda and C Matt Skura‘s severe knee injury. 
  • Baltimore could also look to revamp at linebacker, with midseason addition Josh Bynes and Patrick Onwuasor set for free agency. The Ravens also need another outside receiving threat and an interior pass rusher. 

Steelers

The Steelers took a bit of a risk and departed from their usual strategy by signing CB Steven Nelson to a three-year, $25.5 million deal in free agency in 2019. The risk paid off as Nelson was one of only three corners in the league this past season to not allow a touchdown pass. Nelson was also targeted just 72 times, one more than Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore and Bills CB Tre’Davious White

“It just showed that these guys watch the film and for whatever reason, they weren’t throwing the ball my way,” Nelson said via the Athletic’s Mark Kaboly. “At the end, I kind of wanted them to test me a little more so I could get some opportunities to get my hands on some interceptions or whatever. It just showed a ton of respect throughout the league. I really don’t get that much pub, but whoever watching the film knows.”

  • Steelers owner Art Rooney II says “there’s a pretty good chance” Pittsburgh will be playing in the Hall of Fame game in 2020. (Chris Adamski)

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