Todd Monken, Steve Wilks and Mike Priefer make strong first impression

Browns introduce 3 new coordinators Thursday

Daryl Ruiter
February 07, 2019 - 2:21 pm

Daryl Ruiter-92.3 The Fan

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Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The Browns rolled out their 3 new coordinators Thursday – offensive coordinator Todd Monken, defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer.

The new top trio on new head coach Freddie Kitchens staff made a strong first impression.

Here are some thoughts, quotes and takeaways from the 3 introductory press conferences.

Todd Monken

Monken revealed that he didn’t know head coach Freddie Kitchens or general manager John Dorsey prior to interviewing and ultimately accepting the job in Cleveland. “Never met him,” Monken said of Kitchens. A lot of hires in the NFL are a result of previous relationships forged but Kitchens stepped out of the box and hired a complete stranger to be his top lieutenant offensively.

Why take a job where he won’t call the plays? “I have always chosen places based on the people and the opportunity to win,” Monken said. He believes that “our personalities match” regarding Kitchens. “In the end, it is about winning. It is about being around good people. It is about moving the football, regardless of who is calling it.”

Monken clearly doesn’t want pigeonholed into being dubbed an ‘Air Raid’ coordinator. “I think everything gets clumped into Air Raid just like a lot of years it got clumped under West Coast offense. ‘Oh, it is a West Coast offense.’ What does that mean?,” Monken said. “Maybe by verbiage but not by concepts or how they go about attacking people. When you look at what teams are doing now, if you say do I see the college game’s influence on the NFL? Without a doubt.”

Monken plans on blending his offensive system with Kitchens’ and it’s a process that is currently underway. “You take a system and the terminology, and you make your own. Did I feel that Freddie was open to what we had done in previous places or what I was involved in? Of course.”

Baker Mayfield obviously made the job extremely appealing for Monken. When asked what he’s observed in Mayfield, who set a franchise rookie record with 3,725 yards passing and an NFL rookie record with 27 touchdowns in 2018, said, “Obviously, on film, it is easy to see his skillset, his ability to make plays outside of the pocket and what he brings to the team in terms of mental toughness and the leadership – he inspires others to play around him and he holds himself and others to a high standard, which is where it has to start at quarterback.”

Steve Wilks

While Mayfield played a role in attracting Monken, Dorsey and the work he’s already done helped lure Wilks. “When you look at personnel and the things that Dorsey is doing, it was a no-brainer,” Wilks said. “Very excited to be part of Freddie's staff. I can't ask for a better situation. I wanted to be here and I'm glad things worked out.”

Wilks plans to maintain the team’s 4-3 base defense and build upon what is here even though 4-3 vs. 3-4 in today’s game has become more of a talking point than reality. “Even teams that are 3-4, 70 percent of what they do is 4-3,” Wilks said.

Wilks has some cornerstones to build his defense around – defensive end Myles Garrett, safeties Jabrill Peppers and Damarious Randall and cornerback Denzel Ward, but it’s not enough. “You can never have enough pass rushers, you can never have enough guys that can cover.”

Wilks already has his sights on raising Garrett’s game. A Pro Bowler this past season that saw him finish ½ a sack shy of tying the franchise record of 14, Wilks wants to get Garrett “to an All-Pro level.”

Peppers, who showed vast improvement from his rookie season in 2018, figures to be an integral piece for Wilks to use. “When you look at a guy like Peppers, I think he's going to be a guy that fits well in our system. I think you need guys that are athletic in space and I think he's going to bring that element.”

Wilks was fired after just 1 season in Arizona as head coach that saw the Cardinals finish 3-13. He was among 5 African American head coaches that were fired following the 2018 season and of the 8 openings only 1 was filled by an African American. He was asked if the Rooney Rule, which was put in place to aid minorities in the hiring process, is still working. “I do think it’s working,” Wilks said. “Again, every owner has their own expectations and things that they want. I think again, it’s about production. It’s about winning. Does it take time? Yes. You look at any Fortune 500 company in the United States and they’ll tell you when someone comes in and takes it over, it’s going to take some time. You just wish that you had that time. I think the Rooney Rule is working. I think it is effective.”

Mike Priefer

Priefer likes kicker Greg Joseph and his big leg but he does need work on technique. Priefer said he was not sure if they'll bring in competition for him this year.

Priefer was asked to address a suspension in 2014 with the Minnesota Vikings that came as a result of a homophobic comment he made in 2013. He acknowledged that he “made a comment that I shouldn't have made” and “what I learned is that you can't say hurtful things to people.”

Penalties, blocked kicks and lack of electricity in the return game dominated play by the unit under former coordinator Amos Jones. Priefer plans to bring same mentality they had at Minnesota. He noted that the Vikings were the second fewest penalized special teams unit in the NFL. WWe're going to play penalty-free football....we're going to play fast, disciplined.”