Browns notes: Myles Garrett meets with Roger Goodell

Team makes hire of Alex Van Pelt, retention of Mike Priefer official

February 12, 2020
Myles Garrett

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Myles Garrett took an important step towards reinstatement Monday.

The Browns’ defensive end met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com and the Associated Press reported.

The meeting was a condition of his original punishment that included an indefinite ban without pay that spanned – at minimum – the remaining six games of the 2019 season and a fine of $45,623.

“Certainly, our hope is for Myles to be reinstated,” Browns EVP of football operations and general manager Andrew Berry said Feb. 5. “Obviously, I was part of drafting him here previously. Obviously, this fall he made a huge mistake, but we know who Myles is a person and we look forward to welcoming him back.”

Garrett officially remains indefinitely suspended for hitting Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with his own helmet in the closing seconds of a 21-7 win over Pittsburgh on Nov. 14, 2019, but the hope and expectation is that reinstatement will come soon.

The league handed out fines of $250,000 each to the Browns and Steelers for the melee that ensued. The league collected a grand total of $732,000 in fines from the teams and 33 players.

Officially official – Alex Van Pelt was named head coach Kevin Stefanski’s offensive coordinator Monday.

“To have the opportunity to come in and help build an offense from the ground up is exciting,” Van Pelt said. “There are starting points, but to get to work with those guys and have Kevin in there just kind of make it our offense from Day 1 is pretty cool. The most important thing now is to get this system in place and make it as easy and friendly for the players so we can get off the ground and start rolling.”

Van Pelt, who spent the last two years as quarterbacks with the Bengals, boasts 15 years of experience coaching quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers in the NFL.

“We were looking for a guy that could come in here and really work together with the offensive staff that's in place, work with me as we all talk about our vision for what we want our offense to look like,” Stefanski said. “Just be able to bring this all together, be able to take the great ideas from the offensive staff and mold this thing into the Browns offense, Browns system.”

Van Pelt inherits Baker Mayfield, who will enter his third season at quarterback, a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry as well as the second-leading rusher in the NFL last season in Nick Chubb.

“It all starts with the run game and the play-action off it and the keepers that come off from the action,” Van Pelt said. “Obviously having Nick is huge and Kareem (Hunt), those two are two of the best in the league. The outside receivers are tremendous players. To be able to come in and put an offense together with two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,400-yard rusher is pretty exciting as a coach.”

 

Unfinished business – The team also made the retention of Mike Priefer as special teams coordinator official.

“We have some work to do, some unfinished business,” Priefer said. “That's what the opportunity to come back is going to provide for us to do, to finish that business.”

Priefer worked with Stefanski in Minnesota from 2011-18.

“It's been awesome to be back with Coach Prief,” Stefanski said. “He's somebody on a personal level I have a great deal of respect for. Great family man. I couldn't be more thrilled to be back in the fray with him. I've seen him coach. I've seen his units play really well. It's exciting to be back around Coach Prief.”

Priefer helped turn around one of the worst units in 2018 last season while working with a pair of rookie kickers – punter Jamie Gillan and kicker Austin Seibert.

“They will get better,” Priefer said. “The thing I've told them is they've made a big mistake. You have proved you can do it and now we're going to expect you to do it more often and be more consistent and be more productive. We left some points on the field with Austin and we left some big plays on the field with our punter.

 “The good thing is they've made enough plays to encourage you to say, you know what, they can do it. It's there. It's in them. Now we've got to continue to improve our technique, be more consistent and be a more productive unit across the board.”

Cleveland used four different returners on both punts and kicks last season and ranked 16th in the NFL on punt returns and 20th on kickoffs.

“We have to have more production from our returners,” Priefer said. “We left some yards on the table, whether it was not hitting the seam right or going down too easy on an arm tackle. Those are the areas we want to improve on.”

Priefer, along with assistant special teams coach Doug Colman and run game coordinator/running backs coach Stump Mitchell were the only coaches retained from the 2019 staff by Stefanski.