'Devastated, we all were': Browns still have faith in punter Jamie Gillan after costly gaffe

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

BEREA, Ohio — Jamie Gillan’s shocking mistake Sunday in Kansas City did not jeopardize the job of the “Scottish Hammer.”

Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer called Gillan’s dropped punt snap “inexcusable” Thursday and said the third-year punter still had the opportunity to get a kick away. But Priefer said the fumble did not cause him to lose faith in Gillan.

“No, not at all,” Priefer said.

The costly gaffe with 8:36 remaining put the ball at the Cleveland 15 and set up the Chiefs’ game-winning touchdown in the Browns’ 33-29 loss at Arrowhead Stadium.

Asked how Gillan felt, Priefer said, “Oh, devastated, we all were. We all were for him and for our football team.”

Gillan, 24, was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 2019 and was named the AFC special teams player of the month that September. His statistics last season weren't stellar, as he ranked 27th in the league in punting average (44.0 yards) and 26th in net average (38.3).

NFL WEEK 2 PICKS: Will Browns bounce back after loss?

OPINION: Aaron Rodgers, Urban Meyer among key NFL figures who need to rebound in Week 2

Cleveland Browns punter Jamie Gillan (7) runs with the ball after muffing a punt attempt during the second half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Cleveland Browns punter Jamie Gillan (7) runs with the ball after muffing a punt attempt during the second half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

But Gillan has been reliable. He's punted 115 times in his career and fumbled only twice. The other came in 2020, incidentally in a season-opening 38-6 loss at Baltimore.

Priefer said he waited until the Browns got on the plane to talk to Gillan in case he was called on again. He was, and got off a 52-yarder on the Browns’ next possession, his only kick of the day.

“The rest of the game I didn’t say anything about it, didn’t want him to get too upset because I knew we might have to punt again, which we did,” Priefer said. “And we did a good job, we covered it well. We talked about it a little bit on the airplane and he had really no excuse why he dropped it.

“He’s not an excuse-maker, he’s a standup guy and he knows he’s got to perform at a high level and keep being a weapon for our football team. And it starts this Sunday.”

The Browns (0-1) host the Houston Texans (1-0) in the home opener at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Priefer said Gillan has great hands and pointed out how much Gillan works on catching the ball. Priefer said Gillan probably takes at least 50 balls a week off the JUGS machine on Wednesdays and Thursdays during the regular season. In training camp, that number is probably 15-20 punt snaps and 15-20 field goal snaps per day.

“I think he just dropped it,” Priefer said. “You guys see us on the JUGS all training camp, all spring, Wednesdays and Thursdays now during the season. I would think that we would take more punt and field goal snaps off the JUGS than anybody in the league, or at least as much or more than anybody in the league.

“Did he take his eye off it? I don’t know. I don’t think the moment was too big for him. I don’t think the crowd was involved, he’s not a rookie. If he was a rookie and that was his first play, maybe.”

Cleveland Browns punter Jamie Gillan (7) during warm ups before an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Cleveland Browns punter Jamie Gillan (7) during warm ups before an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Because of the pandemic, it was the Browns’ first game in a full stadium since 2019, with the rabid Chiefs crowd listed at 72,973.

Priefer said the Chiefs were in a “return look” and were not set up to attempt to block the punt. Even after the drop, Gillan still had time to get the ball off, Priefer said.

“We had it blocked up,” Priefer said. “We’ve got to pick it up, take one step and punt it out of there and he didn’t react the way we wanted him to.”

Priefer acknowledged that “maybe” Gillan’s rugby instincts took over. Gillan ran right and gained only 4 of the needed 12 yards on fourth down. Because Gillan is left-footed, that seemingly compromised Gillan’s chance to punt.

“No, if anything, go left,” Priefer said. “We work on similar things, like if the ball goes over his head, he circles back this way so he can scoop it up and then punt with his left foot. We talk about different situations — bad snaps or dropped snaps.

“He’s got great hands, he’s a great athlete. He wasn’t a holder until he got here and he became a really good holder. I can’t explain why he dropped it.”

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Monday that Gillan could have gotten the ball off.

“Yes, he could have, and he knows that. We talked to him about that in the moment, and we talked to him about it today,” Stefanski said. “Obviously, he knows he has a job to do. We expect him to do his job at a high level. If something like that happens, you need to just get the ball to punt it.”

Despite the ramifications, Priefer said he will not have the Browns punt team go through drills to prevent Sunday’s turnover from happening again.

“I don’t like to practice failure,” Priefer said. “I’m being serious, like a fire call on a field goal. We muff a field goal snap, we talk about it, we might walk through it, but we never want to actually practice that exact situation because to me if you’re practicing a dropped snap, you’re practicing failure.

“Do we talk about those things? Of course.”

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Cleveland Browns back Jamie Gillan after punter's costly gaffe