Rumors: Mike Lombardi May Be On His Way Out As Browns General Manager

Rumors are starting to leak out of Browns Headquarters that General Manager Mike Lombardi may be on his way out, at least from his current position as GM.

It’s relatively easy to connect the dots on this one.  The circumstantial evidence is right there.  Lombardi has been noticeably missing from recent Browns activities, including the head coaching interviews and the recent pressers, including the firing of press conference for Rob Chudzinski, and the introduction press conference for new Head Coach Mike Pettine.  Outside of that, Owner Jimmy Haslam has been fairly silent on why Lombardi has been absent.   Tie that together with the fairly odd decision by Browns Assistant GM Ray Farmer to turn down the Miami Dolphins General Manager position recently, and the quiet whisperings of a few front office folks start to gain some interesting validity.  Why would Ray Farmer, who wants to be a GM, turn down a job that he was the leading candidate for, if he didn’t have a very good reason to stay in Cleveland?  Where has Mike Lombardi been?

The scenarios on Lombardi being out are pretty straightforward.  Either the Browns cut ties with him entirely, or they may seek to move him from the GM position by a lateral promotion to another part of the organization.  The latter seems just as plausible to me, because then they wouldn’t have the taint of another shake up within the organization.  Lombardi simply is removed from the area where he can do real damage (personnel), and is able to keep a job within the organization.

Update 1:  MF Jones Reports:

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Shawn is an Army Sergeant, husband to the beautiful and brilliant @MrsStarr, dad to three, and lead writer/publisher here at Dawg Pound Nation.  You can follow him on twitter @ShawnMStarr.


Josh McDaniels Reportedly Declines The Browns Head Coaching Job

According to ESPN Insider Adam Schefter, Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels has declined the Head Coaching vacancy with the Cleveland Browns.
What does this mean?  It’s oddly troubling, as much as many (myself included) did not love the idea of McDaniels being named the Browns next Head Coach.  McDaniels is by no means a hot commodity in the NFL coaching circles, his reputation still suffering from an objective failure in Denver.  The part that should concern the Browns organization though is the fact that a second rate coaching prospect would turn down their position.  These things will happen when you fire your Head Coach after less than 12 months on the job, but it seems as though the Front Office underestimated how much the Chud firing would damage their credibility with coaching candidates.
At this point, the short list of possible Browns coaching candidates grows even shorter.  To date, the only coach left on the Browns interview list is Ben McAdoo today.  They’ve been rumored to have interest in Vanderbilt’s James Franklin, but he is heavily rumored to be taking the opening at Penn State.  Adam Gase remains the lone Browns coaching candidate that is rumored to be of interest to the team that they can possibly interview.  At this point, it seems that perhaps hiring a QB coach instead of a seasoned head coach or even coordinator may be the Browns last options.  This won’t end badly, I’m sure.


In short, chaos reigns supreme once more in Berea.  Great job Jimmy H and Joe Banner, keep up the great work.

Chud Says Team Will Discuss QB Change

Finally.  Finally finally finally.  In an interview today, Coach Rob Chudzinski finally would not affirm that Brandon Weeden is to be the teams starting quarterback on Sunday.  I’m not completely sold that Chud and Co. will sit Weeden just yet, but its good to know that there is finally at least talk of getting The Ginger to take a seat.

Rejoice, Browns fans.

Transcript from Post Draft News Conference with Joe Banner and Coach Chud

Here is the full press transcript from the news conference held with Browns CEO Joe Banner and Head Coach Rob Chudzinski from immediately after the 2013 NFL Draft.

Joe Banner

(Opening statement)- “A couple things I think you already know. We signed (Davone) Bess to a three-year contract extension, so including the year he already has that’s four years. We have agreements with, we won’t have them signed so we won’t release any of the names yet, 17 undrafted free agents. We’ll get you those names as soon as we get the contracts back but until we do that we don’t want to put them out. That probably won’t be until tomorrow morning. We’re still working, we probably have two more spots to fill. I just want to talk a little philosophically about what we did. We view Bess as part of the draft and we were fortunate being able to trade back a couple spots to acquire him, keep the same number of picks and then as you know we were able to take those picks and trade them for future picks. The philosophy really is to treat everything we have, whether it’s a draft pick, an undrafted free agent, cap space, whatever it is as an asset and try to maximize the value we can get for it. We took our fourth round pick for example, traded back to pay for part of Bess and then traded that for a future third round pick. We feel like, for a fourth round pick that’s about as much value as you can possibly hope to get. He’s a good player, still good enough to contribute for a while. Again, he’s very high character, all the things that we keep talking about that we’re looking for. Then we were able to trade the pick and have the asset of a third round pick next year. That’s how we’re thinking about those things, what’s the best value that we can get out of each of those assets, with having in mind the idea of building a really good team over two to three years as opposed to just worrying about filling every single need that we could identify for this moment. That’s just kind of an overview behind the moves you saw us make today.”

Joe Banner

(On if they stuck with their plan going into the draft)-“We were open to the idea of trading for future picks if we could get the right value, but we also went in, I mean frankly I think if you had asked us this morning we would have thought we were going to use those picks. We thought we had good players identified but you start getting into the fourth and fifth round, I’m not going to tell you they’re guys you know that are going to be stars. But as we were able to go through and finalize the best trades, we were a little further in the fourth round as we got an offer that we thought was really good value for the pick as we looked at who was available, I think we had open mindedness about that possibility and then made the decision to use it that way.”

Joe Banner

(On if the plan all along was to improve the defense in free agency and the draft)- “Yeah, to a degree. We were trying to focus on making sure we got players that we thought made us better. I think the difference is on offense we think we have a lot of young guys who are not quite sure what they are going to be over time. So we were inclined to give them some time and see how they develop and then we’ll be able to identify where we’re at. On defense, we felt it was clear to identify what talent was out there, what talent we had, match it up with the philosophy we’ve been talking about and make some moves that will make the team better. It was a little bit of both.”

Joe Banner

(On why they traded with the Steelers who initiated it)-“We had so many causable trades. I think they called us first. Although we had multiple trade offers for that pick, including other teams offering the same thing and we felt that was the best trade to make. Time will tell who got the better of the deal.”

Joe Banner

(On if they have a philosophical problem trading within their division)- “I’m going to sound, I don’t know where this is going to lead, but I prefer to trade within the division. You don’t make a trade that you don’t think you’re winning. So if you’re winning a trade in your own division you’re even better than winning a trade in another division. Obviously, that can burn you from time to time. If you look in Philadelphia, we traded (Donovan) McNabb to the Redskins and everybody thought, ‘Oh my god. What are they doing? They are giving a quarterback to a team in the division.’ We thought we strengthened the Eagles, and in time we didn’t really do anything that helped the competitors. We try to make the best deal, it didn’t really matter who it was, but we’re also not afraid at all of making a trade within the division if we think it benefits us.”

Joe Banner

(On if the trade with the Steelers had anything to do with the Giants’ trade before that pick)- “That trade had nothing to do with anything other than our board and our own value.”

Joe Banner

(On if they had other 2014 third round offers for their fourth round pick)- “I don’t want to get that specific, but other offers that involved future picks. There were other opportunities.”

Rob Chudzinski

(On Jamoris Slaughter)- “Just looking at Jamoris, we felt good looking at his film from the year before, not this past season. Obviously, he is coming off the injury. We felt good medically from the research that we had done and he’ll be back at full speed. That’s still going to take a little time in him getting back into it, but we saw a player who was extremely productive, and very versatile that played on the slot, been able to cover people man to man and also blitzed and played back deep. He’d been able to do a number of different things and we really liked the player we saw at that particular time, and projecting forward, that he we would be able to be in the mix and be able to compete for the safety positions.”

Joe Banner

(On why they would draft a player coming off an Achilles injury after they cut Chris Gocong who had the same injury)- “I think the difference is player evaluation in terms of we are picking the in the sixth round and we feel like we have a player who has a chance to be a contributor – much more than you would get in the sixth round. Our medical staff was very optimistic about the medical part of it. We thought this would be good value.”

Rob Chudzinski

(On Tashaun Gipson)- “Well from what we have been able to see – very positive on Tashaun and his work ethic and how he has approached things out on the field. He has some good instincts as a player and solid skills. Again, he’s a younger guy and we will see once we get into pads and into real football, how he looks.”

Joe Banner

(On if there is any worry that the focus is already down the road when the 2013 season is coming up)- “We are not asking for a free pass for this year. We expect to improve. We expect it to be conspicuous. As you look at the individual players we added and the way the coaches bring them together and get them in sync, we are not saying that we don’t expect to be better. We are not going to reach all of our goals or fill all of our needs this year. But we think we will play exciting, aggressive football. I think it will be clear that the team is continuing to improve as I think it has for the last year or two and positioning itself well to have a chance to become very good and sustain it.”

Rob Chudzinski

(On if he has a different view because he is trying to win next year as a coach)- “Our goal is to win and it always will be. We will approach it from that standpoint. I want us to progress and improve on a daily basis. That is always the focus of a coach, you are focusing on today and improving today. That is the approach that we have taken up to this point with our guys and we will continue to approach it that way.”

Joe Banner

(On the quarterback situation)- “Quarterback is an important position. We are always going to be open to looking at the position. We are always going to be evaluating everybody and every option there is to get stronger there. That’s just a matter of organizational philosophy.”

Rob Chudzinski

“As far as the draft goes, I think the value and the ranking and rating and how we had players stacked with the timing of when the draft was just didn’t match up. As far as the guys that are here, I want to see and we want to give them every opportunity to improve. They have ability and we are excited about them as players to see them grow and how they progress in the system. We feel good about the group that we have.”

Joe Banner

(On if the Giants trading in front of them impacted them trading in the fourth round)- “I answered that question before, the players picked in front of us and around us had no impact on the decision to go ahead and make that trade.”

Joe Banner

(On if Jimmy Haslam was actively involved in the draft)-“He’s actively involved in his way, which I think I’ve described. He holds everybody to a high standard. He asks a lot of very good, very smart questions that are good things to make sure we think through. He is a very positive energy and force to have around. Everyone feels like we have his support. He just uplifts, you’ve been around him, he up lifts the energy around him. He is just a very positive, happy guy. He was here all weekend and it was great to have him.”

Rob Chudzinski

(On having inexperienced players at wide receiver)- “We feel good about that group. There are young players who have ability and talent. We would like to give them the opportunity to develop them and work with them. We were talking a little about Josh Gordon who was basically our second round pick this year. He is a young guy. Davone, we were able to get. We’re excited about him. He is a proven guy in this guy and has been very productive. He’s a guy that can win matchups and help you win particularly in critical situations in games. You look at Greg Little and the improvement he has been making. Travis Benjamin and his speed and some of the things he brings. It’s a group that we’ve had a chance to see a little bit on the field that we are excited about. I would say the same thing about the tight ends. That’s what we do as coaches is take those guys who may not have the experience right now and work with them to improve and get better. They need to get better in a hurry and am confident in our coaching staff that we will get that done.”

Joe Banner

“We think of our draft as the five players we drafted plus Gordon plus Bess plus two quality future draft picks. When you look, before the (Colt) McCoy trade we have six draft picks. What value did we turn that into? It’s Gordon, Bess, plus the players we picked, plus the two future assets that we have acquired and hopefully some good decisions with the undrafted guys. Almost every one of the really good teams in the league has some undrafted players that have cone through and contributed to the team. We view the last couple hours as an important part of the draft as well.”

Rob Chudzinski

(On Armonty Bryant)- “As you looked at Armonty on tape and we’ve had a chance to study him – actually Joe Cullen went out and worked him out as well. So we got to know him a little bit better than the cursory glance at a guy. He’s an explosive, speed off the edge, good sized defensive end who can apply pressure to the quarterback. He’d be that type of player in our scheme. He can put weight on. I think he is 265 or somewhere in that range. He has a big frame and is real raw. He’s a guy that you look at that you are excited about what he can be if he develops and works at it. Through the course of looking into his background with Coach Cullen out there, as well as our scouting staff, we felt like he is passed the mistakes that he has made and ready to move on. He has matured.”

Joe Banner

(On the philosophy of drafting two Division II players and how he found them)- “This is mostly the work of Michael Lombardi, Jon Sandusky, John Spytek, Ray Farmer and the rest of the crew. They did a great job getting us ready for this. It’s a matter of leaving no stone unturned. Sometimes you can find value in those spots. They found them, they identified them, we went through the process with the scouts and the coaches evaluated them. We felt they had a chance to help us and we went ahead.”

Joe Banner

(On if there is more concern because they are taking a bigger leap from Division II)- “There is a little bit more of a projection when you do that. You trust yourself, we had a lot of eyes on it and a lot of opinions. Probably had at least five scouts and two to three coaches on every single player that we seriously considered. Maybe even more on some cases. You just have to trust that collective wisdom.”

Rob Chudzinski

(On if not drafting a quarterback shows commitment to Brandon Weeden)- “Again, I feel good about the group. How all that plays out, we’ll see and know in time. I’m excited about Brandon and the progress he has made thus far, learning the system to the point we are right now, which is still very early. I’ve also been pleased with Jason (Campbell) and the role he has taken in being there. We want to give these guys every opportunity to succeed and give Brandon, since you are asking about him specifically, every opportunity to succeed.”

Rob Chudzinski

(On if they are moving forward with the intent that Weeden is the guy)- “We’re going to proceed as we are proceeding right now. Brandon is getting the reps with the first team and working with the first group. A lot of this will remain to be seen. We get into pads and we get into real football instead of the football where you run around in shorts on air, which is what we are doing right now.”

Joe Banner

(On if he can say now whether or not Josh Gordon was worth the second round pick)- “My answer is the same as it was. I think Josh has a lot of potential and we are excited about what he can do. We’re all going to see how he develops and what he can turn into. In the end that question will answer itself, I think. We’re certainly rooting for him to prove that was a great decision.”

Rob Chudzinski

(On if Garrett Gilkey is a guard or tackle- “He has played tackle and then played guard in the Senior Bowl. He has played some of both so we’ll see when he gets in. He has played primarily on the left side and we’ll see if he can play on the right side. We’ll see when he gets in.”

Rob Chudzinski

(On if Bryant is an outside linebacker or defensive end)-“More defensive end.”

Rob Chudzinski

(On what he liked about Gilkey)- “Big guy, good size, has really good feet for a big man and can bend very well. He went into the Senior Bowl and played very well against those guys and competed. Coming from Chadron State and competed against those guys. He has lined up against guys from Florida State, North Carolina and everywhere else and looked like he fit right in. It didn’t faze him one bit. He’s a tough guy and has the kind of attitude that we want.”

Rob Chudzinski

(On Gilkey’s past health conditions)- “We did all the research on him and we felt good about that.”

Joe Banner

(On their reaction to Quentin Groves)- “I think we said all there is to say about it. We’re aware of it, we’ve spoken to him. Chud has met with him extensively. There’s really nothing more to add to that.”

One Pound Of Sadness: Beginning To Love Chud

I’ll be honest with you.  When the Browns whiffed on Chip Kelly, and made no clear effort to go after any other big name coaches on the market, I was pretty discouraged.  Then, when they hired a non-headline coach in Rob Chudzinski, I was ready to slam the door on the new ownership “regime”.  I mean, did these guys know the precarious situation they were walking in to?  A rabid fans base, arguably one of the most involved, certainly one of the most loyal, in the entire NFL.  A fan base who has experienced nothing but failure after failure, disappointment after disappointment, literally for longer than I have been alive (I’m racing up on 30).  And to this fan base, who they needed to win over, they throw some no-name head coach to, and hire the much maligned Mike Lombardi to be the GM.  How could this be the good start they desperately needed?  Did they realize how bad this looked?

Then, I started to pay attention a bit more to Coach Chud.  The things the man said, the things he does, and (probably most importantly to the oft nostalgic Browns fans) to the things he HAS done.  I won’t lie, I started this from a fairly critical, openly sarcastic position.  Coach Chud wasn’t getting a fair shake at this from me, but I’ll be honest in saying that he’s started to win me over. Why? Well, I took the name away. I made him simply “Coach X” in my head. Then I thought about what he brings to the table as the Browns Head Coach.

1. Passion.

There is no question that Coach Chud is the single most passionate head coach the Browns have had in my lifetime. He WANTS to be here. Cleveland, unbelievably, was his dream job. You are probably not going to find another Head Coach option where this is the case. Most guys would use Cleveland to show that they can get the job done in a more glamorous market. The Cleveland Browns head coaching position is not one that most coaches look at as a final, permanent spot. The hard truth is that this has been a disaster of a football franchise for more than 40 years (one-to-two year stretches of non-mediocrity don’t count, those were flukes imo). Who wants to be responsible for an extension of that disaster? The answer is, simply, Chud. Chud wanted this job, badly. He grew up, like the rest of us, as a Browns fan who desperately wanted his favorite team to be better than the mess that they were/are. And now he’s in a position to do something about it. Now as we know, passion alone is not enough…

2. Brains.

The guy has the brains to turn this thing around. He’s widely considered to be one of the most innovative, creative young minds in the NFL. Now, since Chud has never coached a national champion contender in college, or been a head coach in the NFL, he’s flown under most of the national medias radar. To get a real opinion of him, you need to ask the guys he’s coach under. The opinion you come up with is unanimous. Heaps of praise, tons of respect, and an almost glowing admiration from his former superiors. It’s not an accident that so many people share the same opinion of Coach Chud. He might be one of the best guys in the league at breaking down film (which he does borderline obsessively), which is big in my eyes. Coaches who obsess over film are the ones who get the real, objective story. Film doesn’t get emotional, it isn’t biased. Winning coaches are the ones who follow the film.

Outside of that, Chud did something that Chip Kelly has yet to do, which is successfully apply the spread offense to the NFL. Think about who the first QB to have great success running the spread. A hint, it was RGIII/Kaepernick/etc. It was Cam Newton, smashing rookie QB records in the system Chud built. That is no accident…

3. Past Success

Coach Chud has been successful at every level he’s coached thus far. Most notably as a TE coach/asst head coach in San Deigo, where he helped build Norv’s vaunted offense. In Cleveland in 2007, he took an objectively awful QB in Derek Anderson and built a system for him that made him a pro bowl QB. Additionally, its worth noting that it was statistically the Browns most successful offense in well over 30 years. Then, as I noted above, he was the one who brought the spread successfully to the NFL, building around Cam Newtons unique skill set. Now, its worth noting the immense versatility this shows. Cam Newton and Derek Anderson and Phillip Rivers are all about as different from one another as Quarterbacks can be. Yet, Chud was able to work out a system for each that played to their strengths, covered up their weaknesses, and allowed them to thrive.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are still question marks. Can Chud’s systems be sustained over the long haul? He only got a year with DA, and Cam certainly had a little drop off in his second season. Can Chud adapt when NFL defenses start to figure out his systems? This is certainly a matter for concern, but after a neutral examination of the facts, I’m willing to get behind the kid from Toledo and give him a shot. Besides, what’s the worst that can happen, we can have a few more losing seasons?

Transcript From Coach Chudzinski’s Interview At The NFL Combine

2013 NFL Combine: Transcript from meeting with Browns coach Rob Chudzinski


Browns coach Rob Chudzinski met with local reporters this morning at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Here is a transcript from the transcript:

Do you want to keep any of your free agents?: “We have an overall plan that we’ve been working on and working through for the last few weeks. It’s sort of a high level philosophy and there’s ongoing discussions and it’s an ongoing plan that we’re developing. At this time, not all the details have been worked out on that. Not all the discussion and specifics about every player have been worked out on that. So and that’ll be, we have 2 ½ weeks till we get into the free-agency period. Obviously those things will be worked out going forward and through those times. We’ve been meeting trying to catch up with a lot of things, free agency being one of the major things. I think really the biggest thing is we’ve outlined what we want in terms of a philosophy on anything.”

Where do you stand with free-agents-to-be Phil Dawson and Josh Cribbs?: “I’m not going to get into any specifics on any players, any of our free agents, any contractual situations. All those things I’m not going to get into and you understand why.”

Is there a chance any of your free agents could be back?: “Again, I don’t really want to get into any of that.”

What do you think of quarterback Brandon Weeden?: “I’ve looked at Brandon. I’m excited about getting Brandon out on the field and in the meetings and around the building. It’s tough when you’re just looking at tape on guys. That’s one piece of it. Certainly he has some good tools to work with. He had some success. You saw progress as the season went on last year. And again, I’m excited really with all of our guys, just getting them around and being around them a little bit more. And once we get them in meetings and get them on the field and start working with them, [we’ll] see where they can go from there. But I’m excited about Brandon.”

When owner Jimmy Haslam said you’ll have competition, does that mean you’ll add a quarterback in the draft or free agency?: “We have three guys here that provide competition and we’ll leave it open to whatever happens in terms of any other possible scenarios. We’re going to look at everything, every possibility to try to make the team better. I’m excited about Brandon. Obviously Colt [McCoy] has been here, has won games, has some unique abilities himself that I’m excited about. Again, getting all those guys in the building and see what they can do and being around them and really getting a chance to really evaluate them. You can look at tape and evaluate tape, but until you’re around guys, until you understand when you’re asking them to do certain things and seeing how they react to that and how they react on the field and how they play ultimately is what decides how far they can go.”

When you interviewed for the job, was there any discussion about expanding the zone-read offense you used with the Carolina Panthers here?: “No, there was really no discussion on that specifically. I’ve always believed from a philosophy standpoint as a coach you have to be able to flexible and adapt to the players that you have. That was something that I had never done in Carolina before and with Cam Newton and the possibilities with him and the potential that he had and really the background he had in college, I just felt like being able to give him something that would transition him to the NFL as you continue to develop and utilize some of those special, unique qualities that guys have, and that goes for all positions. That you’re looking to try to find roles for guys, looking for guys that have redeeming qualities and things they can do that are special and us having a good enough system and a flexible enough system that you can use those type of guys.”

We know what your offense looked like in 2007, is that the starting point or ending point?: “I feel like I’ve evolved as a coach and really that comes from offensive coordinator Norv [Turner]’s philosophy from year to year that you have to be pushing the envelope at all times and finding new, different, call them better ways of attacking and trying to attack defenses. So I don’t know if you call it the beginning point or starting point but there are components of the things that you would have seen in that offense, there’s components of the things that you would have seen in that offense, there’s components of the things that you would have seen in that offense. There’s components of the things that you would see in some of Norv’s offense, components of some of the things you would have seen in the Carolina offense that we’ll incorporate. And that’s really been one of the things that’s been fun, is sitting in there together and working through some of these things both on offense and defense, here’s what we’d like to do. Then the whole big part of it is, OK, now here’s the players we have. What can we do that fits? You’ve got this big playbook. What portion of it will we be able to use?”

Would you be comfortable with Weeden as your starter?: “Whoever our starter is, I’m going to be comfortable with.”

Is there another change coming at QB?: “Some of those things are hard to say. We need to get out on the practice field. We need to get into the meetings, get into the installs and evaluate him. We’re going to put the best guy on the field that gives us the best chance to win.”

Is Weeden’s age – 29 — a factor?: “I think you have to look at him as a second-year player because that’s what he is in this league. He had some ups and downs last season, but you saw progress as he went on. And all the quarterbacks, we’re going to challenge all of them. That’s the way we’re going to be with all our players, specifically the quarterbacks. I expect all of them to rise to the challenge and improve. I’m excited. You guys know the history of Norv and his work with quarterbacks. He’s done an unbelievable job with them, and I’m excited to get started with those guys.”

Do you think zone read has a future in Cleveland and does it depend on who your QB is?: “It’ll depend on the guys that are playing it, do they have the capabilities of doing it and some of the background on doing it and we’ll just have to see once we get out there what the guys can do.”

But you don’t dismiss it as just a fad?: “No, not at all.”

What do you like about it?: “When you look at doing it, you really, balance of it, most of the time defenses don’t have to account for the quarterback as a runner so you actually add a number to your run game and to your blocking schemes even out. It’s hard for them to outnumber you in the box and obviously just one more possibility of a guy who can carry the ball.”

Are those quarterbacks getting easier to find?: “Yeah, the college game has evolved to a lot of the spread and a lot of people doing those type of things so that’s what you’re getting from a college quarterbacks and you find less and less of the old style traditional drop back guys so they have some unique skill set.”

Do you see defenses starting to adjust?: “I think they have. You know they’ll continue to work and spend a lot of time on that and they’ll get better at playing those things. Again, it just gives you one more option as an offensive coach and in Carolina we were on the front end of that and on the cutting edge of really incorporating that as part of our offense. It started as not really knowing exactly how it would work. We worked our way through it really helped us a lot and helped Cam in his development and obviously the questions you start asking are what about the long term possibility of doing it and those type of things as a guy gets older and those are the things that we would’ve had to work through and anybody that is doing has to work through. Defensively we’re going to end up playing teams that do it and so we have to have answers and hopefully my experiences with doing that will help us defensively.”

How does Turner feel about Weeden?: “Very similar to what I’m telling you. As coaches a lot of time you look at tape and it tells a very small part of the story. Until you get out there, until you get in meetings with guys and you get a sense for them, you start teaching the things you want done and how you want them done and then see those guys and how they react to them on the field, and then get him in situations. Put him in situations that as a quarterback are important, the two-minute drills that you do in practice, and the third downs and the red zone and all those critical situations. That’s where you really get a chance to see him and evaluate him based on what you’re teaching them and what you’re emphasizing.”

Do you need to make a decision on Weeden before you get him on the field?: “April 1 is when these guys come in and show up. So we get them for two weeks starting April 1. This is all optional for them to report. We can meet with them for two weeks. We can’t go on the field with them, but we can meet with them for two weeks during that time. And then they can lift and work out in the weight room and run and those type of things. We can’t as coaches go on the fiel with them. And then we’ll have a minicamp after those two weeks, a veteran minicamp for three days. I think we’ll have five practices during those three days. Then we have three more weeks of phase two. That’s where we can be on the field coaching those guys and going through things. We can’t line up offense vs. defense, but we can do our perfect plays, we can run through all those things for three weeks and then we have four weeks of OTAs and finish with another minicamp at the end. Because we’re new, we get two minicamps. You get a minicamp before the draft, which will end up being two weeks or so before the draft and then the minicamp at the end.

Can Turner make Weeden better?: “He’s got a skill set that you’re excited about, and I have all the confidence in the world that Norv will get Brandon to improve and ultimately it’s going to be on Brandon or on any player what they put it into and how much they commit to it. That’s going to be the difference.”

What are Weeden’s skills?: “He has a really good arm, he can throw the ball, he can make all the throws that you need to throw, he has a good, calm poise and demeanor in the pocket. Again, he was up and down a little bit and during the season as any young quarterback, or rookie quarterback especially is. You see some things that are there that get you excited about him.”

Do you need a veteran wide receiver?: “From a leadership standpoint, we have a lot of young guys on the team. And I think that as opposed to saying let’s bring in a veteran type guy necessarily, I think you need strong leadership regardless of where that comes from. And that can come from young guys. Sometimes that’s the thing you think of when you don’t have a veteran, you don’t have leaders. But leaders can grow from the young group of guys. So we need strong leadership. We need good leaders. Where that comes from I’m not necessarily worried whether that comes from a veteran or whether that would come from a young guy.”

Wide receivers Greg Little and Josh Gordon missed college time. Vet wide receivers good route runner would help?: “Greg and Josh both, you look at those guys and really like some of the ability that they have and what they’ve shown and obviously there are some areas they need to continue to get better in. But even sometimes with veteran guys, they’re coming in and learning a brand new system, and how we do things is going to be different than maybe they’re used to doing, regardless of how many years they have in the league. It’s going to be new for everybody, just having a veteran isn’t necessarily helpful in that manner.”

What are the biggest areas of need on the roster?: “We’ve assessed all those areas, and we do have a lot of areas that we need to improve on. I’m not going to get into pinning down the specifics on that, but we do have a lot of needs, a lot of areas we can improve on.”

Do you still use tight ends a lot in your offense?: “We have in the past. We’ve been fortunate to have those type of guys. If you don’t have those type of guys, then you utilize different personnel groups and, again, that goes back to the overall system of being flexible enough to be able to adjust to the guys you have and put the best guys on the field that can help you win.”

What are your impressions of running back Trent Richardson?: “I’m excited about Trent as well. I know he had some injuries early, but you could see him really develop as the season went on. Again, he’s a young guy, I think there’s still a lot of things he can improve on in his game and I’m excited to get him out there and get started with that process. We do have an overall young team and a young group of guys and we have a lot of work to do with those guys. And that’s the part you’re excited about as a coach, because that’s bridging the gap from some of the potential — which sometimes it’s that ugly word potential — but seeing that potential in guys and the talent in guys and then being able to bring that out and for them to develop into the players that they can ultimately become.”

What are your impressions about this year’s quarterback draft class?: “People have talked about that. I have not studied enough. I’m still playing catch up on a lot of these things in the draft, and we can go into all the things I’ve been doing in the meantime. I don’t have enough of a pulse on the whole class to really make a comment.”

Why do you feel you need to add a quarterback?: “In our discussions, I think the overall point is that we want competition. Going back to my past and my background playing at the University of Miami and being lucky enough to somehow get a chance to get on the field there – I don’t know how that happened – but competition makes people better, so however that competitions ends up coming about, I’m satisfied that we’ll be pushing and creating an environment for competition and that’s really ultimately what you want. Guys are going to have opportunities and when guys have opportunities, they have to make good on those opportunities and deliver, and that’s ultimately what you want to see as a coach, and that’s what you’re looking for.”

Will you have a role in evaluating draft prospects?: “Well, let me start off with, as I mentioned before, I am really excited about working, just in the short amount of time, working with [CEO] Joe [Banner] and [vice president of player personnel] Mike [Lombardi] and seeing those guys work together, the experience they have in football. They understand the football side of it, the business side of it. They’re extremely intelligent guys. They know the game. We’ve worked so well together. It’s really a collaborative effort. You look at Mike and the scouting staff and what they’ve done in a short amount of time. I’ve been extremely impressed with them. Part of the process we had to do early on was with the coaches. We spent a lot of time as coaches coming together and identifying what our profile was for our ideal player at different positions whether it was a slot corner or a left guard, or a receiver – every position coming together and really sitting down and hammering out. That was a process that took some time. Then being able to communicate that to the scouts and what they are looking for and how they can go out and recognize that more easily so we can all come together. It’s a worthwhile process and a necessary job to really do the job we want to do. I can’t emphasize enough Joe and Mike and what a great job they’ve done and what a pleasure it is to work with them. I really think the group works so well together. We’re all on the same page of where we want to go and the overall philosophy of it. You just have to hammer out the details of it. We have a great working relationship.”

Does the work the scouts did before you were hired conflict with what you want?: “I wouldn’t say conflict. As I mentioned before, we really tried to sit down and define from a player’s standpoint what we’re looking for as coaches by positions. What we’ve had to do, and Mike has done a great job with the scouts, is circle back and get them all together and then work to define that and get them all on the same page. Based on the evaluations they’ve done already, go back and, [say] ‘Does this fit this. This is what we’re talking about.’ They’ve done a lot of work. I don’t know if they’ve had to adjust to the overall system we’re talking about.’

How does the line in your hybrid defense look?: “A lot of those things will be answered when we get on the field and go through that. The style of 3-4 we’re talking about, the guys we have are very adaptable to that and will fit in. What I really see with that group up front is a number of guys that can play multiple positions. The inside guys, Phil [Taylor] and [Ahtyba] Rubin and Billy [Winn] can move around. Some can play defensive end. Some can play nose. The defensive tackles move and rotate around in there. You talked about Jabaal [Sheard]. I see him with the ability to be an outside linebacker and a defensive end. When we get out there on the grass, we’ll make that determination as far as that goes. One of the things [defensive coordinator] Ray [Horton] said in the press conference was not to put limitations on guys. You want to find out what they can do and not say, ‘They can’t do this. They can’t do that.’ Give them the chance to go there and we’ll zero in on what they can do well to hope us the most.”

Do you mean Sheard can play end in a 3-4 or 4-3?: “Both.”

How tough would it be for him to drop into coverage?: “It’s something he’s done some. You can see on tape he’s done a little bit of. Obviously that will be something he’ll learn and keep working on. I know that a year ago there were a lot of 3-4 teams that were interested in him as well.”

Linebackers are crucial. Who besides D’Qwell Jackson can you count on?: “You talk about Jabaal being able to play either one of the positions there. D’Qwell has played in a 3-4 defense before so he has a background in it. He’s played both positions inside in the 3-4 before. That gives us a lot of flexibility there. We have some younger guys, obviously Chris [Gocong] coming back from an Achilles. We’ll see how that all fits in there together. I feel confident we’ll be able to get the guys in place to be successful there.”

Will Gocong be ready for the start of the offseason conditioning program on April 1?: “I’m not sure about that yet. Rehab is on target, on track, he’s running and doing those type of things. Beyond that I don’t know exactly. I can’t give you an exact date.”

Will he be ready by minicamp?: “I don’t know yet.”

Were there offseason surgeries for other players?: “I’m not expecting any issues with any other things.”

Would you listen to trade offers for Weeden and Colt McCoy?: “We’re not going to get into any specifics on any of our guys. We’re looking to improve our team in any areas, by any means of doing that.”

Both Super Bowl teams used two tight ends. Is it more in vogue?: “I’ve always kind of thought it was in vogue. I think the position has grown in importance over the last 10 years. You look at the guys and the type of guys who are coming out in college, you’re seeing so many more guys who are athletic, are receiver types. The game’s evolved in that way and the position has evolved in that way, that you want those versatile type guys who can do everything. Ozzie Newsome was the exception back in the day.”

Three to four wide receivers were in two or three years ago, now it’s two tight ends?: “Versatile players are something that you value, guys that can play multiple positions and do multiple things for you.”

Versatility is a lot to ask of young team. Are you trying out guys at different spots then stick with one thing?: “I think it’s a little bit of both. You’re looking for guys who can do a lot of different things. Hopefully you have a system in place that you can teach and get those guys to be able to do that. Talking about the coaching staff, one of the things I was looking for, especially with a young group, is great teachers. Guy who can teach them, communicate effectively and motivate and get them to do things in a short amount of time. So that is part of that process as well. Looking for the right type of guys that fit, then finding what they can do well and then being able to coach them and teach them to get them to do the things you need to do. It’s all a part of the process.”

Has left guard Jason Pinkston, who had a blood clot in his lung last season, been cleared?: “I’m not sure what his status is and probably won’t be for a while.”

Is the fullback still an elemental part of your offense?: “I think so. The biggest thing is you have to adjust to the guys that you have, and if you have one, that’s great. It’s kind of a lost position, a lost art nowadays. But there is definite value in a good fullback.”

Why wouldn’t you re-sign Dawson given what he’s meant to the franchise?: What’s to think about?: “Phil had a great year last year. I know Phil and I have a lot of respect for Phil, but I’m not going to get into what’s going on in our free-agent type situations.”

Were you so tied to 3-4 you didn’t care what went on here before?: You talk about flexibility. Why not keep defense and staff?: “I felt the ideal situation was the 3-4. That was the ideal in my mind as for what I wanted to do. I think the personnel we have are flexible enough that you don’t have to do a major overhaul. I don’t think the difference in scheme is that big from that standpoint. And then a guy like Ray Horton becomes available and he fit exactly the style I was talking about and the one I preferred. So, those things all come together and I’m excited about what the Browns’ defense is going to be.”

Why fire the wide receivers coach?: “From a system’s standpoint and bringing in a new system is I had a background with Scott and was very comfortable with Scott coaching the receivers. It doesn’t comment to any of the coaches who were here before. It’s more about knowing the system and the scheme and comfortable level and being around guys you have coached with.”

Was Ray Horton your hire or the front office’s hire?: “It was [me] all the way. I love having Ray Horton and I think everybody was excited in the building about it as well.”