Training Camp Opener: John Dorsey and Hue Jackson

posted by Cleveland Browns - 

Transcript provided by Mike Annarella, Browns Communications Coordinator.

(Photo by: 2018 Diamond Images/Getty Images)

Opening statement:

Dorsey: “Good afternoon, everybody. As you can see, Hue has done a little shopping this summer and he found himself a grey sweatshirt. It is pretty good, though. Your hat, too. I like your hat. I just wanted to tell you all that we are very excited for the 2018 training camp. We are excited to be back here, we have been away for a month. Tony (Grossi), it is even good to see you back here, too. It is the start of something. Hopefully, these guys will pick up where they left off, with regards to OTAs and minicamp and building on those little things that it is going to take to achieve success. Before we get any farther, I do want to say one thing. We have made a classification that we are going to put (WR) Josh Gordon as an NFI. On that, we have designated that he is a Did Not Report player. That just helps me within the system, working within the system. Going with that, I am going to respect his privacy. Like I said, I am going to respect the privacy of Josh while he is away from the team, because I think that his overall health and his well-being is what is really important here now. I get that football is secondary. Our focus should be on the entire football team and the 2018 season.

 

Also, I want to let you all know that the 2018 draft class is now officially done. We have come to an agreement with (DB) Denzel Ward and his representatives. That will be executed here pretty soon. Again, that will be moving forward. That is important, too, because those guys want to be here and they want to compete. That is all I have. Coach, I am sure, may have something.”

 

Jackson: “Yes I do. First, I want to step back and give or condolences to the Sparano family. Tony and I worked together at the Washington Redskins, and what a tremendous football coach and person. He will be missed. Unfortunate. And we are thinking of him.

 

Obviously, it is a very excited time for our football team. I think that any time you get to training camp and have all of your draft class signed and ready to go, it is exciting. We have a lot of work to do – a ton of work to do – and I think that we all get that. Our players are very eager to get going. We will have a great meeting tonight to get ready for tomorrow. But again, I want everybody, especially our fans, to really see what our players do on a daily basis; preparing, the hard work that is being put into this for them, so that they can go out and do what they need to do to be a better football team. Obviously, our fans want results and that is what we are striving for. We are here to win. As I have said before, from the first day that I came here, we are going to do everything we can to put a winning product on the field.

 

From a medical standpoint, let’s just get this out of the way right now. (DL) Chad Thomas will start off on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform), (OL) Desmond Harrison will start off on the PUP. (WR) Ricardo Louis, as you guys know, did not do a lot in the spring because of his neck. As a matter of fact, he will be ruled out for the rest of the year this year. That is kind of where that is. (DB) Jabrill Peppers has a little groin sprain, and will probably start off on the PUP, as well. We will get into that later, but I just wanted to make sure that we are all clear on all of the injuries and all of the things that are happening that way.”

 

On if there is any ‘clarity’ on when WR Josh Gordon will return to the team:

Dorsey: “I really do not. We will see what happens here, but I think that the most important thing for us is to concentrate on the 2018 season and training camp moving forward and talking about those guys that are here. Right now, I think that the most important thing for Josh is to continue what he is doing right now. At the end of the day, it is about this person getting better. That is what we are all hoping for here.”

 

On if the team expects to have Gordon back at some point in the 2018 season:

Dorsey: “Absolutely.”

 

On if the receiving corps will be adjusted, due to the absence of Gordon and Louis:

Dorsey: “Our personnel department will do its due diligence and take in everything – turn over every stone possible. We will look at all options. We will talk and have free discussion about the possibilities here. We have two roster spots that we can fill. The question is, do I want to use it at the receiver position with the legs? Or the stress points of training camp, as well all know, are the receivers and corners. Do we add an additional corner? These are things that we will add in our discussions. Let’s see what happens as the days go forward. I will say this, I am going to have a group of receivers in here working out eventually, so we will see what happens.”

 

On ‘counting on’ Gordon:

Dorsey: “I made a statement back in the winter. Josh is 100-percent committed to the Cleveland Browns and the Cleveland Browns are 100-percent committed to him. He has had a great offseason. He has had great training. Let’s just see what happens here. All I care about is respecting his privacy and let’s see him move forward.”

 

On the impact of Gordon’s absence impacting the group:

Jackson: “Obviously, we would like to have all of our players here. At the same time, we know that things do come up. As a staff, we are prepared for anything and everything. I think in my three years here, I have seen it all. I am not surprised by anything that can happen. I think that if we make it more than what it is – again, we are talking about a young man who is doing everything he can to put himself in the best position to be better in his life and I think that is great for Josh. At the same time, we have a football team to get ready. That is what we are going to do. All we can really worry about is the guys that are here. Coach the guys that are here and get them better. When Josh is ready to return, he will return.”

 

On not rushing to play QB Baker Mayfield right away:

Jackson: “I think that John has done a great job of getting us veteran players that have won games in the National Football League. If you look at our rooms over the last couple of years, we have had some guys that have not won many games in the National Football League. I think that this is a tough league at that position. There is no question that we have drafted Baker Mayfield for a reason and I think that he is the future of this franchise. But (QB) Tyrod Taylor has demonstrated all offseason what he has needed to show me and the staff to be the starter. Baker Mayfield has worked his tail off. He has a lot of work to do. He has got to learn this league and understand it better. We are not putting a ceiling on anything, but at the same time, we feel very comfortable with our room, exactly how it is made up, with a couple of veteran players and a young, very talented, emerging player. We feel good about where we are.”

 

Dorsey: “I think that each one of us embraces competition. We love competition. It brings out the best in us. To play quarterback in the National Football League is hard, and I think that we have stated all along that this is for the long well-being for not only the player, but for the organization, as well. He (Mayfield) will have the chance to see defenses and offenses. The nuances are very complicated. Very few guys can walk in there as a rookie and actually control, move forward and have a success at a high degree of level. So, why not for the betterment of the organization and for the player, let him learn from true professionals. We have said that this is Tyrod Taylor’s team. He has taken a team to the playoffs. He has demonstrated that, you know what, he is our starter. Then, you have (QB) Drew Stanton in there. Drew is a veteran leader who has been through these things. He is going to be able to not only help Tyrod and help Baker, but he is going to help that whole room. That is kind of the plan that we have put together. This is a marathon, not a sprint.”

 

On where Baker Mayfield is on the depth chart:

Jackson: “I do not even want to get into whether he is two or three, or any of that. He is going to get reps. One of my jobs and the staff’s job is to make sure that we are developing him and making sure that he starts to understand the National Football League. I do not think that it matters about number, or what this is – two, three – any of that. Baker Mayfield will get reps and get better as a football player for the Cleveland Browns.”

 

On what makes this Gordon instance different than one’s prior:

Jackson: “Because I think that he has done everything that we have asked him to do. When I look at this situation, and I think that is has been said by everybody, he is doing everything that he can to prevent future issues. This is a different situation in my mind. As you guys said, the league said that there are no issues that way. I think that this is a young man that has put himself into a positon to be better for himself, for the team and for the organization. I feel pretty good about it.”

 

On when Gordon will be back, in relation to the term ‘soon’ that Gordon mentioned in his announcement:

Dorsey: “I do not know here yet. Soon could mean many things; soon could mean a month, soon could mean three days. It is soon. I think that when we get to that point when he decides to come back, I think that you embrace him, see where he is and move forward. See where he is physically, in terms of conditioning and being ready to play football. Then, we will see what it is. Who knows when it could be? It could be 10 days, it could be 20 days, it could be 30 days.”

 

On if Jackson has spoken with Gordon directly recently:

Jackson: “I have not. I have done everything that I can to support him from afar and let him do what he needs to do. I think that is what is important. But, he knows that our lines are open for communication at any time.”

 

On who will be the starting receiver opposite of WR Jarvis Landry:

Jackson: “Well, obviously, (WR) Corey Coleman. We have a guy that is here and heading into year three and that needs to go out and play well. We will stick Corey in there and keep going.”

 

On the possibility of acquiring free agent Dez Bryant:

Dorsey: “I have had a chance to be around Dez, I have known Dez. I had a chance – when he was down in Lufkin, Texas – I was actually at his workout and had a chance to meet him. I know the kind of person that he is and what makes him. He is a very talented player. Have we had discussions about Dez Bryant? Yeah. That is natural. You can have discussions like that. Now, we will see what comes to fruition the next couple of days, but we’v talk about it. You have to talk about these things. I have talked about a lot of things. There have been a whole list of players that we have talked about as a staff.”

 

On if Bryant would fit in with the organization:

Dorsey: “I look at Dez as a very competitive, passionate person. That is how I look at Dez Bryant.”

 

On the expectations of the 2018 team:

Dorsey: “As I look at this team – I have sat and watched them at OTAs, I have sat and watched them at minicamp – I have watched them diligently come together with a single objective of trying to overcome certain obstacles. Moving forward, you have to have that type of mindset. Moving forward, the whole key to training camp is going to be come to work every day, work on the little things that will get you better. I have always said, you come in as teammates and you are going to leave as family. Because that way, if you have a single-minded purpose with single goals, you will understand how to get things. As the season goes along – you know I have always lived by the mantra of 1-0, go 1-0 – and let’s be competitive week in and week out. Let’s be competitive in the AFC North. That is how I look at things. There is talent here. There is talent here and now they have to come together and understand the task at hand.”

 

On getting past the ‘baggage’ of years past:

Jackson: “I think that you just said it. I think that it is not the same team. I think that John and his team did a tremendous job of adding key pieces to our football team. This is a competitive football team throughout. I think that at every position, there is some competition, which ultimately makes your football team better. I know that we talk about the past quite a bit, but this is not the same team that is any of those records that you are talking about, from the past. This team is going to have to form its own identity – create its own identity by how we work, how we practice. Like I said when I started, we have a lot of work to do ahead of us as a football staff and as a team and I think that we get that. I think that everybody, and I see our players walk into this building, they are very eager and excited about putting the past behind us.”

 

Dorsey: “Every team is distinctly different, year in and year out. You have seen it many of times. With that being said, this is going to be a good team moving forward.”

 

On what went into putting Taylor as the No. 1 QB:

Jackson: “I think that you have a guy that has played seven seasons in the National Football League and has seen the defenses. As John said earlier, how defenses work and how they come at quarterbacks and all of the different situations that happen in a football game, Tyrod Taylor has dealt with, where Baker has not. Let’s just be honest, you are talking about seven years to a guy that is a rookie. You would hope that a veteran player of Tyrod’s caliber, with his talent and ability – which, and again, we keep talking about what he has done in Buffalo, because obviously, we want him to do that here. That he should have a leg up. If we have done our homework right, which we have. John, like I said, his group did a great job for us of acquiring Tyrod Taylor for a reason, for him to be the starting quarterback. And then, we took a very young player, who we think is going to be a tremendous player, but he needs time. He is not ready to walk out there right now and play. That is ok. We did not bring him here for that. We brought him here because he is talented. We think that he is the future of this organization. We are going to do everything we can to develop him as we go through training camp and the preseason and during the season. Put him into a position that when he does need to play and when he is ready to play, he will walk out there and play well.”

 

On if marking Gordon as a ‘did not report’ makes a roster spot available:

Dorsey: “Correct.”

On Taylor getting first-team reps, and the challenge with Mayfield:

Jackson: “Tyrod Taylor is the starter. I don’t envision any situation where all of a sudden he is getting a bunch first team reps – unless, god-forbid, something happens. But at the same time, there might be a day – please no one hold me to it – a day where Tyrod, all of a sudden, maybe does not go, and Baker’s out there and people go, ‘Oh my gosh.’ It would not be that. Let’s not turn that into now he is going to be the starter. That is not what it is. I am committed to making this work the way we have it, because I feel it’s best for the organization and best for the player. If the players supersedes that, it will show itself. You guys will know probably faster than we all do, because you guys look at it that way. Trust me, I think we’re in a really, really good place right now.”

 

On Jackson’s approach to this upcoming camp, from a coaching standpoint:

Jackson: “Well, my role has changed. I have now taken on the ‘CEO’ aspect of it. I kind of oversee it all. That was tough – being very honest with you – when you have to step away from something you love doing. But as I said earlier, it is not about personal wins for me anymore. I have done all of that. It’s about organizational wins. I brought (offensive coordinator) Todd Haley here for a reason, to help this organization get to winning. To me, when you look at it from that standpoint, I hope we all get it. My job is to coach the team. Offense, defense and special teams, I am going to be involved in all of that. Not that I am going to be far from the offense, I am going to help where I can. I will stick my nose in places maybe I should not, but that’s just part of it. I feel good about what I was able to do in the spring – the help I could give, whether it was with the defense, offense or special teams – and I feel I will be even better when we head into training camp that way.”

 

On what Jackson has had to manage the past two seasons as head coach:

Dorsey: “I do. I have seen that. It’s an exercise in head coaching and what a head coach does. He is going to lead men. He is going to lead the organization in this thing. He is going to create that daily message, day in and day out. As this thing moves forward, the one thing I have always admired, in the 4 weeks that I was here, is how hard those players played for Hue when he was here, because they trusted him. You could see that. To me, that is the overarching thing; as long as the goals are there and the players understand what the expectations are from a head coach, that gives him a lot of opportunity to do different angles and motivate guys. That is it.”

 

On if they are sure that Gordon is not ‘in jeopardy of being suspended’:

Dorsey: “As I look at this thing, what we are going to do here is, again, I am going to respect Josh’s privacy. I will continue to say that and let him do what he has to do moving forward. Then when he comes back, we will embrace him. That is how we are going to do it.”

 

On the level of confidence in Gordon returning:

Dorsey: “I think the best thing right now is for Josh – his well-being – to be where he is. I think we can all respect that privacy part of it for him.”

 

On what needed to be changed over the offseason for the team:

Dorsey: “I think, when we sat down as a group – I think the first thing when you being to make change like this as an organization – is you have to have a plan. You have to plan, small, large and in different segments of the months moving forward. Where it first starts is having a personal staff sitting there and breaking the team down. Having the coaching staff breaking the team down. Then, it is the head coach and myself coming together in a meeting and say we have to fix this, this, this and this. Then, we begin to do an overarching plan. Then, what type of guys do you want in that locker room? That is part of the overarching plan, too. Then, you move forward. And, you are lucky enough you can pull some trades off with some guys and you have to identify which positions need to be fixed. How do you go about acquiring them? And once you’ve traded some players and addressed unrestricted free agency, then you have to go back and recalibrate from an overall team building standpoint. Then, you have to see how you attack it in the draft. That way, you are not going to force your hand in the draft to do certain things.”

 

On Gordon’s standing with the league:

Dorsey: “Well, I respect what Josh is doing. So therefore, what I am going to do is respect his privacy. That is what I am going to do. But I know this, for where he is, I think he is doing good.”

 

On if Dorsey has ‘been assured of anything’ by the league:

Dorsey: “Again, I am just going to tell you that I am going to respect Josh’s privacy.”

 

On the LT competition, and OL Greg Robinson:

Jackson: “I kind of think John kind of addressed that earlier. We are always looking to get our football team better. Again, here is a former player that was the second player drafted, that has an opportunity to come here and compete at a spot where we have some players. Obviously, Shon is going to walk out there first, but you have to have competition. As I said earlier, that is what is going to make our football team better, to have competition throughout. Greg is going to get an opportunity to come in here and be the best version of himself and show he can do the job. Let’s compete.”

 

On the similarities between Dorsey’s beginning in Kansas City, and where the Browns are now:

Dorsey: “The similarities are there, only because of the respective records that have occurred. From a talent perspective, the number of fills and change outs you had to do, the numbers were kind of similar in that regard. From the trade component, it was close but it was not identical. Every team is completely different in how you go about crafting and developing a team. I think what it is, it is an organizational vision moving forward. That starts with the head coach and the general manager, and then you have to talk through ownership with it to make sure it is going down the right path. I think, all in all, I think we have done a really good job of trying to move this thing forward. That is where we are.”

 

On if the ‘pressure’ is on Jackson now:

Jackson: “My job is to mold it together. Absolutely. You just said it.”

Dorsey: “You know how I look at it? I look at it this way; it’s my job to acquire the chess pieces, and let him go play the game of chess. He will do a pretty good job of it.

 

On if there will be any position, in particular, ‘stacked’ on the final roster:

Dorsey: “No. I think what we are going to do, we are going to sit as a staff. We are going to begin to meet, not only as a personnel staff, but as a coaching staff, and begin to talk through the roster. See where we are with competitiveness. When we get to the 53, depart discussion of it, let’s see and have an open discussion. Let’s see who truly should be on the 53-man roster.”

 

On balancing the competition level, with the comradery of the team:

Jackson: “This is something they have been doing all their lives. I do not think anything changes that way. I mean it is a brotherhood, period. These guys are understanding that they are competing for jobs, and I think they all respect each other that way.”

 

On if there have been discussions about possibly not bringing Gordon back:

Jackson: “I think John said it earlier. We know where we are. We have a pretty good feel for where Josh is. We respect Josh’s privacy. We are just going to continue to move forward. I think this football team knows Josh, respects Josh, knows where he is and what he’s dealing with and can sympathize with that. Eager to get him back, if we have an opportunity to, so we will just go from there.”

 

Dorsey: “This is the 2018 training camp. There have been a lot of things that have been happening in Cleveland. Let’s see exactly what this team is all about. That is what you want to get excited about. I think the fans are excited to see what kind of team we have moving forward, too. That is the day-to-day grind, I want to see what that’s all about.”

 

On guys who ended minicamp not working: Jamie Collins and Antonio Callaway:

Jackson: “Those guys will all be back. Yes, sir. They are fine.”

 

On Louis and if it is career threatening:

Jackson: “It was a neck injury. He had surgery. And so, we will just go from there. We know this year that he is definitely out.”

 

On if it happened last season:

Jackson: “Probably happened during the season, yes. Probably late. Way late. Then, there were some things that started to show up in the offseason and we kept working through it, trying to get him back, and it just did not work that way. We moved further and then things did not work right. And this is where we are today.”

 

On what positions Dorsey wanted to look at before free agency:

Dorsey: “It is quite obvious. You look at the secondary. That is first and foremost. I think we addressed the receiver position. I think we addressed some of the offensive line positions. I think we addressed the tight end position for a reason – tried to get some pass rush in there with (OL) Chris Hubbard.”

 

On the secondary:

Dorsey: “After you sit and listen to the head coach talk about what he thinks we need, and then you talk to the defensive coordinator and see what he thinks he needs at that time – it was obvious that we needed some players here and that is why we went down the path we did.”

 

On if this is the ‘Hue Jackson-type’ team he envisioned:

Jackson: “I do. And again, I will go on record as saying that I think what John did when he walked in here with his personnel guys, I think it is unbelievable. I am being very honest. I am not trying to make him feel good. I mean, he totally changed our football team. We have players in the locker room that I think the other players feel really good about and they are excited about playing with them. Now what they have to do as a group, they have to go practice well. We have to get better, just a little bit better, each and every day. My goal is to put the identity on this football team that I have always wanted to with a coaching staff and with a personal staff together. And I think that is where we are headed as a group. I think this is truly what it is all about and it starts today. We are looking forward to it.

 

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