Browns GM John Dorsey on State of the Team at Bye Week

John Dorsey

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

General Manager John Dorsey:

Opening statement:

“Good morning. We finally have a bye. Usually, during the bye situations, what I like to do is take time to reflect and kind of just talk about the team and where we are. I can’t stress to you all enough that we have a lot of football left. We have six games to be played here in the 2018 season. I think it is important for this organization to focus on those six games. We have to continually win. The coaches have to continually teach. The players have to continue to develop. Let’s finish strong how this season unfolds here in 2018.

“Regarding the last two weeks, I think (Head Coach) Gregg Williams has done a really nice job. He has had the guys take this team and keep them focused on the task at hand. It is all about winning, you guys. I think (offensive coordinator) Freddie Kitchens has done a really nice job of putting the gameplan together and then on gameday actually executing that gameplan. It kind of reflects in the numbers. I would be remiss if I did not recognize (linebackers coach) Blake Williams. The interim head coach has cast extra duties for him to do, and I think Blake has done a really nice job with regards to that.

“I know that all of you all want to talk about the coaching search. First, let me say this: I am not going to really go into detail much about it, but I will say this, senior management and I have kind of gotten together over the last 10 days and we kind of begun to walk through the process. We still have six weeks left with regards to putting our plan together. At the end of this process, we will able to interview head coaches, and we will be planned, we will be prepared and we are going to get the best coach possible for this organization moving forward.

“I can’t stress enough to you all, the game of football is about winning. We have six games left. Let’s end the season on a strong note.”

On if the current status of the coaching search is compiling a list of candidates or list of attributes:

“I think it is a combination of things. I think that it is organizational tenants with regards to this person. I think it is football philosophy. I think it is what are the characteristics of that man? I know me personally, I would like to see a man of character. I would like to see a man who can lead young men. I would like to see a man who has high football acumen. Those are the three basic things there that I would look for.”

On if he had a list of potential head coach candidates when he started with the Browns and if those candidates remain the same now that there is a vacancy for the position:

“Anybody who sits in my position would have a list of anywhere from a head coach to a quality control [coach]. I have multiple lists. What I want to do is make sure that we as a group, whenever you make a tough decision like this from an overarching organizational decision, you want to get as much information as you possibly can. You want to do it in a collaborative manner and make sure that you are very prudent as you go through your process. Rest assured, at the end of the day, this guy will be the best candidate for the Cleveland Browns moving forward.”

On if the Browns will need to use an external search firm for the head coaching position:

“We do not need that.”

On the possibility of Williams and Kitchens remaining on staff following this season:

“That is a hypothetical. I think both of them have done a heck of a job – they really have – in their respective roles. I will just get this out of the way right now, Gregg will get interviewed for the head coaching position. I think he deserves that. I think Freddie has done a heck of a job. Let’s see what happens as we continue to play six more games of football with regards to Freddie, but I think Freddie has done a heck of a job.”

On if the next Browns head coach has to have NFL experience:

“What we are doing in the process right now is we are taking in as much information as we possibly can, regardless of if it is in professional football or if it is in college football. We are going to gather as much information as we possibly can and make the best decision for this franchise moving forward.”

On his expectations for the remainder of the 2018 season:

“Emphasize the winning, continue to coach your respective players, have players begin to develop and end the season strong. I think that is important. Let’s be competitive in each and every game the next seven weeks.”

On Dee and Jimmy Haslam’s involvement in the head coaching search:

“Dee and Jimmy, they own the team. I think with ownership, what you have to do is you sit down and you communicate. Any good organization will communicate as these hard decisions are being made. We as a senior management team will say, ‘Here is who we think is best for the organization moving forward.”

On who is part of the Browns senior management team that will be involved in the head coaching search:

“Members of the Cleveland Browns organization. I am not going to say. Let me put it this way, when we had the first pick in the draft last year, I did not say very much. I am not going to say very much because the importance of this selection of who that person will be. I am not going to say much.”

On how the final six games of 2018 can be beneficial:

“If we continue to win and build and finish strong, that is all you can ask for. That is all that I ask for. Play every game tough, and let’s see if we can put some back-to-back wins here. Let’s see if we can get a positive outcome at the end of the season here.”

On objectives for the Browns under Williams as head coach:

“I have always been a believer of you play the game like you practice. I think these practices have been very competitive. They have been very structured. They have been very disciplined and guys have had some energy. That is the different that I see. There has been a focus on the little things, which I think is important.”

On most significant areas of improvement for the Browns since he joined the team:

“In that regard, I think the culture within the locker room. The players that were here before have another additional year – they were a very young team last year – they have had an additional year to understand what experience means. Then, you bring in some veterans that have some experience. What I have admired most is you have very selfless individuals in that locker room. They are very competitive, and they truly like their teammates, which is a good thing because now, they set the bar, they set goals and they set the objectives. There are a lot of good guys in that locker room, and I think that they have come together as one. They understand the task at hand.”

On QB Baker Mayfield’s development and the head coaching search:

“He is developing as a quarterback. He is still a rookie quarterback. He has demonstrated certain things during the course of a game that get you excited. I think that if you would ask him as a person, he still has a lot more football to master the position that he plays. I think he will continue to do that. The traits that you look for in that coach – men of character, are they leaders and high football acumen, and you will get that in the interview process of how deep of a football knowledge do these respective people have. That is natural when you go through the interview process.”

On if the Browns must strongly consider how the next head coach will fit with Mayfield:

“I think what you do is you consider everything, but you consider at the end of the day, what is the greater good for the Cleveland Browns and this franchise moving forward.”

On if the Browns rookie class has exceeded his expectations, given the number of NFL Rookie of the Week accolades:

“They have played well, but I think that every draft is measured – to me, I have always said to give yourself three years and let’s measure the draft then. That is how I have always looked at it. If you ask each one of those recipients of the Rookie of the Week Award as you say, they will say, you know what? They have a lot more football to be developed and learned and they can be that much better. They are rookies still.”

On how OL Austin Corbett can earn more playing time:

“With regards to Austin, he has three very talented players in front of him at the respective left guard, center and right guard positions. Eventually, his strength is now that he will be able to play everything. When his time comes to get into that lineup, whenever it is, he has to grasp it and take it. Knowing his person, he will grasp it and he will take it.”

On eliminating ‘internal discord’:

“Over the last two weeks, I think that Gregg (Williams) has done a real nice job in terms of having this team focused on the task at hand, which is winning. He has put some discipline in there. He has reduced the number of penalties, which I think is good. I think he has done a really nice job.”

On ensuring that there will be positive working relationships within the Browns staff when hiring a head coach:

“That is a good question. It has to be the interview process. Do they align within the organization tenants of what you are looking for? As you go through the interview process, you will be able to see what really is in his soul and his fiber. How deep of a knowledge does he have? What type of people will he surround himself with? I have been in the league a lot of years, and I know the majority of coaches not only in the college ranks but in the professional ranks both as head coaches [and other positions]. I will know most of who he is talking about. You will see how it all unfolds.

“One thing is this job is very attractive. I will tell you I think that this job is very attractive. It is kind of like for the very same reasons when I joined here in 2017, it is very attractive. Any future head coaching candidate, whoever it may be, he understands the fan base here, which is unbelievable. There are a lot of young talents on this team, and they will continue to get talent. There are assets in place. The [salary] cap position that we are in right now is great. The draft picks, we have 11 draft picks for the 2019 season. The support staff, I have been around some franchises, and I will say this, this is the best support staff there is in the National Football League that I have been around. Then, you have ownership. My God, these guys here are so passionate. They are willing to invest. There has not been a thing that I have asked Dee and Jimmy [that they haven’t provided] – maybe if we do this, and they say, ‘Sure, let’s do this.’ Those are exciting things for this organization moving forward. Anybody, once they understand that, you will see that you know what? Cleveland is a good place to be.”

On issues from the Browns four-game losing streak that have been resolved:

“I do not know that there were problems that needed to be solved, but the direction that it was headed, it was not headed in the right direction. That is something that you learn from the past. I am trying to concentrate on living in the present, where we have been in the last two weeks and what we have in front of us here in the next six weeks. That kind of gets me going here a little bit. Right now, I like what I have seen in the last two weeks. I am excited for the final six games to finish this thing out strong.”

On Mayfield’s Week 10 performance:

“I think the offensive coordinator put the quarterback into the position to do the things that he does best in terms of getting the ball out quickly, taking the stress off of the offensive linemen and getting into rhythm passing. I think that just showed itself in that particular game in the development that Freddie is beginning to have with regards to Baker.”

On former Head Coach Hue Jackson joining the Bengals coaching staff:

“I wish him the best. It was hard a couple of weeks ago. Hue to the Bengals, I wish him the best. I wish him the best.”

On if charisma is an important factor for the next head coach:

“In the interview process, you will see guys who can lead men, guys that have character and guys that I find have high football acumen. You will feel this guy. It is like anything that you do in terms of interviewing people, you will get a feel for that person, but you will ask certain questions as you being to gather the information that you want. At the end of the day, I know it will be the best for this organization moving forward.”

On if he ever had an inkling that he would be General Manager of the Browns with Mayfield as starting QB when he attended the Oklahoma-Kansas game this time last year:

“It is interesting where fate puts you at certain times at certain places in the present, the past and the future. You know what? He is here, and I am here. It is kind of neat.”

On why some great college coaches are not successful in the NFL:

“I can’t answer that. (Seahawks Head Coach) Pete Carroll, he did it. He made the transition pretty easy. There are certain guys that can do it. That is a case-by-case basis.”

On how much a fit with the Browns current roster factors into the head coaching search:

“It will be a part of the process. The interview process, whoever that prospective head coach will be, he will have understood by the time he comes, whatever the interview process, he will know this team inside and out and how they fit into this system. I think that is a situation you do not address until once the head coach is in position.”

On if he has previously directed a head coaching search:

“No, I have never headed one. I have been a part of one in Green Bay.”

On understanding the magnitude of selecting a head coach and the impact of the hire on the organization:

“I understand that. The one thing I have always thought about is one of the most important decisions – I know this; I think about this driving home all of the time – is the hiring of the right head coach for this organization moving forward. I think that is tantamount, and I think about that everyday driving home. Just make sure you do not mess it up. That is what I keep telling myself. Just do not mess this thing up.”

On if the Browns will interview former Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians, particularly given he is currently available to interview and referenced the attractiveness of the Browns job:

“I have a lot of respect for Coach Arians. Right now, we are in the process of beginning to finalize our plan. If it comes to the appropriate time and if he happens to be one of the people, you will find out.”

On if the Browns senior management team involved will be small and if it will be important that the next head coach reports to him:

“We will keep it tight. We will not say very much. I have always said the most important thing – I have been around an organization where the head coach reported to the general manager, and I have been in organizations where the head coach and the general manager reported to ownership – the most important thing that I have always seen and observed is that inner daily working relationship between the head coach and the general manager and they are same page in this thing moving in the proper direction. I think that is the most important thing.”

On if age is a significant factor for the next head coach:

“I just want the best possible head coach to move this thing forward regardless of age. It could be a woman, too. Do not look at me like that. I am serious. Who knows? We will look at everything is what I am trying to tell you all.”

On reports that offensive coordinator Todd Haley expected to become the interim head coach prior to his dismissal when learning Jackson would be relieved of his duties:

“That is one man’s opinion, with regards to that question.”

On why Haley did not retain his job as offensive coordinator:

“Right now what I am trying to focus in on is moving forward as an organization. We have six games left in this season, and I think that is where the focus should be and then we will move on to the next project as the season begins to conclude. It is important to end on a strong note here.”

On if he had an idea of Freddie Kitchens’ potential as an offensive coordinator prior to being named to the position:

“You have heard bits and pieces of how good he was – I think it was on display on the fourth preseason game with the Detroit Lions. You talked to various coaches around the league, and you get a sense of he played the [quarterback] position, he has seen it, he understands from a quarterbacks lens exactly what needs to be orchestrated and he has learned from some pretty good guys, too.”

On how much the offense has changed since Kitchens became offensive coordinator:

“I think what he has done is he has kind of, OK, what are the strengths of this [team]? What any good coordinator does is where are my playmakers? Where are my strengths on this team? Then he begins to distribute the ball to their hands. Then all of a sudden from the quarterback position, what does he do well? Then he puts him in a position to achieve success.”

On if the Browns WRs and OTs are possessions of need after adding players at those positions:

“You can’t have enough good football players. From the receiving standpoint, there are a lot of young, talented players on this roster who are evolving and developing week in and week out. With the offensive tackles, you thrust (OL) Desmond Harrison into a very hard position, a college free agent from West Georgia who has been asked to block the blindside of the quarterback. He has done a pretty good job. That is a hard position to play, and (former Browns OL) Doug (Dieken) will tell you how hard that position is to play back there. What we do at the end of the season is we assess every position to see what we can build moving forward.”

On if he has second-guessed trading WR Josh Gordon to the Patriots and how the trade occurred:

“I never second guess, but that is about how far I am going to answer the question. I would address that more, but he works for the New England Patriots right now, and I am forbidden to talk about another team’s players.”

On the Gordon trade specifically, rather than Gordon as a player:

“I am fine with the trade.”

 

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