Browns transcript -- Jimmy Haslam, press conference, Jan. 14, 2020

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Mike Annarella

Communications Coordinator

On why this hire felt right:

"That is a good question. I just want to reiterate we went through a pretty exhausted process and looked at everything from references to the person’s career. Obviously, interview plays a part. It was a little unique that we interviewed (Browns Head Coach) Kevin (Stefanski) last year, actually interviewed him twice. So we got to know him really well. We sat down with him again on Thursday night and spent four or five hours together and coupled that with his references that I alluded to earlier when I introduced him. Just we were really comfortable with him. We had some outstanding people,who we had the opportunity to spend time with. It felt right with Kevin. So we are very excited."

On if it was something that made him like Stefanski more than he did last year:

"I cannot say that. I do think and Kevin would tell you this, the year calling plays, and he said that, he obviously grew in that time period just like he will grow this first year as a head coach. We just felt really comfortable with him, our entire group did. Like I said, we spent time with him last year. His time as an offensive coordinator did benefit him."

On what makes him think that Stefanski is the big-time leader they are looking for:

"I will just reiterate what I said. We spent time with him last year, time with him this year. We probably had 25-30 references on each of the candidates, really involved our entire operation in it. Kevin’s references were outstanding across the board from a wide variety of people that have known him, players, former players, coaches, former coaches and including (Vikings assistant head coach) Gary Kubiak who could not have spoken more highly of Kevin. We felt really good about those references."

On if he learned anything new about Stefanski that he did not think he knew:

"That is a good question, Tony (Grossi). I do not think anything startling new. I would just repeat what I said: the year calling plays and Kevin said this and Kevin is, you will find very...has a great deal of humility and will admit it. He said, 'Hey, I made a bad call here. I learned from this experience.’ You could tell he had learned from the year of calling plays and that benefited him."

On why does Stefanski fit into the alignment so well that he spoke about:

"I think you all got a feel for the person today, a little bit. He is really bright. A lot of us have a little bit of an ego, but has almost no ego and I think his answer on calling plays is all you need to know. His answer was, ‘Whatever is best for the Cleveland Browns. If I happen to be the best play caller, I will do it. And if it is somebody better, then I will let them do it.’ And I think that typifies his mindset in terms of working together and I think you will see that in personnel."

On if there is a concern of Stefanski with no head coaching experience:

"No. We feel very confident. Very confident."

On if he can address that Stefanski is going to have to meet with him Mondays after the game:

"Well, let me ask you: If you owned a pro football team, would you meet with the head coach Monday after the game? Of course you would. Of course we would. The rumors out there though about presenting the game plan and those kind are just totally inaccurate. I really think they are irresponsible. I really do."

On addressing that an analytics guy will be on the headphone with a coach on the sideline during games:

"I think if you went across the spectrum in the NFL, it is pretty common to have somebody in the booth helping you to decide when to call timeout, when to go for it, etc. I do not think that is anything. We have not talked exactly to Kevin how we will work it, but that is not anything that is like real unique."

On always meeting the head coach Mondays after a game:

"Absolutely. And they are 30 minutes to an hour meeting. I would say that we do not discuss a lot of different than the questions you all would ask him if you came to the game. It is not a lot different than that."

On former Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson talking to an analytics guy on the headphones when he was the head coach:

"Exactly. That is just the way of...If you think about the pressure on a head coach, particularly if they call plays, and how focused they have to be on the game. To have somebody up there whose sole job is to say, ‘You ought to call timeout here, you should not call timeout, this is a good place to punt or to go for it, not go for it. You are going to play four downs here, three downs.’ Any smart person would rely on that. That is not atypical for the Cleveland Browns."

On why does today feel different knowing that this is his fifth head coach he has hired since becoming owner:

"Fair question. I will just reiterate what I said earlier. We spent a lot of time with Kevin. His references were outstanding. We feel very comfortable with him. I am repeating what I said. You all got all got a good feel for the man today and we are highly confident that he will be our coach for a long time."

On how does he convince a coach that you are going to give him some time:

"I think Kevin answered it. I think he got to know us. He sees our roster. I will say this, I think (QB) Baker (Mayfield) was given a hard time I will say this year by a lot of people. We talked to eight head coaches, some of them offensive, some of them defensive and their comments in terms of his ability to play quarterback were all outstanding. Baker is like all of us, he can get better and he has some things to work on. But the competence when these outsiders looking at our team and people looking at Baker was outstanding. I just think we feel good about going forward. We did not have a bend toward offense or defense. The bend was to find the best leader. Obviously, it helps...If you look at Kevin, we looked [at] a lot of facts, but go back and look at 2017 and what he did with (Redskins QB) Case Keenum, Terry (Pluto) and looked at what he has done with (Vikings QB Kirk) Cousins in 2018-19. We actually talked to Case Keenum, etc. Talked to Cousins. So the feedback there was really good and I think he will be a big help to Baker. Which I think we all know how important that is for the team." 

On how do you get Mayfield straightened up:

"Well, that is Kevin's job. It is obliviously not ours. I think it is Kevin's job and I think Kevin talked about putting him in position to, first he said easier then caught himself because there are no easy plays in the NFL. But to make some easier throws and easier plays."

On what makes Stefanski a great leader:

“Smart, comfortable with himself. Think about it, he has really never met any of you all and today you guys had tough questions and I think he handled them well. I think he is smart, I think he handles himself very well. I think he is very comfortable with himself. I think he is open to learning. We actually have shared a couple of small things that we have learned from other coaches and it was not, ‘Well I would not do that,’ it was, ‘Hey, that is an interesting idea, we ought to think about that.’ I think you couple those things together; we feel we have the right guy.”

On Paul DePodesta and clarifying how his role works within the organization:

“Well, I think you all are going to have the opportunity to talk to Paul, so you can ask him that, but I think from our perspective, I will say what I said 12 days ago. Paul is a very smart guy and the fact that he is not there every day, I do not think makes a huge difference. He is there more days than he is not. He is a great contributor, his role will remain the same and Paul is going to do everything he can to make the head coach and the general manager, once we select that person, successful, so we feel really good about Paul’s role and his ability to affect the organization.”

On if he can speak about the search, if it was narrowed down to Stefanski or 49ers DC Robert Saleh, and why Josh McDaniels was not selected:

“Let me say this. I think it would be unfair to say we narrowed it down to four, three or two. I do not think that would be fair. I do say this, I think it is important to understand, we knew that when we interviewed Josh, on Friday night, we were going to meet Saturday and Sunday, as long as it takes, we knew the end was in sight, and so it just made sense to start putting out requests to talk to these GMs because it is a process you have to go through. I know you all were reading George Payton, he is connected to Stefanksi or somebody is connected to whomever. That was just setting up the process in an organized manner, because you have to request, the team has to okay it and then you have to set them up to visit. That was just part of the organized process that we would go through. I think it is unfair to comment on any coaches. All of them are very good coaches, we learned a lot from all of them. It was actually, somebody called me on Saturday and asked me if I was glad it was done and it was actually a very enjoyable experience, if you think about the breadth of experience, offense and defenses, former head coaches. We learned, JW (Johnson), Paul (DePodesta) and myself learned a tremendous amount, Coop [Chris Cooper], going through that experience.”

On what he likes about former Browns VP of Player Personnel and current Eagles VP of Football Operations Andrew Berry as a candidate for the general manager vacancy:

“I think it would be unfair to Andrew and any of the other candidates to comment on them right now. I will say this. We have begun the GM process. We will work through it just like we did the coach process. The only difference is, Kevin (Stefanski) will be involved. The search committee will go from four members to five and I do not want to say how long it will take. The important thing is to get it right, so we will focus on that.”

On if this is a rebuild:

“No, not one person we talked to thought this was a rebuild. We have a good core group. I said this the other day. If you think-JW and I talked to probably 25 or 30 players before they left and if you ask our main impression, one of them is it is a really young team. If you think about how old Baker is, I think I said in the press conference, Jarvis and Odell are the old guys and they are 27. We have a really good core group of young players that we think we can build around.”

On what he thinks the league can do to improve the diversity among coaches and staff in the NFL:

“I cannot address what the league can do, I can just address what we have Pat (McManamon) and I think our record in diversity hiring is pretty strong. We have been really strong supporters of the Fritz Pollard Association. John Wooten, who used to run it, is a former Brown, a great friend of ours, we talk frequently, and I actually think Kevin addressed it very well. As an organization, we need to be conscious of who we are hiring at all positions and there is particular concern on the offensive side of the ball and you heard what they did at Minnesota, so following that kind of track makes sense.”

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