When Jon Embree became tight ends coach for the Cleveland Browns in January, it marked his return to a position he had held at four different places, including the high school, college and professional levels.
“I’m excited to coach football again,” said Embree, who spent the previous two seasons as head coach of the University of Colorado, his alma mater. “As a head coach, you don’t get to coach a lot of football. I’m excited to do that.”
Embree said Cleveland was the destination he wanted to land.
“When all of the openings came after all the coaches were fired at the end of the year, I talked to three or four guys that I’m real good friends with, that are involved in the NFL on the personnel side,” Embree recalled. “I asked them which teams would you want to go to, and Cleveland, without a doubt, came up at the top.
“There’s a lot of young talent here, new ownership. There’s just a lot of excitement around it. I remember coming here playing against the Browns and how the fans help the Browns win. I’m just really looking forward to it. It’s a football-crazy state. Whether it’s Ohio State, the Cleveland Browns, they love their football here and I’m just looking forward to being a part of it.”
Embree said working under the direction of head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner is an important step in the development of the Browns’ tight ends. Turner mentored multiple-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro Antonio Gates during his time as head coach of the San Diego Chargers. Chudzinski was an assistant for Turner in San Diego, and also coached Kellen Winslow to a Pro Bowl appearance after the 2007 season with the Browns.
“I’m finally around guys that appreciate the position,” Embree said. “A lot of times, sometimes, the tight end can be the 11th man on the field, and when you have a good one or use the tight end position, it’s something. When people don’t have one, they realize how nice it is to have one. With Jordan (Cameron) and the things we’re going to do, we have some pieces here.”
In addition to working in an environment that is passionate about football and for a management group focused on winning, Embree saw the transition to Cleveland as an opportunity to coach a talented group of tight ends.
In 2012, the Browns’ tight ends combined for 777 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 83 receptions. As a second-year pro last season, Cameron caught a career-high 20 passes, which he turned into 226 yards and a five-yard touchdown reception in the Browns’ 20-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 25.
“It’s a good blend of veteran leadership and youth," Embree said. "I’m excited to work with the tight ends here. It will be a lot of fun, especially with the history Chud has had with tight ends and what Norv has done with his offenses and the tight ends. It should be a lot of fun.”