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Holmgren, Shurmur press conf. transcript - 4/28

Posted Apr 28, 2012

Browns President Mike Holmgren and Head Coach Pat Shurmur press conference 4-28-12

Pat Shurmur

(Opening statement)- “As you know we have two compensatory picks left in the seventh and then we have roughly 15 free agents that were going to sign. The organization of all that upstairs we just went through it and Tom (Heckert) is finishing directing our scouts and coaches as we go through that process so that’s why Tom isn’t here. In the interest of time we felt like it would be good to come down and at least give you some insight to the guys that we’ve drafted to this point.”

“You saw we took Travis Benjamin. You’ve gone through it I’m sure. He is an extremely fast guy. We feel like his best football is ahead of him. He is very explosive when he gets the ball in his hands. I think he can score touchdowns for us. He impressed us with his toughness, we feel good about him. Michael Johnson, the linebacker, he’s one of those linebackers that has position flexibility. He can play both outside spots and he’s played some snaps in the middle so we feel good about him joining that group. And then Ryan Miller the big tackle from Colorado. He’s got a tackle body but he actually played most of the year this year at right guard. A 6-7 guy, we became impressed with him as well, a big physical guy, I think he talked about being physical in his comments with you. We were impressed by him and we think he’s got some flexibility to either play inside, outside, right side, left side so we went with him. And then Billy Winn, the defensive lineman, we were glad that he was still there. We had a high grade on him. Some teams may have had some medical concerns, which we went through and we were okay with so we feel good about him as a defensive lineman. He’s a very productive guy. And then Emmanuel Acho, again an outside linebacker. This guy is a terrific kid, he really is, terrific player. He’s very eager, he was one of those guys when I had him on the phone you could feel like he was going to jump on a flight today and get here. We feel like we’ve addressed some needs. We’ve picked players that we like for reasons that we like them and we feel like we’ve gotten better. Although it’s not over. We’ve got two more picks and a bunch of free agents to sign.”

Pat Shurmur

(On if it’s a vote of confidence to the wide receivers because they didn’t trade one until today)- “There are reasons we feel good about the receivers we have here. There’s reason for it and we can go into each guy specifically, but then as we were addressing needs through the draft we felt good about picking Travis Benjamin. We felt like he could be an explosive guy so that’s why we did that.”

Mike Holmgren

(On how Brandon Weeden fits both right away and long term)- “First of all, yes I would be happy to do that. But first of all I just want to compliment Tom Heckert, our scouts, our personnel grouping and of course our coaches and Pat. They work beautifully together in the lead up to the draft. I think one of the beauties of our place and how we do this is that we do have a lot of meetings together. That funnels in and then Pat and Tom and I had a series of meetings for the last three months in developing a strategy for this draft. Part of that strategy was to look very, very hard at picking a quarterback. I think we all liked Brandon as a player, I think everybody did in the league. The one caveat there, I guess, would be his age. Once we talked through that and got over that hurdle so to speak then he became very attractive to us. We had made a mention of the philosophy we’re going to have here every year in looking at quarterbacks. I’ve said that any number of times, Pat has said it, Tom has said it. And the exciting part of this is that we took him in the first round. There were some things that transpired in that first round as always does as you’re going through the draft. So instead of waiting and rolling the dice just a little bit perhaps and seeing another way to go there we said, ‘Lets not run the risk and take Brandon at the 22nd pick.’ We’re very excited to have him. You saw, you got a little taste of it when he was in here of how he’s different than all the other quarterbacks that were drafted ahead of him or behind him is that his age and his maturity and what he brings immediately to the table. Now, you couple that with his skill level, which is pretty obvious on film and he has the potential I think to play well sooner because of that than other quarterbacks in the draft so he became very attractive to us. I know there are all sorts of side stories swirling around that. I think both Pat and I addressed that yesterday. In fairness to everyone that will probably be an ongoing thing but right now we have our team, we have our quarterbacks in place and that’s how we’re planning to go forward.”

Mike Holmgren

(On Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden being foundational picks to help the franchise move toward winning consistently)- “Certainly, the choice of Trent was really something. Rarely, we hope it never happens again, that you pick number four. You don’t want to be up there, really. But we were up there so it was very, very important on whom we chose there. That’s why we had targeted Trent. We didn’t want to lose him and I guess my conversations with Pat and Tom in particular were if you even think someone is going to hop over there, if you even think someone is going to jump us then what are we going to do to prevent that from happening and get up in there. We had that conversation many, many times how far are we willing to go to do this. Tom did a masterful job of setting that thing up. Again, we addressed it yesterday but in contrary to what was written and what was said, we had to compete for that. We weren’t the lone ranger in that deal, we had to compete. I thought it was an excellent trade because we got the player who’s going to be, Lord willing, stay healthy and all those great things, a really fine player for us for a long time. Yes, to answer your question, Trent I would set the table with Trent first of all in how important a great runner is, you guys all know that, every team is better when you have that kind of a running back. That’s our hope anyway.”

Mike Holmgren

(On comparing Richardson to Shaun Alexander)- “I hope he does what Shaun did for us, that would be nice. But they are really quite different backs. I love Shaun, if I could adopt Shaun I would, but he wouldn’t block anybody, nobody and I still love him. He was one of the great runners I’ve ever seen, Shaun Alexander. As a running back, fabulous runner, but the difference is Trent is an excellent pass receiver, not just a willing blocker but a very, very good blocker so when Pat’s calling the game and we’re running our offense you don’t have to be thinking, ‘Okay now how do we protect him in the passing game?’ You don’t have to do that so that’s different. But, again I have great affection for Shaun Alexander and what he did for Seattle and what he did for me. This young man, different player, and there is no reason he can’t do the same for us here.”

Mike Holmgren

(On how you weigh being aggressive in the draft and how important it was to have that philosophy in the first round)- “If it works it was my idea, if it doesn’t then Heckert pushed me into it (joking). What I do in that situation and you’ve seen this upstairs, I think. I sit here and Pat’s here and Tom’s over there and as we approach things at the end we have these conversations, now we’ve had months of meetings. Hours and hours on how we are going to approach this and then when it gets down to the nitty gritty there’s always a couple of things we have to talk about. My job as I see it is too play Devil’s advocate just a little bit to make sure that they’re committed and they get what they want. Tom and Pat are talking and I say, ‘Are you guys sure?’ Once they say they’re sure, we go ahead and do it. I don’t care how aggressive we are. If we get the players that we wanted then that’s a great job, they’ve done a great job. I think these two did a great job during the draft.”

Mike Holmgren

(On if they have the talent now to compete at an elite level)- “I said this after the season and anyone that cares to listen in the building, I have talked to them and Pat and I have talked to this many times, we would all like to see a big jump this year. That is our hope and we think that is possible and we think that it is reasonable. Who knows for sure on the draft and you really don’t analyze the draft for three years on how the draft went. You guys know in the last two drafts we are playing a lot of players from those two drafts and they are playing pretty well. There is no reason to think that these kids won’t come in and do the same job. So our team, foundationally, is getting better. Now we have to be able to score points. That was a problem for us last year. I think we have addressed that a little bit. Are we ready to jump into elite status? I don’t know what that means necessarily, but I am anticipating a good jump in our level of play, yeah.”

Mike Holmgren

(On when he gave the green light to draft Brandon Weeden)- “I have said this and I believe it, you know I believe it, that the quarterback play is so important to any team. In this business, your team is probably as good as how your quarterback plays and the play of that position. Having said that, I have said that I also like the young man that has played for us, I have great affection for him. I think he proved some things last year. He is a very tough guy, he got beat up. He didn’t have the runner that we thought we were going to have. There were some things out of his control that made it very difficult, but he hung in there, I thought. I like him a lot. But it is our job then to see how we can make the team better and when we evaluated the quarterbacks, we evaluated all of the quarterbacks, how could we perhaps improve the position or at least see another guy come in and maybe be the man? We talked about a number of quarterbacks. We talked about (Robert) Griffin, we talked about (Andrew) Luck. We talked to Indianapolis. I talked to those guys at the Combine and we talked to them at the owners meetings and who knows crazy things happen in this business. And then Weeden comes up, the difference being he was older. You kind of go, ‘Well that is different.’ But, he is in the discussions. At the first blush he was kind of like that. Then as we started willing it down to what was reasonable and what was possible, he became more of a factor.”

Mike Holmgren

(On how difficult it is bringing in a rookie quarterback)- “I am going to let Pat hit that one. I don’t think it is easy, it is never easy. You look historically in the league. I always say, the only guy that shot lights out early was (Dan) Marino. Some of you may know someone else because you are a lot older than I am. But, I think Marino was the guy that sticks out because you talk to John Elway, Joe Montana, the guys I know, they all had these little growing pains. But, as far as coming in for [Pat], why don’t you touch on that?”

Pat Shurmur

“I think that the quarterback’s path to being a starter, if that’s what we’re talking about and leading the team to victories, I think it’s, like coach says, it’s all different. I remember in Philadelphia we had Doug Pederson for eight weeks before Donovan (McNabb) started. Most recently when we went to St. Louis and brought in Sam Bradford, he competed through the offseason and became the starter day one. We were a couple plays away from winning the division, on a team, at that time wasn’t all that explosive on offense either. I think that it is different. I think what is going to give a young man a chance to do that, like Brandon Weeden, if that’s the case, is even though it wasn’t football, he learned a lot playing in baseball about the league and being a pro and those types of things. I think he has crossed a lot of bridges that will give him an advantage if it happens quickly. But, I still think you bring him in, you work with him, you see what happens and then the overriding decision in all of this is that when we play our first game we put our best players out there. I think that’s what we’ll see.”

Pat Shurmur

(On if they feel set at cornerback)- “We looked at each pick and there was a cornerback discussion each time we chose in this draft. We are going to look to improve our team throughout. Unless we pick a corner here in the last two picks. Then we will just continue to develop the guys that we have, work with the guys we have and who knows what will happen beyond that. There are trades that happen. There are things that happen after the draft, once you see what your team is like. Then as we compete through the OTA’s, we will see how they all work together. If we have to make moves, we will make moves to make the team better.”

Mike Holmgren

(On the future of Colt McCoy and the possibility of a competition at quarterback)- “I think Pat and I would answer that the same way. We now have four quarterbacks and they are going to compete, that is how I see that. That is the way it’s always going to be. Who can determine the future? In this business, you line them up, you give it your best shot and then we have to choose. We have to choose somebody to play. Right now, we have four quarterbacks on the roster and they are going to compete for the position.”

Pat Shurmur

(On draft picks starting right away)- “I think that what you do is, you pick them, you bring them in, you work with them and then you confirm what you thought and then you move forward. I think there are always some surprises. Who would have predicted that Jason Pinkston would have played every snap, picked where he was a year ago? That is why you pick the guys you like, that you think can make your club at the positions you pick them at. Now that we have chosen these guys, and there is reasons why, once we get them here and work with them, that is probably a much better question now, after we go through some of the practice time here in the spring.”

Pat Shurmur

(On Weeden making the receivers better)- “An outstanding quarterback brings synergy to the whole team. Just like the addition of a running back helps the quarterback. If a quarterback that throws the ball accurately, on time, makes the receivers looks good. Receivers that make circus catches or make the hard catches make the quarterback look good. When the quarterback has a little bit more time to throw it, because the line is doing their job, it makes everything look good. I think that it is all connected, I really do. I think that it is hard on offense to talk about one specifically not connected to the other. I do know this, when you have outstanding quarterback play, all the players on offense and all of the people in this room, we all look good.”

Mike Holmgren

“As an add on to that too, Pat, I think that what will make the receivers look good is the running back. He will make everybody look better. The receivers, what will make them look good, is if they catch the ball better than they caught it last year. We dropped way too many balls and that wasn’t the quarterbacks fault. I don’t care if bring back Otto Graham, the receivers have to catch the ball. They will be better, for a lot of reasons. That’s why no one is in a panic about how the draft went as far as how our receivers went. We will not drop the ball like we dropped it last year. We will have a running game to go with our passing game. Those things by themselves it will be better.”

Mike Holmgren

(On if there is a sense of mission accomplished about finding the franchise quarterback)- “I won’t feel real good about it until it happens, I suppose. But we will keep looking and we are looking. We really like our quarterbacks, I like them all. This young man is an impressive guy.”

Mike Holmgren

(On a quarterback going from a career long starter to a backup)- “I would think that could be a difficult situation except if it is ever going to work, it will work if that happens, because Colt McCoy is a special young man. I have always said that. Of course he wants to play, they all want to play. Again, nothing has been done yet, we don’t know how it is going to sort itself out. But, if that were to be the case, at some point, I think we have the best chance of making that work because of who the people are, who the players are. It is never easy, everyone wants to play. But, you only have one ball and only one guy can play at a time.”

Mike Holmgren

(On players choosing sides in the locker room)- “That is something that you have to work to not have happen. Again, I think knowing the personalities, if ever I’ve seen that happen, it’s usually because it’s created by the two principals. If I am any judge at all about these young guys, that won’t be the reason. It shouldn’t be a reason. You aren’t going to have half for one guy and half for another guy or half for Seneca (Wallace) or half for whoever. It shouldn’t happen. It usually happens if the players themselves kind of lead the charge on that and that is not going to happen.”

Pat Shurmur

(On what he sees in Weeden)- “When you look at quarterbacks, you look at their attributes, as you eluted to. First of all you sit back and you say, ‘This guy is has won a heck of a lot of games as the quarterback at Oklahoma State.’ Then you look back and say, ‘This guy has completed 72 percent of his balls.’ Then you say, ‘Okay, why did that happen?’ Then you look at the decision making and the timing and the accuracy and all of the things that he did, just on tape. Then, after the tape that’s when it starts to get talked about, about our trips to Stillwater, our trips to the Combine. Then you get to really know the guy. With all the background that Tom and his guys have already done. We have that information. We can read about all this, we can watch him on tape and then we as coaches weigh in, ‘Hey, we like this guy. This guy reminds me of that guy. We think the reason he is going to be good is because of this.’ You put all of that together and based on the information at hand, you pull the trigger on it. Then you try to translate it to this league of course.”

Mike Holmgren

“I saw the same thing. I would factor one more thing in and that is who they played. They play good people, highly competitive. The best in college football, so he saw a lot of speed, he had to go against really fine defensive players. It was a very intensely competitive, noisy stadiums, all of that stuff that went into where he played. I like his maturity. Again, time will tell but he is a little bit older and it shows. Not only on film, but in how he handles himself and how he deals with questions and how he conducts himself.”

Mike Holmgren

(On missing a mentoring role on the sidelines)- “I will let Pat have the second part of this, but I will say that, that is a little bit of an overstatement. I never, and we are all different, he is different than I was, we are all different. That mentoring thing, I’ll talk to the quarterback. I don’t want this other quarterback talking to the quarterback. Now, some of them like to do that and often times I’d have to tell the mentor, ‘Shut up, go over there,’ because I am coaching the player. Now, what they do in meetings and when they go out for a beer or when they have a hamburger or whatever it is, mentor them there. But, when it comes to football, I am going to be the guy he looks to. I think it is a little overrated. Now for experiencing things on the football field or things that the other guy has seen maybe, but for as far as how I want things done and how I want you to play and how I want you to react, listen to me. He can be your friend and all of that’s great. That is if the guy wants to mentor. A lot of those guys mentor the wrong way, they want to play. So listen to me. It’s a little overrated in my opinion.”

Mike Holmgren

(On looking back on the trade with Atlanta in last year’s draft)- “If you remember, I kind of banged Tom on that last year because I really liked the player I thought we were going to get with the pick. But, he said I can make this deal and it is a monumental deal. We spent a couple days talking about it and I just wanted him to make sure. I was just playing my role a little bit. He convinced me and he knew why he wanted to do it and it was a great, great deal for us. He did a nice job. We haven’t been together very long, but he has great connections in the league. People like him, his cohorts in other places. He can get deals done and he can do this. They trust him. He is good at it. It worked out for us.”

Mike Holmgren

(On if there is a greater sense of urgency because this is his third year)- “It’s funny you should say that Tom (Withers) because I thought it was just the opposite. First off, I have tremendous trust in Tom and in Pat, and while we had all those meetings that I was kind of watching it, smiling and enjoying it as much as anything else. If I’m going to suggest something or push it’s going to happen long before this weekend. A discussion as an example, I won’t tell you exactly what it was about, but this is typical of what might happen. I said Tom, ‘Do you want to do this?’ He said I don’t think I do. I think it’s too much or too strong or whatever. Then I said well we may have to. Then he goes well if we have to then you have to tell me because I won’t do it. I said okay, then I might have to tell you. Fine. But that’s a healthy way to go about it, no one’s strangling anybody or pushing anybody and we’ve talked about that. Pat is kind of the peace maker in the group, but we all have our moments. It’s real healthy and I trust him a lot.”

Mike Holmgren

(On if it is unlikely that they will trade McCoy)- “You know what, I can’t answer that right now. I think both Pat and I have tried for a couple of days to kind of first of all clear up some of the things that were written that weren’t true at all. Now Colt’s at home, he’s coming back for his workout. He’s going to be at workouts next week, so I’m not going to speculate on anything. We’re going to see what happens here moving forward.”

Pat Shurmur

(On if he spoke to McCoy)- “I have a couple of times. As far as I’m concerned, it’s like yesterday, it’s a non-story in my opinion. Colt and I spoke, he’s looking forward to coming back here, getting himself ready to compete to be a quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. I guess because I know what we talked about, I guess I’m a little surprised about all the questions quite frankly.”

Mike Holmgren

(On having four quarterbacks)- “Well you take four quarterbacks to camp, we always do. We’ll have a decision to make at some point probably when we cut down to 53. Traditionally, I always kept three some teams kept two. You want to be strong, you want to have the best guys, give them a chance to compete, all those kind of things. Really, the questions on the quarterbacks, and I know it’s an important deal, but we are nowhere ready at all to answer most of these questions. It just isn’t there yet.”

Mike Holmgren

(On if you draft a 28 year old in the first round with the expectation that he is the starter)- “No, I think we have high expectations for him, but is he being handed anything? No. We’re not going to give anybody, and we told him that, he knows that.”

Mike Holmgren

(On what differentiated Trent Richardson from the other top picks like Morris Claiborne and Just Blackmon)- “I liked (Justin) Blackmon a lot. I thought he was a great player. The young cornerback, (Morris) Claiborne was a great player. Personality wise I liked them all. They were special young men. Honest to goodness, I’d like to grab them all. I think the number one thing was we needed to get a player, that we felt we could establish the run in this league and in this city with the weather and all that kind of stuff. The other thing was I think the gap between Trent (Richardson) and the other running backs even though there were other good running backs, the gap was larger at running back than it was at some of the other positions. We were going to get a great football player at four. We had these discussions prior to the other day and then once we decided on Trent like I said, that’s when the trade stuff, we said what do we have to do, how much are we willing to do. Then, at that point we had all agreed that that was the guy we wanted.”

Pat Shurmur

(On how fast Travis Benjamin is and if they needed to add speed to the roster)- “He’s extremely fast. I think he talked about running a 4.26 at some point. We got him clocked down there around 4.3. He can beat anybody in here. He can go, he can really go. We got some intimate knowledge of him. Mark Whipple was with him in Miami. He talked about how this guy has got a great future. He hasn’t really been exposed to the kind of coaching he’s going to get in this league. He felt like this was a tremendous kid. Now, we got to know him and he is a hard guy not too like. I can’t wait for you to get to meet him. You’re going to feel the same way about him that you did about meeting Brandon and of course Trent. There is a lot there. He is extremely fast and when you put speed on the field it changes things just like when you put a running back that could really go. We felt like he was going to add that element to our receiving corps.”

Mike Holmgren

“He’s different than the guys we have. Not just from speed. He’s smaller and quicker. He’s a different receiver. We have bigger guys, not slow guys, but they’re bigger.”

Pat Shurmur

(On Benjamin competing for the No. 1 spot)- “We’re going to put him in the mix and see what he can do. Now, we know as a receiver there are times when you’re a role player and you can play a lot of snaps. I don’t like to put less than two out there but you can have two, three and four receivers on the field at any time. We feel like we want to get him in here and see what he can do. Then use his skill and ability to our advantage. We feel like we could use him out on the field on special teams as well, which you need to get from guys that are role players.”

Pat Shurmur

(On the importance of speed)- “I think we wanted to make our team better and when you evaluate and grade players, of course, the bigger, stronger, faster guys get higher grades. If they have one or two of those elements then that’s when you start making your decisions. We feel like we picked very fine players. We’re excited about all of them. This is day three of this so lets not let our enthusiasm drop here now. We’ve got to keep it going for a half a round here. We feel really good about the players we added and some of the guys that we drafted have excellent speed for their positions they play.”

Mike Holmgren

(On how long the conversation went with Indianapolis for the No. 1 pick)- “Probably about five minutes. Actually I had two conversations. I had a conversation with Mr. (Jim) Irsay and also with their new general manager. I believe I was in the swimming pool at the owners meetings and I had a drink in my hand, on the second one (joking). It wasn’t very long.”

Pat Shurmur

(On evaluating Travis Benjamin who had an inconsistent Jacory Harris as his quarterback)- “We factored that in, when we evaluated him as a receiver. You can see enough, obviously there is enough throwing going on in college football where you can see what a receiver is going to bring to the table. He did some things that were very impressive to us. He can really run and when he gets down the field he can really track the ball, which I think is one of his real strong suits and that is a good thing.”

Mike Holmgren

(On if Scott Fujita possible punishment factored into taking two linebackers)- “Not as far as we were concerned. I think both Pat and I have talked to Scott, not recently, but I think Scott has been real honest and up front all the way. He has been dealing with the league. We will find out when we find out.”

Mike Holmgren

(On his reaction to the Greg Williams tape)- “I heard it. The whole thing bothered me, not just the tape, but the whole idea bothered me. This is a very rough game at times, without specifically getting into that sort of thing. At the league meeting at one of our sessions that we were in most teams got up and spoke to that, and New Orleans was in the room, it went around the room and we talked about our feelings about that. My comment was that in all the years I coached I don’t believe we ever did that. I wasn’t in the defensive room most of the time so I don’t know for sure. The idea of targeting somebody, specifically like that and having money put into a pot for that reason, that’s wrong. There is no place for that in this sport. It bothered me and I hope it never comes up again.”

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