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Holmgren press conf. transcript 7-28

Posted Jul 28, 2010

The transcript of Browns President Mike Holmgren's pre-Training Camp press conference.

Browns President Mike Holmgren media availability 7-28-10

(Opening statement)- “We are in the middle of the rookie stuff right now.  Our vets come in on Saturday, as you know.  Every year I’ve ever been in this, at this time of the year you are excited about the possibilities of what your team can accomplish.  If you are in this business, I don’t care what went on the year before, you’re just excited and looking forward to the competition.  My feeling is that we have improved the football team.  I saw some real positive things in our OTAs and the things leading up to training camp, particularly at the quarterback position, with our young wide receivers, with our young people in the secondary.  Our running back group is a good group, I believe.  Our offensive line we still have to piece together a couple things, but I think we have the people, it’s just how we are going to put it together.  Again, when I say put it together, that’s Eric’s.  He’s going to put it together, I’m not going to put it together.  I’m very encouraged.  I’d like to say I’m as excited as I’ve ever been, but I’m always excited at this time of year.  It’s the same and the difference for me is my role obviously.  I don’t want anyone to think the fact that I’m in a golf cart is the fact that I’m the president, it’s the fact that I can’t walk.  That’s the only reason because I used to have a rule at my practices, no one sat, including my friends in the media.  I saw you sitting on the curb during OTAs over there.  I’d make them stand up.  Now, I’m going to get a lot of letters from my friends around the country if they ever see a picture of this, so I’ll be in a cart for awhile.  I’m looking forward to it, the players are upbeat, the coaches are great and they came in and had a good vacation and off we go.”

(On the quarterback situation)- “I think that when they line it up the first time, Jake (Delhomme) will be in there.  Right now, it’s kind of like the way you saw.  Seneca (Wallace) is the next guy in, Colt (McCoy) got a few reps and then (Brett) Ratliff gets in there and takes his share.  Seneca, and I don’t think that it’s a big secret, is being used in other types of the offensive scheme.  I think that will be fairly obvious and will sort itself out.  I know it will be different than it has been.  Where you come in and say, ‘Okay, we are going to divide the reps evenly…’  Whatever was said before, I don’t even know, it’s not going to be like that.  I think if everyone plays the way they’re supposed to play and the way I expect them to play, I think it will sort itself pretty obviously.”

(On his impressions of Delhomme)- “He didn’t surprise me at all.  I’ve said all along I think he’s a fine player.  I think he has played a long time, had a lot of success.  His last year was documented, it was crummy and we’ve talked about that.  I think you saw too, I hope you did, the ball is getting where it’s supposed to be.  He shows great leadership, that’s a real positive.  It’s not a contrived thing. I think he is a natural leader.  I think he includes people, he extends himself to people and that’s what you want at that position.  I think he had a really good offseason throwing the ball.  People talk about the surgery he had and all of that, I didn’t see anything that I would constitute as a problem in his delivery or his throwing or anything like that.  He was working very hard to learn this stuff, I mean they throw a lot of stuff at the quarterbacks.”

(On sorting out the secondary)- “I think the secondary thing is going to be a really interesting camp story.  As far as sorting it out, I don’t have to do that anymore.  I don’t have to sort out anything, but I think there is going to be really good competition in the secondary.  Clearly by how we drafted, we wanted to increase that pile and get some young guys in there.  I like the way (Mike) Adams had OTAs and (Brandon) McDonald.  I liked how those other guys practiced, I really did.  Sheldon (Brown) is a great addition.  To me, I’m going to be watching that hard.  That’s going to be an interesting thing how that sorts itself out.”

(On the players on the PUP list and the possibility of Shaun Rogers being suspended)- “We have three guys that will start camp on PUP, (C.J.) Mosley, Rogers and (Coye) Francies.  My hope is and my belief is that at some point not too far away, because they haven’t passed their physical, that they will pass their physical and then start practicing.  That’s what my hope is.  They’re all at different stages and I want to nail it down specifically that way because I can’t.  My feeling is that they will be able to participate in training camp at some point.  As from the league Tony (Grossi), we have not heard from the league.  I don’t want to speculate because I don’t want to be disappointed, but we have not heard.  The commissioner is coming in for a visit next week.  I would hope to know by then, but I’ve been through these things a lot and you can just never determine.  Do I think something will be done?  Probably, but who knows?  I hope not.  I hope not, but the way it’s been going if I just look around at everything else that has been happening, yeah.”

(On Robaire Smith)- “I have to admit, that happened before I was around and when I first read the story, I think I was on vacation.  I didn’t know.  I didn’t know that that had happened last November.  The idea of all of a sudden something popping the following July, I don’t quite get all of the timing of that.  I don’t know, we will have to wait on both of them. I know this, I have talked to both of them. I like both of them, I really do.  I think they are pretty good guys, but you do screwy things sometimes.”

(On if he has talked to Smith)- “I have not talked to Smith after this. I have talked Smith a fair amount after the OTAs.”

(On what he thinks the team’s record will be this season)- “Nice try (joking).  I’d rather not.  I’d rather not, but I think we will be improved.  I believe we will be improved.”

(On the availability of single game and season tickets)- “We had a meeting yesterday and I’m not going to say I was on pain medication because I do pay attention to all of that stuff.  It’s not my most fun thing to listen to, but the guys have been working very, very hard.  There are season tickets available.  The percentages are like 93-94 percent of our goals and where we were, have been thrown around, so that leaves some tickets available certainly.  Through training camp, you typically get a little of a push.  We are going to have access, as an example, here to anyone that comes here. Internet buy-ins and all sorts of stuff going on where they can purchase tickets here during training camp and all that kind of stuff.  The guys are working really, really hard.  They’re doing a great job.  The club seats are over.  We are going over, so that’s good, but there are tickets available to answer your question.”

(On having seven of eight draft picks signed)- “Other than Dallas, who signed their number one pick at 24, I think all of us are in the same boat in the first round.  I credit Matt Thomas and Tom Heckert for a great job of getting our guys in here.  We are going to negotiate fairly and honestly. I know Matt, that has been his history when he has done this for Miami.  When I was sitting in the room listening to the dialogues between the agents and Matt, I’m very impressed with how he goes about his business and I believe the agents are too.  It doesn’t surprise me that our guys are in.  As far as (Joe) Haden goes, those of you who have been around this for a long time, the number one picks you just need a domino to go and then it starts to happen.  Then it just explodes and happens.  We have had good discussions with Joe’s agents and I am hopeful that he will get in without too much loss of time.  It’s very important for the young man, I will say that.  I get the business part of it, even when I was coaching I did.  It frustrated me to a certain extent, but I get it.  This is a lot of money, but I also saw and lived through and experienced the importance of this with a lot of athletes.  If they wait too long, they miss some really valuable stuff.  Almost their rookie year, it’s hard to catch up in most cases.  It’s important that he gets in here, but I’m not discouraged.  I think we are making progress.”

(On if it is possible that Haden could be signed by Saturday)- “I think he could.  What is today, Wednesday?  Yes, he could.”

(On what the rookies are working on)- “The rookies are going through another crash course, a tutorial I guess you could say of offense and getting them prepared so when we start, they are very comfortable and really know and aren’t too surprised by things.  They are on a very, very rigid schedule.  They have got workouts, they have got seminars, they have got curfew, they have all sorts of stuff.  The rookies are here.  Quarterbacks and injured players (can come in Thursday), but rookies to this point.

(On if quarterbacks are coming in Thursday)- “They can come in.  You can bring in quarterbacks, players that were formerly injured (last season) and your rookies.”

(On evaluating the offense)- “That’s really hard to say.  You know, I think the team should be better, I think that our quarterback play should be more consistent, so start there.  Just start there.  If you did nothing else, if you had more consistent play at quarterback and everyone else played the same, you should be better.  You should be better.  Scheme wise, this is a different scheme.  This is not my scheme, this is their scheme.  Like with most things, there is more than one way to move the football and there is more than one philosophy.  It’s how you teach it, the type of player you have, those things.  This is a good group of coaches.  While they have been very receptive to adding a little something here, a little something here from the West Coast (Offense), that’s not fair.  I want to do this right with these guys, so it’s their deal.  I expect us to be better. I expect us to move the ball better. I expect us to pass the ball better for the reasons I stated earlier, more experience at wide receiver, one more year under their belt, more consistent play at quarterback.  I think we have a pretty solid running game.  We finished the season strong last year. We have added some pieces to that.  (Ben) Watson, is a nice addition at tight end.  We should be better.”

(On if he considered molding the offense the way he wanted)- “Honestly, I think I made that decision before I accepted the job. Let me rephrase that. I think once we decided that we were not going to make a change, because that was in the discussion.”

(On whether he reviewed what Mangini did offensively)- “Yes.”

(On if he was fine with the offense last year)- “No, but every coach thinks he has the answer. I’ve been doing it a long time, a certain way and we’ve done things a certain way. I made the statement right when I got here, I said, ‘I don’t know how you can win a game throwing the ball eight times a game.’ I don’t know how that can happen. I could never do that, but they did it.”

(On whether he questioned what they were trying to do prior to the four wins at the end of the season)- “Absolutely. The interesting thing is, in evaluating the quarterbacks going back, this is old news, but evaluating the quarterback, I think one of the things that you have to do too, in fairness to the kid, is how much is it the player and how much of it is the scheme. Does the player have the chance to be successful? You have a good player, he just doesn’t have a chance. What is it? That’s why you have to study it so hard and talk to the coaches and find out what they want to get done with something. I’m comfortable now, Tony (Grossi), with our involvement, which is minimal, I will say that. The guys come into my office all the time, we have healthy conversations. I believe it’s a very, very healthy situation and communication that way.”

(On how much he thinks the quarterback situation last season stunted the growth of Brian Robiskie)- “I think receivers live to catch the football. Some of them say, ‘I love blocking.’ None of them do, very few of them do. Hines Ward maybe does, but not many. They’ll do it because they are football players and they are tough guys, but really want they want to do is catch the ball. When you’re not throwing the ball very much, then be careful of the numbers. You look at a number, ‘Well, a guy caught 30 balls, okay. What did the quarterback do?’ You have to have somebody to throw it to, so that all factored into Brian’s first year. I like Brian Robiskie as a player. I will say this, rookie receivers and I’ve had them. High draft choices, rookie receivers, it’s a different world for most of them. You’ll see a lot of fine college receivers drafted high, come in their first year, kind of putz it around a little bit, then the second year, bang because now I get it. I see the speed of this thing, the physical part of it. I’m going against good guys all the time, I get it and they take off their second year. It happens all the time. I think Brian has a chance to be someone like that. It was a combination of things last year that didn’t allow any of the receivers put up any numbers. There were no numbers there.”

(On whether Mangini and the offensive staff are doing anything different or whether it’s a matter of having new players)- “I think they are doing a few things different. Have they said they haven’t been doing things different? I think they are probably doing a few things differently.”

(On how difficult it is for him to sit back and watch the coaching staff do things their way)- “To make anything work, the people that have to make it work have to decide they are going to make it work. I’m committed to that. Let’s flip it for a second. Let’s say I was the coach. I lived through that a little bit of that. I was not the best one at coming in and having somebody telling me how to (do things). I was polite, but that wasn’t a good thing. I remember consciously thinking, if this is what my job is going to be and I’m not going to coach the team, what kind of a president do I want to be for my coach. I’m trying to be that type of person, that type of guy, support him, answer questions if necessary, but really, if I thought I couldn’t do that or I thought he couldn’t do it, then I probably should have made a different decision way back when, but I didn’t. So, we’re going to do it this way. Do I think this will be difficult for me? We’ll see. We’ll talk after a couple months of watching games and stuff like that. I suspect I’ll get a little antsy about stuff, but I’ve been doing something for so long that this is a different thing. I think that’s natural.”

(On if he will give more consideration to keeping extra linebackers)- “I think when you get into thinking about that, two things pop into play. If you are going to run a 3-4 scheme, which we run, you are going to have more linebackers anyway. To have a lot of linebackers that actually can go in, that can play, that’s a nice problem to have. What a coach has to manage then at that point are the egos of the players. If you have eight guys that can play, it’s not going to work out even all the time. The second part of that is their value on special teams. Linebackers are such a huge part of special teams for any team. That factors into those decisions so much at the linebacker position. I know Eric, he can answer this for himself, but my feeling is that he likes the versatile guys at linebacker that can interchange at certain positions. I mentioned the secondary in training camp, the linebacker situation, to me, will be as intriguing. I think we have good guys, there is a lot of experience there, we have some youngins coming in. It should be pretty good.”

(On whether Delhomme’s play in OTAs eased his mind about the quarterback spot)- “I wasn’t really concerned. I’ve got to say the first few practices, I’m going, ‘Okay, that’s good.’ He told me, he’s an upfront guy, you’ve talked to him. I don’t think there’s a lot of hidden stuff there. You ask him and he tells you. I expected him to do what he did. I would have been more surprised if he hadn’t. Jake is what, 35? I had another quarterback who’s 46 and he’s still playing. Jake he keeps himself in great shape. I talked about Jake being a bridge of sorts until we can find the next young guy to come in here and hopefully be the quarterback for a long time. I’m not discounting any of the three players that we have other than Jake at the position, but the lifespan of a quarterback, he’s getting close to where most guys finish up. I am really glad we have him. He is already made an imprint on this football team. We needed the leadership, in my opinion. We needed the leadership there as much as anything. The passing I didn’t worry about too much, but I needed someone to bring everyone together and I think he’s done a nice job of that so far.”

(On his thoughts on the division)- “It’s a great division. As an outsider looking in for years, it’s a great division. I’ve played all those teams. I want to be a player in the division. I want to be considered a factor in what happens. The scheduling the NFL is doing now where you play your division opponents at the end, a lot of them. I want those games to be for the marbles, for everything top create that type of buzz. That type of atmosphere. Now, do we have some work to do? Yes. Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati hopping in there lately, they’ve kind of been the guys. So now, that’s what we want to be. We keep improving, taking steps and we’ll see what happens, but we know what kind of division it is, but it makes us work that much harder, I think.”

(On whether there was a durability factor with Jerome Harrison in trading up for Montario Hardesty)- “I love Jerome Harrison. We had a good visit this offseason. He’s a good football player, heck he played at Washington State. Anytime you get a chance in the draft to get a quality player at a great value, I think you do it. I think the competition at positions in this league, make your team better. Hardesty isn’t the only guy back there. I think our pile at running back and at fullback this year is a real strong one. I think it’s going to be a real battle in there and I think history has proven in this business now, more than in years past, the idea when I had Shaun Alexander that he would carry the ball 25-35 times a game, that’s what he did. The other guy, whoever it was, (Maurice) Morris would come in when Shaun was tired or needed a blow or something. A lot of teams don’t do that anymore. A lot of teams have two backs and they kind of even it off and they keep them fresh. We’ll see how this plays out. Taking Hardesty, I wasn’t thinking about who we already had. I was thinking, ‘Okay, we have a chance to get this player, let’s get this player.’ That was in the whole room.”

(On the new NFL posters in the locker room informing players about concussions)- “I haven’t seen the poster yet. There’s been a lot of study and there’s a lot being written about concussions and rightfully so. It’s something that we all have to be aware of. The teams I’ve been associated with treated that type of injury the same way that I would be asked to treat it now. We didn’t downplay it. We didn’t say, ‘How many fingers? Go back in the game.’ We didn’t do that. We treated it the way it should be treated. For me, there isn’t a dramatic change. I think with players, not only concussions, but players today know so much more about every injury and potential injury than we used to and it’s probably a good thing. It is a good thing. Our medical staff and our training staff, we are committed to do the right thing for the players at all times. This is a rough sport sometimes and the players certainly deserve that. Whatever they put up, I’m fine with it.”

(On whether players sometimes hide that they have a concussion)- “I suppose they do. I’ve had players do that. All of a sudden I’m looking at the film and say, ‘That was a nice play,” and they say, ‘I don’t remember that at all.’ That’s happened. I think the awareness of your training staff, if they weren’t really tuned in before, which we were, but if your program wasn’t tuned in then, they are going to be tuned in. We are just going to be more aware of it. Yes, players hide that. I don’t know what you can do about that. You do the best you can humanly do in protecting the player. If you don’t sense it or see it and it happens and he doesn’t tell you about it, you do the best you can.”

(On what he is looking to accomplish with the Family Day scrimmage next weekend)- “The way Eric runs it, it’s just like a game. It’s the walkthrough for everybody in the building, not just the team, but everybody, so it’s a real good thing. We will be looking for how we do things, our game day operations first of all, from everyone else’s perspective. How we function, it’s a good learning thing and then the next week you can pick at it and get ready to do things correctly when it counts. For the player, I’ll say what I always looked for with those things, now Eric again, you ask him the question he might have a little different slant on it. You want to see your young players, particularly the young ones that you kind of have in your mind that are going to be contributors. You want to see where they are. You want to see some sharpness in the passing game. I always did. I wanted to see the guys throw it and catch it. I wanted to see an active defense and other than that it’s the first scrimmage. They’ll have some other scrimmages, I guess, in training camp and then you just keep your fingers crossed that no one gets nicked up. That’s maybe the biggest thing out of that. It’s great for our fans. It introduces the new team to the fans that day. It’d be cool if they packed the stadium that day pretty good. I’m looking forward to it. It should be a fun day.”