After spending nine weeks in the Cleveland Browns’ offseason workout program under coach Rob Chudzinski, veteran inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson has developed a good feel for the direction of the team.
“Collectively, as a whole, from top to bottom, I think there’s a major sense of urgency for the players and the coaches to win now, to get something out of this,” Jackson said following the first day of mandatory minicamp Tuesday. “We have (offensive coordinator) Norv (Turner) on one side, (defensive coordinator) Ray Horton on the other, Chud making this thing work together. I think it’s a great thing.
“We’re starting on the same page early and not waiting for the chips to start falling to piece the thing back together. Everyone’s trying to figure it out now. From what we eat in the cafeteria to how the meetings are structured to music during practice, you really feel like everyone’s behind the players and want to put a better product on the field.”
Jackson said he is confident in the team’s chances for success heading into this season.
“Regardless of what our record was last year, you approach every game like you’re going to win every one of them,” Jackson said. “That’s the competitive drive I have inside of me. Every year is an exciting year because it’s a new year, new guys.
“What we’ve done so far is we’re building a solid foundation to carry over into training camp and when the bullets are flying. When we’re rolling in September, that’s when we can put it all together.”
Horton came to Cleveland after spending the last two seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals, where his defense led the NFL in passer rating allowed (71.2) and interception percentage (4.4 percent). Horton’s defense was among the league’s best in interceptions, third-down efficiency, red-zone defense, points allowed per drive, first downs allowed and takeaways.
Knowing his track record and working with him for the last two months, Jackson has a good idea of what made Horton successful in Arizona and what he brings to Cleveland.
“He’s a smart guy; he’s a cerebral guy,” Jackson said. “He understands this defense. He knows what he wants. For some guys, their first time being in a scheme like this, they might think it’s a lot of volume. It is to a certain extent, but it works. It makes sense, and it’s easy to pick up. It’s easy to understand when everything you’re doing makes sense. That’s a credit to the way he coaches. He makes it as easy as possible for a guy to understand his concepts, and it’s been clear.”
In addition to feeling the sense of urgency from Horton and the rest of the Browns’ defense, Jackson has gotten the same sense from the offense, led by quarterback
“I think Brandon is the key,” Jackson said. “I’ve been behind him 110 percent since last year. I think he’s got a good, good corps of guys and coaches that are teaching him. Norv Turner has worked with Troy Aikman and these Hall-of-Fame guys, so he knows what he’s doing. He coaches every guy the same, and he coaches every, single snap. It’s only going to make him better. We’ve got some great talents on the other side of the ball. With