Thomas optimistic about future

Posted Feb 1, 2013

NEW ORLEANS -- Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas is optimistic about the future of the team under new head coach, Rob Chudzinski.

NEW ORLEANS -- Joe Thomas is no stranger to new Cleveland Browns coach Rob Chudzinski, and their history gives the sixth-year left tackle optimism in looking toward the future of the team.

During his first two years with the Browns, 2007 and 2008, Thomas played for Chudzinski, who was the Browns’ offensive coordinator at the time. The six-time Pro Bowl left tackle addressed the changes to the coaching staff after the Walter Payton Man of the Year press conference Friday morning

“I talked to Chud when he was interviewing for the job, and I was excited to see him get the role,” Thomas said. “When he was the offensive coordinator here my first two years, I had a great deal of respect for his football mind, the leadership that he showed in the offensive meeting room and I thought he’d be a good head coach one day. Little did I know, it’d come full circle and he would get his first opportunity with the Browns. I’m extremely excited and very happy for him.”

Under Chudzinski in 2007, the Browns scored 402 points, the most in the expansion era, and largest total since the 344 they tallied in 2002. Quarterback Derek Anderson completed 298 of 527 attempts for 3,787 yards and 29 touchdowns against 19 interceptions that season.

Two of Anderson’s top targets -- wide receiver Braylon Edwards and tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. -- had Pro Bowl seasons in 2007. Edwards caught 80 passes for a team-best 1,289 yards and a Browns-record 16 touchdowns, while Winslow hauled in 82 receptions for 1,106 yards and five scores.

“I imagine it’s going to be a lot like we were my first couple years, where we’re throwing the ball downfield and trying to stretch the field vertically, and also be a power running game,” Thomas said. “That fits very well with the personnel that we do have. Trent’s a lot like a young Jamal Lewis as far as his size, his stature and how he runs. I think we’ve got some terrific down-the-field threats with Josh Gordon and some of the other guys. I think it’s going to be a great fit for the offense that we do have.”

Thomas was excited about the hiring of Norv Turner to be the new offensive coordinator. Turner was Dallas’ offensive coordinator for their first two Super Bowl championships in the early 1990s. He coached three Hall of Famers in Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and wide receiver Michael Irvin during those years.

“He’s a proven commodity as an offensive coordinator, done a phenomenal job throughout his career,” Thomas said. “I was excited when they brought him in because I think that’s one of the most important positions on a team. The offensive coordinator is extremely important, and Norv has a phenomenal track record.”

Thomas also feels keeping offensive line coach George Warhop on the staff “will be important” in keeping continuity among the offensive front.

“I think we’ve been building some really good things on the offensive line,” Thomas said. “We’ve got six solid starters right now that have good experience playing and I don’t see much in the line of changes happening on our front. To keep George is huge to keep that continuity flowing.”

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