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8 significant comments from John DeFilippo and Mike Pettine

Posted Jan 22, 2015

Browns offense taking a new direction in 2015

Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo sat alongside coach Mike Pettine and addressed reporters Thursday for the first time  as a member of the Browns.

There were many noteworthy takeaways from DeFilippo’s introduction. Here are eight of them.

1) DeFilippo on his offensive philosophy: “We are going to put our playmakers in a lot of different spots. I’m a big believer in that. We were very fortunate to have a guy in Oakland (fullback) Marcel Reece and we put him in a bunch of different spots. There’s some good young tight ends and backs here that we are looking to get matchups. Are they going to line up in the backfield all the time? No. We are going to try and exploit those matchups as much as we can…Find out what our playmakers do well, and do those things over and over and over again.”

Quick Analysis: DeFilippo is still developing his vision for the Browns offense, but he indicated the offense will be less rigid and more of an evolving unit with multiple identities. Using Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West in the passing game could become one of many staples – instead of a plain commitment to the run and play-action passing. While the Browns boasted a whopping 17 rushing touchdowns in 2014, they had just 12 through the air and just two in the last six games. West and Crowell caught a combined 20 passes for 151 yards.  

2) Pettine on DeFilippo: “The thing that sticks out the most to me is his ability to pull people together. He has outstanding people skills. It’s hard to be in a bad mood around Flip.”

Quick Analysis:  DeFilippo later added one of his biggest strengths is getting to know each individual player’s personality. He has a knack for getting the most out of his players, saying “some guys need to be coddled and some guys need to be ripped. You find that connection on how a guy learns best.”

3) DeFilippo on the Browns players who standout on the roster: “Josh Gordon is as talented as a guy as you get. When you watch him run routes, from a physical stature, he’s a fantastic athlete. Joe Thomas is a fantastic athlete. Alex Mack is an unbelievable center. So those are the guys when you look at the Browns roster, you’re like, ‘Wow.’ Those guys are Pro Bowl type players.”

Quick Analysis: DeFilippo’s excitement over Gordon should be noted. While with the Raiders and also with the Jets, DeFilippo’s quarterbacks never got to work with a “top-flight” receiver. The unheralded Browns receivers exceeded expectations in 2014, but more production from Gordon will make them even better.

4) Pettine on why he chose someone who hasn’t been an NFL offensive coordinator: “That’s the safer route to go, ‘Hey this guy is a brand name.’ I’m sure a lot of people were like, ‘Who the heck is John DeFilippo?’ … When you look at it, and you know a guy is ready, and has that skill set, and the only thing missing is the opportunity to do it, I think that’s a route you can go. I know John is ready.”

Quick Analysis: Pettine said similar ‘who-the-heck-are-you’ remarks were made when Rex Ryan brought him along as the defensive coordinator with the Jets. Pettine has said the Browns aren’t worried about outside perception; they’re focused on winning football games. And Pettine is convinced DeFilippo gives Cleveland the best chance to do so. 

5) Pettine on hiring DeFilippo: “Personally, I see it as an opportunity for myself. I felt last year was a situation where I had to get bunkered in for the most part with the defense to make sure we were up and running. I feel very secure with the way that group ended the season … I see this as an opportunity for me to become much more immersed into the other side of the ball. I can lend my defensive expertise, channel my former high school quarterback into it (laughs).”

Quick Analysis: Pettine will have two major roles on offense: He’ll develop the core philosophies with DeFilippo and he will also play a larger part of the game plan. Pettine and DeFilippo said they are considering bringing in a veteran offensive assistant to help the 36-year-old coordinator.

Watch DeFilippo's press conference

6) DeFilippo on his preferred blocking scheme: “I’ve been in the zone-blocking scheme and it’s a fabulous scheme. My first year back in Oakland, Greg Knapp was our offensive coordinator and he came from Houston ... so it was the exact same scheme as the Browns ran last year ... I’ve been around a lot of different run games. We are going to have a mixture of both [zone blocking and power gap.] I can promise you this: Whatever the Cleveland Browns do well, we are going to continue to do.”

Quick Analysis: The biggest takeaway here is that the Browns’ offense is going to become a much more flexible unit. New concepts will be introduced, but completely scrapping the zone-blocking scheme for the sake of doing so won’t be DeFilippo’s mentality.

7) DeFilippo: “We are going to make this change as clean as we can for these players.”

Quick Analysis: DeFilippo mentioned how well the Browns were able to run play-action last year and how open it got the receivers. He loves how powerful the offensive line is, too. And like we wrote yesterday, DeFilippo is fine with keeping a lot of the terminology the same in order to minimize how much relearning the players would have to do.

8) DeFilippo: “We are not sure if our starting quarterback is in the building or not. He is, that’s great. If he’s not, that’s great too.”

Quick Analysis:  Check ClevelandBrowns.com shortly for an expanded article on the quarterback position.

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