Hue Jackson Press Conference - 1/13

Posted Jan 13, 2016

The new Browns coach meets with reporters

Owner Jimmy Haslam opening statement:

Haslam: “Ten days ago, we were at the stadium and we announced we were making changes in the Browns organization. We announced that we would set off on a coaching search. We talked about who would be part of that coaching search and talked a little bit about the process. First of all, I want to thank (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Sashi (Brown), who you will hear from in a little bit, (Owner) Dee (Haslam) and (Chief Strategy Officer) Paul DePodesta. I also want to recognize Jed Hughes, who did an outstanding job from Korn Ferry and really helped us with our process. We talked to seven outstanding candidates – really good people, fine men and good coaches. One of them has already been named a head coach (Miami Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase), and I have no doubt others will be named head coach, but we got the right guy for the Cleveland Browns. He is smart. He is tough. He is confident. He is competitive. He has been a head coach before. He has a great offensive mind. He has a tremendous track record developing quarterbacks. I am going to say this again because you will see when you hear from him and you will see it when you are around him: he is very, very competitive. He understands the AFC North. He has been a part of the AFC North. I think he is going to be a great head coach for the Cleveland Browns.

“Before we hear from (Head Coach) Hue (Jackson) – I know that is who everyone wants to hear from tonight – Sashi is going to make a few remarks about the process, and he will give you a little update on where we are on our personnel position search.”

Executive Vice President of Football Operations opening statement:

Brown: “Really honored to be here and to be able to introduce the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns. As we set out to move forward and find the next head coach and the leader and face of our franchise, we immediately knew after some great meetings we had with some players at the end of our season we need to establish a culture, set a tone for our building and find a head coach who could bring a confidence and instill a confidence in our players where we would expect to win every Sunday. We certainly are glad that we found Hue. We had a tremendous process with Jed, Paul, Jimmy, Dee and myself. Hue is going to bring a toughness and certainly an experience in terms of brining the winning back to Cleveland that we set out to accomplish. We are happy we accomplished that goal. For the Dawg Pound, for our players, I am really pleased to introduce Hue Jackson as the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns.”

Head Coach Hue Jackson opening statement:

Jackson: “Wow. First of all, thank you. There are so many people I need to thank. First, I would be remiss if I didn’t go back and first thank the people in Cincinnati. (Bengals President) Mike Brown, (Bengals Executive Vice President) Katie (Blackburn) and (Bengals Vice President) Troy (Blackburn) and obviously (Bengals Head Coach) Marvin (Lewis), who is a real good friend of mine, (assistants to the Coaching Staff) Sandy (Schick) and Jamie (Janette), just some people there, the coaching staff that I worked with for so many wonderful years and (Vikings Head Coach) Mike Zimmer, who is now in Minnesota. They helped me get to where I am today. I can never ever repay them for the opportunity that they gave me.

“Now to thank the people that are here and brought me here. Obviously, Jimmy and Dee – wow, what outstanding people. I just can’t thank you guys enough for this opportunity. I am looking forward to representing the Cleveland Browns and helping this organization get to where we know it should be.

“Sashi and Paul – these guys are tremendous. I know everyone is talking about analytics and all those things. Everyone is smiling out there right now (laughter). Please trust me, I am going to have an opportunity to work with some of the smartest men in football. I have been in a lot of different buildings, but I have never had the opportunity in two settings to sit down with two of the brightest minds in football in doing what they do. Sashi, thank you. Paul, thank you for this again for the time that was spent with me, giving me an opportunity to find out if I had what it takes to be the next Cleveland Browns coach. Obviously, there are so many different things to talk about as we continue to move forward, but I am so excited for this opportunity.

“As they have said, I have been in the AFC North. I kind of know the lay of the land. I understand where we are and where we are trying to go. Obviously, we understand that Cincinnati is one of the top teams in the league. Pittsburgh is still playing. Obviously, when you look at Baltimore, they had a down year this year and we understand where the Cleveland Browns are. We know there is a lot of work to do. There are a lot of things that we need to do to get there. What I am most excited about when I think of Jimmy and Dee and their commitment to me and the commitment that we have for this building for our players and for what we are trying to accomplish, there is none other. I have been in two of these organizations in the AFC North – I have been in Cincinnati, and I have been in Baltimore – and I can tell you first hand that there is nothing like the feeling of walking through these doors. Nothing. I know there is rabid fan base. The Dawg Pound, let me give you a fist bump because I am excited. I want to jump over into that pound when I get an opportunity when we play football the way I know we can play, but we all know there is a lot of work to do. I am excited about the work that needs to be done. I have already rolled up my sleeves and I am ready to go.”

On if he was ever concerned he’d never receive another chance to be an NFL head coach after his season in Oakland:

Jackson: “I never thought about it that way. I think what you do as an assistant coach in the National Football League is you work. You just put your head down and work. Everyone has aspirations, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out for some. I think I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do it again. I am looking forward to this opportunity.”

On Haslam’s comment that it may be a multiple-year process, although some coaches have first-year success:

Jackson: “I am glad he said that (laughter). I sure am. That makes me feel a little bit better (laughter). I truly understand that. I really respect Jim saying that. At the same time, that is not my mindset and I don’t want that to be our players’ mindset. We want to go and we expect to win every game we play. Now that being said, there is a lot of things that need to happen to have that opportunity to come forth. At the same time, we are not going to be a football team that walks out there and says, ‘We say give.’ I am not interested in that. I did not come here for that. I came here to win. I came here to help our team have an opportunity to win football games. We are not going to care about where we play. We understand the AFC North and we understand who we have to play outside our division, and they are really good football teams. We expect to have a really good football team here.”

On working with Brown and DePodesta, who are not ‘traditional football guys,’ and the use of analytics:

Jackson: “I think that is the beautiful part. I think there are all kinds of ways to make things happen. There is more than one way to do things. My conversations with Sashi and with Paul, we are on point. We understand exactly what it is going to take to put this roster together to give us the best opportunity to be successful. Like you said, analytics is just a part of it. It is not the whole part of it; it is a piece of it. If we can find another way of doing things good to give us an opportunity to have success, we all would do that. There is not a person in this room that wouldn’t do that. I like being cutting edge. I try to be innovative and cutting edge on offense. We want to be innovative and cutting edge on everything that we do in this building because eventually, everyone is going to be doing what we are doing. That is the fun part of this.”

On his biggest question to the Browns during the interview process:

Jackson: “Do we have a chance to win? That’s the biggest question.”

On if the Browns answered that they do have a chance to win:

Jackson: “Yes. ‘Hue, what do you think it is going to take to give team this an opportunity to win here in Cleveland?’ To me, those questions were met with no problem. That is why I am sitting here today. If I didn’t think that we had a chance to do something special here, I wouldn’t be here. There is no questions about that. Again, I cannot thank Jimmy and Dee enough for this opportunity because those two people are driven to success. I said this to Jimmy the other day: he has had success in doing most things that he has done. What did you say to me Jimmy?

Haslam: “Except this (laughter).”

Jackson: “Except this (laughter). Let me tell you. I am here now. We want to change that. He and his wife and this organization and this city deserve a winner. That is what I am here to do – to help this organization win.”

On if he wants QB Johnny Manziel as the Browns future QB:

Jackson: “This is what I would say to that: I need to get into this building and have an opportunity to sit down and watch tape. I don’t know Johnny personally. I know who he is, but at the same time, I think I have to give everybody on our football team the fair opportunity to see who they are and to truly learn who they are and then make decisions from there.”

On if would like to talk with OL Joe Thomas and Thomas’ comments that he is unsure about his future in Cleveland after another coaching change:

Jackson: “Honestly, I want to sit down and talk to all of our players. The guy you mentioned, Joe Thomas, is one of the best left tackles in this league, bar none. He does deserve an opportunity to win. He is a tremendous football player and has been. He has been one of the cornerstones of this organization and this football team. I can’t wait to have the opportunity to talk to him and give him our plan, and hopefully, I believe in my heart, that he is going to get excited about what we are trying to accomplish.”

On how long it will take to put together his coaching staff and who will be on it:

Jackson: “Are you guys done with me? Can I go upstairs right now? Now. There are some tremendous football coaches sitting by the phone waiting for me to call. You would be surprised – I am being very honest – I have 142 text messages on my phone. I never knew my phone could go that long. Most of them are coaches. They are not just saying, ‘Hey, Hue, congratulations.’ They are saying, ‘Hue, will you help me get to the Cleveland Browns and have an opportunity to sit in front of Jimmy and the rest of your staff and have a chance to come here and help you win?’ To me, that is what this is all about. I am going to attract some good coaches and some great coaches, but to me we have to find the right fit for us. How fast that process is going to go? I don’t know, but I do need to get on that phone and start returning some of those text messages.”

On if he will be involved in the search for the Browns football talent evaluator:

Jackson: “I’m going to do whatever is asked of me. I know I’m going to have an opportunity, obviously, to meet that person, know who that person is. We’re going to, this organization, I am so comfortable that we’re going to make decisions whether Hue Jackson is involved or whether Hue Jackson is not that is best for our organization. What I want to do is get the people to help us win, regardless of who it is. You asked the question: Will I be involved? I think I’m involved in all of those things, but am I going to make those decisions? I don’t think I need to make those decisions. I just need to know who it is.”

Brown: “We are going to set out in earnest to find our top personnel person. This week, we will start our interviews and hope to have that concluded, as I said, in earnest. Obviously, tonight, this conversation is about Hue Jackson tonight. We’re excited about our head coach, but we will set out to find that person and Hue will be involved, certainly. Again, I think as Hue said, this is going to be a collaborative, very integrative partnership is the way I think Paul Hue and I think about it with Jimmy certainly. He’ll be involved as we move forward.”

On how to change the Browns culture, which other coaches previously said they would do:

Jackson: “It’s hard for me to tell you about the other coaches, but I know what Hue Jackson can do and I feel very comfortable and confident that I can get it turned. I believe that, I know that and I expect to get that done.”

On how to change the Browns culture:

Jackson: “It’s a process. There is a lot of work to it and there’s no question about that. I just say let’s see how that goes. Let’s talk about this a month, two months, three months or four months from now and let’s see where we are.”

On lessons from visiting with many professional sports teams this past year:

Haslam: “We stated on a lot of cases that there’s a learning curve to being an owner. We talked to a lot of former NFL people, individuals who retired, many of whom you all are familiar with but not a lot of NFL teams want to tell you how they do things because it’s competitive. We talked to baseball and basketball teams. The current theme from every single one of them was alignment. You have to get everybody aligned. We – I’ll take the responsibility – did not do that the first couple of times. I think you’re going to be surprised at how well aligned we are. These coaching searches are really intense because you’re covering a lot of ground and you spend a lot of time together, but it actually worked out great because Paul joined Dee, Sashi and myself, and it gave us a chance to spend – you start early and you go late and you’re either on a plane or working together for long hours – it gave us a chance to really get to know Paul, Sashi and myself to spend time together. I feel really good, and Hue alluded to it, we have some really smart people in the building and people with low egos and people who will work together. That’s the main takeaway I had from all of those organizations is – I think I addressed it tonight in the press conference – it’s not so much important how you’re structured. It’s important but it’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is to make sure everybody’s properly aligned, understands their roles and works together, and that’s what I took from all of those organizations.”

On the minimum amount of time this system has to become successful:

Haslam: “I’m confident they’re going to do a good job.”

On interviews with Jackson and him not interviewing with the New York Giants today:

Haslam: “We had a great interview with Hue Sunday afternoon. You talk about a tough, tough session. Everybody watched their game Saturday night and Hue had another interview with another team on Sunday morning, and we spent Sunday afternoon with him. We felt great about things. We took Monday to regroup and process where we were and decided it was important for Hue and important for us to touch base one more time. Paul, Sashi and I went down there yesterday morning, spent the morning together. We talked last night, agreed that he was our man and made the offer to him today.”

On why he did not take the Giants interview today:

Jackson: “Jimmy and Dee Haslam, Sashi and Paul – that’s it at the end of the day. This is about people. You have to feel comfortable that you have the proper support to have a chance to have success, and I am more than comfortable with our structure. I’m more than comfortable with the people that I’m sitting up here before.”

On his comfort after previous Browns coaches lasted one and two years:

Jackson: “That’s those coaches. At the end of the day, I do understand and respect that this is a performance business, and I know that this is about wins and losses. That’s how I get judged and I respect that. I know what I signed up for, but at the end of the day, I truly believe without question that I have the proper support system from Jimmy, Dee, Paul and Sashi that’s going to give me an opportunity to have success.”

On his greeting from Browns staff when arriving in Berea:

Jackson: “I’ve never experienced anything like that before in my life. To me, that told me that this building is electric, they want to win and they expect to win, and they understand that there is a lot of work to do but everybody’s ready to roll up their sleeves and go to work.”

On what was most appealing about the Browns:

Jackson: “The potential. Where do you find an unbelievable fan base? Where do you find an unbelievable owner, a passionate wife, two young men who are on the verge of doing something different and special in the National Football League and you feel in-line with those people? As you said, I’d interviewed at some other places, I talked to a lot of different people over the phone and I get a feel for people. I think I can judge people pretty well. The feeling that I had after meeting with this group was different than the feelings that I had after meeting and talking with others. To me, it was a no brainer for me.”

On lessons from his year as Oakland’s head coach and if it ended with unfinished business after one year:

“I did, but at the same time, I understood that through that process what I learned more than anything you have to have support and you can’t do it alone. I think you guys all know and recognize that I lost our owner (late Raiders Owner Al Davis) during the season and it became very difficult and it was different. Sometimes you felt like you were in a maze by yourself, and that’s what’s different here. There are a lot of people to support and help and get you what you need as a coach, as a leader to have an opportunity to have success.”

On the Browns defense after preparing for it as an offensive coordinator:

Jackson: “It’s a young nucleus of players, but at the same time, until I can watch videotape of those guys – obviously, I watched them competing against them, but this is different now. I’m having an opportunity to coach them so I think I need to be able to watch that videotape and evaluate them all before I can make that statement.”

On if he wants to call plays:

Jackson: “I love calling plays (laughter). I do, but I’m going to do whatever I think is the right thing for this organization. Obviously, we’re going to look to find the best coaches that we can in the world to come here and coach. If that means Hue Jackson needs to slide over and give someone else that opportunity, then I will, but I know I will always be itching and scratching and wanting to do it because I think I have a pretty good feel of what it takes to be successful in this league.”

On WR Josh Gordon potentially being reinstated by the NFL next month:

Jackson: “What I’m anxious to do is evaluate him just like we’re going to evaluate every player on our roster and see if they are the right fit for the Cleveland Browns. That’s what we have to do with every player, whether that’s (WR) Josh Gordon to whoever the last guy is on the roster.”

On evaluating Manziel’s off-field behavior:

Jackson: “Again, I wasn’t here to be a part of that so obviously, I can’t speak to any of those. I think what’s important is that I evaluate him as a football player and then find out more about those things as we move forward.”

On attractiveness of the Browns owning the No. 2 overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft and his knowledge of this year’s QB class:

Jackson: “I’m going to know them pretty well here pretty soon. Obviously, having the No. 2 pick is great and sometimes it’s not. As an organization, we have a lot of work to do to make sure that’s where we need to be or where we don’t need to be, but I think it’s a great place to start for a new head coach because you have a chance to get a good player.”

On if he said Manziel was not discussed in interviews with the Browns:

Jackson: “Did I say that we never discussed Manziel? No, I never said that to you. I never said that. What I said to you is that I need to evaluate him as a football player, and I know whatever incidents that he’s been involved in I was not a part of here so I can’t comment on those because I don’t know anything about those.”

On weighing how much input he will have in personnel decisions:

Jackson: “When we had the conversation about how that works, I think Sashi and Paul were very comfortable with me having an opportunity to give them my input. That means we’re going to work together through this process. These guys are in charge of making those things happen. My job is to make sure that we win football games. All I want to do is win. I’m not worried about who picks this player, who picks this player. I want to make sure I know what we’re going to put on our team, but at the same time, give me player so I can coach them. That’s what my expertise is. My thing is to get us to the game ready to play, motivated, fired up, enthusiastic and to have an opportunity to win. That’s what I’m interested in.”

On weighing the Browns recent instability with the opportunity to interview with the Giants:

Jackson: “Someone said it best: there’s 32 of these, right? To me, I can’t worry about what’s happened before me. I know there’s history that everybody looks to and points to and says, ‘This can happen to you.’ I’m not opposed to saying that it couldn’t, but I don’t believe so based on my process with Jimmy, Dee, Sashi and Paul. I don’t believe that. At the end of the day, I do understand and recognize my job is about winning and nothing else and this team being as good as it can be and these young men being the best they can be on the field, as well as off the field. That’s what I’m in charge of and I think that’s what is important.”

On explaining praise from multiple players and coaches around the league after his hire:

Jackson: “Because I think players know that I’m honest, I’m fair and I’m tough. My job is to push people to get them to where they need to be. I think Jimmy spoke about it earlier – a singleness, a purpose. He used a different phrase than I did, but everybody coming together being aligned is a term I think he used the right way. I try to align players the right way. The arrow needs to point up and not down. We do all recognize that sometimes the arrow does go down on some players. When they do, you’ve got to get them back in focus the best they can and try to create environments for your players to be all they can be. That’s what I think I’m good at. I think the players that I’ve been around, the coaches I’ve been around they know that because I try to create the environment so people can have success.”

On if he’s looking more for a certain system or person when hiring a defensive coordinator:

Jackson: “I’m looking for the person that can bring energy that can bring tenacity, that’s a guy that understands how to lead men, and a guy that understands how to defeat offenses, the real good offenses in this league.”

On Jackson’s approach to analytics and what it meant in the hiring process:

Brown: “With Hue, the first thing you realize is he’s smart and tremendously competitive. He understands just like Paul, Jimmy, Dee and the rest of ourselves that everything we do here is going to be focused on winning. We’d like to create every possible competitive advantage we can. If that’s from analytics and if those apply, certainly, we’ll use those in our decision making to make sure that we put ourselves in the best position to win. Acquiring talent, helping Hue on the field with his coaching, it could be player development – we will look at that. Hue certainly was open. In addition to being smart and open-minded, he was certainly open to the use of analytics throughout our processes.”

On Dee Haslam’s increased role with the Browns and her involvement in the coaching search:

Haslam: “Dee has been my partner for a long time. Both of us are at a place in our businesses where we can now spend a lot more time here. Besides it was great to have her along, she adds value and she reads people extremely well. I know a lot of people asked yesterday about the NFL meeting. Once we saw that we were still going to be zeroing in on the search, it was great to have Dee be able to go to the meeting, represent us extremely well and me be able to stay focused on the search. She’s a tremendous asset not just to me but to the organization. I’m very happy to have her by my side. She’s been a big help.”

On the difference between Jackson and previous head coaches and candidates:

Haslam: “To start with the process, Jed helped this, and Sashi and Paul are both really smart and very disciplined. You all hear us use ‘process’ a lot, very organized. Like I said, we had seven candidates, all of whom were very good candidates. When you go through these, as I said a minute ago, it’s a lot of work, but you also learn a lot. We took notes that will help the Browns organization going forward from every single person we interviewed. I think we were very well-organized. We ran a tight ship. I don’t think there were any leaks or anything coming out. I think we had things lined up well. There were several really good candidates in the group. It’s kind of interesting – Hue and I were laughing about this yesterday as we were finishing up our second interview – he and I had run into each other on the sidelines before the game and just had a natural chemistry, and I in no mind ever thought, ‘Well, this guy will be our next coach,’ and I doubt Hue was trying to sell me on that fact. We just had a natural chemistry. We always visited a little bit before the game. We knew each other a little bit. We sat down on Sunday and I think he slept zero Saturday night and had gone through a long interview with another team. We had a great session. It just felt comfortable. Then yesterday, we went back down and Paul and Sash and Hue and I sat around the table and just talked real life situations. ‘What do you think about this? What do you think about that?’ for about three hours. It was just really comfortable. It was as if we had worked together a long time. Sash and I have worked together three years. Paul is now on Week 2, and that was the second time we ever spent time with Hue. It was just a very comfortable working environment. We got up, asked Hue to excuse himself and said, ‘OK, we’re ready to go. This is our man.’ We’re excited.”

On if Jackson will retain coaches from the previous staff:

Jackson: “Again, we’re going to have an opportunity to speak to them and evaluate them and see if they fit. If they do, we will. If they don’t, obviously, we’ll make decisions to move forward.”

On gratification of hiring a coach quicker than previous searches:

Haslam: “It’s helpful. We qualified by saying we didn’t know if this was going to take two weeks or two months. I think we felt like we were organized in such a manner that would be on the short end. It’s nice to get Hue hired because now Hue can go to work hiring a staff, and we can go to work hiring our personnel person so that in the hopefully not too distant future, we’ll be ready to roll. The football season, as you all know, never really ends. We’ve got free agency coming up, and you have the various All-Star games, you have the combine, and before long it will be the draft. We all understand, and I think Hue will tell you, we were very honest about where we see ourselves as a team and the amount of work we have to do. I think we all understand, as he said several times, we have a lot of work to do, we got it and the quicker we can get the organization in place, the better off we are. At the same time, it’s important to get the right people in place. We’re not going to tell Hue he has to have a staff hired in two weeks. The important thing is to get the right people in the right place.”

On having preconceived notions about the Browns that needed to be changed with his AFC North experience:

Jackson: “No, honestly I didn’t. I didn’t have any preconceived notions and my mind didn’t need to be changed. Again, this is a tremendous organization led by some great people. Again, there are only 32 of these. I understood where they had been and where they’re trying to go. I like challenges. What a challenge, but when you have the support that I think we have here, those challenges become reality.”

On ability to hire a coach quickly and drawing an ideal candidate:

Haslam: “Let me say this: I know there is a feeling here, and it is deserved, that this is not a good place to coach and a lot of it revolved around the owners. We were pleasantly surprised with the interest in this job. I think people recognize the potential that is here in Cleveland. Hue and we talk about it all the time, the rabid fan base. Like I said, we got the guy we wanted, but there were several really outstanding coaches we had the opportunity to interview. I think it is a credit to this town and the fan base. We were well organized. Sash, Paul, Jed and Dee did a nice job. These things are never perfectly smooth and you have things come up. The process went as we wanted. We think we got the right guy. This is just the first step. Hue has to put together a staff. We have to get the right personnel person. We have to begin building a really good football team because we have a long way to go to be where we are consistently competitive in the AFC North, which is one of the toughest divisions in football. We all recognize that.”

On being able to offer an avid fan base with previous head coaching searches:

Haslam: “I will just say I think we were better organized. Hopefully, the third time is the charm. Hopefully, you learn from previous processes of what you can do better, and I think we will benefit this time.”

On primary principles on winning in the NFL:

Jackson: “I think what you do is you start to build a team through the right vision. You have to have leadership, and I think players have to have some leadership, too, obviously in the locker room. After that, I think it is integrity. I think the players have to understand integrity is very, very important. Then, you have to be accountable. You have to be accountable for what you are doing and how you are doing it. Then, you have to have some passion. You have to have great passion for what you are doing. You couple that with a little desire and determination and great things happen. Obviously, the thing that sits on top of that is work ethic. We have to walk into this building every day ready to work and compete to be the best we can be. That is what I am going to sell this football team on, that is what I am going to sell this coaching staff on and that is what I want this organization to be sold on because we are chasing greatness. Sometimes people chase it and you don’t hit it all the time, but if you don’t chase it, you are going to hit the wrong thing. At least when you chase it, you might fall on something that is really good that gives a chance to be very special here.”

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