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Hue Jackson details Gregg Williams hire, discusses ongoing evaluation

Posted Jan 8, 2017

Full transcript of Jackson's Sunday teleconference

Opening statement:

“I thought it was important that I had a chance to talk to you guys so we can have the right narrative out there as opposed to what everybody is thinking. Fire away, and we will go from there.”

On the decision to change defensive coordinators:

“What I said when the season was over was I was going to go back and look at everything. All of these decisions, I think you guys all know are very difficult, but it is my job to make sure that I am creating the right environment to create a championship team and a winning organization. I don’t want anybody to take that this is just about (former Browns defensive coordinator) Ray (Horton). This is really about my vision. It is about what I am trying to create here in Cleveland and how I see it and what I think it is going to take for us to get there. This isn’t just Ray. I know it looks like that. I know it looks like he gets caught up in it and however you guys want to say that, but it is not about that. It is bigger to me than that. I needed to look at our staff and I needed to look at our team and figure out what is going to be the best way for us moving forward so that I can bring winning to the Cleveland Browns. That’s what I was interested in doing. These are tough decisions. These are hard decisions, but they are decisions to me from a leadership position that have to be made if you are going to create the winning environment that I hope to create here.”

On understanding the perception that Horton may be used as a scapegoat for the team’s season:

“Right, well, I do. That is why I am telling you guys that I am disappointed that everybody is making it that way. If anybody, the finger is pointed back at me. It is not pointed at Ray. At the end of the day, the whole buck stops with me. I get it. I know what it looks like and what the perception is, but that is not what it is. This is my decision. This is through my time of thinking through what I think is going to be best for us moving forward for our football team and where I want to take it and what I thought we needed to do to get there. There are decisions that are going to be made that are very difficult. They are hard, but you have to make them if that is where you are trying to go. I feel very comfortable in what we have done and where we are trying to head. I thank the organization for allowing me to do the things that I think need to be done to get to where we need to be.”

On why defensive coordinator Gregg Williams brings the Browns closer to having a championship team:

“He is one of the better coordinators in the National Football League, and I think that is proven. The guy has a ton of skins on the wall doing this in a lot of different places with a lot of different players and a lot of different systems. I need growth over there as fast as I can get it. I truly believe in his track record and what he has done. Like I said, this wasn’t an easy decision. I agonized over this probably more than anybody because it does, it does hurt some people, but when I look at it at the end of the day, I have to do what I think is right to get us to where we need to be. I think Gregg is that guy.”

On his relationship with Williams and how Williams rebounded after being suspended by the NFL:

“It says that he is a guy who put his head down and went back to work and went back to doing what he is extremely good at, which is coaching defense. It means that someone gave him an opportunity to get back to where he needed to be, and he has shown that he is still a very good defensive mind from before all that. I am just glad that we are having an opportunity to have him be a part of our staff and help us get to where we are trying to go.”

On if Williams’ defensive system is a better match for the Browns’ defensive personnel:

“His system gives us a chance, and what he has done is adapt many different schemes that he has been a part of and that he knows to the talent that is there. We all know we are going to have an opportunity to improve our football team as we move forward through free agency and the draft, and I think that is very important. He is going to bring us the type of defense that I am looking for as we move forward here.”

On if Williams’ past Bountygate suspension and if he can ensure that culture does not come to Cleveland:

“Oh, we have had conversations about it, but I think that is behind him. You said it – that was from years ago. Obviously, he has already paid the price for that. I think that is behind him as well. We will not be having a Bountygate situation in Cleveland. We are here to try to do the best job we can of winning football games and putting the best football team that we can out on the football field.”

On how much developing the Browns’ young talent on defense factored into the decision to hire Williams:

“Everything factored in. I looked at it all. I looked at the players, the coaches, schematically and everything. It was not a fly by night decision. This was really thought out, and it was tough. A lot of coaches are having some downtime right now. I did not have any downtime. I spent my time trying to figure out what is the best way to get this organization and to create the championship culture and get to winning as fast as we could. This is the decision I have come up with. I feel very comfortable in that, and I think it is the right thing for our organization and our football team.”

On if associate head coach–offense Pep Hamilton will remain on the Browns coaching staff, given reports he is considering an opportunity to join University of Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh:

“Yeah, I sure hope so. I have known about the Jim Harbaugh situation from a week and a half ago. I feel very comfortable that Pep is staying. Anything can happen. We want him to stay. We hope he stays. Like I said, a young man is entitled to do what they feel is best for them, but I would think we have created a good environment and I hope things are still good. As far as I know, things are.”

On how much the Browns’ emphasis on continuity factored into the decision to hire a new defensive coordinator:

“Wow, it was huge. That was a huge piece of it because I know what it looks like and I know what it feels like for everybody here – ‘Here are the Browns again changing out,’ – but it is not about that. I am going to say it again, it is about trying to be the best we can be everywhere. I get what it feels like to everybody and I respect that, but at the same time, I think everybody would be disappointed in me if I did not as the leader make tough decisions that I think are going to get us to where we want to go to. It goes both ways so you are kind of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I do not worry about that. I am worried about getting this organization, this football team and this coaching staff as good as I can get it, and I think that is my charge.”

On if the Browns expect a new defensive staff under Williams:

“I don’t think you can expect a whole new defensive staff, but I am going to allow him to bring some guys who I think are going to help sell the message of what we are trying to create on defense. He is going to interview guys, and we are going to kind of go from there. Will there be changes? Yeah, there will probably be some changes. That is all part of it, too.”

On if the Browns will now run a 4-3 base defense:

“It is safe to say we are going to be what we think is best to help our football team be as good as we need to be on defense. Gregg comes from a lot of different backgrounds. He comes from a 4-3 system. He comes from a 3-4 system. He has done a little bit of it all. We need to look at our personnel and see where we are and find out what is best to get our men to play the best we can get them to play.”

On his favorite part of Williams’ defense:

“They are very aggressive and attacking. They make you go the long, hard route to score touchdowns. That is what playing football in the National Football League is all about. His defenses have demonstrated that they tackle well and that the ball is not thrown over their head big time. In order to be a really good defense, the characteristics I just mentioned, you have to have.”

On if Williams will be able to get more production from younger Browns players:

“The plan is to improve these players every way that we can. I would hope that our young players do take the next jump next year and become huge contributing members to our football team. As I said, we are going to put other players on this football team who as well need to be developed and placed within our system and play extremely well and play extremely hard. That is what I am chasing. I have a vision of what I want our defense to play like and look like, and I am going to get that. That is what I am looking forward to.”

On if the Browns will retain the rest of the coaching staff:

“I am still looking at everything to be very honest with you. I am not done [evaluating]. This is a thorough evaluation of our staff. I am going to do this brick by brick in how we have to do this and put this thing together. Everybody kind of knows where they are and where I am. If you are asking will there be more changes as we move forward, yeah, there could potentially be more changes. There could be more changes because guys have better opportunities. There could be more changes because I think something is going to improve us and make us better. When I set out to take this job, I told you my expectation was I was going to win here, and I am going to win here. In order to do that, we have to and I have to make some tough decisions as we move forward as to what is best for our football team. It is not personal. This is the business side of it. It is a hard side of it, and I get that. I have been through it before as an assistant coach and as a head coach so I know what that is like, but at the same time, I think all of us within this profession get it because at the end of the day, this is truly about winning. It is not about anything else. It is about winning. It is what it is going to take for us to become the type of organization that we want to be. To me, you have to have vision, you have to have support when you get ready to make decisions and then you have to execute the decisions you have decided to make. I do get it. Those decisions need to come out right. I do get that. I want you guys to all know that. These decisions need to come out right. Those are the decisions and the chances you have to take in this profession.”

On if he will continue to call the Browns’ offensive plays, even if staff changes are made:

“Yes, I will. I don’t know why I would not. Until I get this organization where I need it to be, I need to continue to do what I think I have done in the past to play winning football. Obviously, we didn’t do it as well this past year. Trust me, I have looked at myself, too. Hue Jackson has to get better as well as anybody has to get better. I don’t run from that. I am not taking it off my head. I get how all of this works. I have been through these things before, and I know what we have to get done. I can see it. I just have to go make it happen.”

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