5 big things we learned from John Dorsey's midseason press conference

John Dorsey would have preferred Wednesday's press conference happened at the actual midpoint of the season, but the Browns' bye week came a little early in 2019.

Alas, there's been a lot to assess over the past six weeks, and Dorsey had answers regarding many of the hottest topics that have surrounded the Browns.

Here were the five biggest.

1. He's still very optimistic about the team's immediate future

Dorsey opened his press conference expressing his displeasure for the team's 2-4 start to the 2019 season. That feeling, he said, is felt by every member of the Browns organization.

Dorsey, though, is the eternal optimist -- a title he's claimed and recited to media members ever since he took over as Browns general manager. He quickly pointed to the 10 games remaining on Cleveland's schedule -- "a lot of football" -- and the fact the Browns are 2-1 in the AFC and 1-0 in the AFC North with five games remaining against division foes. He listed off numerous examples from his past about teams coming together and thriving after disappointing starts -- the most recent being the 2015 Kansas City Chiefs, who began the year 1-5 before rattling off 10 straight wins.

"I think the bye week comes at a good time," Dorsey said. "I think it gives the coaches a chance to review, self-assess, make some corrections and implement those corrections. It gives the players a chance to regroup and make that push on the back end of the 10-game schedule."

If this all sounds familiar, it's because it is. Here's what Dorsey had to say at last year's midseason press conference, when the team was 2-5-1 and had just made changes at head coach and offensive coordinator.

"We have a lot of football left," Dorsey said. "We have a lot of football left in this season. We have some very talented players on this team right now as we speak. As we sat down and talked to the players today, I expressed that to them. I said, 'You know, we have a lot of football left here you guys.' They understand that."

The Browns, of course, went 5-3 over the next eight games.

The Browns' 53 man roster as of December 18, 2020.

2. His belief in Baker Mayfield hasn't wavered

It hasn't been the smoothest start to Baker Mayfield's second NFL season, and Dorsey acknowledged as much. Mayfield is completing a smaller percentage of his passes than he did during his breakout rookie campaign and has five touchdown passes compared to 11 interceptions.

Dorsey, though, has seen improvement in areas others may overlook. He liked the quick, in-season adjustment Mayfield made, fixing a tendency to drift to the right outside of the pocket in situations when it wasn't necessary. It's symbolic of how committed Mayfield is to improving and adjusting to everything the NFL is throwing at him.

"I told you in the spring, to master the quarterback position is very hard," Dorsey said. "You just can't go up and show up and do it. There is a lot involved in this. He is in his second year. Right now, defensive coordinators have probably thrown different looks that he has not seen. Baker is one of those guys that he is smart enough that he is not going to make the same mistake twice. He is learning from that, but I like where he is. 

"I like his competitiveness. I love everything about him. That has not changed for me one bit in terms of his competitiveness, his ability to throw the football and move this thing. What I really like is his teammates like him."

3. Like always, never rule out anything

Dorsey likes to say his phone is always charged and ready if another team's general manager wants to talk potential trades, and he offered up the same sentiment Wednesday.

Dorsey struck his first in-season deal Tuesday when he dealt OL Austin Corbett to the Rams in exchange for an undisclosed 2021 draft pick. Thirteen days remain before the trade deadline in a league that is proving to be more and more active and exciting with players moving all over the place. 

It doesn't mean the Browns are set to do anything more before the deadline. It just means nothing can be ruled out.

"We will do what is best for the Cleveland Browns organization," Dorsey said. "We will do extensive research. We will make a million phone calls. If we think we can improve a position, regardless of what that position is, we will go about it if we think it is the right fit for the Cleveland Browns."

4. His opinion of Odell Beckham Jr. is as high as ever

Dorsey saved some of his highest praise for Odell Beckham Jr., the star wide receiver Cleveland acquired in one of the biggest trades in recent NFL history. 

Through six games, Beckham leads the team with 29 receptions and is second behind Jarvis Landry with 436 receiving yards. He's the only wide receiver to catch a touchdown pass this season.

It just hasn't always been easy getting the ball to Beckham, who had a combined four catches in the team's Week 4 and 5 games. He came back Sunday with a much bigger outing, posting his second 100-yard receiving game of the season.

"I think Odell is one of the finest receivers I have ever been around, and I have been around a hall of fame receiver, too – that is James Lofton," Dorsey said. "I think James is one hell of a football player. Very rarely do you get to acquire a player like this. An example would be how many guys can make the catch he made in the New York Jets game? Or even if you go to the Seattle game, how many guys can make the catch that he made on the Seattle Seahawks sideline? Not very many guys can do that.

"What people do not see or do not understand is defensive coordinators now are trying to take away Odell, which that frees up the backside for other receivers. That just goes to show you that Odell is one of those guys who is a selfless individual in terms of on the field and another thing you do not see is his run-blocking ability. I think he really does a nice job on the run-blocking part of it. I am happy we have him, and I think he is a really good football player."

5. His biggest area of concern is shared with coaches, players

Dorsey said the biggest area he wants to see cleaned up over the next 10 games is the team's penchant for penalties. The Browns lead the NFL in penalties (57) and penalty yardage (507). 

"At the end of the day, it is one of those things that you have to clean up and this is the proper time to clean these things up," Dorsey said.

"My only advice is it is that attention to details and the little things and do not put yourself in the position to get those penalties. Right now, I am sure we are doing a self-assessment of that and just trying to get a basic understanding of why this is occurring."

Dorsey said he believes it's "realistic" to improve these totals as soon as Week 8, when the Browns return to the field at New England.

"That is what happens when you establish and have good coaches and they can reinforce that on a daily basis and have emphasis there," Dorsey said. "That is going to happen."

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