Browns general manager Ray Farmer tackled 30 minutes worth of questions Tuesday in his end-of-season press conference.
We've highlighted seven of the most important things he said during the spirited session.
- "It was 'necessary.' We went through this year. The things that we embodied and the things that we kind of accomplished this year brought us back to seeing the good and the bad. There are positives and negatives. I would tell you there are two sides to this season. We started in a direction where there were some positives early. Then, there were some negatives late. I think those are obvious, and I think in that instance we learned a lot about ourselves. We learned a lot about our culture. We learned a lot about that foundation that we're trying to lay, and it's not perfect right now."
This assessment follows right along with what coach Mike Pettine said Monday. The Browns added three wins to their final total this season, but there's little satisfaction with how things ended.
- "I'd ask I don't know how many elite starters exist. In my mind, I would say there are no more than four or five of them in the league at any one point in time. I would say that if that's the case, then the vast majority of the league plays with guys that are not elite starters. That classification, in my mind, is a very small class when we use the word 'elite.'"
Farmer was talking quarterbacks, and the question he was answering was a follow-up to him saying he believed Duke Johnson Jr. had the potential to be a "solid starter." The Browns general manager believes a "solid starter" at quarterback who is surrounded by the right players can make an offense effective enough to succeed.
- "No one person causes or derails anything. We as a group have to overcome whatever obstacles we have, and we didn't do that late in the year. I wouldn't put that on Josh. I wouldn't put that on any one individual."
The Browns' offensive numbers weren't pretty during Josh Gordon's five games this season. Cleveland went 1-4 in those games and, after winning in Gordon's 2014 debut against Atlanta, scored just three offensive touchdowns over the next four games.
The Browns are imploring the talented wide receiver to be better and want him to be as effective of a playmaker as he was during his Pro Bowl 2013 season. But to blame one player for Cleveland's offensive struggles during the final month-plus of the season would be counter to everything Pettine and the contributing members of the Browns offense have said for weeks.
- "Don't talk about it. Just be about it. Pretty simple. The things that you know that are required of you, do those things and do them in a consistent manner. That's probably the best way to assess it is that, like Pett said, when you demonstrate that you can do certain things, it's that level of consistency that really makes you a pro."
The answer pertained to Manziel, who received similar encouragement from Pettine on Monday, but it applies to pretty much everyone on the Browns' roster heading into 2015.
Farmer stressed he's going to look to improve Cleveland's roster in all aspects. If a player treats his offseason with complacency, there's a good chance he'll face stiffer competition in training camp next season.
- "I know everyone says I'm stubborn or I'm going to be abstinent about this wide receiver position but I just think that, at the end of the day, an offensive line affects every single play of the game. A wide receiver may touch the ball 10 times if he's having a great day so I just like the idea of let's get the guys that affect the game all the time and let's try and get those guys and make a difference for our football team."
Keep this in mind in late April, when the Browns hold two first-round picks and 10 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. The Browns did not select a wide receiver in last year's draft and haven't since 2012, when Travis Benjamin was picked in the fourth round.
- "I would not hesitate to take whoever I thought could help this football team and move us forward. The goal is win. It's not to draft any particular person or players, simply to win. If we win, that's all that matters."
This response came to a question wondering if Farmer would consider a quarterback with one of the Browns' first-round picks. He did not hesitate to say yes.
- "I'd say if he wants to be back, that leverage is definitely in his court to make that happen. Assuming that we could agree to that deal and what that deal looks like, then that opportunity's available. If we can't come to that agreement then he obviously would not be back. I think that there's a lot of work to be done in that regard."
Farmer was discussing quarterback Brian Hoyer in this instance. Hoyer, who is a free agent in March, said Monday he was open to returning but will go somewhere that gives him the best chance to start.