Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton
"I just wanted to say I'm happy to be back. Before we start, I just wanted to say I think it's a fantastic honor that (Owner) Mr. (Jimmy) Haslam is bestowing upon (Pro Football Hall of Fame RB) Jim Brown with the statue down there [at FirstEnergy Stadium]. I'm not sure when it's going to be erected, but I can't wait to get down there and take a couple pictures in front of it. I know, my time here last time, what a great pleasure it was to meet Jim and just learn from him and just listen to him talk – some of the football stories and some of the Hollywood stories that he told. It was a great honor to meet him.
"I'm really happy to be back. It's going to be awesome to be with (Head Coach) Hue (Jackson). In my short time with him, man, I love listening to him talk. His energy, his passion, his enthusiasm for what we are going to do up here, I'm really excited to be up here with Hue and really just the fans. When I was up here the first time, I really fell in love with the fans and the city. I was in Nashville in the airport on our bye week, and there was a Cleveland supporter fan coming through. He goes, 'What are you doing here?' I said, 'I'm just taking a little vacation. He goes, 'We miss you up there.' I really had a great love affair with the fans and the people of Cleveland, and I'm really excited to be back."
On if he has kept in touch with any Browns players from the 2013 team:
"No, only obviously when we see them on the field because of NFL rules and everything. We played [Cleveland last year], and it was good seeing them on the field. Obviously, we watch them because you become attached to players on a personal level and you want them to do well in football and in life, except for when they're playing against you. Yes, I watched them, all of them from afar."
On DB Tashaun Gipson developing under his defense, Gipson's progress since 2013 and Gipson's status as a free agent:
"Really after I left, I just kind of watched. When the games came across in exchange or just when you have a little free time, you go back to watch. I always from the moment I met him appreciated his ability on the field and in the classroom – some things don't get translated and you don't see that. I loved who he was as a young man. I believe he is a free agent. Those things in the NFL business take care of themselves. I always have appreciated him when I was in the building, and I appreciated him from afar."
On if one of his philosophies is still having big guys who can run and little guys who can hit:
"No question. The NFL hasn't changed. When you watched the Super Bowl and the AFC Championship Game, it was a factor of big men who could run, coming around that edge, and then also it's little guys who can get them on the field. Until they change the rules or tweak the rules a little bit, it's still NFL football, and you've got to either get the ball or get the guy with the ball on the ground. We're going to preach that from Day 1. We're going to preach what we do. We're going to try to pressure the quarterback. As Coach Hue has mentioned more than once, we do, we want to be suffocating. When we are in this division on the defensive side of the ball, you have to be. This is a tough, big-man division. You better be ready to play football on Sunday or you're going to be embarrassed."
On if there was any oddity or emotion returning or two years ago after being with Cleveland in 2013, when former Head Coach Rob Chudzinski was fired:
"No, not for me. Sure, there was emotion the day it happened. You want to do a great job for your employer, for yourself, for your players and for the fans. This business is a win-now business. It has really changed over the years. It has evolved. In my opinion, when you do a good job and somebody recognizes it, that's what you want. Sometimes it's a fan, it's the players, it's your head coach, it's your owner. I hope by the fact that I am sitting here is that somewhere at some level somebody appreciated something. Now, you would have to ask that somebody what that would be. Who that is, I don't know, but obviously, Mr. Haslam is our boss. Even after I left, I kept in contact with him. We were down in Tennessee. His [Pilot Flying J] headquarters is in Knoxville. I drove by it – it's up on a hill – took a picture and sent him a text. I stopped at his gas station out in Oregon on the drive up in the middle-of-nowhere Oregon, and he knew exactly where I was talking about. You do, you build relationships. That's part of the thing when I was in the Nashville airport, a fan coming by and saying something. You hope you do a great job for your people. In my case, it's the owner, it's the team and it's the fans."
On the job in front of him after what the Browns defense did in 2013 and what it did the past two seasons:
"It's different, and every year it's different in the league. It's a task. We've got a lot of work to do. I'm excited. The guys last year as we watched film on the guys, they played hard. They really did. We've got to improve. We have to improve. In the NFL – there's a book, Who Moved My Cheese – really, that's what it is. It is. It's about constant change in the NFL. There is going to be change no matter what happens in this business, and we've got to find a way to become a suffocating, championship defense. That's what we're trying to do. Do we have work? Yeah, we do. Yes, we do."
On what the Browns defense could have done better in 2013:
"From a simple answer, I would say finish. That's what this business is about. The ebb and flow of the games, of the season, we just need to finish better. Now, what does that mean this year? I don't know what that means, but we've got to finish what we started."
On the Browns drafting LB Barkevious Mingo early in 2013, his development and if he can still make an impact coming off the edge:
"I hope so. I hope, obviously, when we get him back in the building on April 4. He is a tall, lean, fast young man. We have to utilize that. Now, what do we have on the table for him? Some things different than it's been in the past. Hopefully, he will come in and say, 'I embrace what you are trying to do with me, and I'll do whatever you ask me to do.' We have to do something to utilize his God-given ability."
On viewing Mingo as an edge rusher:
"I see him hopefully as a play-making member of our defense. Where he will line up, I don't know yet. It depends on what he can handle for us."
On DL Danny Shelton:
"I saw Danny Shelton at the University of Washington. Danny was not the first person that contacted me but the first player that came in. Danny can be a unique player for us. He's really, really bright, intelligent, very outgoing. He wants to do well. He wants to succeed. He wants to be part of a championship defense. We are going to try to give him every opportunity to do that. One of the things I don't want for Danny is I don't want him to always have to come off the field. I want him to be able to stay on the field as much as we want him on the field. He came in. I just talked to him. I met him. I said, 'I'm looking forward to working with you on April 4.' He is going to be a big part of our plans. Obviously, he was our No. 1 draft pick last year, and we want to utilize his talent."
On improving the Browns' red zone defense:
"Keep them out of the red zone (laughter). In the league, what you have to do when you get down there is obviously the first thing is kick field goals. If they get down there, they are probably going to score something, unless you turn the ball over. First of all, we want to keep them out. That's not a flippant answer, but when you get down there, what you are looking to do now is make them attempt a field goal. What do you do when you get down there to do it? You play what you do. We have had success down there on our defenses, and sometimes, we have not, but everything that we do is dictated by our players. Who do you have? What do they do best? Our roster will change with free agency, plus and minus, meaning we may lose somebody, we may gain somebody, and with the draft. As we sit here now, we are going to be a fluid team because we are going to have – I don't know what we will have when we line up on September 11 when the season starts. We need to improve in a lot of areas when you look back, but all we are trying to do, whether it is 53 guys, whether it's 25 guys, whether it's 90 guys, whenever we get our roster set whether it is starting April 4 or starting the first game of the season, we want guys who are going to be in the huddle with us, meaning our kind of guys – guys who are going to be aggressive, guys who are going to run, guys who are going to hit and do what we want them to do and go play football. It will be changing."
On LB Christian Kirksey:
"A young athletic linebacker who we want to... We obviously want our players to get better. Even elite players can get better. That is what we are going to preach to them the first day that they come in. We have to get better. No matter who you are sitting in that chair, whether you are a starter who has been in the league for a while who has a Super Bowl ring or whether you are a young free agent, we need you guys to get better. Chris is one of those guys. He is going to be probably a starter for us. We will continue to show them film of other players on other teams. 'This is what we want.' One of the things that we are going to try to impart with our players is 'This is how champions do it.' This is how champions do it. There is a way on the field and off the field to do things."
On why he decided to leave Tennessee for Cleveland, despite being under contract with the Titans:
"A number of reasons. One is to be with Coach Hue. Two is easy, I really have fallen in love with the city and the people and a chance to come back. A lot of times people say they can go where they want to go. I could have stayed where I wanted to stay or I could have gone where I wanted to go. It's easy to say, the people have treated me outstanding up here. That says a lot. It really does. It says a lot about the people. When you come in, it is hard to grasp that, but I love how the people have treated me here."
On placing the blame on himself that the Browns defense didn't finish in 2013 and if he has unfinished business returning to Cleveland:
"Here's where I think our unfinished business is: When I watch the passion of the fans here, to bring a winner here. That's what is unfinished. I think the people here – I said this when I first got here – to do what they did to challenge the league to keep a team here is remarkable, passionate for a city and a franchise. It gives me kind of goosebumps. I love the people of Cleveland. I really do."
On LB Paul Kruger and his role in the Browns defense, given his drop in production last season:
"We have to help him. We have to be able to give him a Batman to his Robin or a Robin to his Batman, whoever he wants to be in the equation. We have to give him help on the other side. Obviously in this league, you can't just rush. You can't be one-dimensional. You can't rush all the time. You've got to drop. You've got to do different things. Whether we rush eight guys or whether we rush three, you have to do what's called on the defense. We are going to give him opportunities. There is no question about it. When Paul gets back into town, we'll sit down and we'll talk. He's one of our better players, and I'll ask him, 'I don't know what happened. I don't really care. What can you do better this year?' He is one of our elite players who has to play better for us. We will give him every opportunity to like the defense, to rush. He is going to rush so I want him to stay in and rush. He won't be going out. I want him to stay in and rush. He
will get his opportunities."
On DB Joe Haden earning his first Pro Bowl with him in 2013 and his confidence in Haden's ability to bounce back after missing much of 2015:
"He was in two days ago, he and his wife. They are opening a store downtown, a shoe store. If you're in the market for some shoes, go downtown. Joe will be a vital part. He is one of our elite players who has to play better. I told him that. I said, 'Are you ready to go?' He said, 'Yes sir.' And I said, 'I'll see you on April 4.' I love Joe's athletic ability. I love his leadership ability. As long as he is healthy, he will be on the field starting for us. I expect good things from Joe Haden."
On the difference between his 3-4 defense and the one the Browns used the past two seasons and if it's an advantage that several Browns players were part of his 2013 defense:
"I think that is a definite advantage, easy transition for them. I'm not sure of the difference between the defenses. I'm not sure of the terminology. I didn't look at their playbook. For us, we are ever-evolving. The league evolves. I don't know if there is a real difference, other than maybe philosophy of how you call the game. I go back to our players. If our big guys will run for us and our little guys will hit, we'll be OK. We have a lot of work to do. We are not there. We are not close, but I like the effort of our guys. We are going to be a 3-4. We are going to be a four-man [front]. We want Danny on the field, and we will have some new players in. I am excited because the players that were here when I was here worked hard, played hard for us and had some success. That's what we want."
On if he has targeted positions at which the Browns need to improve:
"Yes, meaning we didn't win enough games last year. We weren't in the top 10, 12, 14, 15 in defense last year. We didn't help the offense win enough games last year. All of those things come in, whether it is the red zone, whether it is turnovers. We do, we have to get better. The thing I will preach to our team is we need to be a championship defense to help this offense, meaning our offense is going to get there. When the offense gets there, when we get there, we will have our team ready to go. I don't want to try to say it's a simple answer. 'If we do this, we'll be there.' We have work to do. I think the players understand that. When you talk about Paul being frustrated, when Joe missed X-amount of games, with Tashaun being a free agent, there are a lot of moving pieces and we will be fluid, but whichever 53 we end up with, we are going to make a heck of a run at winning games and winning our division. Now, are we going to win our division this year? I don't know if we are or not, but we are going to give them hell."
On if the Browns will be looking for a pass rusher in 2016 as they did in 2013:
"Every year it's going to be that situation. Here's the league: The league has a 5-yard rule – you can't touch a receiver [after 5 yards]. Now, once that receiver goes up, you can't hit him high, you can't hit him too low and you can't hit him too hard. There is a rule on the quarterback. You can't hit him in the head, you can't hit him in the knee and you can't throw him to the ground. The rules change. You better affect the quarterback. Now, I go back to the AFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl. [The Broncos] affected the quarterback. Next year, we'll be looking for a rusher. The year after that, we'll be looking for a rusher. You'll be looking for that guy for a long time. Until they change the rules of the game, when the guy [Jim Brown] who has the statue down at the stadium, when he comes back and is the best player in the league, when that running back is the best player in the league, we won't be looking for that guy anymore. Until they change it, we will be looking for a guy who can get around the corner and hit the quarterback."
On the Browns having Kruger, Gipson, Shelton, Haden and others and if there is untapped potential:
"If you give me the names that you mentioned, I'll be ready to go."
On what he's seen from DB Justin Gilbert:
"Only from [Oklahoma State] University. I remember he picked a pass off of (Colts QB) Andrew Luck and returned it for a touchdown. That's what I want from him. I want him to use his God-given ability to play football at a high level. That's what I want from Justin Gilbert."
On the improving the Browns rush defense that ranked at the bottom of the league the past two years:
"Very simple, and am I talking to the players a little bit? Yes. Am I talking to our coaches a little bit? Yes. We have to teach fundamentals. We want to be a very sound defense but very aggressive. Every guy will have a job. I'm talking to the coaches, too. We need everybody, every Cleveland Brown to do their job. It's as simple as that, to do your job. We understand what it takes. We as coaches have to get our players to do their job. Is your job going to be a dirty job sometimes? Yeah, it is. Is your job going to be to win the game sometimes when it is called? Yes, it is. We need you to do your job."
On the Browns run defense struggling despite investing in personnel:
"If our coaches that Mr. Haslam hired to do their job can do their job, it should, it will and it has to improve. It takes guys who are willing to get down in the dirt and do their job, and that means you have to come up and support. You come up from support. If that means you have to take on two blockers, you take on two blockers. It means that we are going to be fundamentally sound and we are going to be aggressive. Am I a miracle worker? I am not. Are we going to bust our butts to be better? Absolutely. Do I think we are going to be better? I think we are. I expect it. I am going to demand it. Am I saying we are going to be better?"
On his philosophy on defensive systems' complexity and if they can be too complicated, causing players to be thinking and not reacting:
"I think it's simpler when you do, when you just react. I would be very surprised if our players said, 'This is too complicated to learn.' Is it complex? Yes. I have a saying and they will see it very soon. Everything is simple if you understand it. Now, what does that mean? It means it is simple if you understand it. We try to teach and deliver in a way that is very simple. It is complex, but it is very simple if you understand it. They will have zero issues or I will change it. If it's too complex, I will change it for them."
Browns associate head coach - offense Pep Hamilton
"Thanks for having me. My name is Pep Hamilton. Excited to be here. Excited to be a part of this tradition-rich franchise. We're looking forward to doing all the things that (Head) Coach (Hue Jackson) talked about with regards to being a competitive team that can go out and have a chance to win each Sunday. Offensively, we're going to be a physical team. To say that we're going to be a run-first team is probably not the appropriate thing to say, but I will say that we're going to work like heck to establish the run game. We're ultimately going to do whatever it takes to feature our playmakers. We consider offensive linemen to be playmakers, as well. It'll be exciting to watch our guys go out and compete every Sunday, but we have a long way to go. I guess the good news right now is we're undefeated and tied for first place. We're looking forward to having a great season."
On integrating the offensive system and his responsibilities:
"We have a veteran offensive staff – myself, (senior offensive assistant/wide receivers) Coach (Al) Saunders, (tight ends) Coach (Greg) Seamon, (running backs coach/run game coordinator) Kirby Wilson, (offensive line coach) Hal Hunter. We have guys that have a ton of expertise in a lot of different areas. I think we'll ultimately collaborate our thoughts and effort to support Coach (Jackson) and whatever strategies he comes with on a week-to-week basis. My job is really just to facilitate what it is that Coach wants to do and to make sure that we organize things that we can implement it to our plays and go out and have a chance to be successful on Sundays."
On what happened in Indianapolis and if the way it played out left him bitter:
"I think it's fortunate as a coach in the National Football League to be in a situation where you're expected to win the World Championship, and ultimately, we didn't get that done."
On how his time with Colts QB Andrew Luck will help him possibly teach a young quarterback this season:
"I think it's important that ultimately – between myself, of course, Coach Jackson and all of the coaches on our offensive staff – you have different reference points. You kind of have an idea of what to expect from a young quarterback early in his career in the National Football League. To answer your question, I do feel like every quarterback is different. The plan for that kid, for whoever it is we have at quarterback, be it a veteran quarterback or a young quarterback if we draft a quarterback, you have to have a plan that's specific for that quarterback. I felt like over the years I've had an opportunity to not only watch Andrew grow but some of the other quarterbacks that I've worked with over the course of my career."
On if he expects to be very active in scouting college QBs:
"I think that's always been the case with every franchise that I've been a part of. You have an opportunity to evaluate guys and then share your opinion, but ultimately, it's not my decision to make. It's my job to help whoever we decide to make our quarterback transition into a winning quarterback."
On if he expects to attend pro days and interviews with the QB prospects:
On how much film he's watched on the top QBs in the draft:
"Not a ton. We're still working to implement Coach Jackson's system here with our coaches and get ourselves ready for the start of the offseason program, but we're slowly starting to transition to preparing ourselves for the draft. We still somewhat are in the early phases of that process."
On the characteristics he likes to see in QBs:
"Accuracy, is he a winner and of course, leadership qualities are really important to Coach Jackson and myself."
On North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz, Memphis QB Paxton Lynch or California QB Jared Goff:
"I haven't watched enough to have a strong opinion about any of those guys. I had a chance to recruit Jared while I was at Stanford, and I'm not surprised at all that he's one of the best quarterbacks in college football."
On the QBs on the Browns roster:
"I think that, starting with (QB Josh) McCown, I's always loved having a veteran guy in the room that has full credibility in the locker room. He's been productive over his career. You don't survive for as long as he has in this league without having the skillset, first and foremost, and then having a work ethic and a character that ultimately would cause coaches and executives to feel comfortable enough to put the keys in your hands, in a sense. I feel good about Josh. I feel good about (QB) Austin (Davis). I feel good about all the guys that we have on the roster currently, and I'm excited to work with those guys."
On if the coaches have discussed the possibility of WR Josh Gordon being reinstated:
"We have not."
On who are the Browns' offensive playmakers:
"(WR Travis) Benjamin, big time playmaker, speed is off the chart. He's shown that he can get over top of coverages and he is a difference maker. He's a guy that if you get the ball in his hands and you give him space, he'll make something happen with the football. He'll score. Our tight end, (Gary) Barnidge, he's a special player. Tight ends have typically been the quarterback's best friend in Coach Jackson's offense. So, we're excited to see him continue to grow, and it was fun watching him play in the Pro Bowl. (RB) Duke Johnson (Jr.) and (RB) Isaiah Crowell, those guys have been very productive players for us and for this franchise. We expect that they'll take another step as we move forward. We have plenty of playmakers on the perimeter, but I do feel like the strength of our offense is the guys up front. Like I said initially, I feel like our offensive linemen, in the style of offense that we expect to employ, we consider those guys to be playmakers because that's where it all starts."
On if it's unnerving that two of the offensive linemen may not be with the Browns after free agency:
"Yeah, it is. I try not to think about it, but at the same time, I'm optimistic that things are going to work out. Just looking at what they put on film over the course of their careers across the board, those guys up front, it's exciting to see that the core, probably the most important component besides your quarterback of your offense, we have a strong group in place."
On the WR corps and if the Browns need to bring in bigger receivers:
"Not necessarily. Ultimately, we just want guys that can score touchdowns. If you look at just some of the defensive trends over the past few years, teams are starting to play a lot more man coverage. Having guys that are elusive, quick, fast, regardless of their size, that can create separation and can score the ball is what's most important for us in this offense."
On if Browns coaches have watched last season's film:
"Yeah, we have to so that we can evaluate the guys that are on the current roster."
On what the Browns' red zone offense was missing last year:
"I don't know. When I went back to evaluate the guys that are on the team I didn't watch the game in the actual order. I more so watch cutups so I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other."
On what the Browns offense will want to do with OL Cameron Erving starting April 4:
"I think it's very beneficial for rookie offensive linemen to have an opportunity to play at different spots across the line. I do feel like with the style of offense that we'll end up using that there will be opportunities for us to put more than five offensive linemen on the field. I'm not saying that Cam can't go in, compete and win a job. It was good to see that there were times when he was a dominant player. We expect that over time the more that he plays and once he has a chance to work with the offensive line coaches that we have here, he can be an every-down player for us."
On what position Erving will play:
"I don't know yet. We'll see. I think it's a luxury to have a guy that can play tackle and/or play center."
On his philosophy in the run game and how he uses personnel:
"I think because of the attrition in the National Football League, you have to have more than one guy. I feel strongly about offensive line units, like I just mentioned. I do feel like our backs are very talented. They can play without the ball. I think Duke showed that last year. He had 60-plus catches. Isaiah can do anything that we're going to ask him to do. We'll ultimately need both guys, and we'll need someone else to step up, as well. We'll find a way if a guy is hot to get him the ball, but we're going to need all those guys to step in and make plays for us."
On if it is a drawback that Jackson will call plays and if he understands his desire to do that:
"No, it's not a drawback. I want to win. I want to win this division, get to the playoffs and win some games, and ultimately, hoist the Lombardi. That's what it's all about. Personally, I don't feel like… It's not about me. I do know that for a fact. I do know that ultimately in order for us to have a chance to be successful, everybody has to be all in and support each other and ultimately support the head coach. I'm on board with whatever Coach wants to do."
On why the coaches haven't discussed Gordon:
"I'm sure that Coach Jackson and (executive vice president of football operations) Sashi (Brown) and (vice president of player personnel) Andrew Berry, they've discussed Josh Gordon, but we hadn't really had a lot of discussions about personnel. Like I said, we're still at the point of where we're trying to get the offense in and get everybody on the same page from a terminology standpoint and get ourselves ready for the guys to report back on April 4."
On QB Johnny Manziel:
"That's something that Coach and Sashi, they've already addressed. That's above my paygrade."
Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor
"Welcome back, everybody. Good to be back. It always is. Cleveland is what I consider my home and my family's home. It is a great opportunity. I feel very blessed that (Head Coach Hue) Jackson has asked me to be part of his staff, along with (assistant special teams coach) Shawn Mennenga and (special teams quality control) Stan Watson, two guys who do a great job for us with the special teams units. I am happy to be here."
On how many head coaches and general managers he has had in Cleveland:
"This is my fourth head coach, (executive vice president of football operations) Sashi (Brown) is my fourth general manager, and Jimmy (Haslam) is my second owner."
On it being unique in the NFL to be retained by multiple head coaches:
"I feel blessed. I really do. I truly believe deep down in my heart the good Lord always has a plan for you. You never question the plan. You execute the plan. I am excited about the opportunity to work with Coach (Jackson). I had the opportunity to visit with him. You could see his passion. Obviously, I have always known a lot about him just watching his work offensively down there in Cincinnati and then obviously, I was here when we played the Raiders out there [in 2011]. It is a great opportunity to learn from another head coach and to be able to be a part of this staff to get this thing going."
On if this staff change felt different and thinking he might not be retained:
"To be honest with you, I kind of always think like that because it is the nature of the beast. There are a lot of other things – we've talked about it before – behind the scenes that you have to talk about with your kids. You tell your wife, 'Honey, we probably need to start going through the rooms to start cleaning out some stuff to get ready to show the house.' All of those things, that's the reality of the situation. I was more concerned about talking with my family and how we were going to handle those things and taking it day by day and all of those things. Fortunately, we get to stay."
On the Browns' passionate fan base and enjoying the opportunity to coach this team:
"When I first came here, I always heard about the passionate fans. Coming from Chicago, Bears fans are like that, also. Being a part of and getting to know Browns fans, it is in my opinion one of the most passionate fan bases in the country and in the league. For example, last night I took my wife out to dinner, and a lady came up to me. She was wearing a Cleveland Browns coat. She came up and tapped me on the shoulder and says, 'How do you like my coat, Coach?' I said, 'I think it looks great on you.' I also understand the frustration that also sometimes goes in with it. I do know this: When the thing gets turned, it will be very dynamic, it will be a lot of fun and I want to be a part of that. Hopefully – not hopefully – when we get that done, it will be a fun time."
On if he will have to adjust to Jackson:
"Every coach brings something that you have to adjust to. That's the thing that I get so excited about is because that helps me grow as a coach as opposed to just staying in the same rut all the time. 'This is how we do it.' Coach has challenged our special teams to be second to none, and that's exciting for myself and our staff to be able to take that challenge head on. With regards to the steps that we are doing and the process in regards to watching tape, how can we get better and all of those things and now you are kind of beginning to get into the draft, we are doing those things, but we are also understanding 'this' is what Coach Jackson wants, 'this' is the style of special teams that he wants to play. We might have to adjust some things in those areas, but that is exciting to me because you are growing as a coach."
On if the Browns special teams has a new playbook:
"No, we have a philosophy. A lot of the philosophies will stay the same, but you have to be able to change. In our area, as we all know, the roster is always changing, and as coaches, we have to change also because whatever parts that we have, we have to be able to coach them and get them to play at a high level. We feel that our playbook does give us those things, depending upon what our personnel does."
On if he needed to expresses his feelings on wanting to keep WR Travis Benjamin or if that was known already:
"I think that the feeling is known. I truly stay out of all of those conversations. As I have always stated in here, the tape always tells the story so I just leave it to the tape."
On if that is also true for DB Johnson Bademosi:
"Yeah, it is. I am very proud of what those players have done. It's above my paygrade what will take place, but I am excited about what position they have put themselves in."
On if he believes someone from the Browns spoke on his behalf to be retained:
"I really don't know the answer to that."
On if it has been beneficial to deal with roster adjustments throughout the years as it relates to adjusting to staff changes:
"I think so. We have a rule as a special teams that we always say. We will give you maybe about two minutes to complain about a certain thing and that's it. For example, you were disappointed in a player, never complain that, 'Hey, I wish we had this. I wish we had that.' You have what you have. Coach what you have and do the best with what you have. I think that's the approach that we take and that's the approach that I think a lot of special teams coaches have to take just because the roster is always changing. When I first started coaching, I tried to avoid coaching special teams like the plague. I really did. I was an offensive guy, and I tried to stay out of the special teams world. Then I had an opportunity. I was in college and the head coach that hired me said, 'We are going to split up the special teams and you are going to coach the punt team.' I said, 'I've never coached the punt team.' I started really getting into it and studying it, and it helped me grow as a coach. I really go into it, and that is kind of the avenue that I have gone to. It is a fun time, it is a challenging time and we are looking forward to this next one."
On his message to Jackson after being challenged with having a top-rated special teams:
"I just said, 'Coach, I love that challenge.' Obviously, there are things that we did last year that we did well that we need to continue to get better at. There are things that we didn't do as well that we have to get fixed. Along with his philosophy of what he wants to get done, I think that we can mesh it into a unit that we can... At the end of the day, you want to be an intimidating-type special teams unit. The AFC North – you talk about the Ravens, the Bengals and the Steelers – those are three awfully, awfully good special teams units just within our division."
On if NFL counterparts texted him after learning he would be retained:
"I received a lot of nice texts from a lot of other coaches. That means a lot to me because those are my peers that I am working with and against. That was very touching. At the same time, there are only 32 of these jobs and to be able to have a seat in one of them as musical chairs as going, you feel grateful."
On what stood out about Jackson during their first month together:
"I've already learned quite a bit from coach. He's very direct. You know exactly what needs to be done. His enthusiasm and his passion for the game are second to none. When you talk to him, you can feel it and you can sense it. It's going to be exciting."
On evaluating K Travis Coons after the season:
"We had a nice, to be honest with you, quick discussion because the truth behind it is we were meeting with the players that Monday that we were being let go. It was a very short conversation, but I gave him advice with regards to what I would want to see him do if I was still here or if there was another coach coming in probably the evaluation they might give to him on the things that he could improve on. The kid is a kid who attacks things and listens. It took him a long time to break onto a team. He knows that he needs to get better, and I believe that he will."
On what Coons needs to improve to avoid blocks on long FG attempts:
"I just think we have to continue to work on the lift of the football and just the strength of his overall leg, I think, will come here in Year 2. For example, I will use (Chiefs K) Cairo Santos, Kansas City's kicker. His rookie season, he did not have a lot of touchbacks. Then last year, I think he got into the 40s. He increased it dramatically. That was just the process of going into it, understanding an NFL season. At the end of the day, the kicker is playing 20 games. Your first time through towards the end, you have to account for that they could be getting tired and all of those things. The strength part is quite important. I know Travis is going to address those things."