"Good morning, everybody. First off, I would like to say Happy New Year's Eve.
"Last night, it was not the way we envisioned ending the season, but you have a chance here to reflect for some of us – maybe eight hours, maybe five hours – that there was a lot of good that happened in the 2018 season. First, I do want to commend (Head Coach) Gregg Williams for the job he has done, the last eight games he has done. I think Gregg and his [staff] have done a really nice job in terms of teaching, developing and getting this team to understand what winning is all about and go and achieve some of those wins.
"I would like to commend our players. In-season coaching changes, they are hard. What they did was they remained focused, they remained competitive and they brought a little sense of pride back to the Cleveland Browns, which is really good.
"I know eventually you guys are going to want to talk about the coaching search. I just want to let you know it is going to be very thorough. It is going to be very deliberate. Dee and Jimmy (Haslam) have asked me to take the lead in the process, along with various members of this organization. We have formed a search committee. It is going to help us find the best available coach for this organization moving forward."
On the Browns interviewing Williams, considering him for the position yet not committing to him as the next head coach, given the opportunity to continue momentum established during the past eight games:
"We are going to interview Gregg tomorrow. With that being said, I want to see his overarching vision and plan for this organization moving forward. I want to hear his thoughts on the team moving forward, but I also want to be able to explore multiple options out there in the National Football League and just see who fits this organization moving forward. There may be some guys out there that we do not know about yet so I just want to explore all options and make the best decision for this organization."
On if offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens will remain on staff next season, regardless of who is named head coach:
"Ultimately, whoever that head coach will be in the future, I think he has to have the ability to hire his staff. Will we make suggestions? Yeah, that is what all people do. At the end of the day, whoever that head coach is, it is going to be his decision if he stays or if he leaves."
On if Kitchens is a candidate for head coach:
"Yes. I think he has earned it. He has done a nice job in his role as offensive coordinator. I think this organization wants to get to know him a little bit better. We will eventually get him in an interview slot and move forward."
On if he knows how many individuals the Browns will interviewed for head coach:
On if the Browns will interview more than five candidates:
"I will not talk about the details of who we are going to interview."
On reports the Browns have asked permission to interview Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores:
"I have not seen that report. He is a very highly qualified young man, but I am not going to talk about the guys we are going to possibly interview."
On if the Browns will share who was interviewed after the interview process:
"Yes, out of respect to you."
On if he had a list of potential head coach candidates when hired as General Manager and how often that list may change through time:
"All lists change all of the time. Like every team changes year in and year out, those lists are going to change year in and year out. What you have to do is you have to stay consistent and up to date and always refreshing and renewing your list as those processes go along. Those lists are always updated on a monthly basis."
On desired traits for the next Browns next head coach, considering immediate success and long-term success:
"What do you want? You want a man of character. A guy who can instill leadership into these young men. A guy who is a collaborative thinker. A guy who is a continuous learner. A guy who is consistent on a day in and day out basis and who those player can look up to and go, 'You know what? I will follow that guy anywhere.' Once you can get a guy and identify a guy like that, those are the types of guys you are looking for. That is the goal for the organization is to get to what is best for this organization – find a man of character who can lead young men."
On if Williams' past NFL suspension is a strike against him as it relates to considering character for the position:
"I think he has paid his penalty for that."
On if Williams' suspension is not a factor in the evaluation:
"We are going to factor in everything. I think what we are going to do here is let's interview all of the guys, come together are realize what it best for this organization moving forward."
On if current Browns coaches will be granted permission to interview with other teams:
"What we are going to do is I am going to sit and have a conversation with the coaches tomorrow and just kind of talk through some things. I will get back to you on that."
On if former Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy will be interviewed:
"I have a lot of respect for Mike McCarthy and for what he has done. Great question, but I am not going to go into details about who is and who is not on our list."
On McCarthy not currently being on a NFL staff, meaning he is currently able to be interviewed:
"I know that, but I am still not going to talk about the details of our list."
On how much continuity will be a factor in the head coaching search, given the team's improvement this past season:
"This is a very hard decision coming up here because what you are going to do is the next individual you choose basically is going to lead this organization. You want to do what is best for this organization moving forward. It is going to be very thoughtful. It is going to be very deliberate. We are going to do what is best for this organization."
On the most appealing qualities of the Browns' open head coaching position:
"I think this is a very desirable franchise from a perspective of head coaching candidates or any coaches. You have a young quarterback. You have a young pass rusher. You have a young team, a very dynamic team. I think you have a really good locker room in there. I think you have assets in place with regards to the salary cap. You have assets in place for the draft. You have strong ownership, a committed ownership. Then you have a committed fan base. There is a bright future with this organization. Hopefully, they can see what we see here."
On how QB Baker Mayfield factors into the head coaching decision and if Mayfield will be involved in the interview process:
"I think we understand who Baker is. When you interview coaches, you want to see and ask them, 'What do you think of our team? Strengths and weaknesses, how can you build upon that?' That is kind of what you look for in these types of interview sessions. This is a quarterback-driven league, and he is a very important piece to that. Will he have any say in the interview? No, he is not going to. Let management take care of that."
On Mayfield's rookie season:
"He has a lot more football left in him. He is still a rookie. There are still a lot of nuances of the National Football League. He threw three interceptions last night. He can still work on those little things and understanding of certain things. He also broke an NFL record last night, as well, so you applaud him for that. You would hope that he can grow exponentially, and by Year 3, he is what we all thought he would be."
On if Williams' message of consistently winning each practice, meeting and day potentially wears thin over time and if that is considered with his evaluation:
"No, I think the one thing with Gregg is I like what he has done in the last eight weeks. I applaud him for that because he kind of has these guys believing. He brought them in together as one. He has them playing hard. That is all you can ask for. Guys seem to play hard for him, and they practice hard. Usually, when you play the game of football, you play like you practice. For eight weeks, these guys have practiced really hard."
On reservations about naming Williams head coach now:
"I want to be able to see everything and that is why you want to be able to sit down and talk with him, and see his plan and his vision. You do not want to sell yourself short. Let's go and why not see other people out there, too, just to see because you want to do your due diligence. We talk about doing our due diligence and what is best for this organization. Why not go and look at everybody?"
On Kitchens' and Mayfield's relationship and if there are concerns when a head coach is hired and if Kitchens is not retained that it could impact Mayfield's development:
"No, a mark of a good coach is being able to create a relationship with the player, especially at that position. I think Freddie has done a wonderful job. That is a hypothetical. I can't answer right now."
On Kitchens' biggest achievements as offensive coordinator:
"He has moved the ball. He has gotten the ball out of the quarterback's hands quicker. I think he has put some flair and different route combinations together that help out the quarterback. Overall, he has kind of moved the bar on the offensive side of the ball."
On strengths of the roster and improvements needed for the Browns to become a playoff contender:
"Over the next two weeks, we are going to do a self-evaluation of where we are. The coaches are probably going to be working on that over the next couple of days, as well as the player personnel department. We will come back and we will be able to assess where we need to be in the next three or four weeks."
On his current happiness with the roster:
"I am never happy (laughter). We are 7-8-1. That is an accomplishment of where we have come from, but our goal is to be competitive in the AFC North year in and year out. That is what we are going to strive for."
On if he ever envisioned Kitchens becoming a potential head coach candidate when promoted to offensive coordinator:
"I think you got a really good illustration of what Freddie could do in that fourth preseason game. I have always said play calling is an art, not a true science. You have to feel the moment. I think Freddie has a good feel for that type of thing. What we would like to do is learn a little bit more about Freddie. That is why we are going to sit there and talk to him."
On who is on the Browns' head coach search committee:
"It is members of the Cleveland Browns organization."
On if Executive Vice President JW Johnson is on the Browns' search committee:
"It is members of the Cleveland Browns organization."
On how ownership will be involved and if the committee's recommendation will become the next head coach:
"As I look at that, we have spent six weeks very methodically and diligently trying to put this whole thing together in terms of what is best for this organization moving forward. Hopefully, we have earned the trust from ownership when we make a recommendation with them that we feel this is the best coach moving forward. Hopefully, we have earned that trust, and they respect."
On how important a head coach is to the development of an organization:
"Head coach is very important. Who are the Cleveland Browns but those guys that play the game on Sunday and Sunday night? That is who we are so we ask that guy to be a leader of men. We ask that guy to be a man of character, a continuous learner and be consistent day in and day out. Yeah, he is important. He is the head coach of the organization."
On how hard is it to identify the correct head coach, given turnover at the position in the NFL:
"We will find out. This is a hard process, and that is why you have to be prepared, you have to be detailed and you have to be able to listen. At the end of the day, you just have to sit and talk through things and make sure this is the proper way that we move forward."
On if the Browns have formally interviewed any candidates:
"No. Tomorrow we will."
On if college coaches will be considered for the position:
"From an overarching long-term strategy standpoint, I am not going to tell you if we are going this way or going this way. What we will do is we will collectively have a list of individuals we feel that are qualified to be talked to as a head coach for the Cleveland Browns."
On how the organization can take the next step in its development:
"I think what you do is you go and reflect back on what got us here. Then what you have to do is you have to have those guys in the locker room and set those goals high for next year. The first task at hand is be very competitive in the AFC North and see what unfolds because it all starts there, and pick up where you left off in 2018 and dare to set your expectations high. Why not?"
On WR Jarvis Landry commenting on player leadership and how that will benefit the next head coach and the confidence that provides when considering head coach candidates:
"As I look at those guys in the locker room, it was a little emotional after last night's game, but there were strength of men in that locker room. There is nothing better than the strength of the men in that locker room to lead those younger players and lead this organization. I have the complete faith that those guys – even though they feel right now today they let one get away from them but they are looking forward to 2019 and they will set that bar very high for themselves as well. That is all you can ask for."
On if the Browns may wait until the Super Bowl to name its head coach if their top candidate is in the title game:
"We will see how the process unfolds."
On the timetable for the head coaching decision:
"You want to be thorough in your process. I do not think you can put a timetable on this one. You will know when it is the right guy, that is all I am going to say."
On if Mayfield's success this year has accelerated the team's expectations to be competitive:
"It is always good to be competitive, and I think as the course of a season unfolds, the season is very long. When rookies are thrusted into certain situations and all of a sudden they begin to show who they really are, I think that Baker has done that. I am the eternal optimist. I believe in those guys in that locker room, and I have high expectations for this team moving forward and 2019, as well."
On if the Browns will interview Kitchens tomorrow:
"I won't talk about the details and the processes of the interview so it will happen one day."
On college coaches stating they will not leave their schools deters the Browns from contacting them for consideration:
"What I am going to try to do is we are going to compile a list, the committee is going to compile a list of those individuals who are qualified to be head coach for the Cleveland Browns."
On if he had an idea and a number of potential head coach candidates prior to being named General Manager:
"I have a lot of guys in my head right now, and I had them when I was unemployed, as well."
On if K Greg Joseph could have made a potential game-winning 57-yard FG yesterday:
"In the conditions of last [night], who knows? That is one of those situations, I can't answer that.
On most notable positions for improvement on the Browns roster:
"For me to do a thorough, detailed analysis to answer your question, I need about two weeks to kind of do an overarching evaluation. Then the next time we meet, I will give you an answer to that question."
On if naming the next Browns head coach will be the most important decision as General Manager:
"I would say it is pretty important. The most important thing is I married my wife, and that was pretty good (laughter). What you are doing, we want to get this right for the Cleveland Browns organization and for everybody within Cleveland because we are going to get this thing right. We are going to take the best and we are going to find the best guy for this organization moving forward."
On if the Browns want to retain WR Breshad Perriman and OL Greg Robinson:
"I have a lot of respect for those guys. First off, I want to say that (offensive line) Coach (Bob) Wylie and his staff did a really good job of helping Greg along, and I think (wide receivers coach) Adam Henry did a really nice job in terms of taking Breshad and getting him advanced and putting them in the position they are. Would I like to have them back? You bet."