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Browns intrigued by John DeFilippo's expertise with quarterbacks


Among a gob of other reasons, Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo was chosen to lead Cleveland's offense because of his acumen with quarterbacks.

Browns coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer have not shied away from addressing the Browns' uncertainty at quarterback. Brian Hoyer will hit the open free agency market in March and Duke Johnson Jr. and Connor Shaw have combined to play in just 11 quarters of football in their rookie seasons.

DeFilippo, though, doesn't see uncertainty. He sees opportunity.

"I'll be honest with you: I'm one of those guys that's a make-it-work type of guy. Whoever is in our quarterback room is going to get coached unbelievably hard and unbelievably well," DeFilippo said. "And our offense can be flexible to adjust to whoever that is – if he's in our building right now, or he's not.

"We are going to have a plan. We are going to be very flexible with our plan. And obviously our plan is going to revolve around who our starting quarterback is – and what his skill set is."

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is just the latest example of why DeFilippo has built a reputation for teaching the NFL's most important position.

The Raiders may have went 3-13 last season, but Carr's development was the greatest breakthrough Oakland had in 2014. The numbers are solid – 21 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions.

But it was more about the polished look Carr evoked – recognizing blitzes, understanding protection schemes, his throwing mechanics – in which DeFilippo played a major part.

The Browns' new coordinator is open about his methodology in fostering young quarterbacks:  Streamline the process.

"The No. 1 thing with a young quarterback is you have to cut out as much gray area as possible," DeFilippo said. "You've got to make things as black and white as possible. You can't give them, 'Well, if this happens, then this happens, then this happens…' It has to be a great job of cutting out gray area and simplifying things for them as much as you can."

DeFilippo has not yet watched all of the film on Manziel but he studied the 22-year-old quarterback immensely when the Raiders considered drafting him last year. DeFilippo spent time with Manziel during a visit in Oakland. While it was only one day together, it was a productive impression.

"You can get a grasp of what he thinks and how he's feeling, and I got along with Johnny when we met with him," said DeFilippo, who also has plans to meet with Hoyer next week in Berea.

A nugget in DeFilippo's background that could benefit Manziel: Terrelle Pryor. The former Ohio State quarterback saw his best NFL success in 2013, rushing for 576 yards in 11 games and tossing seven touchdown passes.

"[Pryor] exposed me to some of the zone-read quarterback run game," DeFilippo said. "When you have a guy of that skill set, you want to expose those skills that he has. We were forced to study other teams. Like I said, that's going back to doing the things we're going to do to make this football team win. If we don't have an answer, we're going to find the answer.

"We didn't have all the answers in Oakland when we decided to start Terrelle, but I pulled some of the things out I did from college and we researched some other teams, the concepts they use with running quarterbacks and we went that direction. I think you can't just have a playbook and say, 'Hey, here's the playbook.' That's not the case. You've got to expose your best players' skill sets."

What happened in 2014 at the quarterback position will be examined, debated and brought to light in Cleveland's new scheme. But with a new playcaller in the fold, all options are going to remain on the table.

"Whoever is in our quarterback room," DeFilippo said, "is going to have a clean slate."

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