John DeFilippo had a serious, yet lighthearted message when he first met with Browns players during the offseason.
"You are going to pay taxes and I don't have all the answers," DeFilippo said.
In his first season as an NFL offensive coordinator, DeFilippo has leaned on the likes of veteran quarterback Josh McCown and coach Mike Pettine, who has taken on a larger role with the offense, in his transition to the position. Just don't mistake that for uncertainty about his new role.
DeFilippo has called plays before at the college level and he picked up valuable experience throughout training camp and four preseason games. That provides the backbone for his confidence heading into Sunday's season opener against the New York Jets, who could boast one of the league's best defenses.
"I did it at San Jose State. I didn't care anymore about those games when we were playing Fresno and (Boise State). Believe me, I cared just as much then as I do now," DeFilippo said. "The play clock is still the same in the regular season as it is in the preseason, and we didn't have any delay of games. We had a substitution issue one time, which we were fortunate that Johnny (Manziel) took care of. To me, no, it is not much of a change."
DeFilippo's confidence and the stability he's provided has been refreshing for McCown, who found himself in a completely different situation at this time last year.
Three games into the 2014 season, McCown's offensive coordinator, Jeff Tedford, took an indefinite leave of absence because of a health issue. Now, McCown is working side by side with a coordinator with whom he carried a pre-existing relationship. McCown was a quarterback with the Raiders in 2007 when DeFilippo was in his first stint as quarterbacks coach.
When McCown was released by the Buccaneers, one of the first phone calls he received came from DeFilippo.
"We're going in this thing together and as he's stood in front of the room from Day 1 and communicated clearly and had a plan for everything that we've done. It'll be no different for Sunday," McCown said. "I have all of the confidence in the world in him and I know he does in me and that's what you have to have in this relationship. I trust the plays that are going to come in and he's going to trust me to operate those whether it's in the running game, the pass game to put the football where he wants it.
"I think we're both at a spot where we're excited about this opportunity."
Pettine has been in DeFilippo's shoes before as a first-time coordinator. The key, he said, is similar to what the players must do in their preparation leading up to a game. Practice the way you want to perform and good results will follow.
He's seen just that from DeFilippo over the past few months. Though Pettine has been more involved with the offense than he was last year, he trusts DeFilippo to run the it the way he sees fit. He'll serve as a "sounding board" during the heat of the game while DeFilippo calls the plays.
"I think he's tested himself and then also I thought there were very few times in the preseason games where I felt we were up against the play clock," Pettine said. "Even going back to the scrimmage, I think there was only one instance where it would have been a delay of game. I think he does a good job of, as the play is ending, he's already getting the information from above, down and distance, hash mark, where are we on the field and he's on to the next one."