Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, GM John Dorsey press conference - 10/29

Opening statement:

Haslam: “Obviously, some difficult decisions were made by the organization today. In any business, anytime that you make decisions that affect people’s lives, particularly those people that you have worked very closely with, they are tough. They are certainly no fun. I have personally spent a tremendous amount of time with Hue Jackson over the last two and a half years. I obviously know Michelle (Jackson) and their three girls well. This was not an easy decision. Obviously, I know Todd (Haley) a little less well because he has not been here as long, but Todd obviously moved his family here – wife and children – so that was not an easy decision either. Having said that, I think that we have to do what we think puts the organization, and most particularly our players, in the best position to win. Accordingly, we made those decisions. I think you know, we have made (defensive coordinator) Gregg Williams the interim head coach and (running backs/associate head coach) Freddie Kitchens the offensive coordinator and [Kitchens] will obviously call the [offensive] plays.”

Dorsey: “I think that you summed it up well, Jimmy. With that, we will take your questions.”

On the Browns starting 2-2-1, losing three consecutive games and the coaches being dismissed:

Dorsey: “As I look here now, there were certain things that happened. From an offensive production standpoint, there was minimal offensive production. There were some plays that could have been made that were not made. That is a player thing here, but I think that right now the best situation in what we are attempting to do here now is create the best environment moving forward not only for the players but for the coaching staff, as well. That is what our sole focus is on right now is the second half of the 2018 season moving forward. That is where are focuses are.”

On naming Williams interim head coach:

Dorsey: “From Gregg’s standpoint, he has experience at the head coaching position. He is a veteran defensive coordinator with a really nice résumé. Whenever you make decisions like this, I think it is really important for the Browns organization to collaboratively sit there and talk about this and find out who the best in-house candidates would be. That is the decision we came up with.”

On the decision to dismiss both Jackson and Haley:

Haslam: “I will just answer it the same way as our opening statement: I think we did what we thought was best for the organization. I think that we put the organization in a better place today than it was yesterday moving forward, and we are comfortable with the decision.”

On who will lead the search for the next head coach:

Haslam: “I think that we will have a collaborative effort in everything that we do here. Right now, we are focused on the next eight games and Gregg and his staff winning as many of those games that we can.”

On if the Browns have thought about the future head coaching hire:

Haslam: “We really have not focused on that. We are focused on making these changes and putting the team in the best position to winning the last eight games.”

On if there are regrets the head coaching change was not made after the 2017 season:

Haslam: “I really do not. I think that Hue was put into a really difficult position his first two years with the talent that we had and we felt like he deserved a chance at a third year. Unfortunately, it did not work out the way we all hoped it would.”

On if any other members of the Browns coaching staff were offered the interim head coach position:

Haslam: “Gregg was the only person that we talked to. As John said, Gregg is a veteran defensive coordinator, has been around the league a long time and has been a head coach himself so he was the only person that we talked to. He will remain the defensive coordinator, as well as be interim head coach.”

On how troublesome it is for a level of ‘dysfunction’ to remain within the organization at this point and how to fix the environment:

Haslam: “Hopefully, we made a big step today. It is very troubling. It is hard to win in the NFL. If anybody knows that, it is us. I think the message today is we are not going to put up with internal discord. We want people who are collaborative and work together.”

On explaining how discord has occurred between members of the Browns staff multiple times:

Haslam: “I do not know. I will accept the blame because ultimately, it is the person at the head of the ship. I will take the blame as ownership. I can’t explain it more than that. We have had different situations with different people. I know that it is something that we are not going to tolerate moving forward.”

On when the Browns are ‘finally going to win’:

Dorsey: “We have a lot of football left. We have a lot of football left in this season. We have some very talented players on this team right now as we speak. As we sat down and talked to the players today, I expressed that to them. I said, ‘You know, we have a lot of football left here you guys.’ They understand that. As I look at this thing, our job is to support Gregg and his staff right now and put those players in position to succeed. We are going to do this moving forward. Like what Jimmy said, right now we are trying to create the best environment moving forward. That is what we are going to do.”

On what the Haslams have learned from previous head coaching searches for this upcoming search:

Haslam: “Once again, I do not want to look forward to that because I want to focus on Gregg and the job he has to do in these last eight games. I think we will focus on that. If that situation arrives going forward, then we will focus on that at the time.”

On if Williams would be considered for the full-time head coach at the end of the season:

Haslam: “I think if Gregg is interested in the job and we decide to do a full search, of course, he will be a candidate.”

On if Haslam left the stadium yesterday knowing the organization would move in this direction:

Haslam: “We had some concerns going into the game. Obviously, yesterday’s performance was disappointing. We had several of our key people involved in this conversation last night and this morning and did what we think is best for the organization.”

On if internal discord had been present between Jackson and Dorsey for a long time:

Haslam: “I do not know if it does a lot of good to go back and look at the past. I think that the actions and decisions we made today speak for themselves.”

On potential concerns with Mayfield’s development:

Dorsey: “No, I think whenever you take your quarterback the No. 1 pick, you want to see him develop in that role. Now, we all know that all of a sudden you are a rookie quarterback and you are thrusted in five games early into the season as your starter. He is going to see a very complex defenses, and it is not going to happen overnight. He is going to have his ups and downs, but he is going to learn along the way. I expect to see continually even more development from Baker moving forward.”

On how much tougher Mayfield’s development may be with a new head coach and new offensive play caller:

Dorsey: “I think that the whole scheme is the same. The quarterbacks coach is the same. I think he has a great familiarity with Freddie there. I think it is a personal relationship that he made have had with Todd, but I think the everyday relationship that he has with his quarterback coach is really big in the development of it, and he and Gregg have a fairly good relationship, too.”

On what the Browns record should be at this point despite the coaching discord:

Dorsey: “What should be the Browns record? That is a hypothetical. It is a great question, but it is a hypothetical. You are your record, and that is what we are, but we still have a lot of football left here.”

On the defense being unable to make stops at a few key moments and how that will improve with Williams as interim head coach and defensive coordinator:

Dorsey: “I think when you are a head coach and you are able to do the dual role, as well as coordinating a specific side of the ball, I think there are a lot of coaches proven in the National Football League that have been able to do that. I think Gregg will do a really good job there.”

On if Kitchens has ever called plays:

Dorsey: “No, but he has been a quarterbacks coach. He has been a tight end coach. I believe he called a [preseason] game this year, and did a really nice job of that.”

On expectations for the final eight games:

Dorsey: “The eternal optimist always wants to win every game. Right now what I think we do is we attack the 1-0 mantra. We right now have a game that we are getting ready to play, a very good football team coming in here. That should be our sole task at hand right now is how we are going to win this game coming up this weekend.”

On if Williams now reports to Haslam as Jackson did:

Haslam: “He does. There is no change there, but John, formally Hue and myself worked extremely close together, and I dare say Hue was in John’s office more than he was in mine and I suspect Gregg will be the same. The three of us work together. Hue, John and I worked together well, and I would expect the same with Gregg."

On DL Myles Garrett’s comments about the defensive gameplan and if Dorsey has a role in addressing a player’s comments in this situation:

Dorsey: “No, I think in any conversation like that it can be misconstrued. You know what you do? You sit the coach and the player sit down. That is what that is. That is called fostered communication, and you know what? Go sit and talk it out and see exactly – because he may have been misquoted; I am not sure, I am not saying you all misquoted him, but misconstrued. Let’s just see what his differences were.”

On Haslam’s involvement with the football team and communication on a daily basis compared to other owners who may just ‘pay the bills’:

Dorsey: “He pays the bills, too.”

Haslam: “I am not sure exactly how to answer that. I am here a fair amount. Probably half of the time. When I am here, I am involved with the football and business people.”

Dorsey: “To me, it is a chain of command. Sometimes that is OK to have the coach and the general manager sitting there because he is ownership and ownership wants to know. You are going to explain to them what is going on. I think that is natural in anything that you do.”

On how to help improve atmospheres that have had internal discord:

Dorsey: “Treat people the way they want to be treated. Come into work every day willing to work. Love what you do. Just take ownership in what you are doing. Come to work every day and treat people the way you want to be treated.”

On if Dorsey believed the Browns were making strides with the atmosphere:

Dorsey: “I think there are a lot of good people in this organization that really want to win. There really are. There are good guys in that locker room. You can feel it. You can feel it when you walk in here, and it is a good thing.”

On if the Browns will consider trade deadline options or a new K this week:

Dorsey: “We will turn over every rock possible – you know that. We still have about 24 hours left [until the trade deadline] so we have plenty of time.”

On if there are ‘enough rocks to turn over’:

Dorsey: “There are always enough rocks (laughter).”

On it seeming that Jackson wanted to call offensive plays again and the decision to dismiss both Jackson and Haley rather than potentially giving Jackson play calling responsibilities again:

Haslam: “Here again, I do not know if it makes sense to get into those kinds of conversations. We made the decision to move on, and it was far bigger than who was going to call plays.”

On retaining Jackson and hiring a high-profile offensive coordinator in the offseason and why the situation did not work out:

Haslam: “Unfortunately, sometimes the best plans do not work out. In this case, they did not. We were optimistic and hopeful that they would, but they did not work out.”

On if the Browns ultimately realized the situation would not be sustainable following Jackson’s postgame comments at Tampa Bay:

Haslam: “The NFL as you all know is a highly emotional game and a highly emotional way to make a living. It is week to week, and it is pure pass-fail. Whether you lose by three points in the 70th minute of the game or you lose by 20, if you lose, you lose. In those kinds of moments, all of us say things that we wish we could take back. I do not put too much into any one statement that anyone makes after the heat of a game. I learned early on, besides shaking hands – win or lose – I never talk to the head coach until at least Monday morning if not Monday afternoon because particularly in the case of a loss, it is tough to get over. I did not read too much into that one way or another.”

On if Haslam will consider having the future head coach report to Dorsey:

Haslam: “I think I have said very clearly that our focus is on the last eight games, winning as many of those as we can and helping Gregg anyway that we can. At the end of the year, depending on what happens, we will evaluate everything.”

On regrets the head coaching change was not made sooner:

Haslam: “No, hindsight is always 20-20. I like and respect Hue. You want to give him every chance he could to be successful.”

On which game Kitchens called offensive plays and the decision to name Kitchens offensive coordinator:

Haslam: “He called the Detroit [preseason] game.

Dorsey: “When you make a decision like that, you want to sit down with senior management and leadership and kind of talk through things and talk scenarios. We thought that it was best moving forward that Freddie would do the play calling.”

On Jackson’s comments after the Tampa Bay, including stating that he was head coach:

Dorsey: “It is the heat of the moment. There were raw emotions there and sometimes you just need a cooling off period, and then you can factually talk through things. That is what that is. The game is hard. It is very emotional.”

On Mayfield’s mindset now:

Dorsey: “He is a young man. He has seen a lot of complex defenses. He wants to win in the worst way. Is the confidence there? Yes, it is still there. That is the winning mindset that he brings to the table that you really so much admire in him. He will grow and develop even farther as we move along here. Our job is to create that environment moving forward to help the player. That is what those coaches do. They teach, they guide and they develop, and that is all you can ask for.”

On Mayfield taking multiple hits this season and how mindful the team is about how the physical impact may affect his development:

Dorsey: “That is a good question as I look at this, but you are going to take your shots in the NFL. He has taken a few of them. What we have to do is we have to go back and we have to – again, the coaches have to understand why are we taking all of these shots? We just have to learn from that and develop a plan to make sure he does not get hit as much."

Haslam: “We have to do a better job of protecting Baker and putting him in a better position to win. We understand that.”

On if Mayfield sustained an injury yesterday:

Haslam: “No. Everybody comes out of an NFL game if you play 60 plays beat up, and he is no different from anybody else. He has some bruises, but he will be at practice on Wednesday.”

On if the Browns will be able to get the desired head coaching candidate in January:

Haslam: “I will just repeat what I have said that we are focused on winning these next games and helping Gregg with everything we possibly can.”

On the message given to Browns players today:

Dorsey: “It is a hard day because it impacts the players. You have to be empathetic towards their feelings in that regard but also remind them that they are a bunch of talented young man and there is a lot of football left. We are going to put them in a position and the best environment moving forward. We are going to do that. I think they understand that, too.”

Haslam: “I think the message [to the players] was no different than our opening statement, and the only thing we added to them was this is not a throwing in of the towel. It is a rebooting, if you will – an opportunity to give them a fresh start these last eight games.”

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