Skip to main content

Press Conference

Hue Jackson press conference - 9/7

Head Coach Hue Jackson:

On who will start at LT:

"(OL) Desmond Harrison. Desmond Harrison will be the starting left tackle. (OL) Joel (Bitonio) will start at [left] guard. On we go."

On the decision to start Harrison at LT:

"Practice. Watching him over the last few weeks with the ones out at practice, all that practice and watching him in games. Obviously, he is talented enough. This is hopefully going to be our lineup thought the season. He has handled everything really well. I feel good about those five guys. I think it gives us the best chance to have the most success."

On Harrison starting training camp much lower on the depth chart:

"He was injured. That is the reason why. He had the toe [injury] and did not practice a lot. When he came here, we were very excited about him. There were some things that he did at OTAs. You could see it. Then it got be to how bad did he want to be the left tackle. He just kept working. Just put his head down and worked. It is one heck of a story, but it does not matter until gameday. He has to go do it. He recognizes that. He has fought through some things just recently, and that said a lot to me. He is ready to go."

On Harrison not playing football for two years and if they discussed his history:

"We had all of those conversations. I will keep that between Desmond and us. I think that the most important thing going forward now is that this guy is going to be out left tackle and he is going to go play good football. That is what we need him to do."

On Harrison starting Week 1 as an undrafted free agent after not playing at a major college program for multiple seasons:

"That means he has talent. It means that he is very talented. He has earned it. He competed. When you put all of the different variables out there of what we could have done or would have done, and you look at it and you watch the practice tape and the game, he is the best left tackle for us to play right now. Obviously, Joel is the best left guard. We feel like we are heading in the right direction by far. I agonized over this decision because it is a huge decision. At the same time, I have confidence one, in our coaches, and in the player. He has worked hard. He wants this opportunity. He has demonstrated that."

On 'agonizing' over the decision:

"Here we are playing against our division rival, one of the best teams in the AFC in the opening game. You look at it two ways – you leave Joel out there and stick a left guard in there as a rookie who can play; or you leave Joel where he has been a very good player, a very dominant player and play a guy who is a really good player, we feel, and has tremendous upside. You go back and forth on that. When you look at it, I think this is the best decision for our organization and the team."

On his message to OL Austin Corbett with this decision:

"Just keep working. It does not say anything about Austin. He just keeps working and keeps getting better. We are glad that he is on our team. Austin can do a lot of different things."

On if Corbett now becomes a 'plug-and-play' guy:

"We will see. That part of it, how many we dress and all of that. It is going to be about the health of everybody else when we head into it. It is not like everybody is healthy. I will figure that out tonight as we go."

On if Corbett could be a backup center:

"He can play center. We also have some other people that can play center, as well. We have practiced (OL) Earl (Watford) there. We have practiced Corbett there. We have practiced a lot of different people there. We have some different scenarios that way that could be center for us."

On if he wishes it was possible to make the LT decision sooner:

"I think you always wish that you could have settled it sooner. As you go through it, there were injuries at the start of training camp to Desmond. Making sure that this combination was not the right one. Then you had to work through it. What I said to you guys at the start of this, we are going to play the best five guys. We had not determined who that was. I thought that we needed more practice time, play through games and a lot of discussions with the staff before we made this choice. We arrived at it through the games and practice and what we thought was going to be the best for us trending forward."

On Harrison's athleticism and how visible it is when playing:

"Very. He is long. He is athletic. He can run. He is tough. He is all of the things that you want. He just has not done it yet at this level. To the point that was just made, we are not going to replace (former Browns OL) Joe Thomas right away. This is going to be an offensive line effort. You are not going to replace what arguably is the best left tackle to play the game here for the Cleveland Browns in an offseason. You want it to be that way. We all wish that. At the same time, we have to put the best player out there that gives us the best chance. Right now, it is Desmond. We are looking for him to do some good things."

On if he has mentioned to Harrison about not feeling too much pressure about 'replacing Joe Thomas':

"I have talked to him. This is a very confident young man. He truly believes in his ability. The other linemen really believe in what he can do, too. That has a lot to say about his talent. What all of the players want to know is can he win for us? Can he block those guys consistently? We will start to find that out this Sunday."

On Harrison's reliability from a mental assignment standpoint:

"He has done a good job that way. He has Joel next to him so that is comforting, too. He is in a good spot. I think that he is in a good place. The mental part of it, he has handled that in practice. He has handled that in games. Now you have Joel standing next to you helping if something comes up. I think that we have done it the right way to give him a chance to have success."

On when he told the OL about the starters:

"This has been going on. We have all been working through it, but they have kind of had an idea of what this was really about yesterday. They could really feel that we were trending in this direction. I wanted to make sure that we got through it the right way and handled it all the right way before we announced it because I thought that it was important."

On if Bitonio would be ready to play LT at any moment, if needed:

"I think Joel is always ready. That is the kind of player that he is for the organization and team. Everybody that has been involved in this knows that if something were to happen for instance, that we would have to do something different. Right now, we do not anticipate that. We anticipate Desmond being the left tackle. God forbid something happens where he has to come out of the game for some reason, we have Plan B. We will be ready for that, as well. You have to. I feel good about all of the players understanding what their roles are and what they need to do. If something happened, I think they know how to respond to that, too."

On providing a support system for Harrison, given his history:

"We have done that. (General Manager) John Dorsey and myself, those are decisions that we made to bring these guys in. We have also made the decisions to support them in every way that we can. He has been outstanding since he has been here. He has handled that part of it right or else he would not be where he is. We are looking for the total player because we need guys that are going to be dependable, accountable and are going to be there all of the time. He has demonstrated that. I think that he has earned it. He has earned it though his play, his work ethic and doing things the right way on and off the field."

On how WR Josh Gordon looks in practice:

"Really good. He is as close to being totally back as I have seen in a while. He has made some really good plays in practice. We want to see him do it on Sunday. That is what it is all about."

On the Browns running game:

"It has looked really good in the preseason. We ran the ball pretty well. We have some talented players. We feel good about our line. We feel good about our backs. We have to run the ball. I think they understand that. We plan on running it. We plan on doing it all because we think that we have talent to be able to do that. We feel good about being able to line up and run the football."

On if his approach to coaching the team will be the same or if he will also look to improve, given the improved talent on the roster compared to past seasons:

"I am going to improve. I think every year you are trying to improve and get better. Whatever the last two years was, they were what they were. This is a new year. This is a new opportunity for this organization and football team. Myself included, this coaching staff, we have to coach differently. We have to coach differently. We have different expectations, different way of going about things. Now, we want the results. At the end of the day, that is where all of this is headed. It is about winning. It is not about anything else. The last two years are over and behind us. It is about this year, starting this Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers."

On the importance of coaching as it relates to winning:

"It is the ultimate. You are creating the right environment so that the players can be the best that they can be. It is taking talent and getting it to perform at a higher level. Sometimes coaches play a huge role in that. Sometimes other players play a huge role in that. I think we are all involved. All of our hands are in the bucket to make it work. Obviously, I am the head of it all. I have to do my job better than I have ever done it before to get this team to be what I think there can be. There is talent on this team, as you just stated. My job is to get it to play and to play well week in and week out. That is what I am going to set out to do."

On if he remembers how he felt two days before last year's season opener:

"I really do not. Anytime that it is against Pittsburgh, it is the best of the best. We understand who they are. I just think that this year for me, my role is different. I have the coaches. We have some players that I am totally confident in and comfortable with. I think that we have a really good gameplan. I think that what we need to do is go play. Me talking about things and saying this or saying that will not matter. What matters is wins. Sunday gives us an opportunity to start that."

On what is most different about his role:

"I do not call plays. I am not the offensive coordinator, too. I am the offensive advisor, the defensive advisor and the special teams advisor now. That role has totally changed. I relish that. It is a great opportunity for me to see the game from a different light to be able to do some things differently and help the team in a lot of different ways. It has been great. We just have to go do it and do it to the level of winning all of the time,"

Related Content