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Hue Jackson press conference video, transcript - 4/21

Opening statement:

"We've had an opportunity to wrap up our voluntary minicamp. Again, I think our players…I give them a lot of credit. They've really established a work ethic. I think they come to practice with a purpose, and they understand what we're trying to accomplish each and every day. Again, I give a lot of that credit to our coaching staff. It's been a real good three days for us to have an opportunity to be on the grass and coach our football team. It's just another evaluation process for us. That part of it is now done, and we'll get back to phase two next week. It was really fun to be around the guys and see how they work, how they interact with each other, how they interact with coaches, how they interact with me and really understand what the expectation is here and what we need to do to win. But at the same time, understanding that it's just three practices and just trying to stack good days on top of each other, which was our goal. I thought our football team accomplished that goal. If we did nothing else, I thought the guys went out there, like I said, with a purpose, with an enthusiasm, they wanted to be out there. I think they like practicing and playing with each other and competing against each other. Right now, that's the most we can do."

On the Browns' trade with the Eagles and how he feels about going away from the opportunity to draft a franchise quarterback:

"I had a big smile on my face. I was excited and ecstatic about what (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Sashi (Brown) and his group has done for our football team. Obviously, we felt that was the best thing for our organization, and I truly believe that whole-heartedly. I'm really excited about watching how the draft unfolds for us next week because we're going to have an opportunity to put some talented football players on our team to add to the guys that are here. As I said, collectively everywhere we need to continue to get better. I think what Sashi and the group did was give us that opportunity, and I think that was very important."

On his assessment of QB Jared Goff and QB Carson Wentz:

"That really doesn't matter right? At the end of the day, they're really good players, and they're going to have fine careers in the National Football League. I think they're two really good young men, and they're going to play in this league. Obviously, we'll see how all that unfolds. They were guys that we watched and dealt with, talked to, but at the same time, I said a long time ago we're going to do what we feel is right for our organization moving forward. Obviously, this is what we've done, and this is what we feel very, very comfortable – and I feel very comfortable – about what we did and where we're headed."

On how much of the trade was his call and how much of the trade was the team saying it is comfortable with QB Robert Griffin III:

"I think we relied on all of us in the room. It's not just me. It's everybody's opinion. That's what I said before. I love what we do. It's not just one person. Obviously, I've coached the position and dealt with the position. I think Sashi takes that into account, but Sashi's really good at what he does He spends a lot of time watching tape, just as (chief strategy officer) Paul (DePodesta) does, just as (vice president of player personnel) Andrew (Berry) does. I think we all have input, and I think we talk through what we think is best and what we need to do and that's what we've done. The second part of your question, you said Robert. I'm going to keep saying it again. We have four quarterbacks on this football team, and Robert's one of them. He's very talented as we know, and he's growing and working hard each and every day, but so is (QB) Josh (McCown), so is (QB) Austin (Davis), so will (QB) Connor (Shaw) when he's able to truly be back out there. I feel very comfortable with where we are at our quarterback position, and now we'll see how the draft unfolds."

On him handing the ball off to quarterbacks during drills at practice as a head coach:

"That's a drill. That's not a handoff. That's a drill that I've always done with quarterbacks. I think you guys have seen I'm going to be involved. I love coaching. Again, I'm going to be involved with our football team where I feel like I can help. Quarterback is one of those positions and running backs and receivers. Again, if you have an expertise you want to help as much as you can. I know we're in capable hands with (associate head coach – offense) Pep (Hamilton), but every now and then the coaching bug in me wants to get involved and I'm going to do that. I've told all the coaches to allow me the opportunity to do that because that's just who I am. I like to be with the players and one the grass and coaching that way."

On if making the trade with the Eagles was a matter of neither of the quarterbacks being worth a No. 2 pick:

"I think the trade was about us getting better and seeing an opportunity for us to continue to improve our football team. I know everybody wants to make it truly about the quarterbacks and what you're doing and you guys have these guys here. It's not that. We, as an organization, made a decision how to strengthen our football team and what we felt was best and what was the best direction to travel to get better. Sashi said it the other day and he probably said it today – we want to have a sustainable football team that has a chance to win, not just a flash in the pan or do this or do that. We felt, as an organization, the best thing for us to do was to make the trade. I am extremely excited about the trade that was made, and I'm excited about what we have the potential to start doing and building next Thursday."

On not being able to have sustainable success without a quarterback in the NFL:

"I totally agree with that. No one said that we don't have a quarterback. We have four guys that we're going to get the opportunity to coach, and I never said that we will not add a quarterback as we continue to move forward. We'll see how the draft unfolds. There's still good quarterbacks in the National Football League. Everybody is anticipating that these guys will go No. 1, No. 2. Maybe they will. Maybe they won't. Nobody really knows, but I feel very good about the four guys that we have here. I feel good about having an opportunity to get these guys better and coach them, but at the same time, we still know that there are players in the draft that we might have an opportunity to acquire as well. We'll see how this all unfolds next week."

On if Griffin's presence influenced the trade:

"I'm being very honest with you guys. It never did. I know everybody feels that because he's here. I don't think that Robert's being here really influenced the thinking. I've said all along that we were still in our process of seeing what was best for us. As an organization, we had an opportunity to make a trade. We made it, and that had nothing to do with the quarterback. I'm going to say it again. This was what we feel is best for us to do, and at the end of the day, it is the best thing for us to do. I'm excited about it."

On being hesitant to give Griffin the starting job given the investment the Browns made on him and what Griffin needs to show for him to be named the starter:

"It's like every player on our football team. They've got to earn the right to be the starter here for the Browns. Right now outside of (OL) Joe Thomas, there's not a lot of guys that have a lot of skins on the wall for me. Joe will be the first to tell you he knows he has to be at his best just like everybody else. I'm not in the business of handing anybody anything. I think we're going to have to earn the right to play for us and to be on this roster and to be on this football team at every positon. It's not just quarterback. It's every position on our football team."

On mentioning Shaw's health:

"Yeah, because he didn't do much in this voluntary minicamp. He had a little slight pull."

On Shaw's injury not being his thumb:

"No, not at all. He's fine. He could have went, but again, I'm always going to be a little bit…this is a voluntary minicamp. I'm going to be a little bit hesitant if anybody has any little thing. I'm going to make sure we get them up to speed where they need to be before we start competing in that way."

On if the Browns have turned their focus to QB Paxton Lynch and QB Connor Cook and the next tier of quarterbacks in the draft:

"I don't know exactly how it's going to unfold, but I know that we will continue to strengthen every position on our football team and quarterback is a position on our team. If we see an opportunity to get better at that position then we will. Who that player will be, where they'll be, what number it will be – I don't know. But I don't know this – if there is a player that we feel in the draft that can help us, that will help us be better than what we are then we'll do that. The fun part about where we are is that we can go a lot of different directions, do a lot of different things to strengthen our team in so many different areas. Again, I just give so much credit to Sashi and Paul and Andrew and obviously (Owners) Jimmy (Haslam) and Dee (Haslam) for what we're doing because at the end of the day we need to be as good as we can be everywhere. I think that's what the goal is."

On if he sees franchise-quarterback ability in anybody in the second tier of quarterbacks or beyond:

"I think that's hard. Everybody keep talking, using that term very loosely about franchise quarterbacks. What are franchise quarterbacks? There's not Peyton Manning and (Patriots QB) Tom Brady walking around all the time. I think every quarterback has to be coached and put in an environment so that he can be successful and be good. There are a lot of guys – you just look at the history in the National Football League – that some things didn't go right, whatever those things are. I'm a true believer in that when you have a quarterback or when you put a quarterback on your football team that he's first and foremost, and you have to do everything you can to help that particular player be all he can be. That's when guys start becoming franchise quarterbacks. It's not just everybody keeps thinking this guy's the perfect guy and you just draft him. I think there's more to it than that. I think there are a lot of things that go into making those kinds of decisions about that player and not so much about how that unfolds is just that player. I feel good about where we are and our process, and I feel good about the four men that are here. I feel good about the draft and what potentially we can do. We'll see if there are any of these other great quarterbacks out there as we venture through this draft."

On if the top QB prospects this year were more prepared to start and compete in the NFL than last year's top players in Titans QB Marcus Mariota and Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston:

"I don't want to get into comparisons about who was this and who was that. We are not in that position, like you said No. 1 and 2. We are No. 8. I am not going to really compare those guys. I just know this: They are good players. They are fine players. Who knows how the draft is going to unfold and where these guys will go? I know where all of the speculation says they will go but nobody really knows until the pick is made. I think everybody is speculating that's how it is going to happen. If it does, great for the young men and whatever teams get them. I'm sure they will be good players for them. For us and what we are, I think without question we are doing what we feel is the right thing to do, and I support it 1,000 percent and love the direction that we are going."

On specific position groups that the Browns need to improve, beside QB:

"I think it is unfair to say those things right now, honestly. What is important is that whoever we decide to pick Thursday night is they are going to have an opportunity on our football team to be the best they can be. Our football team right now is working extremely hard, as I said earlier. I am pleasantly surprised at a lot of guys on our team and the position we are in. Until you get on the grass, do you really know certain things about certain players? You can look at them on tape, you can look at them in a class room, you can look at them in the weight room, but at the end of the day, it is them being on the field, watching and watching our coaches interact and lead them through certain things. Again, I am pleasantly surprised with where we are right now as a football team. Yeah, we have some areas that we need to get better. I think we all know that, but how we are going to go about it is up to Sashi, myself and the rest of the group. We will figure it out as we go."

On if there is more draft work to be done because of the trade down to No. 8, considering the additional possibilities of who may be available:

"No question. I said it the last time I was here. I don't know if it is so much because of the trade but just because of how the draft unfolds a lot of things can still happen between now and the draft. You have to be on top of every scenario, obviously, on draft day, but there are a lot of different things that can happen between now and draft day. I am very comfortable and confident that our department, headed up by Sashi, is on top of everything. We know things that could happen, things that may happen. At the end of the day, we all know still there is no exact science to it. You have to try to figure it out as you go and be prepared and be ready. I am no more comfortable than being with this group that we will get this right than any group that I have ever been with before."

On if QB Josh McCown is one of the players he has been most surprised with during minicamp:

"It has really been our whole team that I have been pleasantly surprised by because normally, you walk into these situations, let's just be honest, and they have to kind of get to know you and they are kind of looking at you and you are kind of looking at them. Sometimes it is not buy in right away. I give the credit to the players. They have bought in, and they have bought in all the way around from how we meet, how we work in the weight room, how we practice, the demands that I put on them and they have responded. Every player on this football team right now has my undivided attention because they have really worked extremely hard over these last three days to understand and start to understand what it takes to play big-time football in the National Football League because there are some big-time players here. Let's be honest, there are. What we have to do is just keep creating an environment for these guys to be all they can do."

On what DB Joe Haden is doing anything on the field during minicamp:

"He is cheering. Now, I promise you that. He is chomping at the bit to be out there. Not right now he's not, but we are going to get him out there sooner rather than later and I'm going to be excited to have him back."

On if Haden is in a boot:

"Again, I am not going to get into all of that and what he is in, but obviously, we know he is not practicing. We will go from there."

On when he accepted the fact the Browns weren't going to be in a position to take one of the top two QBs in the draft:

"One of the two best quarterbacks that everybody says is in the draft. I told you guys before, I am not like everybody else and our organization is not like everybody else. Everybody keeps saying about this player and that player. We go about doing our evaluation the way we do our evaluation. That's not slighting the quarterbacks or any position. What we feel is best for our organization is what we've done. We have traded with the Eagles. We are now at No. 8. We have some tremendous picks this season and into the future. We feel very good about where we are. I am not really concerned about what anybody else feels or thinks about where we are. I feel very comfortable and confident where we are. We keep talking about that position because of last year. Last year is over. This is a new year. This is 2016, a new team, a new start, a new everything. I feel very good about where we are, and we will get this right, I promise you. You guys will be very comfortable and confident about what we have done, hopefully. If you don't, then you will write about it so I get it. At the same time, I feel good about what we are doing. Everybody keeps talking about two of the best quarterbacks in the draft. No one knows that, right? No one really knows that. We will see how it all unfolds here in two or three years and see if we were right or wrong, but I feel very good about where we are and what we are doing."

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