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Press Conference

John Dorsey assesses Browns after 6 games, talks Baker Mayfield and more - Press Conference

Opening statement:

"Before we start this, I would like to say one thing: have each and every one of you all in this room wished Tom (Withers) a happy birthday? Happy birthday, Tom. 

"Usually, when you like to do these reviews and these assessments, you like to do them after eight games. Unfortunately, the bye week right now falls after the sixth game. The facts are we are 2-4, but nobody in this organization is happy about 2-4. That is real. Let me remind everybody here, there is a lot of football to be played here. We have 10 games left in the season. I think the bye week comes at a good time. I think it gives the coaches a chance to review, self-assess, make some corrections and implement those corrections. It gives the players a chance to regroup and make that push on the back end of the 10 game schedule. With that being said, the facts are what? We are 2-1 in the AFC, we are 1-0 in the AFC North and we are 0-3 in the NFC. The positive here is that we have five home games, and we have divisional games. There is a lot of football to be played here. I know from personal experiences that I have been on teams that have had worse starts than this, and guess what? They played really good at the back end of the season."

On where the Browns should be better at this point of the season, understanding there would be some growing pains this year:

"I think what we have to do is we probably have to be a little bit more consistent. We have to be a little bit more attention to detail. The players now have a chance these next four days to kind of look themselves in the mirror and just say, 'OK, what can I do that I have not done in the first six games to kind of forge this thing and move this thing in a positive direct?' I reiterate, there is a lot of football left to be played."

On why QB Baker Mayfield may not be playing as sharply as the back half of last season:

"I told you in the spring, to master the quarterback position is very hard. You just can't go up and show up and do it. There is a lot involved in this. He is in his second year. Right now, defensive coordinators have probably thrown different looks that he has not seen. Baker is one of those guys that he is smart enough that he is not going to make the same mistake twice. He is learning from that, but I like where he is. I like his competitiveness. I love everything about him. That has not changed for me one bit in terms of his competitiveness, his ability to throw the football and move this thing. What I really like is his teammates like him."

On how Mayfield has improved in Year 2:

"What I like is like earlier when he was rolling out to his right – a lot of right-handed quarterbacks will do that earlier in their age – but what I like is now all of sudden if you were coaching through (quarterbacks coach) Ryan (Lindley) and through (offensive coordinator) Todd (Monken) and through (Head Coach) Freddie (Kitchens), he is starting to step up within the middle of the pocket and that is a progression there. I think his balls are still accurate. Everybody keeps saying there is inaccuracy in his ball. I still think he throws a good football."

On if Browns coaches need improve game management:

"I think Freddie hired a very talented coaching staff. I think that they are exceptional teachers. I think there is really good communication on the game management standpoint that you talk about. I think there is clear communication there."

On if he has been unhappy with how some game situations have been managed:

"Right now, we are 2-4 and we are going to nitpick a little. Everybody is going to nitpick but right now, we are 2-4. We have a lot of football yet."

On if he still sees all the goals, dreams and expectations for the Browns with Mayfield as a former No. 1 overall pick:

"100 percent."

On Mayfield showing that capability:

"I like his approach to the game of football. I like the game planning processes of that. I like how he goes out there and competes. I like his grit that he shows. I like how he throws the football. I like how he extends the plays. Last I looked, it takes 53 guys to put this thing together. It has to be 53 guys playing the game of football."

On how Browns players and coaches have responded to the spotlight being on the team and expectations and if that could have impacted results early in the season:

"No, I do not. I think there has to be a degree of consistency. There has to be a degree of attention to detail. I think that is natural. Everybody is going to say that. These guys work really hard. The coaching staff works really hard at preparing these guys. That is what it is going to take. It is going to take attention to those little details moving this thing forward."

On trading C Austin Corbett to the LA Rams and assessing the Browns OL play:

"With the offensive line, I will address that. They have to be a little more consistent in their play and that is real. With Austin, I am going to do whatever is in the best interest of this organization and I thought yesterday was the appropriate time. I want to wish him the best. The new environment will be good for him, but I am going to do what is best for this organization. At the time, I thought that we did the right move, right now."

On if the Browns can do something to improve OL play:

"Yeah, that is coming down the road."

On the limited availability of starting-caliber OL at this point of the season, particularly this year:

"It is a hard position. You can't have enough of those bigs. The foundation that I have always said here is the foundation for the offense and the defense is very important and you have to acquire a lot of those pieces. It is just a hard position to acquire, especially right about now if you are referring to trades."

On assess Kitchens' through his first six games as head coach:

"I think that Freddie has done a really good job. I think the team has responded very well. I think the players play hard. What I liked as I observed is he is really good at delegating. He has hired a really good football staff. I like the offensive scheme that he has kind of developed, which was unfold in the Seattle game by putting No. 6 in a really good position to kind of move those chains. I think we basically demonstrated our offensive rhythm in that one game as an example. What I did like is on fourth downs, I like the strategy and the courage that he used in terms of going for it at proper times. That is good stuff right there."

On how Kitchens has handled play calling and the responsibility's tied to being a head coach and if it has been too much for Kitchens so far:

"No, it has not been [too much for him]. Freddie was hired for a reason, and that was to lead men and in the trust that those men have in Freddie, and then also for his offensive play calling experience. I think he has actually put together some really nice gameplans. I applaud him for that. I love where he is right in terms of that first-year head coaching label you all try to stick on him. I think he has done a nice job."

On the process of player acquisitions, evaluating future cap space and future picks with the mindset of short-term and long-term success:

"It is a fair question. It is a very good question. I think from my position and the seat I sit in, you are always thinking three or four years down the road but also in the immediate, are there certain assets that can be acquired in the immediate that also can help this organization? There are different types of evaluations on assets in terms of short term and long term and then you have to be able to assess that. You also have to be able to assess your roster and the players on your roster. What needs to be fixed on that roster on a year basis and down the [road] basis? Also, the way the cap situation is you have to forecast money out there at least three years down the road."

On balancing his evaluation of Kitchens' through six games with the team's 2-4 record, penalties and turnovers:

"That is a fair question. Slowly but surely, these guys are coming together. When I say 10 games are left, that is a lot of football. I have been on three different teams. I have been in NFL football for three decades. I can remember as a player in like 1984, we started the season at 0-7, but we wound up somewhere like 7-9 or something like that. In 1992 – I think it was (former NFL Head Coach Mike) Holmgren's first year on that team – they were 2-5 but they wound up with a winning record. In Kansas City in 2015, I want to say we were 1-5 and we ran 10 straight and then we eventually made it to the playoffs. Everybody within the building has to understand it is one of those moments where you have to reflect to attention to detail and move this thing forward with a sense of urgency, and that is what we are going to do.

On if there are positions on the team that need to be filled:

"There are always holes to be filled. You can't rebuild this… Right now, we are into our second year and there are always holes that need to be filled. Sometimes you try to patch some holes up. Other times, you try to fortify the positions. You have to go about it systematically."

On improving the Browns OL 'coming down the road' and if he is referring to the upcoming trade deadline or later in the future:

"We will do what is best for the Cleveland Browns organization. We will do extensive research. We will make a million phone calls. If we think we can improve a position, regardless of what that position is, we will go about it if we think it is the right fit for the Cleveland Browns."

On if it was a mistake not to retain former Browns quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese on the coaching staff:

"How so?"

On Mayfield's production last year with Zampese on staff:

"I think that Todd Monken, Ryan Lindley and Freddie Kitchens are very good at that quarterback positon, and I think we are very lucky to have those three guys helping, assisting, teaching and growing No. 6."

On Kitchens' comments about the Browns gelling as a team and if the team is coming together as it needs to do:

"I said as training camp was beginning to come to the closing days that the one thing I noticed with this group is they genuinely like being around one another, and that is a sign of a locker room getting close. I also made a statement that at adverse moments, you will find out what your team is all about. Right now, the players have four days, and they are going to sit there and they are going to think about a lot of things and assess, 'What can I do? What can I do to help this thing move forward?' I thought Freddie's message to the team the last two days has been excellent about moving this thing forward and about looking yourself in the mirror. It is always good sometimes to look yourself in the mirror and say, 'What can I do to make myself better and the Cleveland Browns better."

On evaluating WR Odell Beckham Jr.'s performance this season:

"I think Odell is one of the finest receivers I have ever been around, and I have been around a hall of fame receiver, too – that is James Lofton. I think James is one hell of a football player. Very rarely do you get to acquire a player like this. An example would be how many guys can make the catch he made in the New York Jets game? Or even if you go to the Seattle game, how many guys can make the catch that he made on the Seattle Seahawks sideline? Not very many guys can do that, but what people do not see or do not understand is defensive coordinators now are trying to take away Odell, which that frees up the backside for other receivers. That just goes to show you that Odell is one of those guys who is a selfless individual in terms of on the field and another thing you do not see is his run-blocking ability. I think he really does a nice job on the run-blocking part of it. I am happy we have him, and I think he is a really good football player."

On what allowed the 2015 Chiefs team to win 10-consecutive games following a 1-5 start and if it was the result of getting healthy, improved performance or an easier strength of schedule:

"I think it was a combination of things. I thought the coaching staff, which our coaching staff is doing, was doing some self-assessments, understanding, maybe fixing things here and making corrections there. It also took those men in that locker room. They had a chance to self-reflect and understand, 'OK, I have to do a better job on my part.' I think this team will do that. They have four days now to really self-reflect and say, 'OK, we have 10 games left in this thing.' It is all in front of us in terms of our goals. Our goal is to win the AFC North. We have said that. Now we have five home games and five divisional games. Let's go for it."

On if he is concerned with CB Denzel Ward's injury history with the Browns:

"No, not at all. The National Football League is a hard business and injuries accumulate on all teams. I am happy that he is back and he is practicing. I am excited to see him moving forward."

On the Browns' penalties this season, given the team is last in the league in the category:

"That is fact. At the end of the day, it is one of those things that you have to clean up and this is the proper time to clean these things up."

On accumulating penalties at a higher rate this season than last season:

"My only advice is it is that attention to details and the little things and do not put yourself in the positon to get those penalties. Right now, I am sure we are doing a self-assessment of that and just trying to get a basic understanding of why this is occurring."

On how realistic it is for the Browns to reduce penalties at this point of the season:

"I think it is realistic that you can cut them down. That is what happens when you establish and have good coaches and they can reinforce that on a daily basis and have emphasis there, that is going to happen." 

On if the margin of defeat against the Titans and 49ers is a major concern:

"It is the National Football League. There are 16 games in a season, and those things are going to happen."

On WR Jarvis Landry's comment that the Browns need to intentionally and deliberately get Beckham and himself the ball more:

"I think it all depends on the team you are beginning to play. You have to first understand your opponent and create an offensive game plan to maximize your offensive output. It is total team football. Is he a talented player? Yes, he is a talented football player. If we can get the ball to him, we get the ball to him, but let's not force it. Let's win the game. That is the objective."

On if RB Nick Chubb has been the Browns' MVP so far and the Browns' balancing the run and pass game:

"I think Nick Chubb emulates everything about being a professional football player. I think he is a tireless worker. I think he is a talented football player. There are times to give him the ball and there are times not to give him the ball, and I think that is from a game planning situation. Do I think he is a really good football player? Yes, I do."

On if he is satisfied with the amount of touches RB Nick Chubb is getting:

"I am."

On if T Greg Robinson is playing as well as he did the second half of last season:

"I would like Greg to be more consistent."

On how Robinson can improve:

"Just be more consistent as a football player."

On the most concerning aspect of the Browns' performance through six games:

"I think what you have to do is you have this whole week here and the coaches are doing a nice job of kind of doing self-assessment, understanding the last six games of what can be corrected, what can be implemented."

On what he would like the coaches to hit hard with their assessments and corrections:

"At the of the day, I think it is the point that you bought up – let's minimize the penalties."

On if the Browns DL has been as dominate as hoped, specifically citing rushing totals against the 49ers and Seahawks:

"I think those guys are good football players. That may have been unique and isolated incidents. I like the players that we acquired, and I think what they have done and the leadership they have kind of given to that defensive line is really good. Like (DE) Olivier Vernon, who you were probably referring to, I thought he played his best game against the Seattle Seahawks and he did a nice job."

On T Chris Hubbard's performance this season:

"I like Chris as a person. I would challenge him to be a little bit more consistent."

On if the Browns starting Ts' performance and a need to be more consistent affects Mayfield's production:

"You can imply that, but if you start the season if you remembered, all of a sudden (T) Greg (Robinson) gets removed from a game and then all of sudden you have to rotate the tackles and then all of a sudden another tackle gets hurt and then you have to play rotating tackles again. There has to be a cohesiveness of those five guys on a consistent basis. They have not been in unity here together and being able to operate as one. That is what you want your offensive line to do on a week-to-week basis is be together where five guys are working together."

On the Browns returning four of five starting OL from the back half of last season and the unit not protecting as well as last year:

"You have to be more consistent. It is not one isolated player or one isolated incident. It is a few things all just happening at random times that kind of reflect the question that you had just asked."

On Mayfield's interceptions since 2018 and how much coaches, Mayfield and other players are responsible for that total:

"On offense, it takes 11 guys to drive this thing forward. So everybody got to be single-minded and working at their respective positions on a week-to-week and a play-to-play basis. I am not going to single out any one particular thing, but we do need to improve certain things."

On if he is seeing the same type of play calling as the last eight games of the 2018 season:

"I do. I thought it was on display last week. I thought the offense found their rhythm. I thought No. 6 found his rhythm. I really liked the gameplan that those guys had established. I think Freddie does a really nice job with the play calling."

On if it is odd that the Browns offense is not producing as it wants and in the rhythm desired:

"There are different gameplan for different defenses."

On the rhythm with Mayfield and the Browns offense:

"Actually, I thought last week the rhythm was there. The offense could move at any time during that game and it started being together as a unit."

On expectations for WR Antonio Callaway and RB Kareem Hunt:

"As I look at Antonio, Antonio two years ago had not played any football. Last year, that was his first year after missing the season. Then he gets a little slow start because he has the four-game suspension, and he has got to work himself back into the rhythm of the offense. He is slowly working back into the rhythm of the offense. I expect him to kind of pick up where he had left off last year and kind of use that vertical speed that he does. Now, with regards to Kareem, it is my understanding that he is doing really well. I think he is ahead of schedule in terms of his rehabilitation. In a couple of weeks here, he is going to be back and I can't wait to see him."

On if he would like to accomplish something that would impact the Browns' lineup during the bye week, given the upcoming trade deadline:

"What I would like to do is constantly work the phones and do some research. Whatever happens, happens. If nothing happens, you move on and go to the next project."

On if the Browns could adjust their starting OL with team personnel, particularly following trades prior to 53-man roster cuts:

"Again, once we get done with our self-evaluations and assessments, we will come to some conclusions and determine which way we are going to head."

On how Callaway is doing in terms of off the field and expectations for Callaway off the field:

"I want him to grow every day. I want him to grow and mature. That is what you look for and that is all you want to see is growth."

On if he has seen growth and maturation from Callaway:

"I have so far, yes."

On if making transactions to impact the Browns OL has been a lower priority, given the recent use of high capital to address WR, DL and CB:

"I made a statement about a year ago and I still believe that to my core beliefs that I think the foundation of both the offensive and defensive side of the ball is really important, and I will always stick to that. That is those two different lines – the offensive and defensive line."

On if he has spoken to Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen recently:

"We have had a few conversations. Is there anything you want me to pass on to him?"

On if bringing in elite talent makes it harder to acquire additional high-priced veterans or if the team still has flexibility in that regard:

"I think we still have flexibility to do a lot of different things."

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