"Good afternoon. I really wanted to get together, and I appreciate all of you being here.
"For us, (Head Coach) Hue (Jackson) has talked about this, but to start this year with the record has been disappointing. I wanted to acknowledge that and not shy away from that at all. We are at the same time really disappointed but not deterred and steadfast as we move forward that we have the right people in place and the right character around the building. We are seeing some signs despite the record of some real positivity and components of what will be long term in sustaining success that we have talked about a number of times.
On QB Robert Griffin III winning the starting QB job to open the year and his injury impacting the Browns' season:
"Robert did a nice job coming in and earning the starting job here and solidifying for us what we thought was that position for certainly the more quarters than he played. We are also not a team that feels like injuries are ever going to be excuses. It is up to (QB) Josh (McCown) and (QB) Cody (Kessler) to come in and perform, and I think they both have come in and tried to do that fairly admirably. The results have not been what we hoped but certainly pleased with those guys coming in and stepping up."
On areas the Browns have improved:
"For us, big time – I talked about this in January, and Jimmy and Dee (Haslam) did, as well – we really needed to more than anything else change the culture of this locker room, the culture of this building. I give Hue and his coaches a ton of credit. A lot of that credit also goes to the players and their makeup and character in terms of what they have put out on the field in terms of effort, buy in and focus."
On his message to Browns fans:
"First of all, we understand how disappointing this is for our fans. We want to win for our fans more than anything. We believe we have the best fan base in the NFL. We have been down far too long in terms of losing, and this is a hard challenge that we are faced with to really rebuild this roster, to find a quarterback that we can rely on as move forward. We do not shy away from that challenge at all. I would say to the fans that brighter days ahead, but we understand the task. We have the right coach in place. We have the right character in our players coming into the building. We are positioned well for success as we move into the draft next year with two first-rounds, two second-rounds picks. We will have a host of players that learn to play with each other and will be on this roster for a long time, making our fans proud."
On his conversations with the Haslams:
"Jimmy and Dee have been great. The Haslam family has owned the team for not the longest period of time, and they have amassed quite a bit of experience in that time. We have really thorough and transparent conversations with them at the outset and really assessing where we were coming out in 2015. It is important to us to be in communication across our organization, and we certainly had those conversations with them. Frankly, there are not a lot of ownership groups that would embrace really undergoing something like this. There are no shortcuts to the type of success and championship level success that we want to have here in Cleveland. There just are not in this league. We have seen a number of teams try to take those shortcuts, and it does not pan out. This is not an easy task. It is not every organization where you undergo this. It is not every head coach that would be able to undergo this. I give a tremendous amount of credit to not only our ownership but also our coaching staff as they fight and push through. When you look at how hard our players continue to play, their focus continues, that is a sign of progress. It really is. I know that is hard, and I don't mean at all to not show empathy to the fan base because we are disappointed for them, but from our ownership and coaching staff, we know we will have the time to build this the right way, and we will move forward and do everything we can in the meantime to do that."
On if the Haslams knew it would be this deep of 'a major rebuild':
"I think Jimmy is bright and understands where the team was and the roster was. I don't want to speak for him, but I would certainly say that coming out of 2015, whenever you are coming off 3-13, without an established quarterback, defense not playing particularly well, it is hard going into the next year feeling overly optimistic about where we are. That said, that doesn't provide any excuse for losses. There is no complacency in the building. We want to win every opportunity we have and go out and compete every week. We know that if we trust in our plan and our process and our people, the winning will follow. That is the hard thing to do right now is to stay together, but that is being done. I think for those of you that are here in the building every day, you can feel that there is an energy here that is positive. That it is not 'Woe is me.' Our guys know that this is our task. Only we can dig our way out of this hole, and we will."
On one example of how analytics has helped the Browns:
"I wouldn't go into or describe it that way. We have said this before, we look at analytics as just a piece of information. I would say never do we get to a point where solely analytics is driving any decision. It is just information that we use as part of a calculus. In some ways, it is part of a lot of things we do, but it never is the driving decision maker."
On if this season has changed the long-term plan:
"No, and I think that is one thing you have to be careful of is that you go in with one plan, adversity strikes and then all of the sudden, you are off to another one. That is probably not the definition of plan as we would have and I'm not being facetious. It is important for us to have the organizational fortitude and strength and we preach that to our players, and we want to embody that as a front office staff as an ownership group, as a coaching staff. We know how hard this task is. We know how hard it is going to be on our fans, on our people in the building, but we will get through it and come out the other side. There are brighter days ahead. I am confident."
On reaction to opponents' fan presence at home games, given the Browns' record:
"Our fan base will rise up for us. We understand that, and we can't bother ourselves with some of those externalities. We know that Browns fans and Cleveland as a sports city is unparalleled. We do have the greatest fans in the country. Some of that we need to own and win so that they have reason to come out and feel that hope on Sunday, and that is the path that we are on."
On if it is a silver lining that some rookies have played a lot, some due to injury, allowing for more opportunities to evaluate those young players:
"There is no substitute for experience, both I suppose as you said it there. At the end, certainly, the ability to evaluate some of these guys, that usually is a multi-year process for most young players coming to the league, but absolutely being able to see (DL/LB) Emmanuel (Ogbah) out there on a number of snaps, being able to see (WR) Corey (Coleman) now that he is back healthy and some of the other players. Not only does it give us the opportunity to evaluate them, but it also accelerates their development. There really isn't a substitute for experience. We talk about that all the time. We do hope to be to a place very shortly here where our rookies are going to have a harder time getting on the field. In the meantime, we like the fact that they have come in and competed. The guys are high character to a man and have come out and done a tremendous job working their tails off to give ourselves an opportunity on Sundays."
On how difficult it is to fully turn things around when the team is not winning games:
"Winning does validate a lot. At the same time, we don't want to buy into that when we are successful or not. For us, a lot of it is the work that you put in. (Head Coach) Hue (Jackson) has talked about this: What actually has made him successful and was what made teams successful underneath him was the work that they put in. We do understand that winning can validate, and certainly, we are all human so the losing does wear on you, but our guys are strong, our coaching staff is strong and they will continue pushing through it, but certainly a win or two will always help you."
On if Jackson would remain head coach if the Browns finish 0-16:
"We are not focused on 0-16. Hue is going to be here as our head coach. We talked about continuity being one of the corps premises of what we wanted accomplished going out in January. We know that we have a head coach that can be successful here and lead us to a lot of victories and a lot of winning."
On if it is safe to say that none of the Browns coaches are on the hot seat:
"Listen, the staff is really Hue's to evaluate. As far as I am concerned, that is a question for him to answer. It would not really be appropriate for me to do that, but as far as we are looking moving forward, Hue is a guy that we know can man the ship and lead us to a lot of victories. He has a staff underneath him that we have a lot of confidence in, as well, and they have put under very challenging circumstances a competitive team out there on the field. We just have to put a full complete game together."
On looking forward to the team improving and playing in future national and primetime games that impact the NFL:
"Yeah, no doubt, and I think that is one of the things that does motivate us is the ability to turn this franchise around is really important. We do it for no one first other than our fans and then after that our ownership group. For the Dawg Pound out there we want them to be able to come to a game on Sunday night with Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels doing the broadcast – not on Thursday night – and to be on Monday Night that is incredibly important to us to bring our franchise back to national relevance. We know it is always going to have local and regional relevance, but that is big. We want to play in the big games. We are competitive guys, and we want our shot at competing for division championships here, and we think that will come in short order."
On the Browns' QB situation and where the organization is in terms of finding a franchise QB:
"We have a couple of young guys in (QB) Robert (Griffin III) and (QB) Cody (Kessler) on the roster that we will continue to develop. That is never going to be a position that we are going to be complacent about, whether or not we have a guy or not. When you see the good teams, whether it is Philadelphia with (former Eagles and current Vikings QB Sam) Bradford or (Eagles QB Carson) Wentz or New England with (Patriots QB Tom) Brady that drafts (Patriots QB Jimmy) Garoppolo and (Patriots QB Jacoby) Brissett, it is just an area that you always have to continue to invest. We look forward to the day where we have a guy not only that has promise moving forward but we can look backward and say that he has had some success over a period of years. Then, guess what? We will continue to invest at that time at the position. We will continue to develop the heck out of the guys that are here and look for any opportunity to add to the position in terms of talent."
On how difficult the Browns season has been personally or him:
"It is difficult in the sense that you want to win. You want to win now, and I wish we had a magic wand that we could wave and change our fate, but you can't do that. The most important thing, I think, about my job is not to take those short cuts and to put this franchise on the path towards sustaining winning for a long period of time. That is really my job and my duty. More than anything else, I want that to happen as soon as possible, but I can't get caught up in my personal emotions because when you do that, I think you end up making those short emotional decisions. I empathize certainly with the fan base. We want to win for them as soon as possible. We will have a plan in place and we do have a plan in place that is going to lead to a lot of success over a long period of time. We look forward to those days where the Dawg Pound is full and we are playing on Monday night."