Browns Thursday: John DeFilppo press conference transcript - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Browns Thursday: John DeFilppo press conference transcript

John DeFilippo transcript (Source: WOIO) John DeFilippo transcript (Source: WOIO)
 Opening statement:

“Obviously very pleased, very excited to announce John DeFilippo as the new offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns. As I've said, ‘Flip' (DeFilippo) has…There's a lot to offer – very bright, very energetic, very passionate. I think he has…The thing that sticks out the most to me is just his ability to pull people together. I think he has outstanding people skills. It's hard to be in a bad mood around him. We're talking about a guy – and again, as you guys know, I have a soft spot for coaches' kids. Here's another one – growing up around the game, loves the game. Like I said, works extremely well with other people, and that's very important to develop the staff around him and, more importantly, the players around him. When you lose someone on your coaching staff, no matter what the reasons are, you look at it as an opportunity. I see it as an opportunity for us to get better. I see it as an opportunity for us to develop. Personally, I see it as an opportunity for myself. I felt last year was a situation where I had to get bunkered in, for the most part, with the defense to make sure that we were up and running. I feel very secure with the way that group ended the season, with where they are as a staff, with how they interact. I thought (Browns defensive coordinator) Jim O'Neil did an outstanding job. Early in the year, I just through him in the deep end, and he came out of it swimming, did a great job for us. I see this now as an opportunity for me to become much more immersed in the other side of the ball where I feel I can lend my background, my defensive expertise, channel my former high school quarterback into it a little bit. It's something, personally like I said, I'm very excited. As for Kyle's (Shanahan) departure, I really don't have much to say on that. We met after the season. He outlined his issues to me, and I just felt it'd be better off if we parted ways. I accepted his resignation. I felt like it was the best course of action for the Browns, and as I said, our goal is to move forward and to improve. With the hiring here of John DeFilippo, I feel extremely confident that we can do that.”

John DeFilippo

Opening statement:

“First off, I'd like to thank everyone for being here. I look forward to working with everybody and forming a personal relationship. I'm just thrilled to be here. I couldn't thank the Haslam family enough, (Browns General Manager) Ray Farmer, Coach Pettine for entrusting me in this position. I'm thrilled to be here. It's great to be back in Northeast Ohio.”

On what he thinks he's inheriting in terms of the quarterback situation:

DeFilippo: “We're not sure if our starting quarterback is in the building right now or not. If he is that's great. If he's not that's great too. Whoever's in that room is going to be coached hard, be held accountable and be expected to do the things that we expect out of the Cleveland Browns quarterbacks.”

On his reputation of developing young quarterbacks and how he makes that connection to a young quarterback:

DeFilippo: “I think the first thing you need to do is get a personal connection and see how they learn. I spend a lot of time on developing how guys learn. Some guys are visual guys. Some guys need to be coddled a little bit. Some guys need to be ripped. I think you find that connection on how a guy learns best, and you go with that route. I think I've done a fairly decent job of finding that out with the different quarterbacks I've coached.”

On what he needs to do to retain the zone blocking scheme from last season:

DeFilippo: “I've been in the zone blocking scheme. It's a fabulous scheme. My first year back in Oakland, Greg Knapp was our offensive coordinator. He came from Houston. It was the exact same scheme as the Browns ran last year. I'm very familiar with the zone blocking scheme. I've been involved in a lot of things. Last year in Oakland, we were mainly a gap scheme. I've been around a lot of different run games, been exposed to a lot. Both have their merits. Both have their drawbacks. We're going to have a mixture of both. I can promise you this – whatever the Cleveland Browns do well and what they did well last year we're going to continue to do.”

On if he has watched Browns QB Johnny Manziel's film yet, what he thinks of Manziel and what he thinks of him as possibly the quarterback of the future:

DeFilippo: “I'll be honest with you. I'm going to be flat out honest with you because it's the only way I know how to be. I have not. I've not watched the games from last year with Johnny. Obviously, I studied Johnny coming out of college and spent some time with Johnny. I wouldn't say it was a lot of time, but spent some time with Johnny. He flew out to Oakland and spent a day with him. Can you get an overview on a guy in one day? No, but you can get a grasp of what he thinks and how he's feeling and those things. I got along with Johnny when we met with him, but I can't tell you that I've watched the games yet. No, I have not.”

On if he has any gut feeling that Manziel is somebody that he could work with as the starting quarterback:

DeFilippo: “I know this – whoever's in our quarterback room is going to have a clean slate. I'm really looking forward to working with Johnny and getting him better and improving on things he needs to improve on.”

On it being great either way if the starting quarterback is here or not here yet, if that's scary and if there is any trepidation entering that situation:

DeFilippo: “No, I've been in this situation before. At this point last year, (Raiders QB) Derek Carr wasn't in the Oakland Raiders' building. Derek had a very good rookie year. Obviously, we would like better. Our standard is very high. It's going to continue to be high. I've been in this situation several times where we've either drafted a quarterback or signed a guy in free agency. The last two years in Oakland we signed (Packers QB) Matt Flynn and we signed (Raiders QB) Matt Schaub. I've been in this situation before. No, that doesn't scare me one bit.”

On whether or not Shanahan's desire to leave the Browns was related to not believing in Manziel:

Pettine: “When Kyle talked to me, and I'm not going to get in…It was a very private conversation. I'm not going to get into details, but it was not much about that. I think a lot of people are just putting that out there as a possible reason where he looked at it and said, ‘Hey, the QB situation's not great. This is one of the reasons why I want to get out of here.' I won't get into details, but in his reasoning to me that was not a part of it.”

On text messages being sent to the sidelines:

Pettine: “Obviously, I'm aware of it, but I do know that's an ongoing league investigation. At this time, I'd prefer not to talk about it.”

On if he was aware of the text messages:

Pettine: “Yeah, the investigators came in here. I spoke with them. Like I said, when that's resolved I'll be in a better situation to speak on it.”

On how much he weighed a candidate who had experience as an NFL coordinator compared an up-and-comer:

Pettine: “It's something that's part of it, but I also look back and I think that's the easy route to go, the safer route to go of, ‘Hey, this guy's more of a brand name.' I'm sure a lot of people about midday yesterday were like, ‘Who the heck is John DeFilippo?' Just like a lot of people were in New York when I went with (Bills Head Coach) Rex (Ryan) and was named the defensive coordinator, like a lot of people were here last year when Jim O'Neil was named the defensive coordinator. I think you have to weigh it, but when you look at if you know a guy's ready and has that skill set and that the only thing that's missing is that opportunity to do it I think that's a route you can go. I know John's ready. Having been around him in 2009, had an outstanding interview here last year, was very much in the mix, but that's something that you weigh into. I know on the outside there's kind of that pressure to make more of a brand name hire. As I said a year ago, I'm not interested in winning offseason press conferences. I'm interested in winning games in the fall. It was very clear to me after the extensive research that I did and the number of interviews that we did that John here is the answer for us.”

On if there have to be two separate playbooks implemented depending on who the starting quarterback will be next season:

DeFilippo: No we're going to be very flexible on offense. I was in a very similar situation two years ago where we had (Raiders QB) Matt McGloin and (Chiefs QB) Terrelle Pryor. You have certain plays that both guys can run. You have certain plays that Terrelle could run. You have certain plays Matt could run. Obviously, you dictate on that who the starting quarterback's going to be, obviously where you overload certain plays. No, you can't get into that because it's unfair to the other 10 guys on offense, I think. We're going to have a plan. We're going to be very flexible with our plan. Obviously, our plan's going to revolve around who our starting quarterback is and what his skill set is.”

On how difficult it is that there have been a parade of Browns offensive coordinators through recent years or if the lack of consistency and stability is overblown because the offense will change again:

DeFilippo: “It'll be different. Change is tough, and it's about how you embrace it. We're going to make this change as clean as we can for these players. Like I said earlier on, as much crossover as they've done last year, we're going to incorporate those things. Will there be some new concepts? Absolutely. Will there be a new way of delivering it? Absolutely. No two guys are the same when they deliver an offense, when they present in front of the team. You can't be the same to somebody else. There's going to be change. Everything I've done, and I've done my research too on this team. The players on this offense are a resilient group. They're open to change, and we're going to make it as smooth as we can for them.”

On what it will be like to call his first plays as an NFL coordinator:

DeFilippo: “It'll be great. I'm looking forward to it.”

Pettine: “Hopefully very successful (laughs).”

DeFilippo: “It's something I've done in college. I can tell you this – I'm just the type of guy that it doesn't matter what job I have. I don't look at calling plays at San Jose State any more than I will at the Cleveland Browns or vice versa. If I ever went back there I wouldn't think it was any less big of a deal or not. I know this – you're going to get a hard day's work out of me. I'm thrilled to be able to be here, and I'm going to be just fine calling plays. That's not going to be a problem.”

On what the Browns offense did well last season:

DeFilippo: “I'll be honest with you. I haven't gone back and watched all the tapes yet, but I saw this offense play our defense this year when I was in Oakland. I thought they obviously ran the football very well. I think there's a good, young stable of backs here. The thing I mentioned yesterday to our people was the combination of athleticism and strength on the offensive line. For guys that don't weigh 350 pounds, they change the line of scrimmage. The backs run downhill. Those are the things that stand out to you on tape. They did a great job in some of the play action stuff last year, being able to get some of their receivers open behind guys. Those are the things we're going to continue to explore. I'm going to continue to look at and see where it meshes and fits with where Coach Pettine and I see this offense going.”

On what his offense is:

DeFilippo: “We're going to put our playmakers in a lot of different spots. I'm a big believer in that. We were very fortunate in Oakland to have a guy, (Raiders FB) Marcel Reece, we put in a bunch of different spots. There are some good, young tight ends here, some good, young backs that we're looking to get matchups. Are they going to line up in the backfield all the time? No. We're going to try to exploit those matchups as much as we can, whether that be from shifting and motioning out of the backfield, whether that be to try to outflank people with motion, whether that be to just run somebody out and snap the ball on first sound and try to out-leverage the defense. We're going to have a combination of those things and find out what our playmakers do well, and do those things over and over and over again so they can get great at them. No matter what the coverage is, they're going to know how to run the route or block a play.”

On if he thought about trying to get compensation for Shanahan before letting him go:

Pettine: “I know there was a discussion, but that was more…You start to get into that legal stuff, that's when I walk out of the room, those conversations. It was something that we didn't want it to drag out. Again, I don't want to spend a lot of time on this, but it's very hard to win in the NFL when everybody's into it and they truly want to be there. Again, if you have somebody that just doesn't want to be there…I know it's easy to say, ‘Hey, he's under contract. Hold him to it.' There's a dark cloud over your coaching offices, and I've been a part of that. Like I said, it's hard to win, and you've got to have everybody into it, passionate about the Cleveland Browns and pulling the rope in the same direction.”

On if he was aware of Shanahan's feelings before they became public:

Pettine: “Yes, I spoke to Kyle. I got out of town for a little bit, spoke to him briefly before I left. Then, he – during that time I was away – had gotten ahold of me that he wanted to get together. I knew there were some issues that we were going to meet on. Then, the result of it was us agreeing to part ways after I got back.”

On how much he balances the trust factor when he is hiring somebody he previously knew after hiring Shanahan a year ago and saying that it was important to not just hire coaches he knew and expand his circle:

Pettine: “I've been through this situation before where I was asked…say, ‘Hey, you've got to be careful hiring friends.' All of us in coaching, we have a lot of friends in coaching. It is a fine line because I guarantee I've got 50, 60 guys that I know that would love to be here that I just don't think would be a good fit. The plus part of it though is when you've worked with somebody and you've seen firsthand how much they love football, how well they relate to other people, how hard they work and the results that they get. You've witnessed it firsthand. To me, that's the best kind of recommendation that there can be, as opposed to calling somebody, ‘Hey, what do you think of so-and-so?' Most of the time, you're not going to get the…Are you going to get the 100 percent truth, as opposed to you've witnessed it yourself? There's certainly a comfort level with the guys. I know I was close with Jim O' Neil, and the same thing was brought up. I'm obviously getting the question now here with Flip. Again, I think it's important that you have that sense of that chemistry, that cohesion, and when you know you already have it because you've been around somebody that can't help but be a plus.”

On the status of the openings at quarterbacks coach and wide receivers coach and if there will be any other changes to the coaching staff:

Pettine: “There are no other planned changes. Those two positions are open. We've developed a list together, actually spoke to some candidates down in Mobile. We'll continue to do so through early next week. I'd like to have the staff completed probably by midweek next week.”

On what his history is like with the Browns as a Youngstown native:

DeFilippo: "That's a great question. I grew up in a coaching family like Coach Pettine said. I got done counting...I was trying to count with (Vice President of Communications) Peter (John-Baptiste) upstairs, but I ran out of fingers. I think this is my 16th or 17th move in 36 years. I was born here obviously. My dad was the offensive coordinator at Youngstown State. I moved from here at a young age, but the thing I didn't lose from Youngstown was my blue collar work ethic. That's something I was born with because I was born in Northeast Ohio, and that's something I've continued to carry my whole life."

On if there is any concern with Manziel traveling to Miami, Houston and then Denver in the offseason:

Pettine: "I'm not going to get into the specifics of that. Each player had a plan. I know he's been back here a decent amount as well. All of the guys who were injured at the end of the year were required, had training room appointments. That was all scheduled through (head athletic trainer) Joe (Sheehan). I do know that he has been back for those, and as we start to get to free agency, we already had round one of our roster evaluation which was right at the end of the season. More importantly on the offensive side, once we get the staff together and we get a chance to go through all the tape extensively, we'll have a much better plan because you have to marry that with looking at free agency and looking at the draft. Sometimes if you want to make a move at a position and there's not an answer in free agency and there's not an answer in the draft, you're less likely to do it as opposed to if you feel good about an upgrade because there's an abundance of a certain type of player in free agency or in the draft. That would affect your decision, so those are all the things...the schedule is tough because (General Manager) Ray (Farmer) and his staff are on the road. They're down in Mobile, (Alabama). They were at the East-West (Shrine) Game the week before, but when we get back here and get together, those are all items that will be on the table for discussion."

On the perception that a lot of guys don't want to coach here and if anyone else was offered the job and turned it down:

Pettine: "That's the perception. I thought those guys were all very interested. When it came down to it, I offered the job to one person, and it was accepted."

On what it's like coming in to interview after interviewing for the same job last year:

DeFilippo: "It was just as cold as it was last year (laughter). No, I'm an east coast kid, so I'm used to this."

On his thought process coming in again after not getting it last year:

DeFilippo: "You know what, I think I'm a pretty low-ego guy, and whatever job I have I'm going to work my butt off at it. That didn't really cross my mind one time. It really didn't. I've interviewed for two Division 1 head coaching jobs in college. I didn't get them. One was my alma mater and I don't hold anything against them. You just do the best you can. You're going to get some jobs. You're not going to get some jobs. I'm just thrilled the second time around it worked out."

On if he thinks it would be good to have an elder statesman as a quarterbacks coach or wide receivers coach, someone who's called plays and been to the playoffs:

DeFilippo: "Sure. I've been fortunate enough to go to the playoffs three times myself, but yeah, Coach (Pettine) and I have talked about that. That's a road we may go down at some point."

On how he'll smooth the transition for the offense:

DeFilippo: "Sure, and like I said, I just need to get to know some of these players on offense. Like I said, keeping things the same, some of the concepts the same, maybe some of the formations the same, but there's going to be some new stuff. That's what happens when there's change. There are going to be some new concepts."

On his belief in the run vs. the pass and his thoughts on having to run the football in this division:

DeFilippo: "Absolutely. You have to run the football in this division, and I'm a big believer in running the football. You don't ever want to put a number on it like, 'Hey, we're going to be 50/50.' I'm a big believer in our offense is going to do whatever it has to do to win the football game and put our team in the best situation to win."

On which Browns players would be really exciting to coach:

DeFilippo: "Well, Josh Gordon is as talented of a guy that you get in terms of when you watch him run routes, from a physical stature. Obviously he's a fantastic athlete. (OL) Joe Thomas is a fantastic athlete. (OL) Alex Mack is an unbelievable center, so those are the guys when you look at the Browns' roster, you're like, 'Wow, those guys are Pro Bowl-type players.'"

On if he has thoughts on whether or not he'd like to keep QB Brian Hoyer around and what he thinks of Hoyer's ability:

DeFilippo: "I haven't watched a ton on Brian to be honest with you. Brian and I are going to meet up at some point this week and have a conversation and just get to know each other. I'm really looking forward to that."

On reports about friction between the coaching staff and the personnel staff and if anything needs to be smoothed over:

Pettine: "I know the word 'friction' was used, and I think Ray (Farmer) used it. I'd prefer to term that a little more of a 'healthy debate' than anything else. I think that's very overblown. I think a lot of it is natural. You have coaching and personnel that both have their ideas on players. A lot of times personnel is looking to build more to the future, whereas especially in year one, the coaching staff - I'm worried about Sunday. I'm not worried about Sunday two or three years from now. I think that's just inherent with it. I would never at any point term my relationship with Ray as anything other than a great working relationship. I think if we agreed on everything, that would be an issue. That's just not going to happen. There are times where he'll voice his opinion on a player and I'll voice mine or voice the coaching staffs, and sometimes it will go the way of the coaching staffs and sometimes the personnel department wins out. To me, it's all for the same cause, for the same purpose. We want the Cleveland Browns to win. That's the bottom line. Ray is very passionate about this team and wants to build the best roster that he can possibly build, and sometimes those things happen. I feel great about where we are. I said this at the end of the year press conference as well. It just seems to be that time of the year when people want to look at us and talk about how dysfunctional we are. Let that talk go because it's on the outside. I know on the inside what we're building, and I feel even better now. I feel rejuvenated now. I feel that we're headed down the right path."

On what the story is behind his Twitter handle, @24BingoCross:

DeFilippo: "24 bingo cross? That's a play. Twenty-four protection is a Mike protection. The line has got the four down to the Mike. The near back has the Sam. The far back has the Will. Bingo cross is a play concept with a post, a basic and a comeback on the backside with the backs crossing."

Pettine: "You mean your former Twitter handle? (laughter)."

DeFilippo: "Yes (laughing), and there's a long story behind that Twitter handle."

On what the story is:

DeFilippo: "Well, one of my players exposed me on Twitter in Oakland. They got a bunch of the Raiders people to follow me, so that player is going to stay unnamed."

On if any of his plays are more than 18 words of 140 characters:

DeFilippo: "No (laughing). No, absolutely not. Maybe one or two, but no."

On if you can really get to know someone coaching on the opposite side of the ball:

DeFilippo: "Absolutely, and I think whenever you're on a staff and it's a staff of a lot of people...I'm sure in this room some of you people get along with other people more than others. Mike and I gravitated towards each other from the start. We come from very similar backgrounds. We come from coaching dads. We both work hard and grind, so we have a lot of the same character, moral values, those type of things. I think when you're that like-minded you just tend to gravitate towards that person."

On why he was only with the Jets for one year:

DeFilippo: "That's a great question. The Jets made some  changes. They decided that they weren't going to retain any of the assistant position coaches. It's a decision they made. I had signed a one-year contract, so I got a chance to go out and work with (former San Jose State Head Coach) Mike MacIntyre who I have a ton of respect for. He's now the head coach of Colorado. I learned a ton of football for him. I was very fortunate he allowed me to become a coordinator for the first time at the Division 1 level."

On how his work with former Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor might help him when it comes to working with Manziel:

DeFilippo: "Yeah, absolutely. I think it exposed me to some of the zone-read quarterback run game. Absolutely. I hadn't been exposed to that very much before, and when you have a guy of that skillset, you want to expose those skills that he has. We were forced to study other teams. Like I said, that's going back to doing the things we're going to do to make this football team win. If we don't have an answer, we're going to find the answer. We didn't have all the answers in Oakland when we decided to start Terrelle, but I pulled some of the things out I did from college and we researched some other teams, the concepts they use with running quarterbacks and we went that direction. I think, like you said, you can't just have a playbook and say, 'Hey, here's the playbook.' That's not the case. You've got to expose your best players' skillsets."

On if he'd consult with former Texas A&M Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury or someone like that:

DeFilippo: "I respect the job Kliff does. I don't know Kliff very well at all, but we're going to research night and day to do what's best for the Cleveland Browns offense. I can promise you that."

On how he can prepare when he doesn't know who the starting quarterback will be:

DeFilippo: "Well, because you have a base plan. You're always going to have your core. You don't have an offense unless you have a core. You're going to have your five or six core runs. You're going to have your 12 or 15 core passes and build off that. Your formations obviously stay the same, but if you're going to be a great offense in this league, you've got to have some core values to it."

On if it's true that Shanahan asked Owner Jimmy Haslam for his release first:

Pettine: "No, he came to me first, and then I suggested, I arranged a meeting between Jimmy and Kyle."

On if he had a problem with the way Shanahan went about leaving:

Pettine: "No, I have no issues. He was very upfront, very honest with me."

On a report that Shanahan made calls soliciting jobs while Pettine was on vacation:

Pettine: "I hate when questions start with 'there's a report.' I heard that, but again, he talked to me before he left and said, 'Hey, there are some things I want to discuss. I don't want to hit you with it now.' We were both going to kind of take that week to decompress from the season, and then we met when he got back."

On if he has any thoughts about deflated footballs and, given the team involved, if he's at all surprised:

Pettine: "Yeah, I could go on about this one for a while, but I won't. I do have my personal opinion on it, but I think, as a lot of people have said these past couple of weeks of the playoffs, is you've got to know the rules."

On if it's an advantage:

Pettine: "I wouldn't know. That's more of a quarterback thing. You talk to the guys who are involved and they would me, I know how subtle the difference is. If you asked me to grab a football and tell you whether it was legal or not, I doubt I could. I know the league is investigating. I know they're putting a lot of man-power into it, and we'll see what comes out of it."

On if DeFilippo thinks it's an advantage:

DeFilippo: "I think it depends on the quarterback. It's the quarterback's preference. I'd never really even heard of it before this came out to be quite honest with you."

On the perception outside the building of having six different offensive coordinators in six years and if that makes Cleveland a tough sell to potential free agents:

Pettine: "We talked to the free agents last year, and they were coming into a situation where you looked at Cleveland...a lot of the guys we targeted, we got them to come here. I think a big part of it is we have to sell ourselves. If they like the contract being offered and they like what they're hearing from us, then we'll get them here. I don't see that as an issue. We're very young, so I know we talk about...whether it's five coordinators in five years, how many of our guys on offense have been here the last five years? The silver-lining to me is they've shown the ability to learn and adapt, which is a big part of football. I don't get wrapped up in that, but outside of Joe Thomas and maybe Alex (Mack) had been here for a few, there's just not that many. It's easy to just put that out there, the lack of continuity, but for a lot of these guys, they were first-year as part of our offense, first or second year just this past year. We're going to put a plan together for them. They're going to come in here and see how passionate we are about this offense, the energy that's going to be up in front of the room, and it's going to be one of those situations where they can't help but be excited once they see the direction we're headed."

On having an offensive coordinator interview scheduled for former Raiders senior offensive assistant Al Saunders that didn't happen and if Saunders is someone who might be on their radar for a different position on the coaching staff:

Pettine: "We're going to evaluate it. We have a list of names of guys to potentially come in, so all those options are on the table for whether we have a senior assistant or whether we do it through the quarterback coach or through the receivers coach. There are a couple of different ways to do it, but with Al the circumstances didn't materialize for us to interview him as a coordinator."

On saying he's going to dive into the other side of the ball and if he means being involved in creating the core of the offense or week-to-week game planning:

Pettine: "A little bit of both. I'm just really flipping sides as far as spending time. When you're a head coach, you're a head coach of the entire team. You can't really have to excuse of, 'That's not my area of expertise.' I've been a defensive guy, and I do think there's not enough communication between offense and defense as far as what's out there and what works and, 'Hey, this is the pass protection that they're running. I'm going to go across to the offensive guys and ask them, 'Hey, what are the tough pressures or tough looks against that?'' I think that I need to be more of a bridge between the offense and our defensive staff and get that information flowing. We did some of it last year, but I think switching sides for me will really accelerate that and increase the amount of information that's crossing sides."
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