Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini met with the media again on Thursday for a press conference. Here are some of his statements, along with my thoughts:
(On how much Kamerion Wimbley can grow at outside linebacker) - "He has definitely done a lot of positive things at outside linebacker. He had a couple sacks against us his rookie season, and I think another one, one of the other times we played against the Browns in the past. What we are trying to do with Kamerion, like with all the defensive players, is the building of flexibility. Work him both on the right, on the left, work him at sub at different positions, so we can continue to build upon the base that he has and expand it. The more versatile he is, the more roles we can give him, the different matchups we can create. That is something that we worked hard on with Bryan Thomas who was another defensive end that made the transition and it's important."
(On if the defense can get Wimbley to be an impact player like he was in his rookie season) - "What I am looking for from Kamerion is not just impact in terms of rushing the passer, but impact as an outside linebacker in this system. Sacks sometimes come in bunches. Sometimes there's a bunch of them and sometimes you go on a little bit of a drought. The key thing isn't to focus on the volume, the numbers. The key thing is to focus on the process. That's what we are doing with Kamerion and with all of the guys, is to focus on the things that he can do better as a pass rusher. The things that he can do better in the running game. How to vary up his pass rush and it's an ongoing process. I stress, it's not just Kamerion with that.
We are always trying to give; here is your core move, what's your counter off of that move, what's your secondary move, what's your counter off of that move. The ability to move the player from right to left, get in the sub package, maybe have him as a walk around type of guy. All of those things can produce sacks. All of those things can take advantage of strengths. In order to take advantage of those strengths, you have to build in that flexibility and that is something that we are focusing on from a scheme perspective, and also individually identifying strengths and weaknesses, really working on the weaknesses and really trying to complement the strengths."
(On if Wimbley can be versatile and play multiple positions) - "That's what we are trying to find out. I think that he has worked hard at learning the different positions. With Bryan Thomas, he went from defensive end to outside linebacker, and then he was able to do a good job there. He carved out a role in sub where sometimes he was defensive end; sometimes he was a walk around guy. I think those are two guys from similar backgrounds. So my anticipation is, with hard work and building on the reps that you get and anything is possible, but you still have to see it."
Thoughts: It would be nice to see Wimbley back on track, and to be something other than just a pass-rushing linebacker. Mangini indicated that they will focus on things such as Wimbley's counter and second moves, something that has been a significant problem for him. The last regime failed miserably at getting through to him; hopefully the new one has better luck.
As far as seeing Wimbley at other positions, it's hard to say. I was for that last season, but now, I would like him to focus on his current position under the assumption that legitimate "coaching" will be taking place.
(On if Bowens' main spot will be at outside linebacker) - "That was his starting point in New York, but he did end up starting five games for us at inside linebacker and did a nice job. The more that these guys can play inside or outside, now you are just moving the parts around. If they are looking for Bowens outside and now he is moved to inside and the inside linebacker is moved to outside and you just keep moving the pieces and things don't make sense. Now, its post snap decisions, its tendency breakers, but that has to be built. You can't just throw it out there."
(On what criteria he uses to judge the quarterbacks) - "The big one for me is huddle presence and the ability to run the offense. Who can most effectively run the offense? Who can look at the defense, understand what the coverage is and go to the right place with the ball? Who can see a blitz look and put us into the right play? Who can do the "check with me's," where you have two plays called and understand that this is the better of the two selections? Those things are huge because there is always going to be a right answer. The ability for us offensively, to get to the right answer, in a short amount of time, under pressure, that's what's going to drive the decision."
(On if he can see that from last year's tapes) - "It's harder because you don't know what the player was told. You don't know what the thought process was going into the game. You don't know what they were facing defensively. If you're projecting, sometimes you are way off base. You think that he should have gone somewhere with the ball, but when you actually understand what was being taught or asked or anticipated, it's really not true."
Thoughts: Derek Anderson: "Can't I just go out there and rope the ball to the receiver?" I understand Mangini's point about not being able to scrutinize every detail of the tapes, but there were many "what the ..." moments for Mr. Anderson last season. Brady Quinn had some of those moments in the Buffalo game too, but Anderson was the one who had more opportunities.
(On if he will scrimmage any other teams) - "We are not going to do that this year, no."
(On if he is against scrimmages) - "No, I am not generally against it. I've done it, worked against some other teams over the course of my career. I think there is some real value to that. I don't think it's important either way."
(On if a scrimmage will take away from the learning process) - "Sometimes it's that. Sometimes it's the days that the other teams want to do it just don't really fit into your installation progression. It's got to fit right for both teams for us to do it."
Thoughts: Former head coach Butch Davis was the last Browns coach to have opposing teams come in during training camp. I was always a big advocate of these scrimmages, so it's disappointing that Mangini isn't instituting it. Hopefully the Family Fun Day training camp session still takes place at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
(On if Mack is in a tough situation because Hank Fraley was voted a team captain last season) - "There is always going to be competition every year for every spot. The veterans have been in positions where new guys are brought in. For rookies, this is a little bit new for them. I go back to Otis (Smith). It was every year someone was brought in to beat him out and every year he beat them out. Each guy has a chance to prove who should be the best player and the best player will play. That being said, with all of the competitions going on, I expect it to be a spirit of helping each other get better. That was the nice thing in New York with the quarterback competition; because those guys went out and worked hard every day then they were in the meeting rooms helping each other get better. That to me is what a teammate should do."
Thoughts: I think it's clear that Alex Mack will start at center, but you never know. Based on history, odds seem to indicate that a starting offensive lineman will go down in camp.
(On Donte' Stallworth falling behind on the field) - "There is a lot of information going in and this is a nice time to provide a base of information. Moving to training camp, the one that veteran players have over rookie players, and I keep trying to explain this to our rookies, is they have things that they can apply back to, or look back to. So, "40 Gut" is the same as what we called it last year, which was "Play X" or something they did with another team. That's how a lot of veterans learn; they apply concepts to concepts they already know. Those neurons are already in place. The rookies, they are building neurons, so it takes a little longer."
Thoughts: I really don't sympathize with Stallworth, but I can't really say how I would feel if he were back practicing with the team. As a receiver, he can still bring something to the table despite how much of a complete, 99% waste he was last season. I think we've acquired enough talent in the offseason to push him aside though.
(On if his past defensive experiences will help in making a quarterback decision) - "One of the problems defensively is not knowing who the starting quarterback is going to be. That is always a huge problem defensively. I hated when I didn't know who their starting quarterback for the other team was. It's a huge, huge headache. From my perspective, I think where I can add value to the quarterbacks and to the offense is explaining why. Why does this route hurt the defense? Why does this play hurt the defense? That is what I am constantly trying to do. When I sit in that room say ok, here's what we are doing fellas and this is why it's a problem. If you do it this way, this is the bind you are going to put them into. I think that hopefully adds something to the system."
(On if both quarterbacks could see playing time) - "I would anticipate having a starter and moving forward with that starter, but I don't rule out anything."
Thoughts: I don't see this being a two-quarterback system. It's still Brady Quinn's job to lose.
Look forward to a piece on Browns safety Abram Elam soon.