Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski was the first person to meet with the media Friday morning. Each person speaking at the podium would only have 10-15 minutes of time to work with before it was the next person's turn, so questions and answers need to be structured in a clear, concise manner.
Still, heading into the conference, I wondered what the No. 1 focus of the media would be when talking to Chudzinski. Would it involve the front office changes, such as CEO Joe Banner and Director of Player Personnel Michael Lombardi? What about the defensive scheme change that will take place under new defensive coordinator Ray Horton? It was neither of those things. Instead, the focal point was a topic that Cleveland fans are all-too-familiar with: who will be the team's starting quarterback in 2013?
It makes no difference that the question if premature, and that it is completely fair for a new head coach to take his time in considering all possibilities before committing to a guy as his starter. As much as I'd like the Browns to stick with Brandon Weeden again, it's not like we're talking about a guy who cemented his legacy as a starting quarterback during his rookie year.
With that said, here is Chudzinski's presser form the Combine, organized by topic:
Evaluating Brandon Weeden & Colt McCoy
(On if he has had a chance to look at Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy)- "I’ve been looking at that quite a bit in conjunction with some of the other things we’ve been working on. I’m excited about those guys. They have interesting skill sets, they’ve made improvements, they’ve been able to win games and I’m excited.
Ultimately, watching guys on tape, it’s hard to really make a total assessment on them. You want to get them out on the practice field, get them in meetings, see how the things you’re asking them to do translate to their responses and what they do in situations that you put them in. Ultimately the evaluation process is only a partial part of looking at the tape."
Has Not Had Time to Look at QB Prospects Yet
(On if he has had a chance to look at any of the quarterback prospects in the draft)- "I really haven’t. I’ve been playing catch up on a lot of the college study and the college tape. This will give me an opportunity to do that this week and this weekend as well as getting in the interviews and being around some of those guys. Getting the first look at them and seeing them in the drills, but that will obviously be something with all positions that we’ll be looking at and getting a chance to evaluate and I’ll be able to get a chance to catch up on a little more."
(On how much time he has had to look at the quarterback class coming into this draft and if this is a weak or strong class)- "I haven’t had enough time to really assess that right not. Again, I’m playing catch up from putting all the things together from the other standpoints. One thing that I’ve learned as a head coach is that you never know what’s going to come across your desk during the course of the day. You go into it thinking you have a certain agenda, but you better be flexible because there’s going to be 10 things that come across your desk that are surprises to you."
Change in Offensive Philosophy & Working With Norv Turner
(On how different his offense will be compared to the offense Weeden was in last year)-"I didn’t really study the offense, necessarily, that Brandon was in last year. The things that I’ve done in the past, that Norv has done in the past and by the way, I’m really excited about Norv being part of this staff. I think that’s a huge addition and not only for me from a professional standpoint, Norv’s had a real impact on me personally as well and is somebody that just I trust to the nth degree, but we’ll put all that together.
It’s been an interesting and fun process sitting down together on a lot of those things and talking through where we see different things and putting the offense together. A lot of that, like I mentioned before, ultimately will come once we see who we have and work those guys in to put them in positions to be successful."
(On the things he and Norv Turner have done in the past with regard to how they want the offense to look)- "I think you see a pretty wide range of things if you’re looking at what Norv’s done in his past going back and even from what I’ve done whether it was Carolina or whether it was Cleveland back prior or even at the University of Miami.
It’s been fun sitting down and going through with Norv talking about, ‘Hey, this is some of the things we can do.’ Discussing some things back and forth from a philosophy standpoint and putting it together. Ultimately, we want to have an attacking style of offense. We want to put the pressure on the defense and you can do that a lot of different ways. You can do it by what you’re doing scheme-wise, you can do it by the tempo you do that in. There’s a lot of different ways to attack, but that’s what we want.
We want guys to have that type of mentality to go out to play to win and getting after people in that way. Obviously, you have to have to have balance in this league between running the ball and throwing the ball and we want to have a tough group, a group that won’t be outworked and love being Cleveland Browns."
(On how hard it will be to totally give up play calling and if he will he completely give it up)- "I had planned on calling plays unless I could find somebody I trusted and had all the faith in the world in and that guy is Norv Turner. Having the opportunity to have Norv there and the success he’s had and you’re talking about one of the best play callers ever in football.
I’m not that much of an ego guy that had to be in control or feel like I have to control plays. I’ll be involved in the offense. Certainly there will be times where I’ll make suggestions and talk those things through. If you do a good job in the game planning part of it the calls on gameday are a lot easier and you know what’s going on anyhow."
Evaluating TE Jordan Cameron & Chud's History as a Tight End
(On Jordan Cameron and how he sees him in his offense)- "I like Jordan. Looking at him, I think he has a good skill set, he’s a guy that - obviously he’s young and hadn’t played a lot - that we’ll again, getting out in the course of meetings and getting out on the practice field, we’ll be able to make better determinations on him. I look forward to getting him out there and working with him and our staff working with him. Jon Embree is our tight end coach and he has a lot of experience working with some great players as well as playing tight end himself. I’m excited about Jordan."
(On him being a good tight end as a player and how much work the staff is putting into the tight end position)- "First of all, I appreciate you saying I was a pretty good tight end. The tight end position has evolved in the last 10 years or so, maybe even longer than that and it’s become a critical part of a lot of offenses.
I’ve been real fortunate to be around some tight ends that are special guys and certainly, when you have that type of guy who’s versatile, you can split him out, you can do different things with him for your offense. He can block, he can catch, you can use him on third downs and you can use him on first and second downs. It’s a real weapon.
We’ve been looking and obviously evaluating free agency and the draft and putting our plan together in terms of that. One of the things I believe in as a coach is that you’re going to always try to adjust to your personnel so whether you have the tight ends, whether you don’t have the tight ends or receivers or a fullback, there’s still a real place for fullbacks and great fullbacks in the league. You see that on teams and you see the multiple wide receiver sets.
If your offense is flexible enough to adjust to your personnel and that’s ultimately what my philosophy is, is which do you would want to do then any of those guys you can go any different direction."
Working With Joe Banner & Michael Lombardi
(On what it has been like working with Michael Lombardi)- "It’s been great. So far the whole staff and the structure that’s been put in place - Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi - have been absolutely fantastic. It’s been a real treat. We have a real dynamic group together. Michael’s extremely intelligent, bright, understands the game, great evaluator, understands the business side. Mike’s staff has, in a short amount of time, has really done a lot of things and we’ve been impressed.
One of the things, the process that you go through when you’re new coming in, obviously is sitting down with the coaches and that was one of the first steps of what we needed to do was define what we wanted as a Cleveland Brown. Define what we wanted in different positions and really separating out and outlining those player characteristics that we need for those different positions.
Getting together with Mike and his staff and then going through the process of translating that and transferring that from the coaches to the scouting staff has taken up a lot of time, but it’s a critical part of the process. They’ve obviously evaluated and looked at guys so far throughout the course of the season and now it’s just trying to find the right fits and categorize them in the right places that tie into what we need from an offensive, defensive and a special teams standpoint."
Draft Strategy: Best Player Available? Trading Up for 2nd Rounder?
(On if the team will draft the best player available or if they chose a player based on need)- "You’re always looking to address the needs that you have whether it’s in the draft or whether it’s in free agency, wherever it may be. But, you want to get the best players possible and sometimes you have to be careful about forcing something that’s not there so you find the best players. We have enough needs and enough openings that we need to find the best players and bring the best players to Cleveland and let them compete for starting jobs and to help us get better to win."
(On if they will find a way to get a second round pick back)- "We really haven’t gotten into a whole lot of those types of discussions yet so we’ll wait and see on all those."
(On how he views the secondary and how much help the secondary needs)- "Again, we’re continuing in the evaluation process so a lot of that will sort itself out when we get on the field. Again, we’re looking to improve in all areas and we’ll continuously look for those opportunities to do that."
How Much the NFL Combine Matters
(On how much the combine shapes their opinion of players)- "It’s a piece and it’s a part. It’s a snapshot of guys. You look at the whole process, you start with the college tape, you talk to people that are around these guys for the last four years or five years or however long it’s been with them, you look at what they do at the combine, you look at what they do in their individual workouts, you get time to spend with them.
One of the big parts and the parts that I enjoy the most is getting to know these guys and getting to look them eye to eye and talk to them and ask them questions and find out what they’re made of. There are a lot of talented guys in this league and the measurables are easy to see a lot of the times, but it’s the other factors that end up determining their success."
(On how he weighs a player’s medical history when deciding where to draft a player)-"Again, you have to look at the whole player, you’re looking at the whole package and those things are things that are one piece of it. Typically, nobody’s your perfect guy so you have to make those assessments of what areas are you willing to compromise a little bit on and what areas offset that with the players and then where you end up slotting them in terms of the draft and what round."
Message for Browns Fans & Wanting Players Who Want to be Here
(On what would be his one message for Browns fans)- "As a kid growing up and being a huge Browns fan growing up, this is a dream come true for me and I’m excited about the group of people that we’ve put together and that are there, the structure with Jimmy Haslam as our owner.
I’m excited about our future and I’m excited about this position and being the head coach and being a part of a management group for this organization to bring a winner to Cleveland. I’m excited and can’t wait. Every day I wake up, the alarm doesn’t have to go off for me to get up, I’m already up and excited about getting going on the day."
(On what kind of guys he’s looking for on the offense)- "From an overall standpoint, we’re looking for good people, good athletes and good players. Guys that are tough, guys that won’t be outworked by anybody and I want guys that want to be Cleveland Browns and want to be in Cleveland and want to be part of something special in Cleveland."
Before the press conference, Chudzinski had a breakfast meeting with the local Cleveland reporters who were in attendance. Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland posted a recap of what Chudzinski said during the breakfast. Per Grossi, Chudzinski stated that there would be one veteran minicamp before the draft, that tight ends need to be added to the roster, and the following nugget about the versatility of the Browns' defensive linemen:
Chudzinski believes that the style of 3-4 defense that coordinator Ray Horton will play will mesh with the current personnel and will not require a massive roster overhaul. He said he can see Jabaal Sheard playing end and outside linebacker in the defense and linemen Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin and Billy Winn capable of playing anywhere on the three-man front.
UPDATE (4:50 PM) - Credit to 92.3 The Fan, as it looks like they transcribed all of Chudzinski's morning breakfast with the local media. There is a lot of good stuff there, so be sure to check out the link.
We'll have more from the NFL Combine throughout the day, and be sure to follow our Cleveland Browns NFL Combine StoryStream here.