I meant to get this up yesterday, as I'm sure by now that many of you have already digested what Mike Holmgren and Eric Mangini stated in Monday's press conference that addressed the trading of Brady Quinn and Kamerion Wimbley. If you'd like to read the full transcript, you may do so here. Otherwise, continue on to see some select quotes and comments.
For simplicity, I am mostly going to provide the quotations made by Holmgren. We all know that what he has to say is typically far more interesting than Mangini's reserved manners. Naturally, then, I'll start off with something from Mangini:
(On why he is confident in Jake Delhomme) - "I’ve known Jake a long time. I was the DB coach in New England at the Super Bowl against Carolina. I felt pretty good going into the first half, one of the lowest scoring Super Bowls and I can tell you that last 30 minutes were part of the worst coaching experience I’ve had. The way he lit us up. Then we come back the next year and it’s kind of the same. Over time, he’s been a proven winner. He’s been a consistent winner.
His completion percentage over the years, that’s been consistent as well. I don’t think it’s uncommon for a guy to have a bad year, but when you look at his body of work last year, I know the touchdown to interception ratio, I know what that was and I get that, but there were a lot of good throws on that tape too. There were a lot of winning throws on that tape as well. Guys do go through bad years, but over time, I think as Mike said, he’s been consistent in terms of his level of production and his ability to win games."
Comments: This is what I tried to stress in my article that tried to highlight the positives of signing Delhomme. The Panthers were consistently able to do well under him for the most part. You can attribute that to other areas of the team, but you can't deny that Delhomme played his part. Trying to say that there were a lot of good throws on last year's tape is quite a stretch for optimism though.
(On naming a starter before training camp)- “I would hope or not too long into that we have decided that this is the way we want to go. I know this, Seneca Wallace, who I had in Seattle, will come in and will compete like crazy. You guys will like what you see. He’s a fine player. He can really pass the ball. There are a lot of things you are going to like about Jake as well. He is 35 years old. We understand that, but physically he is really fine. It does kind of beg the question about the future and long term and all of those things. There aren’t many (Brett) Favre’s around that can play until, what is Favre? 45? I don’t know. Because of the moves we made right now, it doesn’t preclude us from continuing to do stuff. I will tell you that too. We have this draft coming up, you know. So we will see.”
(On judging Quinn on 12 starts)- “It was difficult and I’m not sure it’s really fair, to be honest. I’ve said and I meant it when I told you that, 12 games aren’t enough to get a real good feel and certainly Eric has a better feel than I do, having coached him and been around him. That’s the unfortunate part of this. He was here three years and only played in X amount of games and that really isn’t enough. You should have a pretty good idea as a coaching staff, kind of where this is headed, I would think, but it’s not enough. Sometimes you have to make decisions that you think it’s the way to go and we’ll see.”
Comments: The interesting thing for me would be how soon the trigger would be pulled on benching one of these quarterbacks if (or when) they struggle to start the season. The impression that Holmgren gives is that "the guy" will be "the guy," but this isn't the typical situation where I think either one of these quarterbacks will make our team this year (as opposed to breaking it).
(On why the quarterback position is better after trading for a career backup and an aging veteran)- “That doesn’t sound that great (joking). One, the ‘career backup’ played for me so I know him better than any quarterback that has been mentioned in this room. I think he is a potential starter. Yes, he has been a backup, but he has been a backup to a Pro Bowl player. Mark Brunell was a backup for me to Brett Favre and he went to the Pro Bowl. You get into a situation and you are a career backup, but that’s a phrase and I’m not sure exactly what that means sometimes. As far as the ‘aging veteran,’ my own belief is this team needs an aging veteran. They need a guy who’s going to grab everybody by the throat and say follow me through that door. That’s what we need. I don’t look at him as an aging veteran. I look at him as the leader that I wanted in the locker room if in fact he is the starter. We are using a different lens to look at those two guys, I guess, is the best way to put that.”
(On if he ever remember another team having to deal with an older quarterback joining a new team who had a good career then a bad year)- “Personally, I’ve never had to deal with anything quite that specific with his age and so on. I think this, when I was able to sit down and we talked extensively about his year. Quite honestly I said, ‘Hey. I’ve watched you play and played against you a long time. What the heck happened?’ He was very candid, very open. I suspect he will be with you, when you ask him those questions. Once we had that discussion, I really felt like this will work. If there are physical reasons why, now you probably don’t do it. You can’t overcome those. The reasons why this happened, I think we have a fine coach, a fine staff and I have every confidence they are going to make that work and I really have a lot of confidence in this guy. Again, let me just say this, how long is Jake going to play? I forget how many years we signed him to. How many years? Who knows? Two? Thanks. So we have two and you can kind of paint the picture yourself what we are going to try to do, but as for right now, this next season, I think we have a great combination.”
(On if the quarterback position was stuck here last year)- “I did not. When I watched film of last season, which is what I had to go on. It looked like they were struggling a little. I’ve told you this and I will say it again, when your quarterbacks play kind of the way they played, forget about the reasons why, you can come up with a million reasons why, but when they play the way they played it’s pretty hard to win games in this league. I just felt I wasn’t going to be doing my job if I didn’t attack that situation. It wasn’t just me, I want you to know that. You can ask me all the questions you want and I said this in our first day, Eric, Tom Heckert, there’s a group of five guys that get in there and we bang around pretty good on all these decisions. He’s the coach and I made him a promise when I first got here. I am not going to give him a player he doesn’t want. I’m not going to do that. We have to talk about this stuff. The quarterback thing was very important and that’s kind of how it happened.”
Comments: Looking forward to recapping Delhomme's presser, which I think might be happening today at noon. Also, Holmgren was a little too kind when he said that Quinn and Anderson looked like they were struggling a little last season.
(On Peyton Hillis)- “I like Hillis as a tailback. Hillis had 126 yards against us in New York. He had a string of three or four weeks there, before he got hurt late in the season, this was in I think ’08. He had been very productive as a tailback and that’s what he played in college and he got behind two really good draft picks and kind of got lost in the shuffle there. He’s a physical guy. He’s tough with the football in his hands. You could use him as the tailback and (Lawrence) Vickers as the fullback and you get a lot bigger.
You could use him as a fullback with Jerome (Harrison) and both of those guys are really effective catching the ball and even running with the ball, you can give the fullback the ball, not that we gave Lawrence a few bones this year. You can mix him in a lot of different places. He’s returned some kicks. He’s played on special teams. He’s done a lot of good things in a young career. In terms of where we will use him, I’m not sure, but it adds versatility when you try to decide on the 45-man roster to have a fullback that can play tailback and can also do something on (special) teams.”
Comments: Hillis is the type of all-purpose player that really could define the Cleveland Browns (halfback, fullback, special teams, receiver). We'll probably even mix a halfback toss in at some point for him ;)
(On Delhomme being a mentor)- “We talked specifically about that. He is going to have his hands full learning a new offense. Being the player I want him to be and Eric wants him to be. This is not a stop gap. As a quarterback, we want him to win games for us. Not manage the game and all that stuff, but win games for us as the quarterback. That’s his job. When I told him was this, because he has this natural instinct I think. He is a very friendly guy, he is easy to like, with his teammates as well. I said, ‘I want the younger players to just watch you. You don’t have to be anybody but what you are. You don’t have to go overboard to be their teacher. We have coaches, we have good coaches. They are going to coach the team, you play, and they will watch how you do things. That is your mentoring.’ If it goes any farther than that it’s fine, but that’s what I asked him to do.”
Comments: Delhomme's not here to be a Ken Dorsey, and we're not paying him to be a Ken Dorsey. Although he did have Steve Smith to work with in Carolina, he also worked with a lot of young (albeit unsuccessful) receivers, and that should be beneficial in terms of experience in coordinating with them.
(On Watson)- “I was there Ben’s rookie year and the year after. Ben has the ability to threaten in the middle of the field. He can really run. He puts pressure on the safeties, which is something you are always looking for from the tight end position. He is good on over routes, the deep overs or seven cuts, things like that. In playing against him in New York, multiple times, he creates issues. You guys probably saw that Buffalo game early in the year last year where he caught the two touchdowns there pretty close to back-to-back.
He’s made some big catches in some big games. I really like the guy. I like all the aspects of him as a worker, as a person. I think his best football is ahead of him. Remember New England had quite a few guys they could throw to. You trying to cover (Randy) Moss and (Wes) Welker and Watson kills you. You try to deal with Watson and one of the other two guys kills you. I am looking for him to kill somebody else now.”
Comments: We're back in the category of "respectability" at the tight end position, and perhaps one could say that we're only behind the Steelers in terms of the TE position in the AFC North. However, mentioning about the Patriots having Moss and Welker to benefit Watson doesn't compare to our situation, where we have the dynamic duo of Massaquoi and Robiskie.
(On if he has thought or dreamt about Cribbs and Wallace on the field at the same time)- “I haven’t dreamt about it, but I have thought about it and I think that’d be good. Both guys can throw the ball. Both guys can run with the ball. We may want to run the option. You can do a lot of things with guys like that. It creates problems defensively. Seneca’s primary position is going to be quarterback. That’s where we want him to play, but he’s a competitor and like Josh, he wants to do whatever he can to play football. His primary goal is to get on the field in whatever capacity. You do have to make those decisions if he is the two, how many of those plays are you willing to live with and roll the dice on.”
Comments: Ultimately, the same thing that held Seneca Wallace back from playing regularly at receiver in Seattle will probably hold him back in Cleveland: he's the backup quarterback. If he's the third-stringer, maybe you have the flexibility of inserting him into a few packages at receiver. At No. 2, his focus will be on holding the clipboard and perhaps counseling Delhomme on his experience of the West Coast offense.