Cleveland Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme met with the Cleveland media for the first time since signing with the team recently. The money we're paying Delhomme makes it appear as though he will start ahead of Seneca Wallace, but the starting job was never guaranteed in the process of luring Delhomme to Cleveland. The full transcript can be read here; a recap with my select comments are below.
(On why he didn’t go to New Orleans)- “We set up two visits basically. There were two areas that I wanted to go to, one was here and one was New Orleans. We had a bunch of other teams call and what not. I waited a little bit to make my trip because I wanted to let the, I guess, sting of the release get out and let the emotion kind of get out of it and try to write down all of the different scenarios. What might work, what might not work. I came here on my visit, I had a great time. Actually, I was at the airport headed to New Orleans, but the weather the Atlanta, that’s where I was connecting through. It kept getting delayed, delayed, delayed so I ended up getting a flight back to Charlotte that afternoon and I was going to head to New Orleans on Sunday evening and visit there Sunday and Monday.”
(On what changed his mind about not going to New Orleans)- “I had an opportunity to compete over here. I kind of knew what my role would be in New Orleans. I didn’t think there’s any doubt. I’m good friend with Drew (Brees). I’ve known Sean (Payton) for many years. I’m very comfortable with that organization, naturally, playing there for six years. It’s two hours from my home. I had to decide if I still wanted to still try to compete or if I wanted to hold a clipboard. I wasn’t ready for that. I just wasn’t ready for that plan and simple. I wanted to have a chance to come in to compete and play.
Comments: Sure, for sentimental reasons, I'm sure he would've loved to have gone back to New Orleans again. But, the delay in flights allowed Delhomme to remember that one of the only teams in the league he could start for, for the money he was being offered, could always withdraw their offer if they so chose to. Honestly, all it may have taken was for Holmgren to pop in some game film of Delhomme last year (I kid, I kid).
(On what happened last year)- “I didn’t play good football. I’m not going to blame anybody else or anything. I didn’t play good football, very simple. For whatever reason, I can sit here and blame this, blame that, but ultimately that doesn’t do anybody any good. I didn’t play good football from Week 1 on. The 2009 year football wise wasn’t fun. From January 10 of 2009 the playoff game through when I broke my finger in the Jets game, I want to say late November. We didn’t have the continuity on offense as we had the year before or as we have had years prior. I probably tried to press too much. I don’t think there’s any doubt I probably tried to do too much and it didn’t work. I wasn’t just being me and that’s something for six out of the seven years that I started there, I was just me. I maybe tried to do a little too much last year and it didn’t work obviously.”
(On if his confidence took a beating last year)- “It probably took a good bit. I’m not going to lie to you. I just wanted to do well. The playoff game was such a downer after such a great season. We go 12-4 and I probably tried to do too much. I don’t think there’s any doubt. I just tried to do too way much and I wasn’t myself. That’s something that over time you should learn from and what not and maybe I should have. You just try to do too much and I keep saying that. You work even harder. You put in more hours and just wasn’t getting the results because you are thinking instead of playing. That’s something that has never worked well for me.”
(On if the playoff loss carried over)- “Obviously it did because I didn’t play well last year. I think I put a lot on myself to try to get us back. I didn’t just try to forget about it and move on.”
(On if he was healthy last year)- “Yes, just didn’t play well.”
Comments: There's really not a whole lot to go off of in terms of why Delhomme struggled compared to previous years, which again leads me to believe a lot of it had to do with Delhomme's confidence mentally. Staying with the same team can't wipe that mental block clean, but a trip to another conference on a team without as high of expectations can help.
(On what he has heard about the Browns)- “Jeff Davidson was my coordinator in Carolina for three years and Jeff was here for four years, I believe. Rip Scherer was my quarterback coach last year. Rip was here for four years, I believe. I guess I kind of had an understanding of the organization, somewhat. Everything they always said was the organization is trying to do things the right way, great people, it’s a great football town and things like that. I’ve been in the NFC my whole career, I’ve been in the NFC South my whole career. I am changing conferences. This is very new to me. I am still learning a little bit of everything.
One thing I wanted to do, I wanted to come on my visit and kind of see what you feel inside. I’ve been around a few years so you see what you feel inside. I think I can kind of read people and what not and I just had a good feeling about a lot of things. I wasn’t kissed up to, so to speak. That was one thing that’s huge to me. I don’t like that kind of stuff. Let’s just talk. What direction we are going? What needs to be done? Coming here and just kind of seeing the pieces they started, signing guys, signing (Tony) Pashos, signing (Scott) Fujita, getting Ben Watson.
A big thing for me was over last weekend and early last week kind of researching. This team started 1-11. You find a lot of team that started 1-11 and those bags are packed in December. Guys are ready to get out. This team won the last four games. I am telling you, that’s something. Something was happening. Something was going in the right direction. That was a main reason I went to Carolina back in ’03. They won four out of their last five or something like that with nothing to play for. It’s a process, coaches leaning players, new coaching staff and things like that. That’s kind of the approach that I took when I came here and just everything kind of felt right.”
Comments: The way we finished certainly is something, because it saved Eric Mangini's job. And, if Delhomme has a comeback-player-of-the-year type of season, he can be the next person to save Mangini's job (as well as his own).
(On what he was told about the opportunity here)- “I was not guaranteed anything. I want to make that perfectly clear. I was guaranteed a chance to compete, very simple. There were no guarantees whatsoever. That’s the honest to god’s truth. I am here to compete and just be me. That’s what I’m here to do.”
Comments: It'll be interesting to see if Wallace ends up starting; I just find it hard to believe Delhomme won't be the guy.
(On if he is ready to mentor a young quarterback)- “Absolutely, whatever I need to do. I was lucky enough I had a couple of older quarterbacks kind of take me under their wing when I was younger. Billy Joe Tolliver was an older quarterback, played 10 years. When Mike McCarthy first came in, Billy was already in New Orleans and he had Mike in Kansas City. Here I am, extremely wet behind the ears trying to learn and he took me under his wing. He really helped me and taught me the system. After we studied all day and what not at the facility learning, we’d go back, Billy and I lived in the same apartment complex, and we’d do more that night. That was always special to me. Ultimately, it cost him a job. I beat him out that year. It cost him a job.
When I went to Carolina, Rodney Peete, the same way. Rodney was the starter and I came in at halftime of the first game and kind of went from there, but my biggest cheerleader was Rodney. (He was) my biggest fan in the film room. It helped and I just think that’s important. I broke my finger last year and I was there for Matt Moore. That’s what I believe in. I’m sorry. That’s what I believe in and I was proud of Matt. Matt went in and did an outstanding job. If a young quarterback comes here, one, we have coaches but, two, I going to try to show him the right way, what I was taught was the right way. That’s a legacy that you pass on. To me, that’s important. That’s something that’s special especially if you are going to work with someone and be with someone every day in the film room, meeting room. You develop a relationship with these people, at least that’s my belief.”
Comments: I remember when Delhomme took over for Rodney Peete, and that was a heck of a comeback he led. It was sort of the game that made me become a fan of Delhomme's, and he helped resurrect a Panthers team that had suffered for several seasons.
(On building a relationship with wide receivers)- “So many people can talk about throwing routes in the offseason and this and that. The year we went to the Super Bowl, the first reps I took with Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad we’re in the third quarter of the first game of the season. Rodney Peete was the starter and Chris Weinke and myself. We all rotated so I didn’t take any reps with those guys. I get in at halftime and we did alright that year. I think just over time you learn routes. They know what you throw well and I think that is what makes coaches good too. You have got to play to the strengths of your players. I think that’s the biggest thing. Something that’s always been preached is players. You can have the best play drawn up, but if you can’t get it executed then it’s not any good.”
Comments: That's the biggest issue with our receivers -- they don't know how to run routes, and it's really hard to find the strengths of the receivers we currently have. I'm sure Ben Watson will end up being Delhomme's best friend.
(On why Cleveland made his short list of teams)- “I’m telling you, this team won the last four games. I don’t care how you look at it. When a team is 1-11 and you win the last (four games), there’s something. I don’t know what it is. There’s something that’s there. Certainly, coach Holmgren coming here. He’s done some good things so that was it.”
Comments: Delhomme left out, "...and because no one else wanted me." Nonetheless, I have no choice but to cheer Delhomme on and hope for the best this season.