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Rob Chudzinski: Browns Focused on Team-Building, Can't Wait to See Guys in Pads


Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski joined Adam the Bull and Dustin Fox on 92.3 The Fan this past Thursday for a 15-minute segment. He talked about his time as a head coach thus far, how he is approaching the quarterback situation, what he sees at free safety and fullback, adapting the playbook, and more.

I have transcribed the full interview below, or you can listen to it here.

Bull: "The draft is over. You've added a lot of players this offseason. Where does this team stand in your eyes in terms of personnel, compared to where it stood before the offseason began?"

Chud: "I feel good about the things that we've been able to do in the offseason. We go back to free agency and adding some key guys like Paul Kruger, Desmond Bryant, amongst other guys on defense. And then going through the draft and adding a pass-rusher like KeKe and Leon at corner, so I really feel good about the things we've done from a defensive standpoint. We have a lot of young players on offense. Really I'm happy that all those things are done. We can actually get started with some football. This is the point in time where we've been a roster, and we are a roster, and from a coaching standpoint, we can build our team."

Fox: "It seems like defense was the priority, switching from the 4-3 to a 3-4. Was that something that you realized when you got here, you got Ray Horton involved, that you knew going into the draft and free agency that you had to kind of get those pass rushers?"

Chud: "That was a priority, regardless of the scheme, was to really work to generate a pass rush. Nowadays in the NFL you have to be able to be able to get after the quarterback and that can help all different areas of your team, as well as your defense. That was a priority, and then from the 3-4, a lot of the guys have been able to make the adjustment over. We've been pleased with the work they've been doing and their progress. Really, I feel good about what we've done and its just a matter of the work that is ahead of us now."

Bull: "How much were you consulted on personnel decisions of the offseason?"

Chud: "It was a really good process. It was a collaborative effort. Everybody was involved, and then I think Mike Lombardi did a great job preparing for the draft. People don't appreciate a lot of times the work it takes to be new, coming in, assimilating with the scouting staff that's been there, and with a brand new coaching staff and fitting all of the coaching needs and wants and desires together, and then getting into free agency and the draft and doing that in a short amount of time. The efforts by the scouts, the coaches, Mike and his staff, and obviously Joe Banner as well, it was pretty impressive."

Bull: "Did you see something from Brandon Weeden in the first minicamp you had with him that changed your opinion in any way of him, or was he what you expected?"

Chud: "He was pretty much what I expected. I've been pleased with his progress. His approach has been outstanding. We've been working primarily on the mental standpoint, his knowledge, his understanding of the offense and of the game and continuing to learn those things. As a young player, there's a lot of things he still has to learn as a player in this league. We've been working on his mechanics and speeding up his delivery and then just getting to know him and getting to know the type of competitor and person he is and how he responds. We all know that ultimately it comes down to production and that's what we will be looking for his improvement in.

Fox: "Are you confident that Weeden will be the starting quarterback Week 1?"

Chud: "I feel good about where we're at right now with him. He's been working with the first group and we'll just see as we go forward. We're on air right now so it's very early but I do like what I've see so far and we'll see how it goes."

Bull: "...but Jason Campbell has a chance to be the starter?"

Chud: "Jason, again, has been working with the twos. I expect both of these guys to compete. I don't know any other way. Anybody that's on a team is competing from my standpoint. We want to put these guys in a situation, give them every chance to succeed and we'll see how that all plays out. Right now it’s too early to say anything one way or another."

Bull: "Are you hoping that Brandon Weeden earns that job in training camp?

Chud: "I’m hoping that the best man wins the job and that he gives us a chance to win."

Bull: "After seeing the talent that the Browns have on offense, are you surprised that the offense struggled as much as it did last year?"

"No, it's a young group, it's a group of guys that don't have a lot of experience. There's potential there and it's something that, from a coaching standpoint, we need to bring out. Obviously there's a long time between now and the first game. We need to start with the fundamentals and these guys learning the system. Like I mentioned before, right now we're a roster, and what we need to do is build a team. That's the part you're excited about as a coach -- 'hey, now it's team-building time.' The draft is over, free agency is over, and now we can build a team and focus on today. That's what we've really been harping on -- working today to improve today, and then the rest of the things will take care of themselves."

Fox: "You mentioned 'improving daily.' I'm sure you kind of went back after you got the job and kind of looked at the tape of some games last year and saw what you had. What do you think was the biggest weakness from the team last year?"

Chud: "It's hard to assess a lot of times when you go back, because you don't know exactly what offensively, defensively, you don't know the schemes, the ins and outs, so I stay away from making judgments. What I told the guys when they first came in was, 'it doesn't really matter what I've seen or heard about you, it's about having a fresh start. What I know of you is going to be from this day forward, meaning the first day that we met and the first day of the offseason program."

Bull: "I've suggested that the Browns under you and Norv Turner and Ray Horton are going to be an extremely aggressive team on both sides of the ball. I said yesterday, 'I bet the defense is going to play like their hair is on fire.' Would that be an accurate description of how you'd like this team to play?"

Chud: "We want to be aggressive, we want to be relentless, we want to be tough. We want guys that love playing football and are passionate about being Browns and playing that way."

Fox: "You've been an offensive coordinator, this is your first head coaching job. You have Norv to work with the offense, and Ray to work with the defense. Both of those guys are quality enough of coaches to be head coaches in the league. How does that allow you to work with this team. You've been very involved with the offense. Will you have any hand with the defense? Will you kind of be all over the place as far as practice goes and working with the indiviual players and such?"

Chud: "I will. I'll be involved with all three phases. Whether it's game-planning, right now where we're doing some of the planning phases of what we're going to be doing offensively, defensively, and special teams-wise, and a lot of that is based on what personnel and how we see these guys develop. A lot of it still remains to be seen. I think one of the best things that I've learned along the way as a coach is to be flexible with the system that you run. It's not as much, you don't worry about the plays as you do with finding the guys and things they do well, find the roles for guys that have unique abilities and talents and then fitting those systems to those guys. I'll be involved in all of those areas, not just one specific area. Fortunately, Norv is here, and I have a tremendous amount of confidence, all the confidence in the world, having been around Norv and him having been a mentor for me."

Fox: "I think that's a good point you bring up about adapting to your players. You had Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Derek Anderson when you were here, now Brandon Weeden or Jason Campbell. How much do you expect to adapt to those guys' strengths? He excels we think, out of the Shotgun. Is that something you'll try to emphasize a little bit more?"

Chud: "That's something we'll try to look at. We've been working both a lot out of the gun and from under center. As things move on, we'll determine that. We'll work to play to our guys' strengths."

Bull: "How do you balance that? You might have a philosophy of what you want to do, or is it as simple as, 'I have this player and this player and this is what they do well. I might want to do something else, but that doesn't work for these guys.'"

Chud: "It is a balance. You want to be able to do a base, core set of things that's inherit in your offense. Again, you make the adjustments based on who you have. Obviously, a good example is Cam Newton. There was that part of the playbook was non-existent until Cam came and he opened up the doors to some other things that we had never done. The playbook is still that big and so the bigger it gets and the more things you have, there are experiences you can draw from. That doesn't mean the playbook is over for everybody to do everything. You may use 50% of it for certain guys, you may use 60% or a different percentage, but hopefully you have enough in your package that you can draw from to help the guys you have be successful."

Bull: "With Brandon Weeden at quarterback and the receivers and backs you have, Jordan Cameron at tight end, do you have the ability to go down the field and be aggressive and really go down the field a lot in a game?"

Chud: "I think that remains to be seen. I do like what I've seen from the guys. I think we have some big-play potential, but again, it's going to be about the guys getting out their learning, getting out in training camp. I like the on-air stuff out here, it makes you feel good when you're running plays and doing things on-air, everything looks pretty good right now. Once you get into training camp and you get the guys in pads, you can really assess a little bit better and the preseason is great for that. Ultimately, it's about production and that's where you like to see who is going to step up in those situations."

Fox: "Do you plan to add a veteran free safety?"

Chud: "We'll see. I look at the group right now and I think we have a pretty good core there. T.J. and Tashaun have been working and really doing a nice job. Johnson Bademosi has been getting some more reps and snaps at safety as well. He's a flexible guy who can do some things at corner and at safety. Obviously we drafted Jamoris and feel good about him. We have some guys that are there that have been working it and doing good things that I feel pretty good about. It remains to be seen -- it's fluid in terms of, at all positions on our roster, we're sitting in a position where we need to get better, want to get better, and have a lot of work to do. I think everything's fluid, and we'll see and evaluate those things as players become available."

Bull: "What's the depth chart look like or what's the game plan at fullback right now?"

Chud: "I don't know if we really have much of a depth chart. Owen Marecic is there. He's been working. We have a number of guys who are of that tight end/fullback hybrid guy. Brad Smelley as well as another guy. I've always liked tailbacks that could potentially work at fullback, so we'll work through that. Again, that's a position that you really don't find out about until you get into pads."

Fox: "Are you guys confident in Jordan Cameron at tight end? I know in the past, everywhere you've been, you're a former tight ends coach. I would expect the tight end to be very involved in whatever you guys are trying to do. How confident are you in him trying to step up and take on that role?"

Chud: "I am. Jordan can run, he's a good athlete, has good hands, so from a receiver standpoint, I think there's a lot to work with. He's working on or will work on when we get into pads his blocking. I think there's something there to work with and develop. Time will tell."

Bull: "You have a team here, the Browns have done a lot of losing before you got here, as you know. You had one successful year here. For the most part, since 1999, this team has not won much and the fans are frustrated. The players that have been here have not won much. You've brought some veterans in, especially a guy like Paul Kruger, who just won a championship. You've got young players. Do you have to get rid of a culture of losing, or is that just something that radio people say. Does that even not exist, do you have to get rid of that and if so, how do you do it?"

Chud: "You do. It starts with it being a new season and a new time. One of the first talks with the team, I talked about, 'I don't really care what's happened here in the past. It's a new time, and it's our time right now to make of what we want.' Similar to what I talked about earlier, guys, I don't care what people have talked about or said about people in the past or last year or what have you. It's a fresh start, and we're building right now, laying out my expectations for these guys, what we want, what our goals are, and how we get there. It's a matter of doing the work between now and then. Then you get into the season and it really starts -- it has to be a daily focus. It's said many times in sports that you're working to get better today, but that's really what it is and that's what it has to be to get to where you want to be. The results will take care of themselves if we're focused on the process."