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ESPN Cleveland Interviews John DeFilippo

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Coach Flip chatted with Nathan Zegura on Cleveland Browns Daily on ESPN 850 WKNR.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


On how things are going in his first few months in Cleveland:

"It's been great. The staff's been good. I had a chance to reach out to some of the players and they've reached out to me. I had a chance to spend some time with those guys and, you know, finding out what they are as people. We're not allowed to talk football with those guys yet, so we're not talking any football but we're trying to get to know those guys as people before we can coach them."


On what the staples of his offense will be:

"Well, the staple of our offense is we're going to keep a lot of the same run game we had last season. It's going to be a very similar zone run game -- we're going to encompass a little bit more gap scheme stuff, gap scheme runs into our offense. So, we're going to run a little bit more downhill than side-to-side, but we're going to do a lot of the same things that they did last year in terms of running the football and we're going to do what our guys do best in the pass game. I'll be honest with you, I see it on film but I'm going to find out very quickly here come April 20th when these guys get back to see what they do great."


On how excited he is to have the opportunity to be the Browns offensive coordinator:

"It's an honor to be here. It's an honor to be back in Northeast Ohio. Whenever I go out in town, people come up to me and you can just tell how excited people are about this football team, how excited they are about Jimmy Haslam and Mike Pettine. I'm just glad to be a part of it."


On how big of a part his past relationship with Mike Pettine played in him coming to Cleveland:

"It played a big role. I think coach Pettine and I have a trust. I think we have a friendship and he knows I'm going to be loyal to him, I'm going to be loyal to this team, put in an honest day's work, and put a good product out there on the field."


On if he will throw the ball to the running backs:

"Yes."


On if it will be a shorter West Coast Offense or more vertical:

"You know, I like a little bit of everything. I think you gotta have a mix to keep a defense off balance. I think you need to take at least one shot a quarter. I'm a big believer in that. I think to soften up the defense. We're going to do those things and we're going to find guys that can stretch the field a little bit. We're going to throw the ball to backs, we're going to get our screen game going. When you watch our team last year, they did a really nice job with the perimeter screens, so we're going to keep some of those things up. Just try to [do] whatever we can do to move the football, to be consistent and be great on first and second down. You hear everybody talk about being great on third down, beign great on first and second down, to me, is totally underrated because part of being great on third down is staying on schedule. So that's what we're going to do. Whatever we gotta do to get four yards, then take a shot, then get four yards back to get into third-and-manageable -- do those things and stay on schedule as much as we can so we can be successful on third down."


On who are some of the players he's excited to have in his offense:

"I think the two young backs, I'm really excited to see. [the host makes a "Ca-caw" sound] -- and West. I'll tell you, just from talking to the guys on our staff, I didn't hear that they had gotten a lot of reps before. Really, they were put into a game early in the season last year, regular season, so I'm really excited to watch those guys go through OTAs and training camp and the minicamps. Getting those reps and seeing those guys flourish, seeing what they can do. I want to see what those guys can do from a receiving standpoint too. Get those guys outside and seeing if they can catch the ball, run a slant, run a hitch, run a go, run a comeback. I want to see if those guys can do those things because that's a big part of the offense that I want to incorporate here."


On how this offensive staff came together:

"Well, first and foremost, we hired great people. I think to be a really good football coach, I think you need to be a good person because you have to relate to today's player. I think that's huge. Number two: we went through an exhaustive, exhaustive -- let me tell you, it's a very exhaustive interview process. We had an all star cast of quarterback coaches come through here. We had an all star cast of wide receiver coaches come here. It was mind-boggling to me -- I knew my first coordinator's job I'd be getting a lot of phone calls, but the amount of people that really wanted to come coach for the Cleveland Browns was awesome and the pool of candidates we had to choose from was absolutely fantastic."


On if terminology is going to carry over:

"A lot of it's going to stay the same. Like I said earlier, the run game's going to stay almost exactly the same. I'm adapting some things formationally of what I've called in the past. So last year in Oakland, a play set we called "Dos Right" -- that is all receivers in a snug -- we're calling it "Dixie Right" here. So, that's what they've called it in the past. So those are the things that I'm going to adjust and learn and make sure that these players know what they know and that I can adapt to what I know and we're going to come and [put it together]."


On his thoughts on Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel:

"Josh is going to bring -- is the consumate professional. He's going to be prepared. He's going to play well. I think when you see situations where Josh has had a system where he hasn't had to win the game by himself I think you've seen him have success. That was part of our selling point to him. [It] was: 'Hey, you're going to have to do this thing all by yourself, buddy. We're going to be able to run the football here. We got young backs, we have a fantastic offensive line.' like everybody knows about. When you can run the football -- and I'll tell our guys this from day one -- when you can run the football everything else falls into place. Your play action passing game falls into place. Then you can take shots down the field. Then you can get in single safety, free access on the outside. So everything starts with running the football and when you can do that it creates good pockets for the quarterback, Josh is going to make great decisions -- there's no doubt in my mind about that -- and he's going to be able to protect the football and move our offense down the field."


On what he looks for in wide receivers:

"I'm all about diversity, okay. I told our scouts that, I told our general manager that. He wanted me to meet with all the scouts and all the personnel people when I got here and describe how I see each position. The way I described the receiver room is diversity. We need some guys that are quick in and out of breaks. We need some guys that are big in the red zone. So we can't have all one trick ponies in that room and everyone knows that. So we're going to address that and you'll see Josh have some success with those receivers."


On how important tight end is in his offense and how he defines that role:

"Well, we have two types of tight ends. We have a 'Y", which is a true 'Y', which is a 'Hey, I'm going to block a 7-technique on Power, I'm going to reach a 9-technique on outside zone.' That's a true 'Y' and I feel like we have two of those guys right now in Dray and Barnidge.

"The thing we're in the constant market for -- and everybody's in the market for -- is that 'F' position. That guy that can move around, be a mismatch on a linebacker, can run a choice route, get in and out of breaks on third-and-four, can win against man-to-man coverage. So that's, I think, what we're in the market for and a lot of teams in this league are in the market for, is that guy that's going to be able to move around in different places, go outside. We saw in the Super Bowl Gronkowski outside running a slant, running a Saturn route -- which is a fade-stop. Everybody's looking for that personnel mismatch to be able to go out and do those things and it just totally broadens the field for you, it widens the field for you. It makes you much more diverse."


On the wide receivers returning from last year:

"First thing you notice -- and I've watched every tape from our season last year -- first thing you notice is those guys play a lot bigger than they really are. When I say 'play a lot bigger than that', do they go up and catch 'go' balls eight times a game? No, but what they do is they play a lot bigger in terms of going in to dig out safeties -- those guys aren't afraid at all. They go across the middle, they play a lot bigger than they are, their catching radius is big. So that's what sticks out to you first and foremost when you watch these guys on tape is they play a lot bigger than they are. On top of that, they like to block and they got some speed. Unbelievable effort guys."


On if he's gotten to see last year's practice tape:

"Not so much practice tape yet, but just we've gotten through all the game tapes. Now we're getting through some of our cut-ups and those things and watching some of the pass stuff that we're going to do."


On what ability he has to relate to a young quarterback:

"Well I'll tell you, your main job as a quarterback coach in the NFL and at any level is to take all the gray area out for the quarterback. What does that mean? Well, you don't give him a lot of 'Well if this happens then you do this, if this happens then you do this.' Nuh-uh. It's either 'If it's single-safety middle you're going here, if it's two-high you're here.' It's pure progression. It's a middle-third read where I'm working high to low. You take out all that gray area you can for that quarterback because now he's trying to catch up with the speed, he's trying to catch up being a first-time player in the huddle with a bunch of veterans -- he's playing catch-up in a lot of different areas and the last thing you want him to have to do is play catch up to you not teaching him well. So that's the main thing I try to with quarterbacks is take out all that gray area so they can play at a fast tempo."


On if he will have different playbooks for Josh and Johnny:

"I've been asked that a lot. I think it's really hard to have two playbooks. I think it does a disservice to the other ten players on offense. I really do. I think that you have to have certain plays where, hey, if a guy with a certain skill set is going to major in these plays. Now, is it the whole gameplan? No, but it may be ten, twelve, fifteen plays. The majority of your gameplan needs to be able to be run by all the quarterbacks on your roster because that's what you practice, that's what you're doing going up against the defense. That's why you have these plays, to attack the team that you're playing that week. So I think it really does a disservice to the other ten guys on offense if you just say 'Hey, this is quarterback A's gameplan, this is quarterback B's gameplan and whoever's in the game, hey, this is what it is' because those guys'll look at you like you have eight heads if you do that."


On if he'll spend a good deal of time in the quarterback room:

"Absolutely. We're going to do a lot of installation as a group, where we're going to do the run game together and then we're going to send the offensive line on their way to do what they do. Then we're going to install the rest of everything together. So we're going to meet the majority of the time together, so the players hear one voice as much as possible. I'm a big believer in that. That way there's no miscommunications between coaches, from coach to player, from player to coach, and from player to player."


On how this also will make his expectations clearer:

"Absolutely and those will be set from day one, the moment these guys get in, on what they're expected to do. And the thing that I really enjoyed watching our tape is for our guys on our offense that I've watched, effort's not going to be a problem. Okay, so we're not going to have to coach effort, which some places I've been you've had to lay out expectations for effort. It's been a very pleasant surprise and very fun to watch our players really play hard each and every Sunday."


On what he sees as critical for Manziel's development:

"Well, the first thing that I think Johnny needs to do is have a plan. And that's another thing we talked about dealing with rookie quarterbacks, you need to lay out -- they don't know anything when they walk in the building. It's like a freshman in college. You have to map out their week for them. Okay, on Tuesday you're coming, you're looking at the first and second down tape. You're giving me a report on the blitz tape. Okay, what are their top four blitzes this week against 21 personnel. You need to map out and have a plan for them on how to teach them to be an NFL quarterback. So that's number one and, like I said, I've had limited exposure and limited contact with Johnny, except through my time in Oakland when we evaluated him.

"So that's number one. You have to have a plan for those guys and then make sure they follow that plan. And then with Johnny, I think Johnny just needs experience playing the game at this level. I really do. I think coming out of Texas A&M -- I mean, I interviewed Johnny and talked football with him, I know from a protection standpoint, from a route structure standpoint they were very limited with what they did at Texas A&M -- does that mean that what they did was bad? Not in any [way] whatsoever. What they did they had a ton of success doing, but it's very different than what a quarterback is asked to do at the NFL level. So I think Johnny just continuing to be exposed to an NFL quarterback lifestyle -- it's truly a lifestyle to be a quarterback in the National Football League. It's not just a job. It's all-consuming. I mean you need to sleep, eat, do everything fast, and just think football all the time. The great ones have an obsession with it. You watch the Peyton Mannings and the Drew Brees and the Aaron Rodgers and those guys: those guys are obsessed with football. That's, when I talk about quarterback lifestyle in our first quarterback meeting, those are the things I'm going to be talking about with those guys."


On how is his transition from the West Coast to Cleveland going right now:

"I'll let you know on March 13th when my wife gets out here. The transition here has been great. Everyone here's been unbelievably helpful and supportive in that and I can't thank the people in the building enough, you know Jimmy Haslam, Ray Farmer, Coach Pettine, they've just made this transition unbelievably smooth for me. Our coaches, our whole staff offensively and defensively, and everyone in the building here's just been so supportive and we're looking forward to putting a good product on the field."


On if he wants to have a dedicated fullback:

"Yeah, I do. Like I talked about, I want that 'F' player that we talked about earlier to kind of have that role too. In our blocking scheme, in the zone blocking scheme, very rarely do you ask the fullback to go isolate a Mike linebacker, isolate a Will linebacker. He needs to get a piece and get that 'backer moving, get that support player moving and just get him running. So if you were going to ask me do I want that old school, downhill [fullback] or do you want a little bit more versatile 'F', I'd take the versatile 'F' player any day of the week."


On what's number one on his offseason wish list:

"My number one on my wish list is whatever Ray Farmer is going to make the Cleveland Browns better. And I mean that. Whatever our people think is going to make this football team better -- and I've told everyone that when they've asked me, and I mean -- whatever's going to make this football team better is what I want."