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Notes from Browns Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo on Final Day of Minicamp

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo spoke to the media on the final day of minicamp. Here are some highlights of what he had to say:

  • Offense is 90% Installed: In case you wonder how far along the "teaching" part of the offense is by the end of minicamp, DeFilippo says that "from an X and O standpoint, from a run game standpoint, it’s about 90 percent in." The other 10% covers special situations -- things like scrambling on fourth down with six seconds in the game to throw up a prayer -- and will be worked on during training camp.

  • Quarterback Praise: He praised QB Josh McCown for his leadership and arm strength -- in other words, all of the feel-good, mumbo-jumbo that ultimately won't be enough for him to stand out among the other quarterbacks in the NFL. I was more interested in DeFilippo's assessment of QB Johnny Manziel, which I will quote in its entirety:

    "First off, I think he’s improved on his pocket awareness. I saw him the other day for the first time get to his third progression, which was fantastic. We were throwing a post and a corner out of the front side and we had a basic cross, which is a 12-yard in-cut coming from the backside. That’s hard to do for a young quarterback, to work from the right side of the field all the way back coming into his vision. You see him reset his feet and getting back to second and third progressions, which is something I didn’t see much of him last season or when he was in college.

    The other thing that Johnny has done a much better job of is his huddle management. He’s getting the play out with confidence. We do have some long play calls. That’s just the nature of NFL play calls. You are going to have some long play calls. He’s gone in there and he’s been like a veteran spitting it out.

    We’ve had very, very few issues pre-snap with him in terms of delay of games, forgetting motions, not sending a shift we wanted, motion landmarks. Again, the big picture thinking with Johnny, he’s improved a great deal. Has he made every through as strike point accurate as we want? No, and he knows that. He needs to be a little bit more strike point accurate than he has been. That will come. You want to work outside in with these guys. You want to work the big picture and then you can really hone in on what they need to do from the other parts of playing quarterback."
    As far as the missed shotgun snaps from Day 1 of minicamp, DeFilippo said, "One he took his eye off of, I thought, and the other two were a little bit low and to the right."

  • Finding Reps at Wide Receiver: With the addition of two veteran receivers this year -- WR Dwayne Bowe and WR Brian Hartline -- will that hurt the amount of reps that WR Andrew Hawkins and WR Taylor Gabriel have? DeFilippo acknowledged that it was important to add a couple of different body types to the club, but that ultimately, all four receivers have different skill sets, each of which he'd like to utilize throughout a game to mix things up. There will still be a competition between the four, though, so although each of their roster spots appear safe, where they line up on the depth chart might not be.

  • Riding the Hot Hand at RB? Take this for what it's worth -- this is how DeFilippo answered a question on whether he'd prefer to limit the amount of running backs who get a lot of touches on gameday.

    "I like to go with the guy that has the hot hand. If a guy’s got the hot hand, ride it out. You’re going to have some gameplan-specific plays for certain guys like a Duke Johnson where you want to get him out on a pass route or running a certain outside zone or whatever."
    I was against the Browns' handling of running back all of last season. One week, RB Isaiah Crowell would have a breakout game (with RB Terrance West seemingly benched), and then the next week, West would be starting as a redemption opportunity, or something to that effect. It sounds like the Browns might opt to go with Crowell or West as the primary running back this year, ride them until they are hot, and then make a change if someone starts struggling. RB Duke Johnson sounds like he will have a role on offense from Day 1.

  • Is Greco Getting the Boot? When asked which position OL Cameron Erving would likely play on Day 1 of training camp, DeFilippo said that it will probably be at right guard. What he did not say is whether it would be with the first-team offense or the second-team offense. DeFelippo also said the team will continue giving Erving reps at left tackle and center during training camp, but he never mentioned right tackle. When asked, "why left tackle?" he said it would be to fill in for all the veteran days off that LT Joe Thomas gets.

  • Praise for Housler: Lastly, he praised the combination of size, speed, and the ability to pay multiple roles in this offense, with respect to new TE Rob Housler. Housler was heavily under-utilized by Bruce Arians, but it sounds like DeFilippo envisions him being a big part of Cleveland's passing game.

Click here to read the full transcript of DeFilippo's interview.