Football is back, and it feels like it never left us! It's a whole new beginning in Berea again, though, as Hue Jackson is now the head coach of a roster that is already quite different than it was during the 2015 season. The team's offseason program began on Monday, April 4th, and Jackson had a press conference on Wednesday to discuss the direction of the team and some of the players' situations. Here are some notes I gathered:
QB Position: In signing Robert Griffin III, Jackson said that he wasn't the only person impressed -- Sashi Brown, Paul DePodesta, Andrew Berry, and Pep Hamilton were all on board. I'd expect him to say nothing less. He noted that he liked the conversation he had with Griffin on "what was good and what needed fixing." Jackson was asked a lot more questions about Griffin here, which you can read if you wish.
As far as Josh McCown goes, Jackson said he and McCown aren't too worried about what the future holds for him: basically, he's on the roster right now, and they look forward to working with each other.
When asked if signing Griffin changes the team's draft plans at quarterback, Jackson said that was a question for Sashi Brown, but also added his own opinion that he doesn't think the signing should change something one way or the other.
Still Mum on Gordon: Until the Browns know Josh Gordon's status, they are going to continue to refrain from commenting on him. When asked whether he wants Gordon on the Browns if he's re-instated, Jackson simply said, "I think it’s premature for me to talk about that because he hasn’t been reinstated."
Full Support for Haden, Harsh Timing of Whitner's Relase: Despite the disappointing news that the team's star cornerback needed ankle surgery, Jackson had nothing but praise for Joe Haden: "There’s not a guy in the building that is working as hard as he is. Trust me when I tell you that." He also said that Haden is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.
With respect to the harsh timing of Donte Whitner's release, but he basically stated that unfortunately, that is part of the business of the NFL. He said it was not a knee-jerk reaction and they went back-and-forth discussing it many times; if they had known sooner they were definitely going to release him, they would have.
Too Early to Have Certain Impressions: When asked what his impressions were on C Cameron Erving given his struggles in 2015 as a rookie, Jackson gave a general answer indicating that all we've seen is three days of workouts, so let's not act like I've really had a chance to determine how these guys will do in 2016. Similarly, Jackson was asked about the role that he envisions WR Terrelle Pryor could have, but Jackson said "until we get on the grass, it's too early to tell." He did say that "we will find a way to showcase his talent and ability."
- Davis a Big Defensive Piece: Jackson was asked specifically if he viewed Demario Davis as a leader on defense. I don't know how one could answer "no" to that, so you take this answer with a grain of salt:
"There is no question. I think he can. I think he truly will be. Playing the position that he plays kind of thrusts that on you, but I think he is looking forward to it. He is a very talented football player. He is very athletic. He kind of likes to mix it up a little bit, not a little bit but a lot. He likes playing football. He is a guy that we have put on our football team who we think is going to help us as we continue to move forward."
Forget the Noise -- We Expect to Win: I'll leave you with a bit of a "screw the noise -- we expect to win" closing statement from Jackson:
"I don’t get caught up in what everybody else thinks. I can only worry about what this organization thinks and what our players think. We know we have a job to do. Like I said, we are just going to keep working at it each and every day. Our job is to win. We are not going to just show up and roll the ball out and say, ‘You can have it.’ We have a lot of work to do, but I think this team, if they keep working and keep pushing, has a chance to do something that people maybe think they can’t, but we will see. It is way too early to talk about those things. I have said it from the day I sat up here before: I expect to win. Please, I expect to win. Our players expect to win, and we understand that in order for that to happen, we have to work to win. That is all we are about right now. We are not about anything else other than that."