Transcript: Kyle Shanahan, Jim O'Neil, Chris Tabor press confere - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Transcript: Kyle Shanahan, Jim O'Neil, Chris Tabor press conference

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Head Coach Mike Pettine, opening statement:

"Good morning. Welcome. Exciting day here for us to able to put the final touches on the staff, but the most important part of it for me was assembling the quality set of coordinators and I think that we've absolutely accomplished that.

"(Special teams coordinator) Chris Tabor, who will work with our special teams, is one of the most well-respected special-teams coaches in the league. It was evidenced by the number of requests that came in for him after the season that he was not permitted to leave, and I was glad that happened. He's a quality coach. He's the son of a coach. As you guys will see with the staff makeup, I have a soft spot for coaches' kids. His units, like I said, are well respected throughout the league. When I talked to some guys and I was putting the staff together, a lot of them took a moment and said, ‘Hey, listen. You've got a really good coach in Chris. That's a solid hire.' So again, very pleased to be able to retain Chris and his assistant as well.

"(Offensive coordinator) Kyle Shanahan is one of the best offensive minds in football. When I've been on the defensive side and have had conversations with people about how I wanted to build an offense, usually when we went against, Houston or Washington, it's going to be a style similar to that. It's aggressive, very creative but at the same time very fundamentally sound. It challenges a defense. Going back, studied some of that tape during this process, and kind of went through in my mind as a defensive coordinator and, again, it presents a lot of problems. The other thing that was appealing to me and it came out, Kyle had a great interview. What came out in that is that he's firm, he's fair but you can tell that he's very demanding. When I talked about wanting to have a coaching staff that was going to set high standards and give players a high level of what to shoot for, that I knew that I was hiring a guy that was going to hold those players accountable and to those standards.

"In (defensive coordinator) Jim O'Neil, as many of you know, Jim O'Neil played for my father at Central Bucks West High School back in the 90s. That gave him instant credibility with me because that meant to me that he had thick skin, that If he could handle playing for him, that he could handle just about anything that I could ever throw at him. Don't let his baby face fool you. I think that he actually, maybe, grew a little facial hair last couple of days just to make himself look older, but Jim is a tenacious coach. Again, smart, he's tough, he's creative and he and I have done it together. He's been at my side for the last five years when I was a coordinator and that was actually a year longer; I was really Rex's (Ryan) right-hand guy Rex's four years in Baltimore, so I think that there's a lot of parallels to those situations. When Rex went up to New York and I was kind of the unknown coordinator that they were hiring, I think that this is very similar here. I think that Jim is very capable, always looking to improve and again, just like Kyle, he's going to set high standards. He's going to be firm. He's going to be fair. I think that the players are going to instantly respect the guys that we've hired as well as the rest of the coaching staff.

"To me it's a staff of men with high character, vast football knowledge, coupled with the ability to teach it. You see a lot of coaches out there that are great on the grease board but they can't put it in language that the players can handle and take onto the field. The No. 1 prerequisite for all the coaches was an outstanding work ethic, and I think that we've been able to accomplish that as well. So when the players get in, they're going to see a dedicated group of teachers that are passionate about football and they're united by a burning desire to win. Again, as I've said before, high standards and we're going to hold the players accountable to it. But it's not going to be done with an iron fist. I don't believe in that style of coaching. At times, we're going to share some lighter moments but at the same time, we'll know when to work but we'll also know when to play. So at this time I'm going to go ahead and bring the coordinators up and open it up for questions."

On having to break away from the shadow of his father, Mike:

Shanahan: "I'm looking forward to it. I think it's going to be nice when I hear the head coach's last name and S isn't always tagged to the end of it, when you hear the Shanahans, so I'm looking forward to that part. But I've worked a lot of years in the NFL and I started out my career away from my dad. It was always a goal of mine to prove myself before I ever coached with my dad. I started at UCLA and then went to Tampa (Bay Buccaneers) and had four good years in Houston (Texans). I felt that I had proven myself and it was something that I always wanted to do in my life. I wanted to coach with my dad at one time. I enjoyed it, we went through some ups and some downs but it's something that I wouldn't take back for anything. I'm excited to move on, to be done with that part of my life but I think it made me better and it's something that I'm glad that I did."

On why he wanted to take the Browns' offensive coordinator position:

Shanahan: "Really I was excited talking to (Head) Coach (Mike Pettine). Coach called me in for an interview, came in, really it was the first time that I met Coach. We got to spend a lot of time together. I had gone against him a bunch, didn't like it as much going against him because that was a little tougher. But getting to meet him, knowing how good of a coach he is. This is my first time getting a chance to work for a defensive coach and I'm kind of excited with that. I've always been with an offensive guy, and to be with a good defensive staff, I think that defense is one of the most important things to winning games and I'm really looking forward to it. I know that we're going to have a good defensive staff here. I think that there is a lot of talent on this roster and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

On what he sees differently in comparison to the past Browns' offensive coordinators on the offense:

Shanahan: "Growing up a coach's son I moved a ton growing up so I understand that it's part of the NFL. You've got to succeed and you've got to win games to stay places. Unfortunately, they haven't done that enough here and when that doesn't happen, people make changes, and that's part of the business and that's what you expect getting into this business. But when you see some talent on a team, you see some young players, and the organization is committed to winning, they're going to do whatever they can to win. When you get the right people in the right places, I feel it's as good of a situation as any. Because of the people and the talent that they have and the situation that they put themselves in, I think that it is a good situation and I'm very excited to be here."

On the possible challenges of working with a rookie quarterback:

Shanahan: "I've started one rookie before so that's my experience with that. When we brought Robert (Griffin III) in I thought the challenges of that was, anytime you bring a rookie in and you start him right away, you've got to find out what they do good. You have to make sure that you put them in a situation to be successful. Don't ask too much of them. Usually if you spend a high pick on a guy there's some stuff that they do pretty good. And you've got to figure out what it is by studying college tape. You've got to figure out and anticipate how the NFL's going to play that stuff when you put that in your scheme. You don't want to put too much pressure on him; make it loose for him, make it stuff that he's confident in doing that he's done in his career prior, really what's made him successful, and you let him focus on that early. You try to build him and prepare him on how defenses are going to adapt to him and what he's eventually going to have to grow to build his portfolio so he can face everything and have sustained success in this league. I think the most important thing is asking them to do what they're great at and then working on improving other aspects of their game."

On improving Buffalo's defensive unit last season, and getting the most out of those players:

O'Neil: "I think it starts with our scheme over the years has always been built around taking advantage of what our players do best, and then we can kind of put in the schematics from there. New York Jets in 2009 was very different than New York Jets in 2011 because we had different players, we had different strengths, different weaknesses. So I think when we got to Buffalo and we went through the offseason and we went through training camp, and we evaluated the roster, we knew where our strengths were, we knew where our weaknesses were, and we built the scheme around that. Obviously, those guys flourished, especially up front."

On whether any of the teams that contacted the Browns for permission were opportunities he wanted to pursue, and his reaction to the coaching change:

Tabor: "Anytime there's change, initially you're shocked, but as Kyle mentioned earlier, in the NFL change is always fluid. And for me and my family to have the opportunity to stay here again and work for another head coach, I feel very fortunate that the organization has given me that opportunity. I like it here, my family likes it here, and that's another dynamic that a lot of people don't talk about. I grew up in the same house. My mom still lives in the same house and for myself to give my daughters another opportunity to stay in the same hometown, that's important to me."

On how similar the Browns' scheme will be to Buffalo's 2013 defense:

O'Neil: "I'm excited about the young talent here. We're still, as a defensive staff, meticulously going through the tape. We're probably 8-10 games in. But I think that it's hard to give a true 100-percent evaluation until you get the guys here and you plug them in your system, you see them in the meeting room, you get around them, you get to know them. You get to see what kind of teammates they are. But I'm excited. But we are meticulously going through the tape and evaluating each guy and writing very detailed reports on them. You don't truly know until they're here and we get through that first camp and we see what they look like in our system."

 

On how much input he'll have on who the quarterback is:

Shanahan: "I'm going to evaluate everybody. That's my job to do that. I'm going to do that as best as I can, and give an honest opinion. You work hard, you look at a lot of tape, and you give them your true honest opinion, and then the people that make those decisions decide off of that. I think that anytime you get a quarterback, there's lots of ways that you can win in this game. There's lots of ways to move the ball, there's lots of ways to score touchdowns. Everybody does it differently. I've been a coordinator six years and I've played with seven different quarterbacks. Each guy has been a little bit different. I've had some real athletic guys, I've had some non-athletic guys. The main thing is that you've got to be able to adjust so you've got to put in a scheme that is flexible, and you've got to do what your quarterback's best at. If your quarterback is good at what you're doing, then you've got a chance to succeed. You've got to figure out the best way to do that. You don't need a certain type of quarterback; you just want a good quarterback. You've got to figure out who the best guy is and go with the best one possible and figure out how to let him play the way he plays."

On his initial impressions after going through the first 8-10 games on film of LB Barkevious Mingo:

O'Neil: "I coached the linebackers last year in Buffalo. Barkevious Mingo is a guy I'm familiar with. We brought him up for one of our 30 visits before the draft, so I had a chance to get to know him on a personal level. We went out to dinner. On draft day, my wife actually made Barkevious Mingo cupcakes for the guys who had the power to make the eighth overall pick, but obviously it didn't happen (the Browns selected him at No. 6). I'm a big fan of Mingo. I'm looking forward to working with him; I really am.  He flashes some on tape. He did a lot of good things. He's obviously a young player. He's got some things to work on, but we're excited as a defensive staff to get him back here and start working with him."

On whether this opportunity allows him to implement different schemes without the influence of his father, Mike, and Gary Kubiak:

Shanahan: "Not really. It's good to get out of the perception for that, show you guys. In my own mind, myself, I put that scheme in that we used in Houston, and did the same thing in Washington. I'm pretty confident in what I've been asked to do and what my responsibility was in both of those buildings. So, I feel good about it. Now that it's with a defensive (head) coach, it'll be nice to prove that to you guys."

On having success with the pistol in Washington and whether it's a staple in his philosophy:

Shanahan: "The pistol is a few feet behind under center. There's not much difference between the Pistol and taking the ball under center. What the pistol gives you is the threat of the zone-read. It doesn't mean you have to run the zone-read out of it, but you can run the rest of your offense out of the pistol, where you can't always in shotgun. So that's the pistol's advantage. The great thing for us in Washington when we first did the pistol is that we ran everything we had always done, what we'd done in Houston and what we'd done in Washington the years prior. It just happened to be that you could run the zone-read out of it also. I would love to find a way to run it under center, but I don't know that way yet. So, if you've got a guy that can do it, and you want that threat, because it is a good play, it makes defenses account for another person on the field. If you've got a guy and he can be a threat in that, it's a good thing to add to the offense."

On the zone-blocking scheme and what type of linemen and backs fit that philosophy:

Shanahan: "Obviously, that's what we've done, the zone scheme, and it gets a little overrated in terms of ‘you've got to have smaller guys and guys that can move.' Really, you want to get the best O-linemen possible, guys who can come off the ball, guys who can run numbers to numbers. But you want those guys as big as possible while they still have some quickness that they can reach people and, really, create space for a back. You want a (back) who can press holes, who can get downhill, and always get good yards per carry. Not always looking for the home run, not a guy that has to get a 60-yarder to average 4 yards a carry. It'd be nice to keep feeding a guy, keep feeding a guy and his longest run in the game might be 10 yards, but still at the end of the game, he's averaging 4.2 a carry. I just a consistent, consistent running game where you're not getting in third-and-longs, always trying to be in a manageable down-and-distance where the defense can really never tee off on run or pass. It's really tough to block those guys when they know what you're doing. If they've always got to think about the run or think about the pass and play both, it gives you a huge advantage on offense."

On whether he's concerned that many of the offensive position coaches were hired before him:

Shanahan: "No, not really. We're a fraternity in this league, so we talk a lot with coaches. I haven't worked with those guys before but I'm very familiar with them, just as people. Great people. Their resumes are on tape. And I've been able to watch our O-line coach Andy Moeller over the years; he's done as good of a job as anyone running the ball over the years. I thought the year they won the Super Bowl in Baltimore (2012), they were running outside zone as good as anyone. It was a team we looked at a lot, and I respect the heck out of Andy as an offensive-line coach, and when I heard he was on the staff, I was very excited to have a chance to get with him."

On the 2013 defense in Buffalo and going about re-creating that success in Cleveland:

O'Neil: "Again, I think it's going to start out with finding out exactly what our guys are good at. What are our strengths? What are our weaknesses? But our philosophy has always been to be multiple and create confusion for the offensive side of the ball, and that really allows the guys up front to get a lot of one-on-one blocks, and that's where you want guys like (Barkevious) Mingo, (Paul) Kruger, (Jabaal) Sheard, all those pass-rusher-type guys, that's what they want. It takes the chips off of them. It takes the line-slides off of them and it gives them a chance to win the one-on-one."

On his thoughts on Paul Kruger as a player:

O'Neil: "Like I said before, we're still going through the evaluation process. Kruger's a guy that I did write up in free agency last year. I think he's a very good football player. I think that as a whole we tend to put stock in just sacks, but that doesn't tell the whole story. A lot of guys could be getting doubled. If they're a very good pass-rusher, they could be dictating line-slides. They could be getting chipped from running backs, which opens the door for other guys to make plays along the defensive line, or guys that are blitzing. What stat nobody talks about is, is he making the quarterback throw the ball out of rhythm or not on time? Or, is he hitting the quarterback? Is he causing production? Just because he only had four-and-a-half sacks doesn't mean he didn't have a good year. Again, we're still going through it, and Paul's a guy we're excited to coach. I'm looking forward to him getting back here."

On what it says about him that he's been able to be retained after two head-coaching changes:

Tabor: "I think it says that the good Lord is watching over me, to be honest with you. I'm fortunate, myself and my assistant Shawn Mennenga, who does an outstanding job with us. It's nice to be able to stay at a place and continue to coach the guys, and keep your system implemented and going, and continue to grow with it. I'm excited for this next challenge right here. My area, the roster's always fluid, so we'll have a whole bunch of new guys probably in some spots, and that's fine; we're excited about that. Just excited and fortunate that I'm here."

On how the Buffalo defense could generate so many sacks and give up a lot of points:

O'Neil: "I think the strength of our defense was obviously up front in Buffalo. I wouldn't say we were gambling. We do a lot of stuff where we're overloading a protection but we're still dropping guys out into coverage. The number of touchdown passes we had was obviously high. It was the highest number allowed in probably our five years together, probably, through New York and Buffalo (his time together with Pettine), and that's something we're going to look to improve on. But I wouldn't say that we're a high-risk defense. When we do pressure, it's calculated. We do a lot of stuff that looks like pressure, but it's a lot safer than it may appear because we're sending four, but it's an unconventional four guys, and we're still dropping seven guys into coverage."

On how a team closes out games, something the Cleveland defense struggled with in 2013:

O'Neil: "It starts with preparation, and that's our job as coaches, to get those guys prepared. If you're prepared, you have confidence to make plays in those critical situations. I know Coach Pettine's a big believer in those situations. We're going to thrive; we're not going to survive. We don't want our guys to be scared to make plays. If they see something, go; pull the trigger. And we're going to be big on that. I think you've got to do the best job that you can to try to simulate that in practice. The offensive staff and defensive staff are already talking trash to each other in the office. So, we're going to create that atmosphere through the spring and into training camp. That's all part of learning how to win, is thriving in those critical situations."

On what he knows about Brian Hoyer and Brandon Weeden:

Shanahan: "I'm familiar with both of them, mainly from coming out of college. When you're an offensive coach, you don't study too many offensive players; you're mainly looking at defense throughout the year, and things like that. You study guys when they come up for free agency. I look forward to studying these guys. I've been here, I think, three days, and it's been more about finishing the coaching staff. I really haven't gotten to evaluate much Cleveland tape yet. I know Brian from college. I was a big fan of him coming out of Michigan State. I looked at him after he was available after New England and I think he has a chance to succeed in this league. Weeden, I was able to coach at the Senior Bowl (in January 2012), so I spent some time with him down there. We knew pretty early we were going with Robert (Griffin III) that year so we didn't go through with it and finish all the stuff with (Weeden), but I enjoyed him at the Senior Bowl. I thought he was a great person. Has some really good qualities, and a very good thrower, but I really can't totally answer that question until I get into what he's done in the NFL. I'm going to really be doing this over the next month or so, and I'll do it pretty hard until the players get here."

On his relationship with Griffin and how he feels about taking a high-profile QB in the first round:

Shanahan: "Robert and I had two years together. We did a lot of really good things together. I'm very proud of that first year (2012). I think he had arguably one of the best years in NFL history for a rookie quarterback. I enjoyed coaching him. It challenged me because I had to do some things that I hadn't done before, so I had to look at tape in a different way and try to put some different things in. I think that improved myself. I'm able to see the game a little differently. I was able to do some things with Robert that I haven't been able to do with other quarterbacks, and it was really fun to do. I think that (knee) injury, and going into that second year, it was a challenge. Anytime you go through a 3-13 season, it's tough. Robert and I always had a great relationship. I enjoyed coaching him. Anytime you go through a 3-13 season, it is a challenge. It's a challenge on your relationship. It's a challenge with everybody in the building. You've got to deal with a lot of stuff, a lot of negativity. The thing I learned going through that, especially with a high-profile guy, there's a lot more stuff that comes out. The thing that I always did with him, and that we did with each other, when stuff would come out, we'd address it. We'd get into our room and we'd talk about it, make sure we felt good about it. Robert and I, through a very tough time, we managed to keep our relationship through the year. I'm not going to say it was easy. Nothing's easy when you go through something like that, but I do believe, going through it, Robert and I in the long run it'll make both of us better. It's something that's a challenge. I do believe, going through that, as hard as it was, will help me. And I think, when it's all said and done and Robert and I look back on it, I'm really appreciative of some of the stuff he did for me, and I really believe he'll be appreciative of some of the stuff I did for him."

On Hoyer's game and what he's seen:

Shanahan: "I looked at him as a free agent so I've seen him do some stuff in the NFL. I did like him a lot coming out of college. So I believe, coming out of college, he had a chance to succeed. When I looked at him when he was available a few years ago, even quickly when Arizona I believe let him go, I did like what I saw. So I think Brian is a very capable guy. You never really know. Everybody's looking for one of those top-five guys. If you're not one of those top-five guys, then the odds are that you're trying to get replaced. Obviously, no one here has proven that they are one of those top-five guys, and that's why that position is probably than any position on the planet. That's why I respect that position and the type of man it takes to handle that pressure. Until you are one of those top guys, everyone's going to be telling you you're not good enough. But he has shown that he can play in this league, so you have to see what his ceiling is, and how high of a level he can reach. Everybody wants a franchise quarterback. I really believe that's the only way to have sustained success in this league. I'm not saying he is, but he has the NFL tape and hasn't shown that he can't be. So, I'm looking forward to studying some of the stuff he did during those, I believe, two-and-a-half games that he played. It's nice to be in this building so I can look at a little more practice tape, also, so I can get a little bit more tape than I would outside of this building. I'm excited to watch him."                  

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