Mangini Talks to the Media Following the First Mini-Camp Practice

Browns Mangini Football

(Opening statement) – “How’s everybody doing? It’s a little quieter in here today. It’s nice to be out doing some football. It seems like a long time since the season ended last year. Even though this isn’t the first rookie camp that I’ve been involved in, it’s the first one where we’ve had this group together, this staff together. There are a lot of new people involved in the staff and some of the support staff and obviously all of the players are new to the organization. There’s a process about learning about each other, learning about what’s expected, learning about how we practice, how we operate meetings and that’s not just the rookies, it’s the coaches as well, the support staff and it’s a great time for us to get to work through a lot of the kinks that may be there and put ourselves in a really good position moving into the voluntary minicamps and the OTAs. It’s also nice to see the players that we drafted out there. A lot of work was done to get them here, have them involved and be part of the Browns, as well as the rookie free agents that we signed and always the tryout players, which I really enjoy having as part of this camp because I think it’s a unique opportunity and some people stand out and some great stories are made. Hopefully there’s a great story being made this weekend, someone that will identify themselves as a person we should keep and then hopefully contribute to the Browns for a long, long time. So with that, I will open up for questions.”

(On Graham Harrell’s upside) – “I think Graham has done a really nice job. He picks up the information easily, I think he throws a very accurate ball. I thought he did a nice job in this morning practice. I thought he did a nice job as well this afternoon, not just with his throws, but also the huddle mechanics, absorbing the information and being able to run the offense. This is really challenging for a quarterback coming in because every single person is brand new. All of the terminology is new to all of those people and the quarterback is in charge of making sure it is right. We added a play clock this afternoon; we didn’t really have that this morning so that adds another variable that the quarterback has to control.”

(On if he has to make an impression on the players) – “No, they have to make an impression on us. That’s what they have to do. They are going to learn what type of coach I am, what type of coaches we are, the things that we believe in. That was stated very clearly last night and it goes back to the things that we talked about – what we want in a Cleveland Brown – the core characteristics, the things that we look for from every single person who is part of this team. The quicker they understand that the better off they are. It’s in the draft room, it’s in the free agency room, it’s what drives us and that’s not going to change. It’s not going to change today, it’s not going to change at any point. Taking that further it’s the core values. The core things that we value and you see some of those words on the field – communication, focus, finish and trust. If you have those characteristics you are doing the things that we put a high value on, you’ve got a great chance to make it here and you’ve got a great chance to contribute.”

(On if the spread offense will grow in the NFL) – “You never know what’s going to hit. It always seems like something trends. Last year it was the wildcat. Every year, defensively, there have been years where the zone blitz took off. There was years where empty became the big package. There have been some years I’ve been involved with 22-personnel, that’s two backs, two tight ends and one wide receiver; you saw a huge amount of that. You don’t know what it’s going to be this season, but it will be something and every defense will have to adjust to it to or maybe every offense will have to adjust to it, depending on where it comes from.”

(On if they brought in Harrell because of his exposure to the spread offense) – “No, I don’t think it was that. It was more the way he operated the offense, the success that he had in the offense. It’s not as prevalent as what we use, what we see, so there’s some learning for him as well.”

(On if the spread offense in college makes it more difficult to scout and project players) – “There are different things that are challenging each year you go into the draft. Making the projections from all of the defensive ends and putting them at linebacker spots. Can they play outside linebacker? Can they play inside linebacker?  Sometimes it’s a tight end who’s in the spread offense and he is never in line, he is never blocking. You have got to project how he is going to do there. Some offensive linemen in those offenses with the big splits, how are they going to do in a tighter formation? Can they operate there? You’re looking for traits at some point and going through sort of a checklist of skill sets and then projecting them into your system.”

(On if Harrell has to show something specific) – “It’s not one specific thing that we are looking for. For example, he has got to throw ‘X’ amount of comebacks, and can he throw the comebacks well enough. For quarterbacks, to me, it’s about their ability to operate the system, their ability to run the offense. That’s really what I’m looking for as a starting point. Then, obviously, you have to look at a range of throws, the type of throws and keep drilling down.”

(On how Harrell threw today) –  “I thought he was accurate the first two lessons.”

(On his impressions of David Veikune) – “I’ve been really happy with what I’ve seen. He is fluid for someone his size, for someone who has limited exposure to standing up. In the morning we do the bag drill where they run through the bags; you guys have probably seen it over time. His ability to do those different, it’s a range of exercises so it could be shuffling through sideways, up and back, it’s all the different movements that you have in football. He went through that in a way more similar to a linebacker then a converted defensive end.”

(On if Veikune can make a quick transition to linebacker) – “With all the rookies you are hoping for as quick a transition as possible. I’ve found some that it clicks right away and some it takes a little bit longer before it really hits, so I never put a timetable on their development. What you are trying to do it just understand how they learn the fastest, what you can do to help facilitate that learning. Put them in all the positions they can possibly be in to expose them to as many different things as possible. Ideally get them with a really good mentor, an older guy that can teach them some of the tricks to the trade. If you get all of those things together and the guy has a great work ethic, attitude and can build on the information, then the transition is usually quicker. You also have to have a level of patience because not all of them are going to develop the same ways.”

(On if Eric Barton will be Veikune’s mentor) – “You are looking for ideally more than one because he can play some outside, he can play some inside. There’s going to be a sub element he could play. If you have pass rush ability, a lot of times you get a chance to sub a down lineman in any time in our system.”

(On Brian Robiskie running a lap during practice) – “If you put the ball on the ground, you run. If you get a penalty, you run. There’s nothing more valuable than the football. Just looking at turnover, how giveaway-takeaway affects games every single year, it’s amazing. It’s dramatic how much one turnover or plus-one or minus-one can affect a game. There’s nothing more important than the ball and penalties are concentration errors. If you can’t concentrate long enough to get
the snap count, then we need to give you some time to concentrate on that.”

(On if officials will be at every practice) – “We will have them at every practice, maybe at walk through we wouldn’t have them at, but any other practice we will have officials there. We will track penalties every day in practice we will track them from OTAs to training to every single practice of the year –
types of penalties, who got the penalties, trends in penalties. We will try to do the best we can to keep educating them to the league office. We had a guy in New York who was one of the finalists for one of the official positions in the NFL. It’s sort of our developmental program. Hopefully one of our guys will go to the NFL at some point.”

(On if having officials at practice help decrease then in-game in New York) – “I like to think that it worked for us. The main things it does it raise consciousness and it keeps track of something that can be very easy to overlook. Where a guy gets a penalty one day maybe it’s two days later he doesn’t get one, but he gets one two days later, and you start stringing those weeks together and usually that’s the same guy that gets the penalty in the game. They can kill you. One holding penalty on a long return, we had one against San Francisco last year where a holding penalty brought a touchdown back. It happens every year, a key play is brought back and they are completely under our control, it’s just focus.”

(On if he selects corners because they played in a 3-4 in college) – “No, with Don (Carey), I’ve only had him for a day, but I don’t think it would matter what we were playing, he seems pretty smart.”

(On the drill performed at practice) – “That’s a tackling drill that we will do it pretty close to everyday during training camp. That’s one of those things where people get to pro football and a lot of people think, ‘I’ve tackled a thousand times or I’ve done this a million times, I’m a great tackler.’ But there are a lot of things that you can teach them on that drill. It’s straight ahead, we have another one that’s an angle tackling drill, and we use that to teach the runners how to run better, to teach the tacklers how to take better angles. It’s one-on-one, it’s not contact now, but there will be times during camp where it will be full contact or live. But it’s a skill like anything else, blocking, tackling, catching the football and we want to keep repping that fundamental to make sure that we can minimize the amount of missed tackles, and then also teach our guys the best way to run with the football and isolate that skill set and help them.”

(On the local players in camp) – “All these guys, they all have some different things that we like and it’s great that they are local guys. That wasn’t a total criteria but it’s nice to have a local connection whenever possible. I think that they are all kind of like the rest of the group, adjusting to the volume of information right now, trying to get their feet underneath them. You have to understand these guys have been doing the lecture circuit, the banquet circuit, a lot of interviews and not as much running and moving. I think they will be some sore, tired guys tonight.”

(On the percentage of targeted undrafted free agents were brought to camp) – “With that, you cast a pretty wide net. Because, you don’t know who is going to get drafted. Guys are looking at your roster versus other team’s rosters. They and their agent are trying to scan through that stuff and feel where they have the best probability of getting. So, I couldn’t tell you the batting average, but it was a wide net. We are happy with the guys that we have, I just couldn’t tell you the number that we started with.”

(On if the tackling drill discussed earlier is used during the regular season) – “We’ll do it more like you see today in the season. It wouldn’t be a live type thing. It could be thud, where you wrap up sort of but up, but don’t bring the guy to the ground. I think it’s one of the best teaching tools. It’s one-on-one and inevitably, you are either taking an angle or you are straight ahead on a ball carrier, and you can literally pull a play out of practice, put it next to a play on tape, and the angle will be exactly the same. It reinforces how important it is to guys. I’ve done it multiple times. It’s huge.”

(On James Davis) – “You evaluate more in terms of, “Did he press the hole well enough? Did he go to the right place often enough? Did he understand where he was in the flare control? So there are going to be a lot of nice cuts this weekend and the OTAs. You’ll hear the offensive coaches “oohing” and “aahing”, it’s one of the few times they can do it so you just let it go.”

(On if it was more of a streamlined approach putting together a staff this year than in 2006) – “Yes, it was really challenging in New York, going into a situation where every single person was new. There weren’t any shared experiences where I can say to Brian Schottenheimer, Hey remember that time we did x,y and z and right away it triggers something, he knows what I’m talking about, he can put that in place, or Bob Sutton or Mike Westhoff, those were all new guys that I was working with. With Rob (Ryan), with Brian (Daboll) and with Brad (Seely), there are shared experiences. Brian, adds the value of being with me in New York, so there are a lot of organizational things that he can take care of before I have to address it in a staff meeting. Then you add Jerome Henderson, Bryan Cox, Andy Dickerson, Rick Lyle and having those reps together is important and it does help move things along a lot more quickly.”

(On if it’s unwielding to a point about having a new staff) – “It is, because it’s the first time I’ve ever spoken in the team room. It’s the first time Brad (Seely) has ever presented there and inevitably the film doesn’t work or the presentation doesn’t work right or where each drill is going to be on the field, and all that stuff. It’s nothing huge, but it’s, you got to work through it and get through it, and it provides some good fodder for laughter later on.”

(On a response Mike Leach’s comments pertaining to his about Michael Crabtree) – “I can tell you that I had a good visit with Michael. I’m really happy he got drafted where he got drafted. I think he’ll have a great career. I said that after his visit, nothing has changed, nothing changed from that point, nothing will change two or three months from now.”

(On if Jim Brown will speak to the rookies) – “He didn’t speak to them today, but tomorrow night both Jim and Paul (Warfield) will talk to the group. I don’t think these guys have any idea how unique that is. They have no idea. They’ll probably realize it at some point in their life, but they have no idea. They’ll both speak to the group tomorrow night as part of our, not a rookie night, it’s part of the rest of the evening with the meetings and things, but a little bit different. Just focusing more on the history of the organization, we are giving them an introduction to that. We’ll have a couple of players speak as well to talk about their experiences and it’s a great night. It’s one of my favorite nights of the year, just because it is football, but it’s more about the spirit of football. Why we play football, appreciating all the people who have come before them and then to have that type of speaker line-up is pretty good.”

(On if current players will speak as well) – “Yes, we’ll have a couple players. Usually we take a high draft pick, either a low draft pick or an undrafted free agent, have them share their experience and talk about what was important to them, what they learned, try to give the guys a little bit of a layout of what is to come and what helped them. Hopefully, they can learn from their mistakes and benefit from their experience.”

(On how Jim Brown will fit with the new staff) – “We haven’t worked through the specifics of it, but I’m excited that he was able to come in today and I’m sure he’ll be around quite a bit. He is a great guy to talk to and there is a football side and then there is everything else that you can talk to him about. I have a foundation in Hartford that works with under resourced kids, I know that he has worked in Hartford before.  Hartford is a city that has faced a lot of difficulties, especially with the kids there. Some really sad things happening that our foundation tries to address, to whatever degree we can. I’d love to pick Jim’s brain, and see is there a way we can partner up there, or if he needs me somewhere to help him.”

(On who the current players are that will be speaking to the rookies) – “I have confirmation right now but I want to make sure. I know Jim will be there, I know Paul will be there. I’ll have Neal (Gulkis) share with you after we go through it.”

(On how much of a work load would you put on the two rookie linebackers) – “No, I’m much more of a believer of, give them a lot of information, see how much they can absorb, try to build as much flexibility as possible; get him used to thinking in terms of multiple positions, multiple adjustments, and that’s how they are trained. They are trained right from the bat, to deal with a volume of information, to deal with variables, because what we cover in training camp, part of that is going to carry over into a game week, but there is going to be a lot of game plan specific, things that we do. So, you need those guys to be able to absorb information, process it, practice it and then execute it. We like to train them from the onset that way.”

(On if a USC guy is better to plug into a system than a Hawaii guy) – “I think I’ve had guys from all different schools. It’s not necessarily the school as much the person, and their openness and their willingness to work and those things, as opposed to where they went.”

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2 Responses to “Mangini Talks to the Media Following the First Mini-Camp Practice”

  1. Clayton says:

    I agree with Mangini that it is a real treat for the players to get to speak with a legend like Jim Brown. It is nice to see that Jim will continue to play a key role in the organization.

  2. Jason says:

    He sounds to me like a guy that is proud of the accomplishment of building a staff and rafter of ex-Jets and non-impact draft picks, but with every week this thing reeks like a 4 year rebuilding plan.

    We’ve had other brainiacs in here before with numerous systems and tones – we’ve really lacked talent.

    It’s not here, so buckle up while Mangini sends new players on a lap, continues to bring in additional quarterbacks while preparing for another brady / DA debacle and disenfranchising the select few talented players along the way.

    2013 for a competitive franchise seems awfully painful, but more and more likely.

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