Ray Farmer Press Conference

Ray Farmer: "The things that we embodied and the things that we kind of accomplished this year brought us back to seeing the good and the bad. There are positives and negatives."

Opening statement:

“End of the year, so thank you everybody for attending my end of the year synopsis for how the Browns played this year. I would tell you it was invaluable for us this year in setting a foundation that we think that’s going to put our team in the direction that we want to be able to achieve sustainable success. I guess the simple term for me that I would say is the word…It was ‘necessary.’ We went through this year. The things that we embodied and the things that we kind of accomplished this year brought us back to seeing the good and the bad. There are positives and negatives. I would tell you there are two sides to this season. We started in a direction where there were some positives early. Then, there were some negatives late. I think those are obvious, and I think in that instance we learned a lot about ourselves. We learned a lot about our culture. We learned a lot about that foundation that we’re trying to lay, and it’s not perfect right now. It’s going to require us sanding some edges and making some adjustments, and we recognize that. I would also say that we’re obviously not happy with how things finished up at the end of the season. Our goals are to sustain winning over a long period of time here, and we fell short of that goal this year. I’d also like to say that from my point, I think it’d be a discredit to the players, the staff, the coaches, everyone that was involved in this thing not to really requisitely look at positives that were accomplished this year. Bringing meaningful football to Cleveland in the month of December is I think something we should hang out hats on and be positive about, as well as the ability to start to establish a culture of creating accountability, the next man up philosophy I think that ‘Pett’ (Head Coach Mike Pettine) talked about during the course of the year was important for us, and moving this foundation and this franchise forward towards our goals at the end of the day is really what we’re focused on here. There are a lot of things that we really want to make sure we get across. I think that from Coach Pettine, (Owner) Jimmy Haslam, (President) Alec Scheiner, myself, all believe that at the end of the day this is about creating a culture where we consistently win, and at the end of the of the day we find a way to bring championships to the city of Cleveland. With that in mind, I’ll open it up for questions.”

On QB Johnny Manziel talking a good game again yesterday to the media saying he wants to be held accountable and he wants to change his behavior and if he believes Manziel:

“I would tell you that the words don’t mean anything. I’m not a big word guy. It’s all about action. I think that’s really where we’re at in time, and I think that’s for everybody. I think that’s what all of our players and our coaches and our staff, everybody with this organization want to see. That’s what our fans want to see. It’s about action.”

On if he thinks Manziel can still develop into an elite quarterback:

“I do think he can develop into a solid starter in this league, yes. I think that the sample size that’s available is, like you said, small. I’d say to that end, we all have got to be patient. I think there’s an opportunity for the guy to make changes. It’s up to him if he’s going to make those changes, but I think the talent is in his body to accomplish that.”

On if he expected Manziel’s off-the-field actions when he drafted him:

“I would say there’s a notation and there’s an idea of what Johnny is. Some of it’s true. Some of it’s not true. There are pieces that everybody comes to understand because that’s what gets reported. There are pieces that people don’t get to understand because that’s never reporter. I’ll tell you that there’s good and bad, and sometimes we hang our hats on the bad a little too much. There’s good in there, and there are things he can hang his hat on to move forward with.”

On the good things about Manziel that others don’t see:

“I do think that he cares. I do know he’s competitive. At the end of the day, I’ll be frank and candid and say that it’s obvious but he does need to grow up some, and that maturity issue’s there. Beyond that, I do think that there are redeemable qualities that can help him improve himself over time.”

On what Manziel showed him as a player to make him think that he could be a starter:

“The same things he showed me in college. I think he can be consistently accurate with the football. I do think he has mobility to escape the pocket, and I do think that his desire and his competitiveness give him an edge that a lot of players don’t have.”

On saying that Manziel can be a solid starter and if that’s good enough:


On if he needs Manziel to be an elite starter:

“I’d ask I don’t know how many elite starters exist. In my mind, I would say there are no more than four or five of them in the league at any one point in time. I would say that if that’s the case then the vast majority of the league plays with guys that are not elite starters. That classification, in my mind, is a very small class when we use the word ‘elite.’”

On if he has the culture he’s talking about when DB Justin Gilbert, WR Josh Gordon and Manziel acted the way they did over the weekend:

“Yes. Like I said, I think the foundation is heading in the right direction, but it’s not perfect. This is the first year of an organization moving forward, and there’s going to be times when things aren’t exactly how you want them and you’ve got to make those adjustments and those changes as things move forward.”

On if he will release Gilbert, Gordon or Manziel:

“That’ll be a conversation that we have between the staff and the coaches. We’ll make that determination, and then if it does happen it’ll happen in time. It won’t happen today.”

On if the Browns are looking to develop Manziel into their starting quarterback or they don’t know if they can count on him and have to find other people who can start next season:

“I would tell you that we’re constantly in search for guys that we think improve our roster. I would say all of the above. He’ll be given every opportunity to contribute and compete, and he’ll also have to compete against guys that could be draft choices. They could be free agent selections. They could be any number of stones that we overturn to try to find the right guy to bring in here to help improve our roster.”

On what happened to the running game in the last half of the season and what he does to fix it:

“I think there are a lot of things that happened. I would also contend that it’s probably a better question for Pett. From a personnel perspective, I think that we’ve got to continue to improve our roster. We’ve got to continue to try to find guy that win those one-on-one battles. Football is the ultimate team game in my mind, but it’s made up of a collection of individuals. Those individuals have to be able to, again, adhere to and prosper in the next-man-up philosophy. You never know when your names going to be called. Regardless of the injuries, I know there was a lot made of Alex Mack going down, and I won’t minimize that because I think the guy’s a really, really, really, really good football player. In that instances though, he’s just one piece of a puzzle, and the puzzle’s got to work in unison in order for it to be successful.”

On Manziel being on South Beach, if Manziel has been cleared to leave and his reaction to videos on Manziel partying:

“Pics may be authentic. Everybody was allowed to leave here yesterday. They’ll be back next week. Everybody was given the first several days to detox from the season, and people will be back in town starting Monday. Assuming he is in South Beach and he’s down there, that’s his right to have right now, and he’ll be back assuming that that’s what happens.”

On what he thinks of QB Brian Hoyer, Hoyer’s future and how he played this season:

“I think Brian Hoyer did some good things for us this year, and at the end of the day his future is in his hands. He’s a free agent now that the season’s over with. When we get to the new league year he’ll be a free agent, and he has decisions that he needs to make.”

On Hoyer saying that he’d like to be back if he’s wanted back and Pettine saying that he’s not sure that circumstances would allow Hoyer being re-signed to happen:

“I’d say both parties are right. I’d say if he wants to be back that leverage is definitely in his court to make that happen. Assuming that we could agree to that deal and what that deal looks like, then that opportunity’s available. If we can’t come to that agreement then he obviously would not be back. I think that there’s a lot of work to be done in that regard. I would say, from a business perspective, people don’t always see eye to eye. Your value for how you see something versus my value of how I see it doesn’t always come together, and that’s how things don’t happen. That’s something probably for Brian’s agent and I to work out, Brian will have, obviously, a lot of input in that. We’ll have the conversations as to how we think Brian can help our roster moving forward in the next upcoming week or so.”

On if Hoyer can be a solid starter and if Hoyer was a solid starter for the first nine games:

“For the first nine games, absolutely. He was credible, functional, gave us a chance to win games. We won seven games, and again, at the end of the day football’s a team game. I think way too often we make a lot out of the fact that this one guy was the impotence behind success. I think when you really break down the game there are a lot of reasons that teams win and lose ball games. It’s not always the quarterback’s fault that he won or that he lost. It’s not always his fault that he lost or he won. As I look at it, I think it’s pretty simple. A guy’s got to be given the chance to compete, and if he competes and does the things that are necessary to help us win games then that’s generally enough.”

On how the wide receivers played this year:

“Thought they played well. Again, I’m a believer that this whole notion that you’ve got to have this one guy that’s the silver bullet is a myth. I think it’s like trying to catch werewolves and vampires. They just don’t exist. I’m a big believer in it’s a team sport, and when we combine the requisite skill sets necessary to let guys have success we have that success. We saw that earlier this year that we were missing certain key components that people thought were high-value targets and assets for us, but we played team football. As a result of that, we were able to have success.”

On if WR Josh Gordon coming back messed that up in any way:

“Again, no one person causes or derails anything. We as a group have to overcome whatever obstacles we have, and we didn’t do that late in the year. I wouldn’t put that on Josh. I wouldn’t put that on any one individual.”

On how he thought Mike Pettine did in his first year as the Browns head coach:

“Excellent. I like Pett. I think he’s a really good coach. I think that he’s very deliberate with our players. He’s very deliberate with his messaging. He’s very aware and astute of the things that need to happen and transpire, and he carries that message forward on a daily basis. I think the guys in the locker room respect him. I think they play their hearts out for him, and I think he was absolutely right in his comments the other day about the respect necessary for those guys that went out on the field on Sunday and tried to get us a victory in Baltimore. Granted, we came up short, but our guys played hard. I think that’s a true testament to who Mike Pettine is.”

On if there’s anything he has to work on:

“Yeah, I think we all have things to work on. I think that’s part of what we’re building here is that there is a level of self-accountability. I think we constantly look at each other and question not what did you do right, but what did you do wrong because if we fix those things that are wrong we’ll get better. It’s not about accentuating the positives all the time for us. It’s about really truly being critical and looking at the negatives for what we’ve done wrong this past year and trying to grow those.”

On how he assesses his first draft now that the season is over:

“I would say undetermined. We have a lot of pieces to the puzzle that came in. There are guys that contributed. There are pieces that played and played well. There are pieces that didn’t play, and so the sample size for some of those players is not great enough for anybody to say, ‘This is great. This is bad. This is whatever.’ Again, I’m more into the let’s take our time and see what guys develop into. At the end of the day, some guys contributed right away. Other guys didn’t. I think that’s a part of the process.”

On if Manziel has to be back on Monday because he’s an injured guy:

“It’s not just Monday. The guys have different time frames between Monday and...next week those guys will be back at some point - the guys that were injured.”

On if he will reevaluate some of the tools he used in the last draft as far as researching players:

“We’ve already done it. We’ve already changed staff. We’ve changed our processes. There are a lot of things that you inherit the first year you get it, and so after the draft we made certain changes. We made a lot of changes. We added a lot of experience to our group this year. We changed our processes, we changed how we do things and we changed how we look at the players. We’ve gone with some tried and true methods of some of the older scouts that we brought in because that experience matters, and so moving forward, it will be different. There will be changes to it.”

On if there was anything around the draft about Gilbert’s work ethic:

“I will tell you that there were obviously things he needed to work on and you know those things coming in. There’s also the feeling of this guy is on the right path and the right track. Like most young kids, did he have some issue during the time he was in college? Absolutely, but that information had also stated that he had turned the corner, was moving in the right direction. You do your research. You hang on it. I think the easiest way to put it is there is an inexact science to this thing, but you know certain pieces and you would hope and think that you could move guys past some of those small issues that they had while they were in college.”

On what he thinks after a year:

“Again, I still think it’s early. He had his issues. People mature differently. When some of the people in this room were 18, they may have acted like they were 35. Others acted like they were 18. It’s just a part of the process. People mature at different times.”

On if Owner Jimmy Haslam made the call to draft Manziel:
“He didn’t. He did not.”

On if he was the top rated quarterback on his board heading into the draft:

“Again, I don’t get into telling anybody what was on my board. At the end of the day, Jimmy did not make the call. I know a lot of people want to stick that on Jimmy, but for the world to hear, Jimmy Haslam did not make that call. He didn’t try to influence the decision. He didn’t try to push it in a different direction. He did none of those things.”

On quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains saying that Haslam said to pull the trigger and trade up to draft Manziel:

“Again, I can say with 100-percent certainty Dowell Loggains was not in the room when that discussion happened. Dowell was not in that room when that discussion happened.”

On the team’s thinking in going to Manziel who admitted he wasn’t ready in one of the most important games of the season:

“I think being ready and what you kind of assume that is going into it are different afterwards. I believe had you asked him prior to the game going into it if he was ready, he would had said, ‘Yes, I’m ready.’ Then after experiencing it for the first time in a regular NFL season game where people game plan you and set up differently, I would tell you that his feelings probably changed. It would be interesting to understand what his mindset was prior to that. I would assume, and my conversations with him, because I had that conversation with him prior to the game, he felt like he was ready, but the exposure that happened to him during the course of that game obviously changed him mindset.”

On the team watching him in practice every day:

“Yeah, but there’s a difference. I guess what I’m saying to you is that on one side of the coin, when you prepare and you think you’re ready, you’re experiences that demonstrate that you’re not, give you that. That’s his first time playing in an NFL regular season game. I would believe and my conversation with him is that, like I said, he had a positive notion going in, but then it was turned around on him.”

On if he believed he was ready:


On what this year was necessary to do and what was necessary for next year:

“Necessary to continue to move the franchise forward. I think we were playing meaningful football in December in Cleveland for the first time since I don’t know when. We had a chance to win our division. We were competing. We played it right down to the last game, and that’s what we want to continue to do. Now, we have to find a way to win those games. I think there’s one game this year where I felt like we didn’t look like we belonged, and that was the second Cincinnati game. We got throttled pretty good. Beyond that, we played in every football game and our guys stepped up. They played well, and they demonstrated they were a credible NFL football team. To move that forward next year, we’ve got to find a way to win those close games. Maybe five or six games this year were decided for us in the last minute of the game, maybe two minutes. That’s a product of trying to...now you’ve got to figure out how to win. We’re there. We’re at the doorstep. The question is can we continue to advance the football and move it across the line.”

On what his expectations for Manziel this offseason and what they need him to do so they can count on him for next year:

“Don’t talk about it. Just be about it. Pretty simple. The things that you know that are required of you, do those things and do them in a consistent manner. That’s probably the best way to assess it is that, like Pett said, when you demonstrate that you can do certain things, it’s that level of consistency that really makes you a pro.”

On if he wants Manziel to not be seen all over Instagram and Twitter partying:

“That’s going to be his lot in life. Regardless if he’s out drinking Voss water and somebody sees him somewhere, they’re going to take a picture and tweet it and it’s going to be relayed as though this guy is out and he’s doing whatever. That’s his lot in life. That’s where he’s at. The reality is he’s going to have to become a hermit if he doesn’t want people to take pictures of him, so I doubt he’s going to do that. I think we’ve also got to take with a grain of salt that every time this guy is somewhere it doesn’t mean he’s up to no good or it’s negative. We have to be conscientious that we just want him to do the things that are necessary for him to be an NFL quarterback.”

On the fact that he’s always going to be a distraction to some degree and if the team is willing to go forward with that in mind:

“I don’t know if it’s a distraction. It’s a distraction when people allow things to be a distraction. Just because I’m out and somewhere and somebody takes a picture of me and my wife or me with my kids or me doing whatever wherever I’m at, doesn’t mean that I’m actually doing anything negative. Everybody is allowed to have a private life. I believe that. I think that I’m a public figure. I’m in the public like now, but it doesn’t mean I can’t go and golf or sit on the beach or do whatever I do on my own time. Again, for us or for me, it really points to the fact that we need him to do the things it takes to be an NFL quarterback. That doesn’t mean that he can’t have a private life or do the things away from football that he enjoys, but again, to some degree it’s what he’s going to have to deal with. It’s who he is. People are going to take pictures and look at him and tweet about him. We have to deal with that circumstance if he’s going to be a part of this team.”

On if him being out with his kids and some of the stuff Manziel has done like being involved in a fight at his apartment and being at draft parties the night of the draft apples and oranges:

“Again, I’m just making a point that there was a statement made earlier that the man was in South Beach. Again, I don’t know what those pictures are. I don’t know what has happened, but if he’s in South Beach and he’s walking the beach and somebody takes a picture of him, that’s his lot in life. He’s not going to be able to just walk around and be obscure I guess is the point I’m making. There are a lot of us that walk in the circle of anonymity. When I leave this building not a lot of people recognize me, so I can just walk out to the mall and enjoy my day. It’s not the same for him I guess is the point that I’m making. I understand what you’re saying, but the realities are that he’s going to have to live a different life than I lead or people that can walk in anonymity can lead because he doesn’t have that luxury.”

On concerns of Manziel’s performance on the field rather than his extra-curricular activities:

“That’s my point, I think that he’s going to have to come here and demonstrate that he’s ready to be an NFL quarterback and as long as he takes the necessary steps to do those things and to perform on the field, make himself accountable to his teammates and the organization than that’s a whole other conversation.”

On what he’s seen in seven quarters from Manziel that makes him thinks that he can be a successful quarterback:

“Everything that he did in the three years that he was in college.”

On if Manziel is equipped to play quarterback at his given height:

“I just completely disagree with measurables. I think that everybody makes a big deal about being 6’5” or 6’4”, whatever that height precursor may be, but I tell you that (Seattle Seahawks QB) Russell Wilson is not tall. I tell you that (former NFL QB) Jeff Garcia wasn’t tall. There’s a lot of players, (New York Jets QB) Michael Vick wasn’t tall. There’s a lot of guys that they can play, they can win and be successful in this league that are not tall people. So yeah, stature means nothing to me.”

On the status of TE Jordan Cameron and what other pieces are needed on the team so that the load doesn’t fall squarely on the quarterback:

“To answer the first piece of that: Yes, the goal is to build a team that, I use the (term) lighten the load so the quarterback doesn’t have to carry everything. To that tune you ask about (TE) Jordan Cameron I would say that he had an interesting year. He battled some things this year, wasn’t as productive as he was the previous year. To that tune, I know in a lot of respects, he had some personal disappointment behind that but it doesn’t diminish kind of what he is or who we think he can be. The reality moving forward is that we’re going to drive for competition as every spot. We’re going to look to improve every player. It sounds like it’s not attainable but I think that goal is to constantly look for players that can improve your roster. Pushing competition at every spot, everybody’s got to compete for their job. Nobody gets it handed it to them. As long as we continue to operate in that philosophy and we’re not afraid to move forward with the next man up then it forces guys to perform in a way that is going to improve our football team because that competition is what truly drive the best out of people.”

On his stance on WR Josh Gordon’s representatives contesting his final game suspension:

“I probably don’t have a stance or shouldn’t have a stance, but I’m sure that they probably will contest it. From our perspective it is what it is and we’ll deal with that through the right channels.”

On his concerns of Gordon’s overall dependability and commitment:

“Again, I know I’m old school in certain respects and I came through with coaches like Dan Reeves and Ray Rhodes and other guys that coached back in the 80’s and 90’s. One of the things that I was told when I was a young player in this league it that your best ability maybe your availability. We tend to believe that to some degree where you’ve got to be accountable to yourself, to others and to this organization. I think that Jimmy (Browns’ owner Jimmy Haslam) made that clear after the game. I think that Pett (Browns head coach Mike Pettine) made that clear yesterday, I guess I’m just putting the period on it today.

On if Gordon is considered a lost cause:

“I’m not going to say that. I would tell you that I strive in every respects to give every guy the opportunity to achieve success. I’m not going to diminish, talk bad, or not try to help someone achieve the end goal which is to get it right and I’ll take it as far as I can get it. Whenever that determination is made this person is done with the Browns, we’ll make that determination then. Every player that I will stand by, I will work with them and I’ll make sure that they get the best - whether it’s help that they need, whether it’s assistance, whether it’s opportunities, I will fight tooth-and-nail to get those guys those things and when they demonstrate that they’re either un-savable or we can’t help them anymore, or they don’t want the help, then we’ll move on. It’s different for every single guy.”

On whether he’s still fighting for Gordon:

“Again, I will tell you that I’m not one to talk publicly about my interactions with the players and I’ve had conversations with Josh, recent and past. When the final determination is made, Josh will be the first to know and then everybody else will find out after that.”

On the team’s running backs Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell:

“I like them. Actually, I like all of them. I like (RB) Shaun Draughn, a kid who we brought in late and contributed on special teams. I like (RB) Glenn Winston, who nobody really got a chance to see carry the ball but I think he’s got some upside to him and I think that everyone likes to reference ‘Crow’ (RB Isaiah Crowell) and West (RB Terrance West) and to that tune I would tell you that they both have chances to be successful players in this league and have the upside to carry enough of the load for us.”

On what both RB’s need to learn and develop going forward:

“From a variety of perspectives all guys got to learn that it’s not what it used to be. You have a lot of guys that come to NFL teams as they were the man. Let’s use Terrance West as an example: This guy has been given the football 25-30 times a game from the time he was a kid until this year. I think it’s hard for guys to realize that ‘Okay, you know what? I’m not going to get it 25-30 times,’ and so there’s some maturity there with him saying ‘okay, look I’m going to get 18 carries, I’m going to get 17 or 13 or 15 (carries),’ whatever that number is going to be and just make the most of them. In the tune of that, knowing the way that you get more and more opportunity is to be better and better in ancillary situations. Are you really good in (pass protection), do you really understand the intricacies of the game and as guys kind of get those little nuances of how to get more and more play time, they get better. I would say the same is true with Crow (RB Isaiah Crowell) is that he had his issues at (University of Georgia), all well documented, it is what it is and he went to different school and had his chance to have a lot of success. He’s trying to build to find out what does that look like, how many carries am I going to get. I hate to say this, it’s almost like being in an all-star game and everybody wants to take the shot, everybody wants the ball and when you have a young team that’s kind of what a young NFL team goes through is everybody wants the ball, everybody wants to be the guy to make that opportunity happen and guys have to earn that we have to share to succeed, and the more they get that sharing under their belt the better we all become.”

On whether he would have drafted a WR last year knowing what did about Josh Gordon:

“Not very. I hate to say it, I know everyone says I’m stubborn or I’m going to be abstinent about this wide receiver position but I just think that at the end of the day an offensive line affects every single play of the game. A wide receiver may touch the ball ten time if he’s having a great day so I just like the idea of let’s get the guys that affect the game all the time and let’s try and get those guys and make a difference for our football team. Doesn’t take away from any wide receiver in the game because I think that there’s a ton of them that are really good players and they affect the game. Again, the rookies this year - phenomenal. Great job by a lot of those guys. They were high-drafted or high selected oriented players on our board. I know I said I wouldn’t talk about our (draft) board but to that tune, they were high there as how we valued what they were capable of doing. But then again, can you piece it together? I think you most certainly can with guys that have traits that translate to the type of offense that you want to run.”

On whether he would hesitate to use a first round pick on a QB in two consecutive years:

“Nope, I would not. I would not hesitate to take whoever I thought could help this football team and move us forward. The goal is win it’s not to draft any particular person or players, simply to win. If we win, that’s all that matters. It’s not mine so I will give credit to (Brown Executive Chief of Staff ) Bill Kuharich who taught me this but W.I.N. is what’s important now and that’s what we’re going focus on at every turn is what’s important now. It’s what you do during the course of the season when you have a guy go down you pop the next guy in. When you get to the offseason you try to plan and create for what’s important now. What is important now is truly identifying who is on this team that we should keep around, and who’s not, and to that tune how do we improve our roster moving forward and then how do we draft to what we’ve already garnished free-agency or what we lost. So that’s the steps will take here coming up.”

On if teams have asked him permission to interview offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan:

“I don’t think that I should talk about those things in this venue. I think that information will get out, I don’t know how it gets out, but it’ll get out at some point. But I’m not a big proponent of putting all of that information out there.”

On what the last week says about his first round draft picks:

“That’s for you guys to decide. I mean from my perspective it goes right back to what I said initially, which we’ve got to give guys time to do what they do and when the guys don’t do it in time then you make those determinations. But when guys show that they can do it a certain point in time, like Pett eluded to yesterday, it comes down to being consistent and with a lack of consistency is what - inconsistency and you see those blemishes and those warts in whether they show up week two or week 17 they obviously exist and so to that tune, We’ve got to try and get guys, like Pett said, that 90 percentile where they’re constantly doing things consistently right.”

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