BEREA, Ohio—In the end, potential and continuity won out in the Browns search for offensive coordinator.
John DeFilippo is the sixth offensive coordinator for the Browns in the last six seasons and Mike Pettine is hoping to stop that trend. He wants to build continuity on his staff like he feels he has on the defensive side with coordinator Jim O’Neil, who just completed his first year as coordinator, rather than a one and done system in recent years.
Pettine said he chose to hire DeFilippo as a first time coordinator, the plan is to allow DeFilippo to grow as the Browns develop on the offensive side of the ball, rather than hire a veteran coach set in his ways.
Pettine compared the hiring of himself by Rex Ryan as a first time coordinator in the NFL.
“It’s something that’s part of it, but I also look back and I think that’s the easy route to go, the safer route to go of, ‘Hey, this guy’s more of a brand name,’” Pettine said. “I’m sure a lot of people about midday yesterday were like, ‘Who the heck is John DeFilippo?’ Just like a lot of people were in New York when I went with Rex (Ryan) and was named the defensive coordinator, like a lot of people were here last year when Jim O’Neil was named the defensive coordinator.
“I think you have to weigh it, but when you look at if you know a guy’s ready and has that skill set and that the only thing that’s missing is that opportunity to do it I think that’s a route you can go,” he said. “I know John’s ready. Having been around him in 2009, had an outstanding interview here last year, was very much in the mix, but that’s something that you weigh into. I know on the outside there’s kind of that pressure to make more of a brand name hire.
“As I said a year ago, I’m not interested in winning offseason press conferences,” he said. “I’m interested in winning games in the fall. It was very clear to me after the extensive research that I did and the number of interviews that we did that John here is the answer for us.”
DeFilippo is undaunted by the fact the Browns are unsettled at the most important position at quarterback.
“No, I’ve been in this situation before,” he said. “At this point last year, Derek Carr wasn’t in the Oakland Raiders’ building. Derek had a very good rookie year. Obviously, we would like better. Our standard is very high. It’s going to continue to be high.
“I’ve been in this situation several times where we’ve either drafted a quarterback or signed a guy in free agency,” he said. “The last two years in Oakland we signed (Packers QB) Matt Flynn and we signed (Raiders QB) Matt Schaub. I’ve been in this situation before. No, that doesn’t scare me one bit.”
DeFilippo admitted he doesn’t know right now who the Browns quarterback will be.
“We’re not sure if our starting quarterback is in the building right now or not,” he said. “If he is that’s great. If he’s not that’s great too.
“Whoever’s in that room is going to be coached hard, be held accountable and be expected to do the things that we expect out of the Cleveland Browns quarterbacks.”
DeFilippo said his offense will be customized to what the Browns do best, even if that means keeping some of the terminology and schemes that were run last year.
“We’re going to put our playmakers in a lot of different spots,” he said. “I’m a big believer in that. We were very fortunate in Oakland to have a guy, (Raiders FB) Marcel Reece, we put in a bunch of different spots.
“There are some good, young tight ends here, some good, young backs that we’re looking to get matchups,” he said. “Are they going to line up in the backfield all the time? No. We’re going to try to exploit those matchups as much as we can, whether that be from shifting and motioning out of the backfield, whether that be to try to outflank people with motion, whether that be to just run somebody out and snap the ball on first sound and try to out-leverage the defense. We’re going to have a combination of those things and find out what our playmakers do well, and do those things over and over and over again so they can get great at them. No matter what the coverage is, they’re going to know how to run the route or block a play.”
DeFilippo also said that he expects to build on the positives the Browns accomplished in 2014 on offense.
“I can promise you this – whatever the Cleveland Browns do well and what they did well last year we’re going to continue to do.”