BEREA—When Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo enters the media room at the Browns headquarters in Berea, he begins his weekly press conference the same way.
No matter the result of the prior week, the man they call “Flip” looks across the room, puts a smile on his face and says “It’s great to see everybody.”
Those words may be hollow— a mere moment amidst his routine—but they’re engaging nonetheless.
While away from the lights of the cameras in the team meeting rooms in Berea, however, that same engaging quality seems to have made its way to the Browns and has endeared players like Browns receiver Brian Hartline to the man running the offensive show.
“He really has a passion and a care for the guys playing for him,” Browns receiver Brian Hartline said. “He does his best job to get everyone involved.”
If the passion for each of his players isn’t evident in his words, it’s evident in his actions on the sidelines, in the meeting rooms and, most importantly, on the field.
His desire to get each and every offensive player the football is his primary prerogative— a notion that the Browns offense certainly cherishes.
“Throughout the week he tries to make a conscious effort of having everyone involved,” Hartline said. “A lot of guys appreciate that.”
One of those guys is running back Duke Johnson, who feels the love from DeFilippo on the field and off, despite being an NFL rookie.
“I think the biggest thing that stands out to me is that he tries to get everyone the ball,” Johnson said. “He tries to get everybody to be a part of the game and just trying to do different things and create mismatches the best way he can.”
As Johnson mentioned, DeFilippo’s effort to get everyone the ball isn’t always based on keeping guys happy.
Rather, it’s a plan founded in a vast knowledge of the game— a quality that head coach Mike Pettine noticed in DeFilippo right away.
"The one thing I learned about him very quickly when I hired him is just it's the combination of passion and football intelligence,” Pettine said. “When a play breaks down, he knows immediately why it happened. He's very good at troubleshooting.”
Though “Flip” is in his first year as an NFL offensive coordinator, the Browns seem to have a collective belief that his abilities in the position mirror those of someone far more experienced.
“Every OC is different,” Hartline said, when asked how he compared to other offensive coordinators he’s worked with. “Obviously, this is his first go at it, but by talking to him and how he prepares and how he goes about it, you wouldn’t think that.”
In addition to acting like an experienced coordinator, DeFilippo is coaching like one too.
Leading an offense captained by 37-year old quarterback Josh McCown and featuring a field of puny pass-catchers, DeFilippo has managed to make the Browns the NFL’s seventh-best offensive team in terms of total yardage.
He also helped McCown towards a record-breaking performance against the Ravens, in which the veteran threw for a Browns regular-season, single-game record of 457 yards in a 33-30 overtime win.
Though his role in the Browns offensive turnaround hasn’t gone unnoticed, DeFilippo himself hasn’t paid much attention to the praise.
“I will be honest with you, no offense to anyone here, but I don’t really read much,” DeFilippo said. “I really don’t.”
Though he wasn’t willing to take praise for himself for the play of McCown and the Browns offense, he was more than willing to dole out praise to the top-ranked Denver defense that Flip will have his hands full with on Sunday.
“The Denver Broncos defense is a fabulous unit,” DeFilippo said. “They are ranked number one in the league for a reason and they show it on the field… They play with a ton of speed and a ton of energy and they rally to the football better than most teams I have seen in the league so far this season.”
With his biggest challenge as an offensive coordinator to this point directly ahead, DeFilippo’s plan of attack goes as follows.
“We are going to try to get the ball out of our hand. We are going to change up some protections and keep them off balance as much as we can,” DeFilippo said. “It is definitely a pass rush we are going to respect, but at the same time we are not going to shy away from.”
If DeFIlippo’s plan comes to fruition and the Browns offense brutalizes Denver’s D, the coach must continue to deflect praise he’ll no doubt receive.
If his attack falters, however, Flip will be more than willing to accept the criticism.
To him, it’s all part of the job.
"There are going to be some weeks when you have good weeks that you are going to get that praise and, believe me, there are going to be some weeks when it doesn't go so good and you are going to get it the other," DeFilippo said. "That is the price you pay when you sit in the big-boy chair."
For all of your Browns news, updates and analysis from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.