BEREA - General Manager Phil Savage met with the media to address some of the issues concerning the Browns. He has met with the media on a regular basis approximately six weeks apart over the past three seasons. However, he hasn't addressed the media in a formal setting since the Kellen Winslow incident and the email with the fan.
Savage has been criticized for not addressing some of those situations formally.
"I've been down here every four to six weeks and have had contact with most everyone through email or in some way," Savage said. "To be cast in the light that I was out of touch, I think is unfair."
Savage said this has been one of the toughest years he's experienced in his 20 plus years in the NFL.
"Obviously, this has been a tough year for us," he said. "The most prominent is our record at home. After being 7-1 last year and then 1-6 this year. We flashed our potential at times, particularly against the Giants."
Savage-- much like Randy Lerner a week ago—said he would not discuss any matters beyond the final four weeks of the season.
He was asked about his own situation of being the GM.
"I feel like I have four years left on my contract and would like to finish that out," he said. "I'm an open book. I can walk with my head held high. We have more things and players in place than we did. I would like to finish things off, but time will tell."
There were a variety of topics Savage addressed.
On his email response to the fan after the Bills game:
Savage: "It was very much out of the ordinary. I have responded to mostly positive ones. I responded to this one after the game when I was by myself on the bus. I think it has overshadowed the hundreds of emails I've received that were positive. It's not a good example of how I've dealt with the fans. To let one email take away from what we've done is unfortunate. I'm disappointed in myself for doing it, but it's been dealt with.
"This year has been a difficult season. It's been a hard season on everybody. Every time you think you have a handle on something, something crazy happens. The situation with the fan email, people would say I have thin skin, but this to shall pass."
On the Kellen Winslow situation, personally and his future:
Savage: "Kellen is under contract and that would be something after the four weeks. Prior to that week, we have gotten along well and we have since."
Relationship with Romeo Crennel:
Savage: "Romeo and I work well together. Do we have disagreements? Absolutely. When you lose games, it brings a lot of scrutiny. When you win games, it's glossed over."
On control over the 53-man roster:
Savage: "I've said that since I've got here. My responsibility is the 53-man roster. It's the coach's job who's inactive and who plays. Management doesn't dictate which quarterback plays or who plays. Is it talked about, absolutely, but it's the coach's decision."
Would you stay on if your role concerning control of the 53-man roster changed?:
Savage: "I can't comment on that one way or another. It's in my contract that I pick the 53. Obviously, something would have to change."
Is that common in the NFL?:
Savage: "Most of the teams are set up where the GM has control of the 53 man roster. I think about 22 of the 32 teams are that way. I interviewed five times for other jobs and if I'm not control of the 53 roster, than I might as well stay with Ozzie (Newsome in Baltimore). It's not uncommon."
On switching from the 3-4 to the 4-3:
Savage: "Whether it's the 3-4 or 4-3, we haven't discussed anything formally. My instruction to the scouting staff is to find players who are versatile enough to play either."
What went wrong this season?:
Savage: "The injuries and continuity hurt us early. The unevenness of our schedule might have been a factor, although we played well on Monday nights and that was a concern before the season. The lesson learned for a lot of our players is that it doesn't matter what you did last year. We didn't get a lot of carry over from last year. Losing Joe (Jurevicius) hurt us a lot on the field and off the field."
Do you think this team can still fight for a playoff spot next year?:
"I still do. Off the top of my head, I would say this year was more the exception than the rule. We have more than enough ability to compete and play good football, and we've shown that."
If surgery was an option on Brady Quinn's finger, why wasn't that done first?:
Savage: "As Romeo explained there were three options. If it was damaged further, he would probably have to shut it down but he wanted to play."
On the quarterback situation:
Savage: "We needed Derek to play well for enough games to get us into the playoffs. If it wasn't going to happen, we needed time for Brady to get out there and play and get some experience. Neither of those things happened."
Crennel said Quinn showed enough to be next year's starter, what are your thoughts?:
Savage: "Brady did a lot of positive things. He threw his first interception against the zone blitz. He threw on the run well. He brought us from behind against Denver. I thought he did a lot of good things. The intangibles were there."
In looking back, do you think Quinn should have been the starter from the start of the season?:
Savage: "Zero. Hindsight is 20-20. I don't think a team in the NFL would not consider a quarterback who threw 29 touchdown passes the year before to not be the starter in training camp."
Didn't you think highly enough to make the draft day trade to get Quinn?:
Savage: "At the time we drafted him, that was the case, but another player got an opportunity and took advantage of it."
On the play of Kamerion WImbley:
Savage: "I don't think anything has happened with Kamerion. He played 33 plays against the Colts and I think he has played solid football. He is around the football. He has taken criticism because his sack numbers are down. I know he is down because his numbers are down, but Kamerion hasn't had a lot of luck in terms of cheap sacks. I'm not disappointed in Kamerion Wimbley, I wish I had 53 of him."
Is it important for the Browns to establish a quarterback?:
"I think it's important. Every time we play, they point out the Browns have had 11 different quarterbacks. It's the identity. It's the one player the fans usually can identify."
Has the team given up?:
Savage: "I haven't seen a drop off in intensity. To do what our defense did against the Colts was good. The trend is when we have a bad play, we follow it up with another bad play. It has been a chain reaction for two or three plays. We have to get our focus or whatever and eliminate that. Some of it is the youth on our team, but not having the confidence to know when that time is to step up and make the big play."
Assess the play of Corey Williams:
Savage: "I give credit to Corey because he has played with a shoulder (injury) all year. For a second round pick to play all games and contribute. Can he play better? Yes. When he comes back next year, healthier, I think he will play better. I think Shaun (Rogers) has played better, but Corey is a good player."
On Braylon Edwards' drops:
Savage: "I don't know if there's a one answer to that question. He had 16 touchdown passes last year. The drops over shadow the touchdown catches. There have been times when he's had outstanding practices and seems to have come out of it. I think he's upset about the way he's played this year, but he'll come out of it."
Will you be the person responsible for making a decision on Crennel?:
Savage: "I don't know the answer to that."