New Browns coordinator unfazed by uncertainty at quarterback
Jan. 22, 2015
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — The perception of dysfunction didn't frighten John DeFilippo away from the Browns. He wasn't intimidated by their muddled mess at quarterback or a parade of offensive coordinators hired and fired before him.
Working with Johnny Manziel wasn't a red flag, either.
DeFilippo's believes he's ready for the biggest challenge of his career, whether the Browns know who their starting quarterback will be in 2015 or not.
"I've been in this situation before," he said.
The 36-year-old DeFilippo, an Ohio native proud of his blue-collar work ethic and reputation for mentoring young quarterbacks, was introduced Thursday by Browns coach Mike Pettine. Pettine hired someone he knows well to run his offense after accepting Kyle Shanahan's resignation.
DeFilippo spent the past three years as quarterbacks coach in Oakland, where he worked last season with Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who showed promise during his rookie season.
"We're not sure if our starting quarterback is in the building right now or not," DeFilippo said. "If he is, that's great. If he's not, that's great, too, and whoever is in that room is going to be coached hard and held accountable and be expected to do the things that we expect out of a Cleveland Browns quarterback."
Pettine has described Cleveland's quarterback situation as "muddy at best." The Browns started Brian Hoyer in the first 13 games before benching him in favor of Manziel, the celebrated rookie who played poorly in two starts and made his biggest impression with some off-the-field antics.
The Browns will spend the next few weeks evaluating the troubling position — Cleveland has started 22 quarterbacks since 1999. Hoyer is eligible for free agency in March, and the Browns have not committed long-term to Manziel, who did nothing to show he could be the team's future QB during six shaky quarters behind center.
DeFilippo. who described himself as "pretty low-ego guy," was in a similar spot last year before the Raiders drafted Carr.
"At this point last year Derek Carr wasn't in the Oakland Raiders building," he said. "Derek had a very good rookie year. I've been in this situation several times where we've either drafted a quarterback or signed a guy in free agency. I've been in this situation before. That doesn't scare me one bit."
Pettine praised DeFilippo's people skills and ability to connect with players. The two men — both the sons of high school coaches — grew close during the 2009 season when they were together on Rex Ryan's staff with the New York Jets. Pettine knows DeFilippo's name may not be recognized outside coaching circles, but he's confident the Youngstown, Ohio, product is ready to oversee an NFL offense.
"I'm sure a lot of people were like, 'Who the heck is John DeFilippo?'" Pettine said. "I know John's ready. I know on the outside there's kind of that pressure to make more of a brand-name hire. I'm not interested in winning offseason press conferences. I'm interested in winning games in the fall."
Pettine didn't hesitate in accepting Shanahan's resignation. Once Shanahan made it clear he wasn't happy in Cleveland, Pettine decided to make the change rather than bring back a coach not fully committed to the team's future. Pettine said Shanahan's decision to leave with two years left on his contract had nothing to do with his dissatisfaction with Manziel.
"I know it's easy to say 'Hey he's under contract, hold him to it,'" Pettine said. "Now there's a dark cloud over your coaching offices and I've been a part of that. This business, it's hard to win and you've got to have everybody into it, passionate about the Cleveland Browns and pulling the rope in the same direction."
NOTES: Pettine plans to immerse himself more in Cleveland's offense next season after focusing on defense in his first season. ... Pettine recently met with NFL investigators who spoke to about member of the personnel department sending texts to the sideline during games. Pettine declined to comment further until the investigation is over.
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