Reporting Daryl Ruiter
INDIANAPOLIS (92.3 The Fan) – Cleveland Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Thursday morning that their overall plan for this offseason has been worked out but not every decision has been made.
However, the needs are a plenty heading into the offseason.
“We’ve assessed all those areas,” Chudzinski said. “And we do have a lot of areas that we need to improve on. I’m not going to get into pinning down the specifics on that, but we do have a lot of needs, a lot of areas we can improve on.”
During a breakfast meeting with reporters Friday, Chudzinski declined to talk about impending free agents like Phil Dawson, Ben Watson and Josh Cribbs as well as any specifics related to team needs this offseason.
“We have an overall plan that we’ve been working on and working through for the last few weeks,” Chudzinski said. “It’s sort of a high level philosophy and there’s ongoing discussions and it’s an ongoing plan that we’re developing. At this time, not all the details have been worked out on that. Not all the discussion and specifics about every player have been worked out on that. So and that’ll be, we have 2 ½ weeks till we get into the free-agency period.
“We’ve been meeting trying to catch up with a lot of things, free agency being one of the major things. I think really the biggest thing is we’ve outlined what we want in terms of a philosophy on anything.”
Chudzinski has looked at quarterback Brandon Weeden and feels that he has the physical tools – including arm strength to make the throws within his offense but is anxious to get him on the field and in meetings so he can complete his evaluation.
“Certainly he has some good tools to work with,” Chudzinski said. “He had some success. You saw progress as the season went on last year. And again, I’m excited really with all of our guys, just getting them around and being around them a little bit more. And once we get them in meetings and get them on the field and start working with them, [we’ll] see where they can go from there. But I’m excited about Brandon.”
He’ll get a look at Weeden prior to the draft at a minicamp in mid-April. Because the Browns haired a new coaching staff, they are permitted to run a second minicamp as part of the offseason program.
While Chudzinski is excited about what he saw on film with Weeden, he hopes that offensive coordinator Norv Turner will help him solve his issues with inconsistency.
“He’s got a skillset that you’re excited about and I have all the confidence in the world that Norv will get Brandon to improve and ultimately it’s going to be on Brandon or on any player what they put it into and how much they commit to it,” Chudzinski said. “That’s going to be the difference.
“He has a really good arm, he can throw the ball, he can make all the throws that you need to throw, he has a good, calm poise and demeanor in the pocket.”
Weeden’s age has been talked about for a year but Chudzinski said that he views him as a 2nd year player and not a 29-year old quarterback.
Defensively, Chudzinski likes the flexibility already built into the front 7 and he will continue to look for it when supplementing the roster.
Jabaal Sheard can line up as a defensive end or stand up as an outside linebacker, and he feels that Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin and Billy Winn are capable of playing anywhere on the 3-man front.
“A lot of those things will be answered when we get on the field,” Chudzinski said. “The style of 3-4 we’re talking about, the guys we have are very adaptable to that and will fit in. What I really see with that group up front is a number of guys that can play multiple positions.
“One of the things Ray [Horton] said in the press conference was not to put limitations on guys. You want to find out what they can do and not say ‘They can’t do this. They can’t do that.’ Give them the chance to go there and we’ll zero in on what they can do well to hope us the most.”
The Browns’ latest rookie coach conceded that the team does need leadership on it but that doesn’t necessarily have to come from veteran players.
“Sometimes that’s the thing you think of when you don’t have a veteran, you don’t have leaders,” Chudzinski said. “But leaders can grow from the young group of guys. So we need strong leadership, we need good leaders. Where that comes from I’m not necessarily worried whether that comes from a veteran or whether that would come from a young guy.”