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Browns CEO Joe Banner addresses quarterback situation, state of team

By Nate Ulrich Published: November 13, 2013

Browns CEO Joe addressed the state of the team today following a news conference in which the organization unveiled its plans for renovations to FirstEnergy Stadium. Below are some of the highlights from Banner’s discussion about the football side.

On the Browns having a 4-5 record and getting ready to visit the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) for a crucial game Sunday: “I think we're super excited. We're playing well and we're playing hard and having games that matter. I think you've all heard me talk about all year the things that I think most are important right now and you look at those things and the way the team keeps playing and the systems are getting installed under a new coach, and I think it’s basis to be encouraged and I think it's a lot of fun to participate in the game and we're confident we're going to play hard and play good. They're a good team, and I think we're starting to establish ourselves as a competitive team, so it will be a fun afternoon.”

On the strong performances of quarterbacks Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer, both of whom entered this season as backups to Brandon Weeden: “When we were asked at training camp, we said we felt good about all three guys, and it's not often you get to your second or third quarterback. So it's a testament to the coaches and a testament to the players who are working hard and playing hard and really implementing what they're being asked to do. So I think it's all very encouraging both short-term and long-term.”

On whether the strong performances of Campbell and Hoyer this season could keep the Browns from picking a quarterback in the early in the 2014 draft: “I think we're going to have to get to the end of the season and see exactly where we are. Our commitment to the draft is to try and pick and the best players we can as opposed to trying to force anything at any positions. So I think we've got a lot left to learn as the season goes on in terms of finding what we want to do and where the strengths of the draft are.”

On how great of a problem it would be for the Browns to have Hoyer come back really healthy from his torn ACL early on and for Campbell to continue to play well: “I don’t think I’d use the word ‘problem’ in that sentence. Listen, you want to have as many good players as you can and the more good players you have at the most important positions, the better you are. Whether they’re assets or whether they become part of the long-term plan, that can only be a good thing.”

On Campbell’s performances in the past two games: “I think he’s played well. He’s played hard. He’s played smart. He’s played very determined. It’s clear the players around him are responding well to him. I think he’s living up to or exceeding expectations. It’s great to see.”

On whether the Browns are comfortable with proceeding with two healthy quarterbacks, Campbell and Weeden, for rest of this season: “I think we’re evaluating that week by week, and so far we’ve been deciding that we’re OK doing that.”

On Weeden’s future: “When we get to January and we’ve got all the information from the whole season, all those kinds of questions, I don’t want to isolate it just to the quarterback position, we’ve got a lot of areas of the team that are in an evaluative stage. When we get to January, we’ll sit down and discuss where we’re at.”

On the job Rob Chudzinski has done so far in his first season as an NFL head coach: “Hard pressed to think that in nine weeks a first-time head coach can do any better or any more than he’s doing. All of the measurables that you’d look to come up with, if you even wanted to create a yardstick of measuring at this moment, I just think he’s doing an outstanding job.”

On scouting college quarterbacks: “Everybody involved in personnel is working hard on scouting all of the players available. I don't want to isolate it to a position. We've got scouts out all over the country. We've got a number of people in the offices that are working hard every day, gathering character information and watching film and writing up reports. We're going to be very, very prepared when we get to April and May. We're going to be very, very prepared.”

On if the 2014 quarterback class is as great as most people assume it is: “It’s too early to say that. I think there’s a number of prospects out there. It’s too early to say what the storytelling versus the eventual assessments are going to be.”
 
On if he still believes the 2014 draft would be better than the 2013 draft: “I was optimistic that that was the case. I think from what we’re seeing that I still believe this is going to be a draft that is going to a fairly strong draft. It’s too early to say that conclusively, but the optimism we had about that in April, I’d say we’re even more optimistic now.”

On how trading running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts is panning out: “This may prove to be a foolish statement because I know what’s happened so far. I did that trade thinking that our team and their team were in totally different places and this would be a trade that legitimately would work well for both teams. I still think that’s true, even though I understand at the moment it doesn’t look that way. I didn’t worry about the criticism that came at the time. I’m sure [Colts General Manager] Ryan Grigson isn’t worried about the criticism now. I’m confident we were in a different place than they were. It made sense for them to do what they did. It made sense for us to do what we did. I still think over time that’s what the history will show.”

On the Browns’ struggles in the running game: “We traded Richardson and [Montario] Hardesty and [Dion] Lewis got hurt. When you make those moves and injuries happen at the same position, then you tend to have a position you’re working hard to put together to get it to work. That’s what’s happened there.”

On how close did the Browns come to trading wide receiver Josh Gordon: “Not isolating on Josh, at the trade deadline [in October] we had offers on players. We listened. We decided we were better off having the players than the offers we got and moved forward with them.”

On if he’s confident Gordon won’t violate the NFL’s substance-abuse policy again: “I’m confident Josh is doing a great job and working hard and doing everything that’s asked of him and expected of him. I know the coaches really feel good about everything and that gives us confidence and willingness to stay supportive of him and counting on him.”

On whether he’s worried about owner Jimmy Haslam’s legal stemming from the Pilot Flying J fraud scandal: “I’m not concerned about it, other than my personal relationship with him and my feelings about that. But from the beginning, I’ve said we’ve been able to do anything and everything we’ve intended to do with the Browns. It’s had no impact. It will have no impact, and I think we’re proving that as we do different things, including what we announced today [about stadium enhancements], to be the truth.”

On the play of rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft: “You see realistic expectations for what really good players do in their first year. I think he’s done a good job. I think he’s working hard. The coaches are pleased with him, but you want to see your young guys continue to develop especially between year one and two and year two and three. That’s the point where you really know what you have, but I think when you evaluate what he’s done so far, you feel really good about it.”

On if the Browns need more sacks from their prized free-agent acquisition, outside linebacker Paul Kruger: “We said this when we signed him. You always want sacks. Sacks impact the game. But the reality is pressures, hits, moving guys off their spots and making a guy throw the ball away on a third down have a big impact on the game. We feel good about the way Paul is playing. At the same time, with all our guys, the more sacks you can get, those are plays that really have an impact on the game.”

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