Browns linebacker Scott Fujita discussed several issues during an interview today on "Pro Football Talk Live." Most of Fujita's chat with host Mike Florio was about the nuts and bolts of the labor dispute between the NFL owners and the players. But Fujita, a member of the NFL Players Association's executive committee before the union decertified, also revealed that he made arrangements to obtain coaching materials while the league's lockout was briefly lifted, and he plans to help some of his teammates become informed about defensive coordinator Dick Jauron's 4-3 scheme. Here are some of the highlights from the interview with Fujita:
- On why the Browns struggled last season: "There were moments when we played really, really good football, but we just couldn't put games together week in and week out. And it was tough, too. I mean there were a lot of things that were thrown at us that I don't know if we were prepared for. I mean when you have your top two quarterbacks (Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace) go down with high-ankle sprains, then a young Colt McCoy comes out on the field, and he has a high-ankle sprain, I mean I've been on some teams with Trent Green and Drew Brees, who never missed a game the whole time I played with them. So for that to happen in one season, it was really just kind of crazy. But again, it was all about consistency for us."
- On how his left knee, which forced him to end last season on injured reserve, is doing now: "It feels great. As far as knee injuries go, I guess it's the best one. It was a pretty significant MCL tear, but it didn't require surgery. It was just time, rest and keep rehabbing and stuff to get things back to where they were. And again, the timing for that injury was bad, too, 'cause it was in the middle of (the Browns' overtime loss against the New York Jets), one game that I would have loved to have been able to finish, especially at that point in the season when we were starting to play pretty well."
- On if he's concerned that the lockout is keeping the Browns' players from learning new offensive and defensive systems from coach Pat Shurmur and his staff: "It's not an ideal situation, obviously. I know all the guys would love to get together (and) would love to get our new systems. Honestly, we'd love to meet our new coaches for the first time. I mean this is a new staff, and I've had a few opportunities to talk to them on the phone before the lockout and during that, whatever it was, 36-hour window when there were open lines of communication. But other than that, most of our guys haven't even met their new coaches, and that's too bad. And I really feel bad for the coaches to tell you the truth. I mean these guys are really stuck in the middle of a crappy situation right now 'cause all they want is to coach their guys, to be able to talk to us 'cause that's what they love, so it's a tough situation. Is it gonna help us? No. Is it gonna hurt us tremendously? I don't think that, either. I think we have a good locker room, a good group of guys. You might have to cut back a little bit on the installation once things do get resolved, should they get resolved. But you know I always liken this to my experience in New Orleans when I first got there back in '06. You know we had a lot of moving parts, a whole new coaching staff (and) no one knew what was going to happen. That was the first offseason following (Hurricane) Katrina, and up until that first actual regular-season game, we had guys joining our roster who were starting in that opening-season game at Cleveland. And that year, we ended up in the NFC Championship Game. So it can be done. A lot of it has to do with timing, chemistry, picking up some momentum and keeping guys healthy. So it's not ideal, but I think we can work through it."
- On if he was able to get his hands on Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron's playbook while the lockout was briefly lifted: "Yeah, I mean it was tough because a lot of guys don't spend their offseasons in Cleveland, and I wasn't in Cleveland at the time. But there was a brief moment of time, and I'm not gonna talk too much about it, but I did make arrangements to get my hands on some materials. So that will serve us well, I think, moving forward. Defensively, we're gonna start getting together and talking through things. I don't know if I want to make coaching my profession, but I think I have enough stuff to get some information to guys, so we don't fall too far behind."
- On how the labor dispute got to this point: "I hate the fact that this whole thing kind of seems to be about nothing more than economics because through the course of negotiations, a lot of work was put into all the other issues that don't seem to get much attention but that are really important to players. But the fights like this honestly are always rooted in economics. And here's the reality: The more they chip away at our share of the revenues, the less we can do to take care of our guys, and that's all of our guys. I'm talking about the guys from the past who really helped to build this game -- Dick Butkus, Jim Brown, Deacon Jones, Joe Green, Reggie White, etc. That's not lost me. And I hate that this just seems to be just about the dollars and cents 'cause it's so much bigger than just that. It's about the guys from the past. It's about the guys who are gonna play this game long after I step away. I'm a lot closer to the end of my career than I am to the beginning, so I think about those past guys. And what I don't want is to be like every other former player who has essentially been disenfranchised when it comes to issues that affect them. This is wrong, and I think that we need to keep doing everything we can collectively to make them part of the process. I imagine that's been a really helpless feeling for those guys, and we have to keep getting better about that. I think we've been selfish for way too long as players and the league office. And I'm really encouraged by the fact that players are more engaged on this issue alone than I've ever seen them, and we have to keep getting better at this."