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Jauron Finally Speaks

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Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron's role in free agency, and other tidbits


By Tony Grossi, The Plain Dealer


Former Bills head coach Dick Jauron knows he has a lot of work to do as Browns defensive coordinator, including supervising the switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense, along with quickly indoctrinating the team's draft picks whenever football activities resume in the NFL.


CLEVELAND -- Leftovers from our interview last week with Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron:


* The defense still has holes at left defensive end, free safety and perhaps another backup cornerback. Jauron figures to be prominent in plugging them when/if free agency starts.


"We've done our homework," he said. "Most places are fairly similar (in giving coaches a say in free agency). You're given a number of players to look at and you write a report and when the time comes, we'll prioritize and you move forward. Until that time, I know it's not appropriate for me to remark on any of it."


* Jauron was defensive coordinator with the Detroit Lions in 2004-05 and added the title of interim coach for the last five games in '05. Shaun Rogers was in his prime those years, making the NFC Pro Bowl squad at defensive tackle both of those seasons. Jauron was asked to compare Browns No. 1 pick Phil Taylor with Rogers.


"Probably some similarities and some differences, also," he said. "I think Shaun was taller, size-wise. Shaun was significantly bigger at this point. Athletically, (they were) maybe comparable. Shaun was a rare athlete ... very, very rare for that big of a man. The size thing inside, with the athleticism, is something I've always believed in. I think you've got to have it, certainly in our division."


After a season in which he hardly practiced and played, Rogers' contract was terminated by the Browns 19 days after Jauron joined them.


* Jauron expressed some intrigue in experimenting with linebacker Marcus Benard as a full-time defensive end. As a situational pass rusher, Benard, 6-2 and 256 pounds, produced 11 sacks in 21 NFL games under former coach Eric Mangini.At the very least, Jauron said he expects Benard will continue in a pass rush role on obvious passing downs.


"We definitely have to find out about a lot of (the players)," Jauron said, "but we do believe that that may be a good spot for (Benard) and we've talked about that. It's kind of what we're looking at as we eventually get him here. We'll put his hand on the ground. We'll stand him up. And then we'll make decisions. But absolutely he'll get an opportunity to play that (situational) position, too."


* Jauron showered praise on all the assistant coaches who will be helping him on defense. The front defensive line is the key to any 4-3 defense, and that puts new defensive line coach Dwaine Board in a critical role.


"Dwaine Board is somebody I heard about for years but never worked with," Jauron said. "He's got the experience, has played and coached. He's a good man and a smart man. I'm really lucky to have him and to be here.


"Every coach is critically important. But those big guys (up front), they're critical. We felt we added to the group, now we have to move forward, coach them up and Dwaine's a great one to coach them."

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — The NFL lockout may be hurting every team, but it's killing the Browns' defense.


"We have work to do," new defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said. "I suspect that's why we're all here [meeting without players]. There's work to be done. We're looking forward to try and get it done. Hopefully, we'll have a chance soon."


The switch to the West Coast offense -- supervised by the Browns' first offensive-minded head coach in 12 years and with all that entails -- has overshadowed the seismic switch in the defensive system.


The changes involved in moving from a 3-4 alignment to the traditional 4-3 are more complex than simply subtracting a linebacker and replacing him with a fourth lineman. There will be a culture shock suffered by returning players not versed in the scheme.


Just the difference in coordinators will throw them -- going from gregarious, fun-lovin', back-pattin' Rob Ryan to the subdued, Yale-educated Jauron. Jauron has to undo six years of the Browns stocking linemen for the 3-4. Now the team needs two speedy defensive ends and two tackles -- one to stay at home and the other to provide some inside pass rush.


"We knew there'd be a lot of change, a real lot of change," Jauron said. "Certainly, the 4-3 is different than the 3-4. So up front, we knew we'd have to get personnel that fit our scheme, just like they went after personnel that fit theirs."


The draft provided two key parts, tackle Phil Taylor and end Jabaal Sheard, but there are missing pieces. And the NFL lockout, which has canceled team activities, is robbing Jauron of precious time to gauge the players on hand and where they might fit.


The offensive players have conducted two sets of their own workouts supervised by quarterback Colt McCoy, who has coach Pat Shurmur's playbook in possession. The defensive players don't have Jauron's playbook and can't do much together, anyway. Tossing a ball around isn't going to cut it for them.


When the lockout was lifted for about 24 hours before the draft, none of the defensive players showed up at Browns headquarters to receive materials from Jauron and the defensive staff.


"The difficult side for us is they don't have their stuff," Jauron said. "Most of them aren't here, obviously. And they all knew that something was going to happen [to reinstitute the lockout two days later], so they weren't about to fly back in from where they were.


"They certainly can do their drills and their drops and their footwork. If we had a year or two with them, clearly they could work on terminology and different things like that. It's just the way it is. We have to deal with it. Other teams have to deal with it. And we will."


In his first extensive interview since being hired Jan. 21, Jauron talked about the job in rebuilding the Browns' defense.


The big draft trade:


Jauron said Taylor was the player targeted after the big trade from No. 6 to No. 27 with Atlanta. The Browns had to give up their third-round pick to Kansas City to move back up to No. 21 to select Taylor. Jauron fell short of affirming that nabbing Taylor was essential for the first trade to work.


"We're glad we did. I guess that's the way I'd put it," Jauron said. "He's a player we'd talked about going in. I know Tom [Heckert] and Mike [Holmgren] really liked him. So that was kind of the plan. The rest is kind of revisionist history. If we didn't, what would have happened? I think we'd still have a good draft, but it would have been disappointing for us at the moment, because that's a guy we had targeted."

Defensive draft picks Taylor, Sheard, cornerback Buster Skrine and safety Eric Hagg:


"As an organization, we agreed that a Phil Taylor-type player [was needed]. We like this guy, like his personality, like his size, like his toughness and his athleticism. You know our division. We're gonna have to stop the run and defend play-action and obviously rush the passer. It's a tough division, physically tough. And this is a physically tough guy with good size and good athleticism. We like his demeanor.


"Jabaal is a hard player, plays the game real fast all the time, comes to the football. He tackles people. We like that. We think it fits the defensive mentality that every team wants to put in place. So, really good picks for us.


"Buster Skrine is also a tough guy. He plays the game hard and has that great speed, a thing you can't teach. We're excited about that. Eric, he was very productive for Nebraska, just continually made plays. A smart player. You can see him in their nickel package, played the dime at times, as we describe it. So we felt really good about the draft."


Pairing Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin inside the front four, and deciding which one plays three-technique (providing an inside rush) and which one plays one-technique (over the center's shoulder):


"Ideally we'd like to play them just left and right, the tackles. Until we actually see them, we won't know that. For the most part, one of them will be a one-technique at times and one of them a three-technique. If it proves to be that one of them is significantly better at one of those skills, then we can always flop them.

"[Rubin] showed some spark [against the rush] last year. What we do know for sure is this is a tough player and he plays hard. So we love the way he played the game. So we felt he's a guy we can build upon. In the 4-3, he can definitely play inside. He can definitely play in this division and more than hold his own."

Describing the differences in the left end and right end:


"Most offenses are right-handed. Anticipating you'll get the tight end to your defensive left, that defensive end generally is a little bit bigger, a little bit stouter. The right is maybe a little better pass rusher. You'd like to have them balanced. Like to have them both have outstanding abilities. Hard to find those guys."


Finding a left end to complement Sheard:


"That's one of the issues, obviously, looking at the tape. We just really are going to have to wait. I think it's fair and behooves us to wait before we pass judgment. Obviously, we've got to make some decisions before we know these guys. But once we know them, then we can start moving them around and trying them at different spots and seeing what we have."


A little more comfort at the linebacker spots:


"No matter what your situation, you're always looking to add, if you can. The veteran guys that are there for us -- Scott [Fujita], D'Qwell [Jackson] and Chris [Gocong] . . . we know they can play, have watched them play in the NFL. In D'Qwell's case, we're hoping he's healthy and comes back healthy and we feel confident that he will. At least we have a starting point there. We know from their history and from tape here that they play hard and they're tough guys. And that's a good start there."


The secondary has a hole at free safety:


"We need to keep looking and add players when we can, when we're able to get back into this thing. And we need to get our guys in and learn about them, particularly the backup players from a year ago. T.J. [Ward], we know. Joe [Haden], we know. Sheldon [brown], we know. Eric (Wright) had a tremendous year the year before. We've got to get him back and get to work. The rest we have to get to know and see what we have. And once business starts up again, keep looking."

Summing up the final product of a Jauron defense:


"This is not out of the ordinary in our business. We would like to have a somewhat balanced defense with pressure being maybe a little higher on the list than everything else.


"It's hard to play defense in the league. You've got to do a number of different things, try to keep them off balance as much as you can and you've got to find ways to get to that guy that runs the show on the other side of the ball. If you don't, it can be long, long afternoons.


"We'd like to be multiple enough to keep you guessing at times, mix up our calls enough to keep you guessing at times, between different kinds of pressures, different coverages that vary a little bit. It's hard to do, particularly when you want to get to the level of the best teams. That would be the goal, to keep them off balance and pressure a little more than normal to make them think pressure most of the time."

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