CLEVELAND — Making connections with other coaches is an important part of life in the National Football League because one never knows when changes will be made and who can help on the proverbial climb up the ladder.
But connections were not what drew defensive coordinator Steve Wilks or offensive coordinator Todd Monken to the Cleveland Browns, as neither man worked with GM John Dorsey or coach Freddie Kitchens prior to agreeing to join the organization.
“Not a personal relationship, but this league is so small when you look at our inner circle and the people we know,” Wilks said in his introductory press conference in Berea Thursday.
“I didn’t know either one of them personally, but I knew Dorsey and a lot of the things he’s done in this league -- well respected. Of course, Freddie and I just missed one another in Arizona, so we have some mutual friends there.”
When asked if it was uncommon to take a job without knowing someone else on the coaching staff, Monken said “not in my mind” because of the research done into the people at the top of the organization when the opportunity presented itself.
“You do your research and find out who the people are,” Monken said.
“Sure, there are going to be times when it gets tough. That is when you find out how people really are. Right now, this is the honeymoon. Had a great run here the back half of the year, and we will see. We have a good, young roster and I like what I see so far, and hopefully, they do in me.
“Bottom line is do a great job where you are, and hopefully, people will see that. That is all I ever control is the job that I do where I am and what I am asked to do. That is the job of any assistant coach.”
For Monken, seeing the way Dorsey helped turn around the Browns’ fortunes with his selections in the 2018 NFL Draft, namely quarterback Baker Mayfield, Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward and second-round running back Nick Chubb, gave him plenty of encouragement to come to Cleveland.
“I felt good about it and his past,” Monken said. “When someone shows an interest in you, you do a little research on them, as well. They are researching you. You do more research if you have some other opportunities. When you meet somebody and you take a look at the roster, you kind of go from there.”
In addition to the personnel department, Wilks was impressed by Kitchens’ vision for the future of the franchise and wanted to be a part of the turnaround for a team with only two winning seasons since returning to the NFL in 1999.
“It is all about being on the same page,” Wilks said. “I think there is a constant communication that we have already started that we will continue to have throughout each session. I think it is important that we are all on that same page. We have to work well together from a standpoint of making sure that we are complementing each other in the things that we need to see in the offseason so that we are preparing ourselves for the season.
“Freddie has already mentioned a lot about having these one-on-one meetings with the coordinators and making sure that we implement and have the things in place that we need. I am excited about that.”