Karlos Dansby happy for changes within Browns after tough season

Browns' Dansby happy with changes (1:58)

ESPN NFL analyst Tim Hasselbeck agrees with LB Karlos Dansby that front office changes were needed in the Browns' organization and discusses what the top priorities are for new coach Hue Jackson. (1:58)

A "suffocating" atmosphere caused by internal conflict dragged the Cleveland Browns down in 2015, veteran Browns linebacker Karlos Dansby said Monday.

As a result, he welcomed the team's postseason changes, which included replacing coach Mike Pettine with Hue Jackson and firing general manager Ray Farmer.

"I think everybody needed it, man," Dansby said. "Even the organization. I think the organization needed it more than the players."

Dansby said he didn't know what was wrong, but the team and players could feel the internal conflict.

"There was something about the situation that wasn't right," Dansby said. "And it was in the atmosphere. It was suffocating. You kept fighting and fighting and fighting, but you know it's there. You'd try to fight out of it, but it kept grabbing you and somehow pulling down into that boat."

Dansby said his 12 years in the NFL have shown him that a team has to be united at all levels to win. If there is division in the building, players feel it because it trickles down to them, he said.

"It's suffocating," he said. 'Because you try to do everything you can to try to motivate guys and keep guys inspired. When you're not getting inspiration from the leader, it was tough."

In the Browns' former system, Farmer picked the players and Pettine decided how they would be used on Sunday. It led to a glaring situation in which Farmer gave wide receiver Dwayne Bowe $9 million in guaranteed money but Pettine kept him inactive for nine games and Bowe caught five passes all season.

Dansby said it came across to players that Pettine could not inspire the team because of the internal disagreements.

"I felt like it was too much on him fighting that fight and then trying to inspire us," Dansby said. "He couldn't balance it because that fight was too overwhelming. You could see it on his face and in his body language."

As a result, players were dragged down by the atmosphere.

"It was a tough job for us," Dansby said. "I can't lie."

He said the issues started late in the 2014 season, when a 7-4 start ended with five losses in a row.

"The first year [2014] wasn't that bad," Dansby said. "The first year wasn't bad at all. I don't think the first year got that bad until we lost the five straight games. Prior to that, we were straight. Everything was good.

"I don't know what happened. I don't know what transpired in those five games. I know I got hurt. I was out of commission those five games. But there was something else internally going on that we as players didn't have a clue what was taking place. It really kept us from going to the playoffs that year."

Dansby said players felt there was an internal struggle over whom to play at quarterback, Johnny Manziel or Brian Hoyer.

"I think that's why we ended up faltering," Dansby said. "An internal struggle, man. It didn't even have to take place."

He said the atmosphere then continued into 2015.

"That was a disappointment for us," he said, "how it spiraled into the next season."