Browns Coaching Change: Here We Go Again

One year ago, Browns fans anticipated the announcement of a new head coach. Names such as Bruce Arians, Chip Kelley and Ken Whisenhunt all circulated as possibilities through various Cleveland news sources.

A head coach by the name of Rob “Chud” Chudzinski was hired. Chud as they call him seemed like a good choice to take the Browns through what was going to be a rebuilding process. As 2013 got started, out went former head coach Pat Shurmer’s 2012 coaching staff and in went a new Browns coaching staff that included defensive coordinator Ray Horton and offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Horton and Turner were key hires and hopes to turn the team around were high,

Early on in the season, the team saw glimmers of hope. The defense improved from a year ago and when quarterback Brian Hoyer came in after starter Brandon Weeden got hurt, the offense clicked and the Browns were 3-2.

On a Thursday night game against the Buffalo Bills, Hoyer ran to the sidelines and went down with an injury. Hoyer eventually left the game and the prognosis was not good. Hoyer, a local product from St. Ignatius high school, was done for the year and the team would have to rely on Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell for quarterback duties.

When Hoyer went down with the injury, the Browns season slowly went down the tubes as well.

Weeden and Campbell both struggled at quarterback, the running game could never get going with Willis Magahee in the backfield and Greg Little and Davone Bess were disappointments at wide receiver. Chud and his staff had to play the hand they were dealt and the players they had were not always performing.

The Browns struggled the last several games of the season and it seemed hard for the coaching staff to make improvements. Some of the players on the roster were not performing as hoped and it forced wide receiver Josh Gordon to be the main source of offense in a lot of the games. Gordon went on to have an incredible season but in the NFL, teams need more than one incredible wide receiver to rack up more wins than losses.

On December 29th, rumors circulated that Chud was going to be gone at the end of the year. For those who have followed the team since 1999, it brought frustration once again and it was a shock Chud was only going to get one year.

Chud was eventually let go hours after the Pittsburgh Steelers pounded the Browns on the final game of the season. Reasons CEO Joe Banner and owner Jimmy Haslam provided included that they didn’t believe Chud improved the team as the season went on.

The season was going to be a rebuilding one for the Browns and it seems Banner and Haslam expected Chud to pull off a miracle. Chud had good assistants in place, was aggressive as a coach and seemed excited to be here. He may have made mistakes along the way but it was questioned whether or not he or anyone else could have won with the roster provided.

Chud didn’t have the best cards to play with but was forced to put what he had on the table each Sunday.

If Chud had less than four wins, firing him may have been more justifiable. Chud managed to get four wins out of the roster he had and this was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Draft picks and players from the previous regime had not all been weeded out yet and certain players brought in by the current regime did not live up to expectations.

Less than a year after the Browns hired Chud, the coaching position became vacant once again with Banner and Haslam saying they “got it wrong.” Most insiders believe expectations may have been too high for a rookie head coach with a lackluster roster. With another offseason to improve the roster, fans would have had a better idea next season to see what Chud can do.

Similar to one year ago, names are being thrown around once again as to who will lead the Browns in 2014. Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles was interviewed as of writing this and other NFL coordinators are expected to follow suit.

These candidates may have potential to be great head coaches but have yet to be a head coach at any level. Similar to one year ago, the Browns could be hiring another coordinator without head coaching experience.

The Browns seem highly interested in New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. While McDaniels was previously the head coach of the Denver Broncos and has that experience, hiring him may not be the best option. McDaniels was considered to be a terrible head coach and made several bad trades and draft choices in his short time there.

One of the most notable draft choices McDaniels made was drafting Tim Tebow in the first round. Tebow was not expected to go in the first round or even be a viable NFL quarterback. Tebow is currently out of the league and was no longer on the Broncos within two years.

McDaniels may have been humbled by the experience and toned down his ego but hiring a head coach who failed elsewhere is a story fans have seen before. Browns fans hoped Eric Mangini, who was fired by the Jets, would be more effective the second time around. Mangini struggled in two seasons as the Browns head coach and was let go after winning five games in his second season.

Mangini and Chud do have  a lot in common; both coaches went 4-12 in their first years in Cleveland, had difficult quarterback situations and not much talent to work with. Whether or not either one could succeed as a head coach with a better roster has yet to be seen.

The Browns could go the college football route and it is a tale fans have seen before as well. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma’s head coach, is rumored to be interested but whether or not it will work is still a mystery.

While going the college route may not be the safest bet, the only time the Browns have made the playoffs since 1999 was with former college coach Butch Davis. While Davis struggled his last two seasons in Cleveland, he is the only coach since 1999 to win seven or more games for two consecutive seasons. Davis went 7-9 his first season in Cleveland and 9-7 to make the playoffs his second season. Davis’s success would not last but compared to other coaches the Browns have had, he is the only coach to get the team to win seven or more games in two consecutive seasons.

Who the Browns will hire has yet to be seen but the fans will once again be along for the bumpy ride during the process of starting over once again.



~ by jeffrsabo on January 4, 2014.

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