• Browns Leave Their Fans Wondering... Again



    That is not the best photo that Rob Chudzinski has ever taken in his life. It has the look of a guy wondering about something. After the Browns hired him as head coach last night, bringing Norv Turner with him, Browns fans are left wondering.

    A friend of mine posted that he would rather have Indians tickets now. The Indians have won less than 70 games during three of the last four seasons. Rooting for the Indians is akin to cheering on a 6-10 or 7-9 football team for the last five seasons. Maybe that is an improvement. No matter how the stats are sliced, the initial reaction in Cleveland is somewhere between kicking an ottoman across the room and just throwing a shoe that lands the person's head that threw it.

    The swift move was a surprise in Cleveland sports media, who expected the Browns to wait to see how much they liked Bruce Arians. The Colts Offensive Coordinator was supposed to meet with the executives by Lake Erie next week. Just yesterday, the Browns had talked to Ken Whisenhunt for a second time. Marc Trestman's interview took about as long as a fast food order. When Rob Chudzinski's name was brought up, Tony Grossi said words somewhere along the lines of "I don't see why that would happen." Of course, word came out that the Browns liked Doug Marrone, but missed out of him when they didn't pull the trigger. In the case of hiring Rob Chudzinski, they wasted no time.

    A large majority Browns fans are furious over the move. The minority are pointing out what he did with Cam Newton last season and that he got Derek Anderson to the Pro Bowl. Unfortunately, there are a couple of big caveats about the arguments by the people who are trying to think positively. Derek Anderson played in the Pro Bowl because Tom Brady didn't play due to a tender ankle and broken heart from failing to become the first 19-0 team in history. Also, the Browns don't have a quarterback who is the size of a linebacker and runs like a gazelle. I guess since Weeden and Anderson are both tall quarterbacks with big arms, Chudzinski is used to the type of passer he is getting.

    Of course, the unhappy fans are pointing towards the fact that Chudzinski is yet another first time head coach, something the Browns have tried several times before. Under the first-time head coaches, the "new" Browns have averaged 5.25 wins per season. Um, those fans may have a point.

    Well, he is bringing Norv Turner with him, right? Yes, Norv is a great play-caller and the hope is the one that he will be the one calling the plays. Turner has helmed great offenses in Dallas and San Diego, but he also had great talent to go along with them. Still, Tory Aikman gives credit to Turner for his development. Also, Turner was part of two Super Bowl winning teams with the league's leader in rushing, a rare feat. Of course, that rusher is now the all-time leader in yards.

    What if Chudzinski is going to call the plays and Turner is basically a veteran consultant? Well, that is probably good news for Brandon Weeden but bad news for Trent Richardson. After the Panthers gave somewhere around $40 million in guarantees to their backfield, Chudzinski seemed to forget that they were there. In 2012, DeAngelo Williams had 11 or less carries in, wait for it, 11 of 16 games. He got 17+ carries during three of the four games during their winning streak of the same length to end the season. That was after the GM was fired and there was no doubt that the Panthers were not going to be a team to improve in 2012. One of the biggest complaints about Pat Shurmur was his use of rookie back Trent Richardson and the timing of said use during games.

    I'm not sure if it is a blessing or a curse, but it is true that Chudzinski is well-known in Cleveland. This will be the third time he will be part of the Cleveland Browns. He is a former tight end from the University of Miami and certainly knows Bernie Kosar, a part-time something consultant something to the Browns. Kosar was the guy who told the Browns that they should have taken Jimmy Graham. Did the Browns listen to him about a different former Hurricane tight end? "Chudz" grew up in Toledo as a Browns fan and was Tight Ends Coach and Offensive Coordinator during his previous stints. There is no doubt that he will give it his all to make Cleveland happy.

    The last two questions are whether the teams Rob Chudzinski has been a part of have been good what his relationships have been like. Let's go stop by stop. Well, under Butch Davis in the University of Miami, the Hurricanes won 9 games or more in 4 of five seasons and went 4-0 in bowl games while Chudzinski was tight ends coach. He moved up to Offensive Coordinator for the Canes after Davis left for his job in Cleveland. Those talented teams under Larry Coker went 35-3 with an undefeated National Championship season in 2001. In 2004, he got his first Browns job, a team that went 4-12 and was the season of the Jeff Garcia debacle and Butch Davis' firing. Romeo Crennel did not keep him on, but guess who hired him? The 2005-2006 San Diego Chargers. Those teams went 23-9 along with typical Marty Shottenheimer sadness in the playoffs. Norv Turner took over the Chargers in 2007 and did not keep Rob Chudzinski at the time. That season was the famous Derek Anderson year, which eventually led to Turner hiring Chudzinski in 2009 as Tight Ends Coach and Assistant Head Coach. Those teams went 22-10 with usual Norv Turner playoff sadness. Finally, he was hired by Ron Rivera when he left the Chargers Defensive Coordinator postion to take the job as head coach of the Panthers. The ties run deep here.

    Clearly, the history is rich when it comes to the new coaching staff and Chudzinski's life in Cleveland, but like the fan base, I am left wondering. Sure, I am wondering for different reasons. I am not one to say that something is definitely not going to work before it begins, but I wonder who will be in charge and I wonder who will run the Browns defense. Getting good offensive minds is a trend in the NFL, but the Browns showed a lot of promise on the defensive side of the ball. Dick Jauron is not going to be part of the next regime, but I do hear that Rob Ryan is available. Hmmm.... I wonder.

    Comments 24 Comments
    1. BobbyJ's Avatar
      This was certainly a shock to me. I wonder if Norv does come will he be left to actually run the Offense. I am deeply saddened that I hear we are moving to the 3-4. We have garbage for pash rushers and horrible talent for a 3-4. I think we have huge shoes to fill with Dick gone.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Well, sometimes the most talented positional coaches and coordinators don't necessarily make the best head coaches (Norv Turner, Wade Phillips, etc). However, I firmly believe that the requirements of a coordinator and a Head Coach are completely different.

      John Harbaugh was "only" a special teams coordinator in Philadelphia when he was promoted all the way to head coach in Baltimore, and that has worked out pretty well. Mike Tomlin was only a 1 year coordinator, and had a reputation as being a cover 2 guy when he ended up in Pittsburgh. Not only has that worked out well, but he ceased the reigns of the defense to a 3-4 guy, and has focused simply on being the head coach.

      And I think that's the key. If Rob Chudzinski turns out to be a confident leader who empowers his coordinators to do their job, and simply focuses on being the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, then I think this would have the potential of being a good hire.

      If, however, he becomes another of those coordinators who aren't strong at trusting his coaches, and at delegating responsibility, then Cleveland fans should brace themselves for the same old same old.
    1. Pruitt's Avatar
      If the Browns can coax Aikman, Emmit, Irvin and Novacek or even LDT out of retirement Norv may once again earn his reputation as an offensive genius.

      Oh well at least Jauron is now free to make a triumphant return to Buffalo.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Trumpet nailed it. The things that make a successful head coach are invisible to the average fan. You just can't predict success or failure by how good the guy was as a position coach or a coordinator. Leadership, judgment, those are things discovered by having a relationship, not by looking at game tape.
    1. darvon's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
      Trumpet nailed it. The things that make a successful head coach are invisible to the average fan. You just can't predict success or failure by how good the guy was as a position coach or a coordinator. Leadership, judgment, those are things discovered by having a relationship, not by looking at game tape.
      They are pretty invisible to an owner, also.

      The best management technique is to give'em 2-3 years and see if things get real positive, else Nuke'em.
    1. xmenehune's Avatar
      Well there is more talent in CLE than other teams and then again less than other teams. Upgrade the talent first, which means if they miss on the draft, they'll be set back another year or two.
      I liked the Defensive focus of prior years, this past year had more O in mind. This upcoming draft class, doesn't appear to be that strong on O, so we'll see where CLE goes.
      I'm unsure if there should be a set time table for evaluating coaches. They do what they can with the talent they are given and in this case, I wonder how much input Chud will have on drafting players.
      Some teams seem to have an injury bug which lasts at least a couple of years and sometimes longer. 2-3 years is a very short reign it's ok if the talent is there, but with CLE I grade them an average at best for overall talent. They still have a ways to go to catch up with there AFC North rivals at least on O, maybe not as much on D.
      So maybe 3-4 yrs???
      Maybe there should be more announced firing of the talent evaluators or a grading of talent evaluators, but this would be hard with the Jerry Jones of the world involved and numerous other input sources in each organization. I guess we're left to speculate, just like we're doing now....
    1. Docta's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by BobbyJ View Post
      This was certainly a shock to me. I wonder if Norv does come will he be left to actually run the Offense. I am deeply saddened that I hear we are moving to the 3-4. We have garbage for pash rushers and horrible talent for a 3-4. I think we have huge shoes to fill with Dick gone.
      Switching to a 3-4 makes the need for a pass rusher more evident, which will end up working out well for you guys. Most teams don't rely on just one front though. Mel Tucker is reportedly up for the DC job. I wonder if Chud has any hard feelings against Crennel for not keeping him around, because he might be the best one available.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      He didn't actually say they were going to switch to a 3-4. He said it was up to the coordinator he hires.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Oh, Rich, and if the Tribe are 6-10 NFL team, they're that 6-10 team that starts out 5-1 before completely imploding.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      PD is reporting that Chud intends to hire John Pagano as his DC, the current coordinator in San Diego (he is under contract until the Chargers hire a new head coach who will fire him), who of course runs a 3-4. Great. At least we have the tackles for this, but Jesus do we need to find some linebackers.
    1. tubbs1518's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by mkocs6 View Post
      PD is reporting that Chud intends to hire John Pagano as his DC, the current coordinator in San Diego (he is under contract until the Chargers hire a new head coach who will fire him), who of course runs a 3-4. Great. At least we have the tackles for this, but Jesus do we need to find some linebackers.
      Jarvis Jones would be a wonderful player to fall to you guys.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by tubbs1518 View Post
      Jarvis Jones would be a wonderful player to fall to you guys.
      Jarvis Jones would be lovely. If he's not there (and I expect he won't be) and the top corner is off the board as well, I'd love to see if the Browns can work out a trade down for more picks.

      Kaba was trying to work out the Browns front seven a few days ago. Ahtyba Rubin, Phil Taylor, John Hughes, and Ishmaelly Kitchen all weigh in the 320s and 330s, so that's a pretty stout rotation if we want to go heavy. Billy Winn, at 295, should be able to move outside to a DE and Frostee Rucker can probably play there as well. The defensive line is pretty deep and shouldn't really be a concern.

      The linebacker situation is slightly more confusing. Jabaal Sheard probably moves to OLB on one side, and Jarvis Jones would obviously be great on the other. D'Qwell Jackson is the current MLB, and I would probably project second-year James-Michael Johnson to join him in the middle if the player is currently on the roster.
    1. BobbyJ's Avatar
      We by no means have good enough Linebackers for a 3-4. Even if we get add through the draft we will be hurting. This is not a good move by the browns to switch.
    1. tubbs1518's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by mkocs6 View Post
      Jarvis Jones would be lovely. If he's not there (and I expect he won't be) and the top corner is off the board as well, I'd love to see if the Browns can work out a trade down for more picks.

      Kaba was trying to work out the Browns front seven a few days ago. Ahtyba Rubin, Phil Taylor, John Hughes, and Ishmaelly Kitchen all weigh in the 320s and 330s, so that's a pretty stout rotation if we want to go heavy. Billy Winn, at 295, should be able to move outside to a DE and Frostee Rucker can probably play there as well. The defensive line is pretty deep and shouldn't really be a concern.

      The linebacker situation is slightly more confusing. Jabaal Sheard probably moves to OLB on one side, and Jarvis Jones would obviously be great on the other. D'Qwell Jackson is the current MLB, and I would probably project second-year James-Michael Johnson to join him in the middle if the player is currently on the roster.
      Is Sheard athletic enough to play OLB? I think if you can get one of either Jarvis Jones, Damontre Moore or Dion Jordan you pull the trigger. If not, in an ideal world you trade back and get one of the guys from LSU or a CB.
    1. tubbs1518's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by BobbyJ View Post
      We by no means have good enough Linebackers for a 3-4. Even if we get add through the draft we will be hurting. This is not a good move by the browns to switch.
      I think your ILB are talented enough. The big question is can Sheard move outside. You should also get a really good rush LB'er at 7.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      I think Sheard is quick enough, yeah. He's fast and he only weighs in the 250s or 260s.

      I'm not wild about the switch myself, but linebacker was a need anyway and at least there shouldn't be too much disorder on the line. We also really need a starting corner opposite Haden and a safety who can play in coverage.

      This is clearly going to be a defensive draft.
    1. tubbs1518's Avatar
      If I was the Browns this is the draft I would go with:

      1. Damontre Moore OLB Texas A&M/Dion Jordan OLB Oregon
      3. Carrington Byndum CB Texas
      4. Omoregie Uzzi OG GT
      5. Brandon Ford TE Clemson
      6. Lonnie Pryor FB FSU
      7. Denard Robinson KR/PR Michigan
    1. KabaModernFan's Avatar
      Damontre Moore would not be a bad selection for the Browns, especially considering that he has the versatility to play in either a 4-3 or a 3-4 if the Browns wanted to go the route of installing a defensive scheme featuring both alignments. I would personally prefer Jarvis Jones, considering that I think he's the best player in the Draft, but Moore would be far from a bad consolation prize.
    1. tubbs1518's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by KabaModernFan View Post
      Damontre Moore would not be a bad selection for the Browns, especially considering that he has the versatility to play in either a 4-3 or a 3-4 if the Browns wanted to go the route of installing a defensive scheme featuring both alignments. I would personally prefer Jarvis Jones, considering that I think he's the best player in the Draft, but Moore would be far from a bad consolation prize.
      I would absolutely take Jones over Moore, but I don't think Jones will be there.
    1. KabaModernFan's Avatar
      I agree. As my mock draft currently stands I actually have the Browns taking Moore. I have Jones going at #3 to Oakland.
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