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.