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Chudzinski Fired: A Closer Look


The Cleveland Browns have fired first-time head coach Rob Chudzinski only one season into his contract. The move is a shocking one, as it happened merely hours after the Browns final regular season game, a 20-7 loss to AFC North rivals Pittsburgh Steelers. There has been a massive social media outcry, with fans, analysts and players alike taking to Twitter to voice their opinions. It seems an overwhelming majority believes this to be a panic move on the part of Cleveland Browns CEO Joe Banner and GM Mike Lombardi, and it's likely that the full details behind the coaching change will never be known.


A move like this is a classically upsetting Cleveland Browns move. Firing a head coach after only one year is a rare occurrence, happening only thirteen times since 1980, and of course the Browns would be the team to do it. As a fan, there's so much to be upset with about the move that it almost seems cruel. Pick whatever insanely depressing fact you'd like:


-At the beginning of next season, the Cleveland Browns will have had three different head coaches in three successive years.


-The last four coaches that have been fired in the AFC North have all been Cleveland Browns coaches.


-Brandon Weeden lasted longer in Cleveland than Rob Chudzinski.


-The Pittsburgh Steelers have had 3 different head coaches since 1969. Next year, the Cleveland Browns will have had three different head coaches since 2012.


-Former Browns HC Pat Shurmur and former Browns QB Colt McCoy are both headed to the playoffs in 2013, while the Browns are looking for both a new head coach and a new quarterback.



It seems as if the Cleveland Browns are cursed. The jokes are ever-present and always less-than-amusing, but every stereotype has a basis in fact and this situation is no different. Fans all over the nation are throwing away jerseys and writing tear-stained angry letters that will never be read by anyone of power in the Browns organization.


But, taking a step back, this move doesn't seem as crazily panic-induced as it may seem. Let's look at the facts:


Rob Chudzinski was never a favorite of the current Browns brass. At least eight other candidates were interviewed before Chudzinski was hired. Cleveland's overwhelming first choice was former Oregon Ducks and current Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. Kelly was wined and dined by Cleveland Browns CEO Joe Banner for hours upon hours, yet left their first meeting without agreeing in principle to any sort of contract. Kelly then went on to declare he was staying in Oregon, only to change his mind and ultimately decide to take his talents to the city of Brotherly Love.


Cleveland's second choice, Doug Marrone, eventually went on to choose the Buffalo Bills over the Browns. Cleveland's third choice, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, refused to throw his hat in the ring, claiming to be comfortable in New England. Banner eventually landed on Rob Chudzinski, an offensive minded coordinator who seemingly did his part in helping the Carolina Panthers turn the corner. It was an added bonus that Chud, as the fans and media like to call him, was a hometown boy and lifelong Cleveland Browns fan.


Chudzinski was not set up for success, however. He went into the season with questions across the board, namely at the quarterback position. By naming Brandon Weeden the opening day starting quarterback, Chud had begun digging his grave. Cleveland GM Mike Lombardi had gone on record not only admonishing the previous regime for picking Weeden, but calling the pick a "panicked disaster".


Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that Weeden was taking the starting position from Lombardi's favorite quarterback not named Tom Brady: Brian Hoyer. Lombardi has gone on record multiple times claiming Hoyer to be an NFL starting caliber quarterback. It only went on to stroke Lombardi's already massive ego when Hoyer, replacing an injured Weeden, led the Browns to three straight wins before tearing his ACL.


Some within the organization even claim that Chudzinski and Lombardi were fundamentally different and often butted heads on multiple occasions.


The fact that Cleveland managed to lose 10 of their final 11 games was simply the tangible cause Banner and Lombardi needed to justify the termination. Their minds had likely been made up well before the final whistle of Sunday's game.


Now the Browns Front Office is tasked with finding a new head coach to lead this team into the promised land they've been searching for over the last two decades. Many are afraid that this will mean another dreaded "evaluation year", yet current history has proven that teams who fire their head coaches after one year tend to improve immediately.




In 2009, Jim Mora Jr. led the Seattle Seahawks to a 5-11 season in his first year as head coach. Mora was fired on January 8, 2010 and former USC head coach Pete Carroll was hired the following day. Carroll led Seattle to the playoffs the following year, beating the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round. He has since accrued a 38-26 regular season record, winning the NFC West twice and winning two playoff games in three years.




Current Cleveland Browns senior defensive assistant Ray Rhodes is another coach let go after one season. In 1999, Rhodes led the Packers to their only non-winning season between 1992 and 2004 (8-8), leading Packers GM Ron Wolf to abruptly fire the coach after only one season. The Packers went on to hire current Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, who led the Packers to 57 wins and four straight playoff appearances in his six years as Packers head coach.




In Miami, Cam Cameron was fired after one season as the Dolphins head coach, leading the team to a 1-15 season. The very next season, first time head coach Tony Sparano led the Dolphins to an 11-5 season and first place in the AFC East.




Mike Mularkey was fired after one season as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Gus Bradley has since led the team to twice as many victories as Mularkey and, although four wins is hardly something to brag about, it is still an improvement over their previous season.




Banner better have the next Cleveland Browns coach all but locked down. Firing your head coach as he returns to the city reeks of a panic move, no matter what the actual scenario may be, and going on to participate in a coaching search will only accentuate that opinion. Cleveland's men-in-charge need to come out of this smelling like roses, and missing out on another first-choice would not go far in helping that cause. There are many coaching names already being tossed around, names such as current New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien, and current Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. If one of these named is indeed the head of Cleveland Browns wish-list, he better be locked down as soon as humanly possible in order to avoid another controversy.



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