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
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
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
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
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.