A friend and media source of mine said something to me this morning that sums up the Browns head coaching search in a nutshell. He said, “If you’re looking for stability for you and your family, then don’t take the Cleveland Browns head coaching job.” He’s so right.
Think about it. Rob Chudzinski got one year to prove what he could do as a first time ever NFL head coach. That’s not normal in the NFL. In that one year he dealt with a front office that traded his starting running back after two games, selected only five players in the draft because of trades for next year, still had roughly $20 million dollars under the cap to spend on free agents, the owner was, and still is being investigated by the FBI and the IRS and the team openly admitted that they were focusing on the 2014 season. How many first year coaches would perform well in that situation?
I’m not saying Chud was blameless. He made some bad in game decisions and other mistakes I’m sure, but how is he supposed to grasp what it takes to be a head coach if he doesn’t get the chance to learn from his mistakes. And you as a front office had to expect there would be some growing pains when you hired him and gushed about his potential, even though he had never been a head coach at any level before.
Jimmy Haslam came from an organization that’s had three head coaches since 1969. That stability is why the Pittsburgh Steelers are considered one of the model franchises in the NFL. The Browns, if someone takes the job, will have hired their seventh different head coach in the last sixteen years. It will be their third head coach in a little over a year. Couple that lack of stability, with a front office who’s “Q” rating isn’t very high in NFL circles (Mike Lombardi’s score is lower than Joe Banner’s) and you can see why over the last twelve months a lot of big name coaches talked to the Browns, but none of them took the job.
It’s looking again like the Browns will have to settle for their head coach. Settle for their third or fourth choice. Settle for a guy who is so eager to get a head coaching job he’ll even take the Browns gig. Or settle for a guy who’s looking to prove that his failure the first time around as an NFL head coach was not a true representation of what he is capable of doing or that he has learned from his mistakes. Either way once again, the Browns aren’t going to get the guy they really wanted no matter what they tell you later.
This all started in 1999 when their first choice Brian Billick told them no and went to Baltimore and won a Super Bowl. Last year they really wanted Chip Kelly and he too said no and went to Philadelphia and led them to the playoffs. Now solid candidates like Bill O’Brien and Lovie Smith have already taken other NFL jobs. Josh McDaniels, told the Browns no and according to Albert Breer from the NFL Network, the primary reason McDaniels returned to Foxboro was “Creating stability for his family. He has 4 young kids and he knows his job is secure there.” Vanderbilt’s James Franklin, a reported Browns candidate, looks like he’ll take the Penn State job over the one here in Cleveland. Smart move on all their parts.
Here’s hoping the guy that ends up taking the Browns head coaching job isn’t looking for stability, but instead he’s just looking for a chance to prove himself. If so, he better do it in a hurry, because based on past history here in Cleveland you don’t get much time to show what you can do.