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Mark O

Member Since 26 Oct 2008
Offline Last Active Today, 08:07 PM

Topics I've Started

Another new mock draft

06 February 2014 - 03:02 PM


A Different Opinion on the Browns coaching search

15 January 2014 - 04:36 PM

Patience Is a Virtue in the Head Coach Hunt ----By Don Banks, SI

It's rare that the Browns get credit for taking the smart approach, but they're doing it right when it comes to finding Rob Chudzinski's replacement. The NFL's coaching carousel spins fast. Too fast. And now it's time for the league to make changes to help the hiring teams that can't help themselves

I dont even care if its an intentional display of patience on their part, or in reality a byproduct of not being able to give the job away, Im still convinced the sometimes clueless Cleveland Browns are taking the right approach when it comes to conducting their latest head coaching search. By taking their time.

Yep, I just typed the words right approach and Browns coaching search in the same sentence. It stunned me, too.

As quaint as it might sound in the instant-gratification world in which we live, the Browns deserve kudos for actually showing some restraint in the pursuit of their next coach. Because the speed dating that passes for the NFL head coaching interview and hiring process these days is growing more frenzied all the time.

It has been only 17 days since Cleveland surprisingly lowered the boom on first-year head coach Rob Chudzinkski, but that clearly is an eternity in todays NFL. For a team that couldnt even wait until the leagues so-called Black Monday to make the moveannouncing Chudzinskis firing just hours after its regular-season finale on Dec. 29 after the news started leaking outthe Browns are proceeding considerably more deliberately in the hiring phase of the proceedings.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam on Wednesday even felt compelled to issue a letter to his teams panicked fans, offering an explanation for the perceived hold-up in the search, which has included a few candidates removing their name from consideration. After all, six of the NFLs seven head-coaching openings have already been filled, with only the Browns still interviewing candidates. You snooze, you lose, right?

The Browns, Haslam wrote, intend to stay disciplined to this process and to interview all of the candidates on our list. They are being very methodical in their approach, and are prepared to wait as long as necessary because this is a very important decision.

Well, roger that. Maybe if the Browns had taken a little bit more time to make their coaching decision last year, they wouldnt have felt it necessary to can Chudzinski one year into a four-year contract. Live and learn, I guess.

As novel an idea as it passes for, Cleveland wants to interview all of the candidates on its list, and that means quite possibly waiting until after the Super Bowl to do so, when a bevy of assistant coaches from Denver, Seattle, San Francisco and New England (pretty, please Josh McDaniels?) will become available.

Quite the concept. But why isnt it more common? Why is it in the NFL that most teams will spends months preparing for the draft, and weeks and weeks diving into free agency research and preparation, but then feel the need to invest only a handful of days into a critically important head coaching search? Isnt picking your next coach at least as important as picking your next crop of players?

But thats the current system the patient Browns are bucking to a certain degree, with the NFLs rules on the interview windows for head coaching candidates during the postseason making a sprint out of some teams searches. Hiring a head coach has become a furious game of musical chairs, and teams desperately dont want to get caught without one of the most sought-after chairs once the last notes are played. Houston got the game going this year, firing Gary Kubiak with three weeks to go in the season, and getting the desired head start on the rest of the field with the hiring of Penn State coach Bill OBrien by Jan. 2.

Thats the way the hiring-season game is played now, but that cant possibly be the best solution. While there will no doubt be issues to overcome no matter when the interview window falls, the most equitable thing to do is to make teams wait until after the Super Bowl is played to interview and hire a new head coach. Revolutionary, I know, but it would remove some of the biggest problems that exist in the current NFL system, even if it didnt serve to dramatically slow the pace of the hirings once the window opens.

For one, assistants coaches on teams that make deep playoff runs or go to the Super Bowl wont be disadvantaged any more. Those are usually some of the most attractive candidates on the market, as they are again this year with Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Yet many times those still-in-season candidates never get the chance to land a job because teams are too anxious to find their new coach and fill out a new coaching staff, and are thus unwilling to wait for the completion of the five-week postseason.

Last year at this time, San Franciscos Roman was considered a strong candidate for the opening in Jacksonville, where new Jaguars general manager David Caldwell was shopping for a coach. But when Seattle lost in the divisional round, and coveted Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley came free, he wound up getting the Jaguars before Roman even had the opportunity to interview. Why? Because the 49ers were Super Bowl-bound. And the same scenario has probably played out this year, with Washington (Jay Gruden), Tennessee (Ken Whisenhunt), Detroit (Jim Caldwell) and Minnesota (Mike Zimmer) all making their coaching hires in the past six days. Three of those four coaches were on teams that just finished playoff runs in the past two weekends.

Taking more time to sort through the interview and hiring process would perhaps help teams avoid the pitfalls the Browns think they encountered last year, when their pursuit of Chip Kelly failed, and they responded by quickly landing Chudzinski. The urgency to hire someone, and not be seen as having been spurned by your top candidates, is a real and powerful motivator that can prompt clubs to short-change the decision-making process and all of its long-term ramifications.

Gone too would be the onerous practice of making head-coaching candidates on playoff teams schedule interviews in clumps, just a day or two before they work the most important game of their clubs season. The divided attention span issue is a thorny one for playoff teams to contend with, but needlessly so, since it could be eliminated.

No more need for an offensive coordinator like Whisenhunt to interview with three teams and prepare a game plan for San Diegos divisional-round playoff game at Denver, all within the span of a few days. And no more team officials like Vikings general manager Rick Spielman flying to Charlotte last weekend to interview the 49ers Roman and his fellow San Francisco assistant, defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, at a hotel less than 24 hours before the 49ers road playoff game at Carolina.

Is anyone capable of doing their best possible work under those circumstances? Its not ideal for the coaching candidates, the teams they currently work for, or for team officials who are forced to jet around the country and jam some pretty crucial job interviews into tiny windows of time.

And if every team searching for a head coach has the potential of the same hiring season start date, then everyone has the same pool to build an assistant coaching staff from, and doesnt have to make premature or hasty decisions based purely on pressure to compete for the best assistants. There would still be mad competition on that front, but there would at least be a leveling of that particular playing field.

A post-Super Bowl start to head coach hiring season would get push-back from those who think itd be the end of the world to not have a fully operational coaching staff in place and scouting at next weeks Senior Bowl workouts in Alabama. But a teams personnel and scouting staff doesnt get completely wiped out in a coaching change and that assignment could be handled. With the lighter offseason programs in todays NFL, you dont desperately need a head coach in early to mid-January any way, and youd still have months to make up for any draft prep that might be missed by conducting a February coaching search. After all, the draft this year has been moved to the second weekend of May, so theres still all the time in the world for a new coaching staff to set its board.

Ive never thought of them this way before, but the Browns might be the smart ones here. Theyre taking their time to find a head coach. At least this time. Theyre determined to find the right guy. Even if hes not available right now.


Brandon Weeden Burger

04 December 2013 - 01:34 PM


The Tavern

17 November 2013 - 12:08 PM

Looks like Skippy forgot to pay the electric bill or something as it appears the Tavern is closed.  Or possibly the health department finally came in and shut it down since it's never been cleaned in the 5 years or so that it's been open..


Either way..who knows but it appears we are without it this week.

Cleveland Browns players 'respect the heck out of' coach Rob Chudzinski as they...

10 November 2013 - 07:39 PM

BEREA, Ohio – After an embarrassing first half in Kansas City, the man who was not the first choice to coach these Browns demonstrated why he might be the best choice.

An angry Rob Chudzinski stood inside the Arrowhead Stadium visitors locker room and tore into a club that had produced eight straight losing quarters of football dating to the second half of the Detroit game on Oct. 13.

With the season threatening to unravel for the second time in eight weeks, the coach who grew up a Browns fan expressed his disappointment in a withering tone. This wasn’t the genial former assistant who spends news conferences smiling frequently and revealing little.

It was Chud unfiltered. Chud untethered.


“We needed it,” defensive captain D’Qwell Jackson said. “He's not afraid to say what's on his mind, and it gets us going. We're all grown men, and he doesn't call guys out. Whatever we need to have corrected is corrected, but he doesn't call anyone out. He's telling everyone, ‘This is what we need to do to win this ballgame.’ "

The Browns’ second-half rally fell short against the Chiefs, but the momentum gained carried into last week’s 24-18 win over the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium.


“He's a fiery guy and we're like, ‘Show us more of that. Show us more of it.’ And at halftime in Kansas City, he got us going . . .  and we were a completely different team.”

The Browns (4-5) find themselves as unlikely playoff contenders in their bye week for various reasons. Part of it is attributed to the conference’s relative mediocrity once you get past Kansas City, Denver, New England and Indianapolis. Part of it is an AFC North in decline as Baltimore and Pittsburgh tried unsuccessfully to keep up appearance with talent comb-overs.

But the Browns also own their position to a resiliency past editions did not exhibit. They have overcome an 0-2 start, the trade of Trent Richardson, three starting quarterbacks in the past five weeks and other distractions without splintering. Chudzinski addressed the topic Wednesday.

“There’s been a lot of things that happened and a lot of things going on, different situations, some unique, some that you expect and some things that don’t happen very often that we’ve had,” Chudzinski said. “I go back to the kind of people that we have here and the identity that we’re creating . . .

“They haven’t flinched. Whatever happens, what we talk as coaches to them about is how you respond to the things that happen. It’s not what happens, it’s how you respond to it."

At the center of the Browns’ revival – they are one win from matching their victory total from last season -- is a coach who many saw as a surprise hire on Jan. 10. The Browns courted Chip Kelly, who spurned them for Philadelphia, and are believed to have at least gauged the interest of Alabama icon Nick Saban.

The coach the Browns eventually named has been adept at handling the dysfunction and chaos that’s enveloped Berea since 1999. He lost his best offensive playmaker, receiver Josh Gordon, to a two-game drug ban to open the season and spent the weeks following the Richardson trade keeping the team focused as rumors of an impending fire sale swirled.

“I think we’re in great hands here,” Browns punter Spencer Lanning said. “Chud has the perfect balance of being a man like (South Carolina coach) Steve Spurrier who is aggressive and set in his ways – I think the world of Coach Spurrier – and the other end of the spectrum he’s got some Lovie Smith in him."

What veterans such as Joe Thomas and Jackson appreciate is Chudzinski’s steady-handed governance and his ability to deliver on preseason promises. He pledged the Browns would be attack-minded on offense and defense, that they would take risks and see change.

The Browns lead the league in fourth-down attempts (19) and conversions (10), rank second in sacks (31) and will likely break a string of five seasons with at least 11 losses.

“Everything thus far has held true,” Jackson said. “And that goes a long way throughout the locker room, especially for a guy like myself. I've had a lot of coaches say one thing, and then depending on how the season goes you’re entirely a different team. He's done a great job with that, and that's a true testament in what he believes in . . .

“We respect the heck out of him.”

Chudzinski, a Toledo native, relates so well to players because he was one. He played for the college program that put the swag in swagger. The former tight end won a pair of national championships at the University of Miami in the late 1980s when as Jackson observed, The U “was The U to say the least.”

His coaching staff also has championship pedigree. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner and defensive coordinator Ray Horton have won Super Bowls with other franchises.



“I think (Chudzinski’s) mindset and attitude really sits well with our young football team,” quarterback Jason Campbell said. “You can see the growth and see also him having Coach Norv and Coach Ray, two guys that have been around the league as well. I think they work collective as a group to get everyone prepared week in and week out.”

The Browns have much to improve if they expect to stay in the playoff races. Lost in all the optimism surrounding the break is the fact the Browns have lost three of their last four games and have beaten only one opponent (Cincinnati) currently with a winning record.

They used the bye week to analyze their 25th-ranked run game; the offensive and defensive struggles on third downs; and defending in the red zone.

Another issue is finding a way to win on the road, where four of their final seven games will be played. The Browns have won two of their last 18 games away from Cleveland.

The players, however, trust Chudzinski and staff will put them in position to win. In listening to his impassioned speeches Jackson hears his coach's genuine love for the franchise.



“You can tell his roots are with the Browns,” Jackson said. “He tells us personal stories. He brings the personal stories into his football life. He definitely has our attention.”