Welcome aboard, Chud. Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner introduced Rob Chudzinski as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns Friday morning, spending about 45 minutes answering questions from the media. Here is a reader's digest of what we can take away from the presser at this point:
Chud's Background & Growing Up A Browns Fan
For those who don't know, we are getting a head coach who grew up as a Browns fan; Chudzinski was born in Toledo, OH. While that doesn't qualify someone as a head coach, it means that Chudzinski should understand this franchise's storied legacy and why fans have been clamoring for a winner. He was here in Cleveland for two different stints -- one as a tight ends coach, and another as an offensive coordinator (2007-2008).
"I am excited about this opportunity. I’m excited about the chance to bring back what I grew up in and the feeling that this city, this region, this area have in the Cleveland Browns. I was the kid that was in the backyard playing, pretending I was Ozzie Newsome or Brian Sipe or the greats that played for Cleveland. The tradition of this franchise is such that the people here want a winner, and I’m here. I would not miss this for the world – the opportunity to come back and bring a winner back to Cleveland."
Haslam noted that while Chudzinski's connection to Ohio was a plus, he would have hired him "even if he were from Plano, Texas."
Hiring Process & Number Of Coaches Interviewed
While he did not list names, Haslam confirmed that the Browns interviewed 9 or 10 head coaching candidates, ranging from current coordinators in the NFL, former head coaches, and coaches at the collegiate level. By our tally, the Browns seemed to at least interview Marc Trestman, Ken Whisenhunt, Ray Horton, Mike Zimmer, Bill O'Brien, Doug Marrone, Chip Kelly, and Chudzinski. Those would be eight of the candidates; the team also reportedly showed interest in Bruce Arians, but it is unclear if an interview ever took place.
Haslam also said that they interviewed 4 or 5 of the candidates twice. Reports seem to indicate that Whisenhunt, Marrone, and Chudzinski were three of the candidate who were interviewed twice.
The Browns first interviewed Chudzinski on Wednesday for five hours at Haslam's home in Bratenhal. On Thursday, Haslam and Banner went to Charlotte to meet Chudzinski for the second time over dinner, where he was hired.
The Browns did not discuss any other names, meaning nothing was said about Norv Turner being the team's offensive coordinator. Still, if the rumors are true, you can expect Brad Childress to be out and Turner to be in over the next couple of days. During the conference, Banned noted that Chudzinski's ability to recruit solid assistant coaches was a key factor in hiring him.
Because an offensive coordinator hasn't been named yet, Chudzinski could not say whether he would be the offensive play caller on gameday or not. As for the keys on offense, Chudzinski emphasized:
- Effective balance in the pass/run game
- Having a vertical/downfield passing game
- Cater to the strengths of the offensive personnel
To clarify what the above means, here are the words out of Chud's mouth:
"It’s an attacking style. I like to be balanced. Balance to me does not mean we’re going to throw the ball and run it the same amount of times. Balance to me means you run it when you need to run it to win, and throw it when you need to throw it to win. You have to be able to win games in different ways. You have to win a low-scoring game in snow or a high-scoring shootout. You have to be able to do both."
Haslam also liked the results that Chudzinski had achieved with Carolina's offense over the past two years, compared to what happened under Pat Shurmur.
"He is tremendously innovative. We are very bottom-line people. You look at results. The last two years, Rob was coordinator at Carolina and they scored 88 touchdowns. We scored 48."
Throughout the process, one of the common themes that Haslam said candidates would bring up is that Cleveland had a very good, young offensive line in place.
This is the category that fans seem to be questioning right now, but let's wait and see for a final decision to be made, and then get deep into our reflections. None of the three men shot down the idea of the Browns moving to a 3-4 defense, stating that it would depend on who the defensive coordinator was. There was no indication that Dick Jauron is out yet, so that remains to be seen.
In a potentially intriguing twist, it was hinted that the Browns could deploy a hybrid 4-3 and 3-4 attack of sorts. After the press conference concluded, some reporters met with Banner off to the side, where he discussed the hybrid attack a little bit more:
"I think you should pay attention closely to Rob’s comments, that there are a lot of hybrid defenses out there right now that actually kind of go back and forth depending upon the down, distance, circumstance and opponent. I think either system we play there’s additional needs of talent to add to the defense to get it to the quality we want. But neither would require a massive revamping of the talent we have."
GM / Personnel Search
Haslam and Banner have been actively interviewing candidates for the general manager or player personnel position. In terms of a timetable, they said it could be anywhere from a couple of days to a month from now. When they end up hiring that person, they'll have another press conference to introduce him.
Banner stated that Michael Lombardi did not have an influence on Chudzinski being hired and was not involved in the process of interviewing coaches:
"Mike hasn’t been involved. I pick brains of a lot of people and call lots of people ‘do you know so and so.’ I’m not going to get into who exactly I did that with. I did it with a lot of people."
Chudzinski will dictate a lot of what goes on in terms of the roster. By that, Banner said it means that Chudzinski will control the direction the team takes in bringing in new players, but others would be involved in helping him pick and recruit the actual players. He was also scheduled to meet with the assistants still under contract later in the day, and let people know who he'd like to interview to see if they'll be retained or not.
Watch The Press Conference Online
If you missed the press conference, you can watch it online at ClevelandBrowns.com. It is split into three parts.