If you haven't done it already, head on over to ESPN Cleveland and read Tony Grossi's piece on the firing of Rob Chudzinski. If you want to avoid the four letter network or don't want to read the whole thing, I'll provide some of the juiciest quotes and give my opinion on them.
The first bit of news is that this was not a surprise to the coaches, as the decision was actually made last week, and supposedly nothing the team did yesterday against the Steelers would matter. According to Grossi: "In the end, neither Chudzinski nor his coordinators were as stunned as everyone else." That's pretty amazing to me. That means that this news was out for all intents and purposes for close to a week and no one outside of Bleacher Report picked it up. It also explains some of the coaching decisions from Sunday's game. The craziest part to me though is that the coaches were able to keep it from the players. Team leaders like D'Qwell Jackson and Joe Thomas were adamant that Chud wasn't going anywhere even after the game.
The next big piece of news here is the degree of meddling in coaching decisions by this front office. It's no secret that the Browns were working with a thin roster in some areas due to injuries or other factors. The secret was that management and the coaches weren't on the same page when it came to dealing with that issue. The front office wanted young guys thrown into the fire and Chud wanted to stick with some veterans. Take this example:
A case in point was the quick de-activation of cornerback Chris Owens on injured reserve to give playing time to rookie draft pick Leon McFadden, whom the coaches had buried on the bench. Owens later asked for his release once he was medically cleared from a knee injury and was signed by the Miami Dolphins.
This is crazy, right? Leon McFadden is a rookie and has not really shown any kind of NFL ability. But he was one of the few draft picks made by this front office, and a relatively high one at that. I think they needed to prove they were right about him, and the fact that Chud told them they were wrong created friction. By far the scariest part of this article to me was the revelation that Joe Banner was trying to tell Chudzinski how to run the locker room. This is terrifying:
At one point, Chudzinski was urged by Banner to “shake up” the locker room by cutting wide receiver Greg Little or guard Shawn Lauvao. Chudzinski declined, and that was interpreted as Chudzinski not holding players accountable for their failings.
Put yourself in Chud's seat for a minute. You know what happened to the running back position when you got rid of the starter (even if he wasn't very good to begin with). Now you're being asked to cut, not bench or limit playing time, but to outright cut one of your starting receivers and a guard who ended up starting 11 games. Do you think the FO is going to do any better replacing those guys than they did with the running backs? And sweet fancy moses, they wanted to create this problem all in the interest of "shaking up" the locker room!? This scares the poop out of me. By the way, anyone who doesn't believe in front offices wanting "their guys," take note.
There's plenty more in the article, so you should go read it. Other topics include why they finally decided to make the change, the issue with Norv Turner's son, and how they plan to sell this to the fans. Notably absent are any comments about Chud losing the locker room, aside from Jimmy Haslam getting pissed after the Jets game. If there was anything to that rumor, I expect it would have been mentioned here. Anyway, this is a pretty definitive look at the behind-the-scenes issues that resulted in the quagmire in which we currently find ourselves. Enjoy.