...and then there was one
With the Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions hiring Ken Whisenhunt and Jim Caldwell over the past two days, and the Minnesota Vikings just hiring Mike Zimmer to be their head coach today, only one team remains in the NFL with a head coaching vacancy: the Cleveland Browns. What does that mean for the Browns?
- The Browns have reportedly conducted interviews with six candidates. Out of those six, two have been hired already: Whisenhunt to the Titans, and Ben McAdoo to the Giants (as offensive coordinator). Two have reportedly pulled out of the job: Bowles and Josh McDaniels. That leaves Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who can't be hired yet since he's still in the playoffs, and Mike Munchek as the two presumed options. Do you see either guy being the team's next head coach?
- A few days ago, we said that the Browns' interest in Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase is heating up. The truth is that it might never have cooled off. People have complained that Cleveland doesn't have a coach already, believing that people are staying away from the job because of the front office, but let's look at the facts.
- When Rob Chudzinski was first fired, the first name we heard emerge was Gase's. It was reported that Gase was turning down any interview requests until the Broncos were finished with the postseason. The belief among many was that Josh McDaniels was the team's top target. If that's the case, then why would the team (reportedly) tell him that he was not the front runner for the job? Why didn't the Browns throw a bunch of money at Whisenhunt? It's possible that Cleveland wanted to line up a handful of fallback candidates in the event that after the Broncos are out of the postseason, Gase ends up telling the Browns, "no, thanks."
- How concerned should we be about the timeline of things? Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles hired Chip Kelly and the Chicago Bears hired Marc Trestman on January 16. Both hirings came several days after the Browns had named Rob Chudzinski as their next head coach. The Browns might end up having to wait several more weeks to get their guy, but I think they regret hiring Chudzinski last year before taking a more serious look at the likes of Bruce Arians, Trestman, or even making one more push for Kelly.
- If we are putting all of our chips in Gase, the thing we have to worry about is the fact that Minnesota is the only other team still without a head coach. Besides the Browns, guess which other team showed an immediate interest in Gase? The Vikings. Imagine the firestorm in Cleveland if both teams end up waiting for Gase, only to find out the Browns lose out on him to the Vikings. UPDATE: The Vikings have hired Zimmer, so if we want Gase, he is all ours.
If it boils down to that, though, you can always find someone in the NFL who is looking to make a leap to head coach, even if it's a candidate we haven't heard about in 2014, such as Jack Del Rio. Quinn likely isn't going to be hired by anybody else, so Cleveland could end up with him, too. I probably shouldn't discredit Munchek as much as I am, but based on his below-.500 record, he would seem to go against what the front office just preached as a big reason Chudzinski was fired: not winning enough.
- UPDATE: Browns owner Jimmy Haslam sent a letter this morning to fans, hinting that the team is waiting for Gase.
The Browns are starting to lose their assistant coaches, too. As far as finding replacements, it shouldn't be that difficult: Cleveland can sniff around the league and promote people from lower positions, or pull a few position coaches from the college ranks, for whomever they hire. At the end of the day, the head coach isn't as important as the team's top goal, as plastered in their headquarters: finding a championship-level quarterback to lead the team.
Use this as an open thread to discuss the team's head coaching situation as it stands presently, and some dark horse candidates around the NFL who you would still like to see them interview.