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John Clayton: Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski faces toughest challenge with new limited offseason


Voluntary minicamps. ✓ Check.

Rookie minicamps. ✓ Check.

Organized Team Activities. ✓ Check.

The first official day of the offseason was April 1 for the Cleveland Browns. Now roughly two months later they're set to complete the third and final day of mandatory veteran minicamps today. It's also the last on-the-field work for about another two months until players have to report to training camp on July 25. Actual practice begins the day after.

Under the new collective bargaining agreement that gave Rob Chudzinski and company just 16 days, which includes the three more days than an incumbent head coach, to implement as much of his new system as he could before the long break.

John Clayton, senior NFL writer for ESPN, wrote that these shortened offseasons could potentially be a problem for "first-time head coaches who are already in tough environments."

After Thursday, everything is shut down for those teams until the start of training camp toward the end of July. That's a seven-week vacation that will give the young players plenty of time to forget what they learned the past two months.

Clayton believes that the Browns rookie head coach may have the most to overcome with the compressed offseason.

Chudzinski faces the toughest challenge. Pat Shurmur lost his job as head coach because of an ownership change and a young roster that wasn't ready for the prime time. Chudzinski is trying to fix the offense and turn a bunch of 4-3 defenders into a 3-4 defense with Ray Horton in charge. Furthering the problem is the competition in the AFC North. Baltimore, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh have better rosters.

First-time head coaches coming from the coordinator ranks have roughly 2½ years to turn around a losing franchise. If the team isn't .500 or better by the end of the second season, that coach enters his third season on the hot seat, and some don't make the third year.

Clayton also pointed out that new coaches coming up from the college game are already used to those kinds of tighter limitations and may have an advantage, perhaps even more so in a year from now when the draft is moved to the middle of May. Clayton thinks this might strengthen the NFL market for the likes of Notre Dame's Brian Kelly and Stanford's David Shaw, rather than that of coordinators.

Considering the entirely new offense and defense being installed and the time they have to do it, what are reasonable expectations for the Browns in 2013, Chudzinski's first year?

Does the thought of having to wait 2½ to know if Cleveland has the right guy sit right or do you see that as an unfortunate fact of life in the search for a great NFL head coach?