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Browns OC Search, Meet the Candidate: Matt Cavanaugh

A new day, a new name in the OC search, Matt Cavanaugh is next.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the Browns parting ways with Kyle Shanahan on Thursday morning, I thought it'd be best if we got to know our early candidates. (Ed. note: most of the ‘candidates' are names of coaches floated by various media members. I'm running with them as ‘candidates' until further evidence is presented to the contrary.)

Next on our list of candidates is a newer name, Matt Cavanaugh!

The skinny:

  • Born October 27, 1956 (age 58).
  • Born and raised in Youngstown, OH, and a graduate of Chaney HS.
  • Played QB at the University of Pittsburgh - Won the 1976 National Championship (named game's MVP).
  • Had a 13-year NFL career, mostly as a backup - Won 2 Super Bowls.
  • Began coaching at his alma mater as the chief recruiter for Pitt from 1992-1993 - Mike Pettine on Pitt Staff.
  • Held various offensive coach/offensive coordinator positions with the Cardinals, 49ers, and Bears from 1994-1998.
  • Named OC for the Baltimore Ravens in 1999, holds position until 2004 - Wins Super Bowl XXXV in 2000, Mike Pettine on Baltimore staff 2002-2003.
  • Returned to Pitt to be the OC from '05-'08.
  • Assistant Coach/QB Coach with the New York Jets from 2009-2012 - Mike Pettine Jets' DC from '09-'12.
  • QB coach for the Chicago Bears the last two seasons - Marc Trestman fired as HC, Cavanaugh's contract expired.

Why he makes sense:

I added a few footnotes to some of the places Cavanaugh has coached because he and Browns HC Mike Pettine have worked together a lot over the years. They've had a lot of overlap, so it would make sense why he'd be a candidate for Cleveland's open OC position.

Last season, Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator, and Pettine had never worked with him. So, it's understandable why the Browns may want to bring in someone who is familiar with Pettine. It makes sense.

With the reported "friction" between some coaches and the front office. Pettine having a familiar face running his offense sounds like it could aid in smoothing things out.

Furthermore, Cavanaugh has had success throughout his career, both as a QB guy, and an OC. When Cavanaugh was in Baltimore, they won the Super Bowl on the heels of a stout rushing offense headlined by Jamal Lewis. He'd rush for over 1,300 yards, as a rookie.

Cavanugh went on to have success in New York as well. In his four seasons that he served as the AHC/QB coach, the Jets made the AFC championship game twice.

Despite the Bears not being very good in 2014, Jay Cutler still had arguably one of his best seasons as a pro. Cavanaugh was the QB coach in Chicago the past two seasons, and is respected around the league as a "QB guy."

Why he makes no sense:

If you look at Cavanaugh's résumé, it's impressive. But, that doesn't tell the whole story.

Looking at where he's had success (Baltimore, New York, etc), do you see a pattern?

Those teams had phenomenal defenses. The 2000 Ravens had arguably the greatest defense of all time. And they had Jamal Lewis. Those Jets teams he was on, had great defenses as well.

It's easy to see that his success may be buoyed by strong defensive efforts.

Additionally, while Jay Cutler had a nice year last year, he's still not living up to his potential. Mark Sanchez was totally mediocre while he was being coached by Cavanaugh. Is that fair to pin that on Cavanaugh? Probably not, Sanchez just isn't good.

Still, Cavanaugh is considered a good QB coach, and if he can't coach up Cutler to his full potential, what do you think he'll be able to do with the Browns QBs?

Not much.


If I'm ranking the early candidates that we've covered, it'd go something like this:

1. Matt Cavanaugh

2. Marc Trestman

3. Brian Hoyer

4. Random guy selected from Twitter

5. Charlie Weis

We'll have more coverage of the remaining candidates, see the post Chris put up earlier this morning on some new names, here.

But, so far, Cavanaugh seems to make the most sense. Trestman has been tied to the Jaguars job, but could still be a candidate in Cleveland. I don't think Charlie Weis is a viable candidate, at least I'm hoping that is the case.

Matt Cavanaugh's proven ability to coach QBs, as well as run a strong offense, is appealing. Additionally, his undeniable familiarity with Mike Pettine is also intriguing.

I haven't seen any candidate pop up yet that would be a slam-dunk hire for the Browns, but Cavanaugh seems like an option I could be on board with.

What do you all make of Matt Cavanaugh, viable option?