The Browns’ quest for the perfect man to step in and field the void of head coach is still ongoing.
Usually at the conclusion of every NFL season, there are 8-11 head coaching vacancies. The good news for Cleveland fans is that this year the Browns’ job is only one of five. During the year, the Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers fired their head coaches. Black Monday contributed the New York Football Giants and as expected, the Dallas Cowboys have finally announced they will also be looking for a new head guy. The Redskins job has since been filed, meaning only four head coaching openings still remain.
The Browns’ head coaching list began with 12 names. It has been mentioned that the two best coaching jobs are the Cowboys and the Browns because of their current roster situation. Both of these teams will likely need the least amount of tweaking and on paper appear to be in great shape. Of course, “on paper” is what got both of these franchise coaches fired.
Plainly put, the Browns have a great roster. Their quarterback is young and of course they possess Odell Beckham, Jr. and one of the league’s best running backs in Nick Chubb. The trick will be to get a guy to take the reins who get the maximum out of these players.
And of course, the roster will need someone they will respect, provide strong leadership and hopefully instill some sort of discipline that will eliminate the drama and the foolish penalties.
Browns’ owner Jimmy Haslam recently held a press conference to which he stated how the head coaching process will proceed with not only finding the right guy, but ownership being patient that that person to eventually succeed:
“I will say this, we are really excited about the group of candidates that we will be interviewing over the next several days. I think maybe despite all of the changes we have made, it is a very attractive job. Everybody in the NFL knows how important football is in this area. I think everybody understands we have a really good young quarterback and a really good core group of players so we are excited about the opportunity to work with these candidates over the next week or two or however long it takes.”
And so far the Browns have been busy in their search and plan to hire a head coach followed by the hiring of a new general manager. Here are the latest updates:
Mike McCarthy – former Green Bay Packers head coach
McCarthy had a good interview on Thursday in Berea, Ohio according to FOX Sports. Apparently the process was more than sitting in a room and asking questions for a few hours. In fact, the interview was a day-long event with owner Jimmy Haslam.
Haslam then held a 20-minute media session to which he explained:
“We are very determined to get it right this time. Obviously (McCarthy’s) got great experience, he’s won 62 percent of his games and that speaks for himself. So we’ve really enjoyed our time with him. Head coaching experience is not necessarily a prerequisite. If you notice, we are interviewing people who have been head coaches in the NFL and people who have not.”
McCarthy (age 56) is also doing an interview soon with the Panthers, and the Cowboys appear to be in the mix too.
Former Browns’ offensive tackle Joe Thomas stated this on NFL Network regarding McCarthy:
“I think the guy right now who is probably the leader in the clubhouse — and it’s still early — is Mike McCarthy I got a chance to talk with some of the folks who were in the interview process. They thought Mike McCarthy did a fantastic job. He’s a proven winner, he’s got a Super Bowl trophy to his name, and he’s a guy who has been in the NFL a long time as a head coach.”
Greg Roman – OC Baltimore Ravens
Roman (age 47) was also recently interviewed on Thursday in Baltimore per ESPN. He is currently the offensive coordinator for division foe Ravens and has never held the head coaching position at any level. Baltimore is the highest-scoring offense in the league.
Per league rules, the Browns are able to interview Roman because the Ravens have a first-round bye. Roman attended college in the Cleveland area.
Eric Bieniemy – OC Kansas City Chiefs
The Browns interviewed Bieniemy, age 50, on Friday according to heavy.com. He is the third candidate to be interviewed and has worked with several current Browns’ players including running back Kareem Hunt. Bieniemy is one of the key components to quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ success, so a good coordinator to come in to assist with Baker Mayfield’s ascent is a huge plus.
Robert Salah – DC San Francisco 49ers
Saleh will be interviewed Saturday in San Francisco according to report on ninerswire.com. Saleh has built the 49ers defense into a league powerhouse, currently the NFL’s number two defensive unit. His philosophy has been a focus on the pass rush and the front four which has coincided with recent draft picks that have added quality starters.
The interview will take place during the 49ers bye week. San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan mentioned this about the prospect of Saleh, age 40, heading the Browns:
“I’m pumped for Saleh to get this opportunity. (Browns owners) Mr. and Mrs. Haslam are great people and I think they’re great people to work for. We’ll see how the interview goes for him.”
Brian Daboll – OC Buffalo Bills
Per Cleveland.com, Daboll (age 44) is scheduled for an interview Sunday in Buffalo. The Bills play Saturday in a divisional game in Houston that would allow Daboll to become available. Daboll was the Browns OC in 2009-2010 under Eric Mangini. He has ties to Bill Belichick and has been involved with two Super Bowl victories and a college football National Championship with Alabama.
Josh McDaniels – OC New England Patriots
McDaniels has an interview date on January 10 according to NFL Network. However, the interview with Cleveland is not exclusive. On the same day, McDaniels will also interview with the Giants and Panthers as probably the hottest head coaching candidate.
McDaniels has numerous ties to the State of Ohio in that he grew up in Canton and his father is an Ohio coaching legend. He also attended John Carroll and is a long-time assistant under Belichick who once was Cleveland’s head coach.
McDaniels, who is only 43 years old, is a proven winner as evidenced by his six Super Bowl rings.
The Browns were granted permission to interview both Mike LaFleur and Mike McDaniel, both offensive coordinators with the 49ers, but so far there hasn’t been an official notice. It is assumed that when they visit with Saleh, that each of these men will be interviewed.
Minnesota Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski is still be on the Browns’ radar, but so far an interview time and place has not been set. It is speculated that Stefanski will be interviewed next week at some point depending on the outcome of Sunday’s playoff game against the New Orleans Saints.
Stefanski, who was interviewed twice for the head coaching position last year, appears to be in serious consideration for the Browns’ job. It had been speculated that if the Vikings lose to the Saints, owner Mark Wilf might either fire head coach Mike Zimmer or work out a trade with the Cowboys who appear to have a keen interest in getting back their former assistant coach. Either of these scenarios would then push Stefanski into the head coaching slot.
However, Wilf issued a statement on Friday that Zimmer was safe and would remain with Minnesota. This should place Stefanski into the final hiring stages with Cleveland. It could very well come down to Stefanski and one other candidate.
No other word on if Cleveland remains interested in any other candidates.