Just a few days ago but what feels like over a week ago, the Cleveland Browns fired DC Joe Woods. Perhaps because that news came during the 6 AM hour or perhaps because interview requests started being reported that afternoon, it feels like it is time for the team to take the next step.
Thankfully, they are.
The Browns confirmed that Jim Schwartz was in for his interview on Wednesday. Today, Brian Flores is expected to be in town for his interview.
Here is what we know so far about Cleveland’s search for a new defensive coordinator:
- They have requested interviews with four candidates with Jerod Mayo (pictured) and Sean Desai joining Schwartz and Flores
- Desai will be limited in when he can interview due to his team (Seattle) being in the playoffs
- If the Browns are interviewing a coach who isn’t employed by an NFL team, they do not have to request permission so we may not be aware of it in advance
- The team will be looking for an external candidate so the current staff is unlikely to interview for the position
- While Cleveland might want to get a decision quickly but the candidates are likely to have other options once head coaching seats are filled
Now on to what I am hearing.
Much like what I wrote early Monday morning, just moments prior to Woods being fired, this information is based on lots of communications around the league and may include information that has been reported, rumored or hinted at by others. This is my attempt to let you in on what could happen, what the thoughts are and where it might be headed. This is not an attempt to scoop anything or report that something will happen:
- The Browns are very much keeping an open mind but, like anyone would, have some thoughts going into the interviews
- Flores would be considered the leader at this point but the team has some concern that he may be very meticulous about the process and interview with a number of teams over a number of weeks which could delay the process and, potentially, lose out on all their top candidates
- Schwartz is seen as a steady option that wouldn’t make significant scheme changes but would be a huge influence on the locker room with his experience and Philadelphia winning the Super Bowl with him as DC
- Desai is seen as an up-and-comer who could be ready but may not provide the same pedigree that the other three candidates have but is a great coach which may be enough
- Mayo is seen as a guy that could blow them out of the water (similar to how Mike Tomlin got his job in Pittsburgh) so the Browns are excited to talk with him. While Mayo doesn’t have the title of defensive coordinator, he’s called the defensive plays for New England for a couple of years
- Cleveland would like to be aggressively paced in this process but won’t rush just to get someone hired quickly. A delicate balancing act
- All four candidates are excited about the talent the Browns have on the field and believe in Kevin Stefanski as the head coach
- While the talent on defense (Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II, Martin Emerson, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah) is exciting to the coaches, Deshaun Watson, Nick Chubb, Amari Cooper, David Njoku and the offensive line is also a draw for defensive coaches. They know they won’t have to carry the team and expected to win the games by themselves
- There is rumblings of at least one big(ish) name that isn’t among the four that could interview but is currently not employed by anyone in the NFL. That could be Jim Leonhard but that is just a guess/speculation at this time. It will be interesting if the team announces all of their interviews like they did with Schwartz Wednesday
- Finally, GM Andrew Berry and Stefanski are still in general lockstep together in making decisions as they have been since being hired. They don’t always agree but work through their process together well which, hopefully, will make this hire process smooth
We will keep you up to date as more information becomes available.