The road to the AFC Championship Game and, therefore, the Super Bowl, goes through the AFC North for the Cleveland Browns. This year, if the Browns won the division, Cleveland would have hosted a playoff game and had a better shot to win and advance.
Instead, the Browns were blown out by the Houston Texans on the road because the Baltimore Ravens secured the AFC North and top seed in the conference.
The Ravens are not the only impediment for Cleveland. The Cincinnati Bengals are hoping to bounce back with a healthy Joe Burrow while the Pittsburgh Steelers hope to find an offensive identity to join the race for the top, not just a playoff spot, in 2024
The Bengals have already lost their offensive coordinator as Brian Callahan took the head coaching job with the Tennessee Titans. Baltimore could be next to lose a coordinator with DC Mike Macdonald being highly sought after by the Seattle Seahawks:
The #Seahawks plan to interview #Ravens DC Mike Macdonald for HC this week if Baltimore loses, sources say. If the Ravens win, Seattle has to wait. And SEA seems willing to do so -- a la Shane Steichen last year.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 28, 2024
This and more in my coaching notebook: https://t.co/Vlf8tKuinC
Macdonald’s career since 2014 has been connected to the Harbaughs. He coached under John Harbaugh for most of that time with a one-year stop in Michigan as Jim Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator before returning to the Ravens under John in the same role.
In his two years as Baltimore’s coordinator, Macdonald’s creative defense has caused trouble for the NFL.
The most experienced coach on the Ravens defensive staff could be in a position to step in but Dennard Wilson has only one year with the team and has interest for defensive coordinator positions elsewhere.
Depending on the results of the championship games, we might have to wait a little longer to see how coaching staffs in the AFC North shake out. For now, any slight advantage the Browns can get from good coaching going elsewhere is going to be welcomed.