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Browns job may be the best of the bunch

Haslam AP

With six NFL head-coaching jobs open, one stands above the rest as the bunch.

And, no, it’s not the Lions.

In Cleveland, the Browns have five Pro Bowlers:  left tackle Joe Thomas, center Alex Mack, wide receiver Josh Gordon, tight end Jordan Cameron and cornerback Joe Haden.  They have a young roster — currently the second-youngest in the league.

They’ll likely get even younger in 2014, with 10 draft picks.  Three of those come in the first 35 selections.

But they also have the ability to get older if they want, with nearly $40 million in cap space on the books for 2014.

The biggest attraction comes from the ability of the next coach to hand pick his next quarterback, subject to whatever the teams holding the first three picks in the draft choose to do (and the wishes of the front office).  Given the existing talent, the draft picks, the cap space, and the void at quarterback, the Browns in 2014 may be an even better version of the Chiefs in 2013, who with the addition of Andy Reid and Alex Smith went from 2-14 to 11-5.

There’s one potential caveat, as there always is when things seem to be too good to be true.  Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland believes that former coach Rob Chudzinski failed in part because he gave short shrift to quarterback Brian Hoyer, a favorite of G.M. Mike Lombardi who showed a high degree of ability when the third-stringer finally got a chance to play.  If the powers-that-be in Cleveland want to roll with Hoyer, the new coach may have his hands tied.

Then again, the new coach may also have the ability to ignore Hoyer or any other players on whom the front office is high, because there’s no way the Browns could pull off a second straight one-and-done head coach.  Though the next coach may not make it to a third year, there’s no way he’s getting fired after one.

While these circumstances position the Browns to get anyone they want, the prevailing belief in league circles is that they definitely want Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels — and that they wouldn’t have fired Chudzinski unless they knew they could get McDaniels.

So why all the other names and interviews, if McDaniels is the guy?  Apart from ensuring compliance with the Rooney Rule, the Browns need to create the impression that they turned rocks and kicked tires before choosing a previously failed Belichick disciple who may fail a second time — just as Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini have done.

Besides, the Browns need to have a good fallback plan in place (Plan B could be Jim Schwartz).  Last year, Chudzinski became the candidate for whom the Browns settled.  While the organization deserves credit for admitting quickly that they hired the wrong guy, the decision to fire him represents a clear admission that, last time around, they definitely hired the wrong guy.

If they don’t get it right this time, owner Jimmy Haslam could be firing more people than the coach.

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65 Responses to “Browns job may be the best of the bunch”
  1. pnut87 says: Jan 1, 2014 9:17 AM

    Any job where Mike Lombardi is your GM should NEVER be called, “best of the bunch”.

  2. arrowmint says: Jan 1, 2014 9:19 AM

    It’s the best of the bunch if you only want to coach for one more year then retire.

  3. kepickle says: Jan 1, 2014 9:19 AM

    I would call the Browns Job the worse unless you figure out a way to Fire the Owner

  4. thegonz13 says: Jan 1, 2014 9:24 AM

    Yeah? Why? Because you can get fired after one year?

  5. jjb0811 says: Jan 1, 2014 9:24 AM

    All of the openings have pro bowl talent & high picks. The clowns have proven for 40 years to be a terrible run organization and now their new owner is a crook. Not a great position. Before anyone comments on the Skins pick, they alternate between drafting 1st & 2nd each round. They could easily trade down and collect plenty of picks.

  6. brownsclown says: Jan 1, 2014 9:24 AM

    No, if they get it wrong this time Haslam WILL BE firing more than the coach. If you saw his reaction to the ‘Three Stooges’ question you gotta believe that Dumbardi is on watch!

    As Dumbardi proudly says….’Fired five times, working hard on #6!’

  7. natijim235 says: Jan 1, 2014 9:27 AM

    the ‘brady bunch’ maybe

  8. PeterKingLovesCoqAVin says: Jan 1, 2014 9:28 AM

    So you’re just ignoring the fact that the leadership in that place is a complete joke? No self-respecting coach will want to work for Banner after last season, Lombardi is still a joke, and Haslam is still going to prison. Oh, and they all think the next coach should have enough talent to make the playoffs. Nice try. The Browns job is a death trap.

  9. pl4tinum514 says: Jan 1, 2014 9:30 AM

    great article.

  10. 49erstim says: Jan 1, 2014 9:32 AM

    I’m going to have to respectfully disagree here, Mr Florio. The current problem in this league is that the management gets too impatient. I wouldn’t wanna work anywhere where the guy before me got handed a mess and was fired after 1 season anyway. As I recall they had to deal with all that “Flying J” stuff and didn’t Hoyer get injured. How is that the coaches fault? Then the team up and trades a productive Trent Richardson (never thought I’d type that again!). This organization is a mess from the top down. Tampa Bay might be the best available situation or even Detroit, but not ever Cleveland.

  11. rainsarge says: Jan 1, 2014 9:33 AM

    The Browns really screwed up. They have created a situation where they can’t take a chance. What if Josh Mcdaniels is what we thought he was. A guy who just doesn’t get it, fight with good players, drafts Tebow and doesn’t understand the big picture?

  12. erock0129 says: Jan 1, 2014 9:33 AM

    As a lifelong Browns fan, I really do think this would be a very attractive job, however, I’m not past them firing Chud…just didn’t seem fair, considering the circumstances…that being said, I appreciate that for the first time they SEEM to have a plan in place. Also, I’m a football fan and not your typical Browns honk. I see a young team ready to compete. I also believe they are doing it the right way here finally. I’m still worried about Mike Lombardi, but he’s who I have so I support him….also, I support Joe Banner, regardless of what people say, I feel he’s doing his job, to build a winning organization. I know I’m gonna get slaughtered for this, but Im willing to wait a few seasons for it to happen. Reality is, you can’t build a sustainable team in one season….ironically, that’s what confuses me about Chuds release. (PLEASE DO NOT BRING IN JOSH!!!)

  13. joker7558 says: Jan 1, 2014 9:38 AM

    No pressure, if you don’t win 16 games next year, you can move on to another job.

  14. myvickinabox says: Jan 1, 2014 9:41 AM

    For many, if not most, people, who you work for and long term stability is as important as compensation. The best thing you can say is that this ownership group is unproven, the internet is littered with the worst things you can say.

    Devil’s advocate pieces can be provocative but this will be a tough turd to polish.

  15. myschwartzisbiggerthenyours says: Jan 1, 2014 9:43 AM

    Wrong

  16. captrtp says: Jan 1, 2014 9:48 AM

    Any job with Joe Banner involved is a bad job the man is a snake

  17. davemang90 says: Jan 1, 2014 9:49 AM

    Not with The Three Stooges running the show!

  18. steeltroll says: Jan 1, 2014 9:50 AM

    Get a franchise QB and the Browns will compete. Can’t believe Chud got fired. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  19. The League's Crusade Against The Steelers Continues says: Jan 1, 2014 9:50 AM

    This was funny.

  20. bigbens69taintedlove says: Jan 1, 2014 9:54 AM

    An fraudster owner and Banner to answer to? have fun with that. btw..How is cleveland doing with that magical p.r touch of banner? He was largely hidden in Philadelphia because he managed to piss of the city every time his stereotypw mouth opened. Since he and Andy left its been a world of difference.

  21. chools119 says: Jan 1, 2014 9:57 AM

    I wish they would interview Matt Patricia

  22. steelerdeathstar says: Jan 1, 2014 9:57 AM

    The Browns…and their fans…had better hope that the organization doesn’t blow the golden opportunity that is presenting itself right now.
    Based on history,hiring Josh McDaniels would seem to be a decision fraught with uncertainty and peril for the franchise…buyer beware.

  23. garyhd01 says: Jan 1, 2014 9:58 AM

    pro sports is such a nutty place unlike most businesses its in the scrutiny of the masses so choosing the wrong guy exposes the owner and gm to a greater extent… based on the writers comments its quite possible the browns know or believe they know that hoyer is liked by mcdaniels…then again maybe management knows to let josh have his way and get him a guy he wants for his system. of course if they dont hire him the warning bells will be going off everywhere.

  24. shaunypoo says: Jan 1, 2014 9:58 AM

    Having a bad record and generally playing that bad but still having 5 pro bowlers tells me you have a few really good players and no other talent or depth. Throw in a GM who has the potential to can someone after one season and I don’t see how anyone can construe that as the best job available.

  25. vincentbojackson says: Jan 1, 2014 9:58 AM

    The Browns job is perfect for any coach that is looking to do something else a year from now.

  26. clownsfan says: Jan 1, 2014 9:59 AM

    Joe Banner is the GM. Even Mike Lombardi knows that.

  27. mayfieldroadboy says: Jan 1, 2014 10:01 AM

    In my thinking, it took a lot of courage for Haslam to face the public, admit his mistake of hiring Chudzinski and having to fire him. It just tells me that he will face embarrassment from the media and his own fan-base in his vicious quest to get the “right” coach. He was a minority owner of the Steelers and was accustomed to winning; he is now the majority owner of the Browns and had been offended by what kind of team was fielded. As a business owner, could he admit his total displeasure and just wait until next year because the media and fans think it’s the right thing to do? Or does he cut his losses and look for a better tomorrow?

  28. ttommytom says: Jan 1, 2014 10:03 AM

    All well and fine but it’s STILL Cleveland.

    On the bright side, it’s not Buffalo…

  29. mrfrostyj says: Jan 1, 2014 10:07 AM

    I made the same observation that Chuds fate was tied to Weeden. Pretty obvious that he was the least talented QB of the bunch yet he still started the season. Something tells me the only reason Hoyer leapfrogged Cambell on the depth chart was because management “suggested” it since he was their guy and in that case management was right but other than that Chud was pretty good in actual game management.

    To be honest though I don’t think this is even a discussion if Hoyer and Deon Lewis aren’t on the IR most of the season. For the short period at least one of them was around the Browns were the best team in the AFC North.

    Browns fans shouldn’t be dissapointed if they land McDaniels. If Clevelands ownership has shown anything this week its that he won’t have free reign like he did in Denver and will basically be a play caller and nothing else.

  30. pftbro says: Jan 1, 2014 10:13 AM

    Good reasoning in this article. I think any young coach who wants to make a mark for himself and has the “No-Fear” confidence that he can pull it off would jump at this opportunity. He will have strong support from the front office and major input on the next QB And, let’s not forget the fans in Cleveland, the most loyal in the NFL. If a coach can turn this team around he will be the “Anointed One” in Cleveland. It’s all on Banner and Jimmy now to get that guy. But it is the plum job for the right guy who is thinking straight.

  31. kabasaman says: Jan 1, 2014 10:14 AM

    Love the Browns no matter what, but. I think firing a guy after one season is Crap. They should have never hired the guy unless they made it clear. You Are Only Here as an “INTEREM” coach…..

  32. lawyermalloy says: Jan 1, 2014 10:15 AM

    The whole Belichick progeny in NFL circles makes me nauseous. Not one of his decibels has mad it on their own, including Mike Lombardi. While Lombardi may be a nice guy, every team thats had him as a GM has failed e.g. Clev( the 1st time), Phila., Oak etc.). Enough already!

  33. soccerdude8821 says: Jan 1, 2014 10:15 AM

    True that Alex Mack was a pro bowler, also true (and you forgot to mention) that he is a free agent.

  34. coop16 says: Jan 1, 2014 10:16 AM

    I hope that some top-notch coach out there sees the Browns job as the best of the bunch, because I desperately want the Browns to succeed, but I don’t think that’s likely. Coaches in whom the Browns have expressed interest are already turning them down. There’s a dark cloud over this franchise; it’s become the place where coaches (and quarterbacks) go to die.

    And please, not Jim Schwartz. I’d rather take a chance on some unproven assistant, or college refugee. Schwartz couldn’t even win with Megatron and a good QB. He sure as heck couldn’t win in Cleveland. We’d be looking at our 4-12 season as the Good Old Days.

  35. pfic15 says: Jan 1, 2014 10:19 AM

    The worst part of this whole process? Having to hear about the Rooney Rule for the next few months.

  36. harrisonhits2 says: Jan 1, 2014 10:23 AM

    They may have some good players on the roster, but I’d be very hesitant to take a job where you know ahead of time if you don’t have a great first season they’re going to fire you.

  37. cheapseater says: Jan 1, 2014 10:24 AM

    Whaaaaaaaaa?

    #1 pick + JJ Watt + Nuk Hopkins + Andre Johnson + Arian Foster + Duane Brown + Brian Cushing + weak division = best job

  38. machine64red2 says: Jan 1, 2014 10:27 AM

    And the best fans in the league

  39. bringbackkosar says: Jan 1, 2014 10:27 AM

    Sez who that they can’t do another one-and-done?! Did anybody see it coming this year until about halftime of the Steelers game? They stuck it in and broke it off in Chud, you better believe that every coach on the planet took note of that. My guess is the Browns will have to settle for their sixth or seventh choice AGAIN because no self-respecting coach will want anything to do with the turds in this front office

  40. seahawk77 says: Jan 1, 2014 10:28 AM

    He will fail…Not as sneaky as Bill. JoshyWoshy got popped in NO TIME at Denver. Pats are trash w/o the special “scouting report” they acquire weekly. Notice the AWESOME halftime adjustments at home. Suspect…But with that straight shooting owner of the Browns you guys might be up for a small upgrade to the wiring in the stadium….

  41. stevez51 says: Jan 1, 2014 10:30 AM

    Blah blah blah.. It may be an ideal set up but remember this is the Browns. If they couldn’t get Kelly last year a few draft picks won’t matter.

  42. bobnelsonjr says: Jan 1, 2014 10:35 AM

    Ownership and management of the expansion Browns has been below substandard.

    The job may not be as bad as the vikings coaching job but there is no foundation of success and doing things right in Cleveland. It is a collection of unemployed people from elsewhere that found a temporary job.

    The history of Browns success left town and became the Ravens.

  43. conormacleod says: Jan 1, 2014 10:36 AM

    Um…..no….

  44. olduke says: Jan 1, 2014 10:36 AM

    Banner will screw up the Brownies just as he did with the Eagles. That’s why his best friend fired him.

  45. rg3andthensome says: Jan 1, 2014 10:55 AM

    Nope.

  46. gadgetdawg says: Jan 1, 2014 11:01 AM

    I’m glad you have faith that the Cleveland FO wouldn’t one and done another coach but I don’t. These folks don’t strike me as competent like that.

    It sounds like Banner and crew are extreme micromanagers and if their puppet HC doesn’t do exactly what they want, the next one will be gone quickly too.

  47. billsfan1 says: Jan 1, 2014 11:07 AM

    I read on this site where Chud was a backup plan for whomever they were trying to reel in (Kelly maybe)? If that is the case, shouldnt the backup plan have been someone you could have lived with? Its like they hired him because they were all in on Kelly and had to legit long term backup plan

  48. jackybadass says: Jan 1, 2014 11:11 AM

    I feel bad for browns fans. They will be lousy for years to come. No Super Bowl ever! Maybe they can count the ravens win.

  49. nyg201 says: Jan 1, 2014 11:25 AM

    not a browns fan, but if i was i’d be pissed after firing the HC. Followed them from afar this year and thought they had some nice pieces to build off of.

    I don’t see how bringing in another coach gives you a better chance to win when you don’t even know what you had in the coach you hired this year.

    If anyone should be fired it’s everyone in the front office. As a matter of fact this team would probably benefit by having no front office at all.

  50. blynch67 says: Jan 1, 2014 11:44 AM

    “Browns job may be the best of the bunch”

    NO

  51. denverdude7 says: Jan 1, 2014 11:57 AM

    The Browns coaching vacancy is a trap for the next coach.

    While it’s true they have 5 Pro Bowlers and 2 #1 draft picks the players already know the next coach will be gone in 2 years or less.

    Their #5 overall draft pick won’t be high enough to get a franchise quarterback and the #22 draft pick won’t get them much either.

    With the teams drafting ahead of them also looking for a franchise quarterback the Browns will be looking at leftovers similar to what lead them to draft Weeden.

    They Browns are also in dire need of a franchise running back which they may be able to obtain with the 5th pick but would leave them with no quarterback again.

    And before the Josh McDaniels bringing Ryan Mallett with him talk begins let me remind you that New England back up quarterbacks don’t do well elsewhere. (Remember Matt Cassell?)

    All in all, the Browns will not be competitive for at least another 5 to 7 years if then.

  52. doctorrustbelt says: Jan 1, 2014 12:30 PM

    The wide receiver issue is one that can only get better by chopping heads and drafting rookies.

    So… the PASS Offense will be hamstrung next season, too (unless they pick up a high quality #2 WR and/or high quality TE/high quality RB w/ pass catching ability).

  53. ravenswhat says: Jan 1, 2014 12:35 PM

    THEY DON’T HAVE A QB. IT’S THAT EASY. HOW IS IT THE BEST JOB???

  54. bballnut50 says: Jan 1, 2014 12:56 PM

    Browns best job???…Please….based on their history of success?? Clearly the team with All Day! SKOL

  55. soa79 says: Jan 1, 2014 1:05 PM

    What the author fails to mention, is that Alex Mack is a free agent and most likely will be gone. We need help on the o-line. Obviously draft a QB but give Hoyer a shot, let’s see if he has it or not.

  56. djjimmy2947 says: Jan 1, 2014 1:23 PM

    I agree, this could be the best job. The next coach should be able to hand pick his QB, that’s critical. There are some good ones coming out and don’ t count out Hoyer. Also some good receivers in the draft. Get a good free agent running back and we’ re in the playoffs next year. It’s not far fetched.

  57. butlers91 says: Jan 1, 2014 1:27 PM

    No qb and a train wreck for an owner…doesn’t seem ideal to me.

  58. LucaPaulzi says: Jan 1, 2014 1:31 PM

    Nothing’s gonna be done about the management anytime soon. J. McDaniels had his chance. The D is their strong point. Get a D minded HC in their and a young OC who had a great mentor. Rob Ryan turned around the worst D in the league from last year and Joe Lombardi ( Saints qb coach and no relation to M. Lombardi) has worked under Sean Peyton for 6 seasons. That combo would produce a top five offense and defense. Let’s roll!

  59. thestrategyexpert says: Jan 1, 2014 1:36 PM

    One of the best jobs if Lombardi doesn’t blow the whole offseason AGAIN.

  60. sportsfan18 says: Jan 1, 2014 2:30 PM

    Read Joe Posnanski’s very recent article about this, the Browns etc…

    I agree with Mr. Posnanski in that this is far from the best job to have.

  61. td40 says: Jan 1, 2014 3:00 PM

    Ooh, a lot of upset people here who want *their* teams’s open coaching job to be the most attractive, ha ha. Wah…

  62. colonelcrude says: Jan 1, 2014 3:29 PM

    I would like to see Lovie Smith take over – but that makes too much sense. Lombardi has always been a terrible GM. I can definitely see him hiring Josh McDaniels (who I don’t want), then trading for Ryan Mallet, so that he has Mallet and Hoyer on the team (both QB’s he was high on).

    Banner is awful as is Lombardi. You know it’s bad when there are fans from all over the league feeling sorry for your team…INCLUDING your rival Steeler and Raven fans.

    THAT’s sad.

    Browns are just a revolving circus.

  63. audient says: Jan 1, 2014 6:49 PM

    The coach that makes the Browns a winner again and brings an NFL Championship to Cleveland for the first time since 1964 will be put up onto a pedestal, immortalized, lionized, and never have to pay for his dinner around town again. He will have godlike status.

    Come to Cleveland. Find a way to win it all. Decide where you want your statute placed. How do you like your steak?

  64. nodindenver says: Jan 1, 2014 7:12 PM

    I will say it again; the Browns are a QB who can stay upright for 8 or more games away from competing nicely with the teams in that division! They have some really nice pieces and the only thing that can screw that up is the hiring of Jr. Hoody.

  65. stew48 says: Jan 1, 2014 8:18 PM

    Steeler fan here who suffered much in the days the Browns beat us up. Now, I hope for their recovery. A lot of lug nut comments, but some of interest; isn’t Chud being paid for two more years? If so, don’t feel too sorry for him as he will be working again when he wants to.

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