Pro Football Talk gets the official hat tip since I read it there first. FO’s article was singularly unenthusiastic. I love the first comment, which sums this up succinctly: “Well, that’s somebody I guess.” Yes, Cleveland Browns fans, we can confidently assert that a live human being is coaching the Cleveland Browns, something only 31 other professional football teams can claim. Terry Pluto, poor guy, spends this article trying to perk himself up. AFC north blogger Jamison Hensley claims that “[Browns owner Jimmy] Haslam certainly placed his stamp on the franchise with this hire and it’s a big ol’ question mark.”
I do think Pluto pushes the “he’s never been a head coach before!” button a little too hard. Chud (Rob Chudzinski’s semi-official nickname as offensive coordinator of the Browns) is familiar with the Browns, serving as tight ends coach and offensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008. Ah, 2007. When we thought Derek Anderson, Braylon Edwards, and Kellen Winslow Jr. would lead us to the Super Bowl. (Okay, nobody actually thought that. AFC Championship game, maybe.) Then we learned Derek Anderson just sucks, Braylon Edwards is a basket case prima donna who can’t find a team, and that’s saying something for a wide receiver, and Kellen Winslow is always injured.
(Stop for a moment: the single solitary thing Braylon Edwards hasn’t done to make himself as crazy as Plaxico Burress is shoot himself and get arrested.)
Did the Browns need offensive help? Absolutely. It’s even possible (if Dawgs By Nature is right) that Norv Turner is part of the package as the new OC. Mary Kay Cabot seems to concur, adding that the new Cleveland GM might be KC guy Dick Farmer, who has a hilarious name. I don’t know if he has any credentials or not. If it’s true, that’s actually somewhat encouraging — playoffs aside, Norv Turner is a competent offensive guy. Cabot’s article is the most positive, citing Chud’s record the University of Miami and as assistant head coach at San Diego.
Of course, since this is Cleveland, we’re also going to schizophrenically change our defensive scheme back to a 3-4 again. No word on who the new defensive coordinator would be (I’d love to see Rob Ryan come back, truthfully), but it all but means Dick Jauron is gone.
What does this all add up to? Who knows? In terms of raw, young talent, Chud has a better team than he did in 2007. He’s got a dependable offensive line, a couple of playmakers (Trent Richardson on offense and Joe Haden on defense), and a QB who’s Derek Anderson+. A lot will depend on the upcoming draft class, and I’m still more concerned about losing Heckert, who’s done a good job on that score. Josh Gordon was a nice find, but the Browns need at least one super awesome WR (or, failing that, multiple competent ones) and the pass rush still needs help. Can the new regime make the same kind of solid choices Heckert has? That’s the real question for the Browns’ future. In SD, Chud had virtually no input on personnel, so I don’t anticipate he’ll have much here in Cleveland.
My prediction: He’ll be head coach for another two or three years, have middling success, and get fired. Until the Browns have a competitive team, the head coach won’t matter much.