The Cleveland Browns’ search for their sixth full-time head coach since 1999 came to an end Thursday night with the hiring on Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. The 44-year old Chudzinski is familiar with the town as he served as Browns tight end coach in 2004 and again as offensive coordinator from 2007-2008. The 2007 team ranked eighth in the league that season and sent four offensive players in the Pro Bowl.
Chudzinski is an Ohio native, residing in Toledo before attending college at the University of Miami in the late 80s. The hire may come as a bit of a surprise for many Browns fans. Rumors have been swirling around his job for over a week following the meetings of University of Oregon head coach Chip Kelly and Syracuse University coach Doug Marrone, who was hired by the Buffalo Bills late last week. The job was said to be between Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Early reports state that Chudzinski will bring ex-Chargers coach Norv Turner with him to Cleveland and serve as the team in some capacity as an offensive mind. The Browns fired head coach Pat Shurmur the day after the team finished 5-11. New team owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner were adamant in making some noise around the league during their process of search for candidates for head coach.
Chudzinski has never been a head coach at any level. Most recently, Chudzinski turned the Carolina Panthers offense from one of the worst in the NFL to a very potent attack lead by Heisman Trophy winner and 2011 Rookie of the Year Cam Newton. In his two years in Carolina, the team ranked seventh and 12th in total offense.Browns fans hope the third time is a charm for Chudzinski in Cleveland. His challenge will begin immediately in taking the Browns from a perennial cellar-dwelling to a contender in the ultra-competitive AFC North.