Smoke Screen? Cleveland Browns Current Coaching “Search”


Jan 2, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops waves to the crowd as he leaves the field following a win over the Alabama Crimson Tide in a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Oklahoma defeated Alabama 45-31. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Since the Cleveland Browns fired Rob Chudzinski they have been rumored to be interested in Jim Schwartz, Josh McDaniels, Bill O’Brien, Bob Stoops, Jim Tressel, James Franklin, Adam Gase, Dan Quinn and others (if its possible to have more names). During this time different news outlets have reported “front runners” and those with “the inside track.” Either many reporters/bloggers or sources have been wrong often OR everything has been a smoke screen. Here is some thoughts on why:

1. The Browns Would Not of Fired Chud Without Some Assurances

The Browns, since Jimmy Haslam has taken over, have struggled with public relations. While this regime has not seemed overly concerned with what the fan base thinks of their moves, the ownership group has experience running a successful business. That business, Pilot/Flying J, has been under scrutiny but has years of success under its belt. Haslam, along with Joe Banner, would not have made such an extreme decision, to fire their 1st coach after one year, without some assurances they could hire one of the guys they wanted.

2. Some Reported Candidates Could Be Hired Immediately

Schwartz, O’Brien, and Tressel were available immediately following the firing of Chud. Others, including Stoops and Franklin, could of been hired in the last couple of days if they were the primary candidates. Remember last year when this regime flew to interview Chip Kelly as soon as he was available. If either of these coaches, or Gus Malzahn from Auburn, were the targets you could expect the regime to have made this type of effort to secure their next new coach. Instead they are “going through the process” with so many candidates.

3. Playoff Coaches Can’t Be Hired Until Team Eliminated From the Playoffs

McDaniels, Gase and Quinn could of been interviewed during this week, as their teams were on byes, and then again during the bye week before the Super Bowl, if their teams are in the big game. The Browns reportedly interviewed McDaniels and Quinn this weekend, with Gase declining for now to focus on the playoffs. If one of these 3 are the teams primary target the team can’t make their official hire until later in the post-season.

4. No Repeat of Chip Kelly Last Year

Last year it was obvious that Chip Kelly was their prime target. The Browns attempted to get him hired before he could interview with any other team. That tact failed as Kelly originally returned to Oregon before accepting the Philadelphia Eagles coaching position. Currently the NFL has 5 job openings (Vikings, Redskins, Titans, Lions and Browns) meaning there is competition for the top candidates. If the Browns are able to hire their prime target now they would attempt to do so immediately to not allow one of the other teams to steal their coach.

5. History of Hires

While this regime has only 1 year of history, there is history for us to review. When the team fired Pat Shurmur the immediate rumor was that Chip Kelly was the primary hire for the team. This came to be true, though they missed out on him. When Haslam and Banner came in the immediate rumor became that Mike Lombardi was to be hired as the GM. The team completed an “extensive search” which finished up with Lombardi as the GM. So in their short history the early rumors have turned out to be true, even when a longer process happens before the official hire. Even last year, following missing out on Kelly, rumors came out quickly that Norv Turner would join Chud if he was hired with the Browns, which ended up what happened.

6. Early McDaniels Rumors

Shortly after the firing of Chud rumors came out that Josh McDaniels was the front runner for the job, was interested in the job and had started the process of seeking a coaching staff to join him in Cleveland. This rumor has the most legs of all of them. All other rumors were that the Browns are interested, that a certain coach was a front runner or that a coach would be interested. This rumor said that McDaniels had already started the process of putting together a staff. That is farther down the road then other coaches have been rumored to be with the Browns. We expect McDaniels, from Orrville, Oh, to be hired following the Patriots’ season completion.

7. Free Information

For the Browns, while they wait for McDaniels or another coach, all of these interviews are free information. They gather information on how other coaches see the current talent on the team, how they see players in the draft and how they would run the team. This is information helps the team for their own talent evaluation, draft process and to build the best program in the NFL that they can. These interviews and information could also become beneficial when putting a staff together. Last year the team interview Ray Horton for the HC position, and hired him to run the defense after hiring Chud. They could do a similar thing here with McDaniels, or whoever the coach becomes, either immediately or down the road when filling out the coach staff.

8. Prove the Process

Finally the team is smart enough to know they are under the microscope after firing Chud. Instead of just hiring McDaniels, or whoever the coach may be, after an interview, and when they are available, they are turning over many stones. By doing so when the team finally hires their coach they can be seen as “doing due diligence” and “turning over every stone” to find the right guy, even if they knew who they were going to hire before the process began. This PR move is smart, but in today’s information age not as easy to pull off. Yet if they can convince their general masses of fans and still get “their guy” its a win-win and a smart decision.

What do you think of the Browns’ process so far? Do you think the smoke screen is real? How do you feel about this regime? Use the comment section below to join the conversation.