Only in Cleveland. Only in Cleveland would the Cleveland Browns, the most pitiful franchise in the NFL, even think of firing their head coach, Rob Chudzinski, after his first season.
But they did, and they made it official Sunday night announcing that head coach Rob Chudzinski had been fired.
Earlier Sunday, ESPN Cleveland Browns beat reporter Tony Grossi reported “there [were] some bad vibes [in the front office] indicating uncertainty about the future of Browns Head Coach Rob Chudzinski.”
And after the Steelers loss, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that the Cleveland Browns will fire Chudzinski after one season. And it was made official Sunday night.
Less than a year after the “new regime,” led by new owner Jimmy Haslam III and CEO Joe Banner, cleaned house, there is absolutely no reason why they should clean house again.
Yes this season, like the 13 before it, has been a complete and utter failure. With the Browns closing the season with a 20-7 loss to the Steelers, they will finish the season 4-12, having lost seven straight.
But a 4-12 record is absolutely no reason to fire Chud.
One season is not enough to evaluate a head coach. There are 53 players on an active NFL roster. When a new head coach comes in, he needs to bring his players in to play his system. One year is not enough for a head coach to bring his desired players in.
It takes time for a coaching staff to mold the team to their system, and it cannot be done, much less done successfully in one year.
More importantly, the Browns weren’t that good when Chud was hired. He didn’t have much to work with. There was no legitimate NFL starting quarterback, no running game after Trent Richardson was traded and a bunch of missing pieces.
And even with the free agent signings and draft picks, there are still many missing pieces, including a quarterback, the most important position on the team. With very little to work with, there shouldn’t have been very high expectations for this team especially after Weeden proved he couldn’t be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Without the right pieces and parts, Chud was unable to put together a successful season, and most other head coaches wouldn’t be able to either.
No matter how good of a coach, no team with limited talent can be turned around in a year.
And with the limited talent Chud was able to work with, he and the coaching staff have been able to improve the team, though the record doesn’t show it.
In 2012, the Browns, under Pat Shurmur, ranked No. 19 in the NFL in passing and No. 24 is rushing. This year under Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner, the Browns ranked No. 12 in passing and No. 27 in rushing.
The Browns offense improved, even while starting three different quarterbacks, and without a semblance of a rushing attack for most of the season. And it would continue to improve next year, with additions via the draft and free agency.
On defense, the Browns, led by coordinator Dick Jauron, ranked No. 25 against the pass and No. 19 against the run. This year under Chud and defensive coordinator Ray Horton, the Browns ranked No. 9 against the pass and No. 16 against the run.
Under Chudzinski this year, even with the limited talent on both sides of the ball, both the offense and defense improved, even though the record didn’t show it.
If given another year or two, with the right additions, Chud and the rest of the coaching staff could have turned around this team, but instead, the front office decided to start all over again.
Firing Chudzinski is a terrible move. While this Browns “new regime” has proved me wrong before, I really don’t think this will look like a good move in the end.
Many sources have reported that the Browns want a “big name” coach, such as Jon Gruden or Nick Saban. However, unless they have one ready to sign on the dotted line, I highly doubt a “big name” coach would ever come to Cleveland, especially after the way the “new regime” treated Chudzinski.
Additionally the non-big names being floated around as speculation for the next coach aren’t that great. Josh McDaniels didn’t succeed in Denver and wouldn’t have a Tom Brady-type quarterback to work with in Cleveland. Bill O’Brien will get better offers elsewhere, if he leaves Penn State, and Jim Schwartz wasn’t able to make the playoffs with all the talent in Detroit. How could we expect him to do anything here?
And what’s going to happen to Ray Horton and Norv Turner? The coordinators have been a huge part of the Browns improvement. But with Chud gone, neither will be looking to stay in Cleveland.
By firing Chudzinski the Browns front office is starting the rebuilding process all over again. A new coaching staff would be brought in, along with a new system and new players. The entire organization would be set back three to four years.
And what are the players, especially the veterans, supposed to do? The front office cannot ask them to sit through another rebuilding process. T.J. Ward and Alex Mack are likely to now leave via free agency and no free agent is ever going to sign with this mess of an organization.
Joe Banner and Jimmy Haslam are turning the Browns organization into a joke.
Only in Cleveland.