August 1, 2014

“Chud” may be the man, but the Cleveland Browns were played by Chip Kelly

And I have been whining that there hasn’t been much to write about…..

CHIP KELLYHere I was, sitting in the Kansas City airport, waiting for a flight home, perusing Twitter, and ESPN’s Chris Mortensen drops a bomb of atomic proportions: The Philadelphia Eagles will name Oregon’s Chip Kelly as their next head coach.

Wh-wh-what?

I was going to try and not be reactionary to the news, but I just can’t. Let us recap what has happened:

New Browns bossman Jimmy Haslam and his handpicked CEO Joe Banner can tell you all day long that Kelly wasn’t there first choice, but it was clear that he was. The two went to Arizona, met with him for seven hours plus a two-hour dinner, the day after Kelly’s Ducks dispatched the Kansas State Wildcats in the Fiesta Bowl. There was no doubt – their full court press was on. We were led to believe that Haslam was not going to be outbid by anyone for Kelly’s services. As I wrote last week, Haslam and Banner had all of their eggs in Kelly’s basket, thought they had him, yet left Arizona without a deal in place. Kelly went on to meet for another full day interview with Philadelphia owner Jeffrey Lurie and GM Howie Roseman, who is all that remains from the Reid/Banner era front office. Like with the Browns, the Eagles were reportedly rebuffed by Kelly and his agent and had to go back to the drawing board.

Just 10 days ago, Kelly was returning to Oregon, putting his NFL dreams on hold, and went back out recruiting. Over the last week, the speculation was that Chip was holding out for the New England job, once Bill Belichick retires and moves up to the front office. The Browns went on to “reboot” their search because they had no plan C in place (Plan B was Penn State’s Bill O’Brien). They interviewed as many candidates as they could and almost out of nowhere, Rob Chudzinski jumped to the head of the class and got the job.

That whole Chudzinski “process” took 48 hours, tops.

It seemed as though Haslam and Banner were tired of waiting and wanted to get a head coach in place as soon as they could. They wanted to get a staff in place and start another rebuild (fun!). I’m sure the Browns brass was intrigued by Chud’s offensive mind and reputation. The fact that he was going to be potentially bringing Norv Turner with him as his offensive coordinator was probably a big feather in Chud’s cap, but the entire thing seemed rushed.

Less than a week after Haslam and Banner chose Chudzinski, Kelly completely reversed course, blindsided an entire football nation, and is headed to Philly.

If Kelly was still in play for the NFL, which we now know he was, what was the big hurry to grab Chudzinski, who hadn’t even received an interview request from any other team besides the Browns? Yesterday, the Eagles were interviewing the likes of Seahawks DC Gus Bradley and former Ravens coach Brian Billick. Was it all a smoke screen by Lurie and Roseman? Despite reports to the contrary, Kelly was the guy Lurie wanted all along. So instead of making a quick coaching hire, the Eagles continued their interview process while Lurie more than likely checked back in one more time with Kelly to see if he could persuade him to come on board. We will know soon how it all happened, but whatever Lurie and Roseman did worked, because today, Chip Kelly, offensive innovator with the scheme that many college and pro teams see as the future, is the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

This has to feel sweet for Roseman who was getting torched for this coaching search, most notably by CBS’s Jason LaCanfora. For Lurie, who stood by Andy Reid for 14 years, he has transitioned from Banner to Roseman and now has Kelly to slide into Reid’s roll. Beating Banner out for the coach he had at the top of his list is just the cherry on top of the proverbial sundae. The pieces the Eagles have offensively in RB Lesean McCoy, WR’s DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, and the potential to keep Michael Vick in the read-option (something that was talked about if Kelly had come to Cleveland), should translate well in Kelly’s system. The Eagles also have tons of cap space and a younger roster than you might think. Sure, they have issues defensively, but Kelly doesn’t seem to be that concerned; he took the job.

Now to the not so fun part.

Let’s get it out of the way: Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner were schooled by Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman.

It was one thing when Kelly spurned all NFL suitors. But when the Eagles figure out a way to land the guy the Browns desperately wanted as the new face of the franchise, the splashy hire that would have excited the masses, Haslam and Banner look foolish.

I received this tweet just after the Kelly news came down that epitomizes the malaise of Browns fans:

Would it have killed them to wait a little longer to name Chudzinski the head coach? It is not as if other teams were going to be stealing him away. We won’t ever know if Haslam lobbed one last call to Kelly to see if he could change his mind. We also don’t know what went on when Kelly spent nine hours with Haslam and Banner. It is very possible that Kelly was turned off by the Browns plan. Banner has a reputation that he can be tough to work with. While he had great success in Philadelphia, it was not as a football man, it was as a contract negotiator and team president. He’s never had his hands on the football side the way he does here in Cleveland. We won’t know the details of Kelly’s Philadelphia deal yet, but he obviously had more of a comfort with the Roseman/Lurie structure than he did with the Banner/Haslam plan. It’s also very possible and likely that Kelly saw McCoy/Jackson/Maclin/Vick and compared that to Richardson/Little/Gordon/QB he had to bring in and felt a lot better about the Philly skill players.

I think what bothers me the most was that Haslam and Banner talked a big game and not only didn’t deliver, but were played by the guy they wanted so badly. We all expected more. Had they hired Kelly, the hype would have been justified. Instead, we are settling for Rob Chudzinski.  But we also all need to realize what we are, as I wrote last week. The Browns franchise has great fans and storied history, but they haven’t been relevant since the Bernie Kosar era, which is now over 20 years ago.

This has nothing to do with Chud. He could end up being great here and I sincerely hope he does, but you just know what is going to happen. It’s the only way things work here in Cleveland. Kelly’s offense will be the new wave in the NFL and he will be a huge hit. The Eagles will reap all the benefits and be lauded for landing him. You just know that is going to happen.

I know, the Cleveland in me is coming out, but these things always end up going against us. We have Belichick when he is figuring out how to be a head coach. We have Bill Cowher as our special teams coach and our owner thinks he is “too young” and “not ready” to be a head coach when the job opens up in 1989. We draft Tim Couch one year after the #1 pick is Peyton Manning. The Browns end up with the fourth pick in the draft the year Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are clear #1 and #1a franchise type QBs.

I can’t go on.

All I know today is that the alleged next great offensive genius is the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, 10 days after he told the Browns (and the Eagles) he was going back to Oregon while the Browns changed course and quickly hired an offensive coordinator who wasn’t interviewed by any other NFL team.

As the great Frank Costanza once said: “Serenity Now.”

  • SteamingPileOfCraphonsoThorpe

    +100 for “gazelle like Bernie Kosar”

  • SteamingPileOfCraphonsoThorpe

    Let’s wrap this comment section up tightly, put it in a time capsule, and bury it in TD’s backyard. In 3 years, after both guys (and all the other candidates) have, in fact, coached some games in the NFL, we’ll dig it back up and see how prescient it was. Deal, WFNY commenters?

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    FWIW, i remember dan marino popping his achilles on a simple drop back pass on the old cleveland stadium turf. here’s the clip.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Well, I have to think they really like him since they did offer him the job over a handful of other candidates. I’m not saying he was their #1 candidate or anything like that. But I do believe them when they say they really like Chudzinski.

  • JRS19

    Hey, what are we worried about? Based on a middle-of-the-night phone call nearly five seasons ago (probably the only non Pats or Broncos game this guy has watched since), Peter King thinks we got a winner in Chud. Thanks for the in-depth thought you put into this, Peter. Seriously, PK is the worst.
    ____________________________
    Rob Chudzinski, named Friday as the seventh head coach in 14 new
    Cleveland Browns years, was an offensive coordinator for four years in
    the NFL — two with Cleveland (2007-’08), two with Carolina (2011-’12).
    And I would bet his greatest win as a coordinator came in October 2008,
    when the struggling Browns welcomed the unbeaten Giants to Cleveland
    Browns Stadium for a Monday night game — and Chudzinski’s offense piled
    up 454 yards and routed the Giants 35-14.

    I bring this up because I tried to reach Chudzinski after the game by
    phone to speak about it, failed, then went to bed around 1, figuring I’d
    catch him sometime during the week. Well, at 1:45 a.m., my cell phone
    rang. It was Chudzinski. He was in his office, at the Browns training
    facility in suburban Berea, starting to work on that week’s foe,
    Washington, and we arranged to talk later in the week. I thought this
    said something either about Chudzinski the worker bee or coaches in
    general: The Browns have their biggest win in the Crennel Era, beating
    the unbeaten Super Bowl champs at home on a Monday night before a
    national audience, and the offensive coordinator’s mode of celebration
    was to go watch tape of the next foe. When we spoke, he did say he
    watched three Washington defensive game tapes between about 12:15 and 4
    that night before getting some sleep. Some coaches who have a Monday
    night game will spend a good part of Monday during the day getting a
    head video start on the next team, but Chudzinski won’t do that because
    he feels it clouds his thinking if he looks ahead to the next foe before
    finishing with one opponent.

    “It’s just the job,” he said then. “It’s what the job is in the most
    competitive league in the world. I just like to watch two or three games
    and get a feel of the team we’re going to play. See how we match up,
    see how they call the game. Just getting a feel for them. For me, I
    think, and I’ve always thought, this is just what I have to do. I just
    feel I need every waking hour to do this job right. You better not spend
    too much time licking your wounds or patting yourself on the back.”

    That’s your new football coach, Cleveland.

    Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/news/20130115/nfl-playoffs-peyton-manning-peter-king/#ixzz2IFGhgVyU

  • Garry_Owen

    This was awesome. (No sarcasm font.). I don’t know if you’re a doctor, or just stayed at a special hotel last night, but this is a great study in anatomy. Do you do surgery, because I’ve got this bum shoulder … ?

  • Jaker

    That’s my point exactlyt, just get the guy who we know will win and I don’t care how Philly does

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    They have to say that and we have to believe it, no choice. The timings all seem strange though if you go back and break down what Haslam said when introducing Chud. I do believe they interviewed him after Whisenhut then interviewed Whisenhut a second time before jetting down to Carolina to offer Chud the job. I might be wrong but I thought I heard this timeline. If true that doesn’t seem to say to me that they were under Chud’s spell in his first interview. Maybe I’m wrong.

    The other thing that I’ll always remember is that Chud was interviewed by ZERO teams this offseason as a potential head coach. Seems a bit odd for two reasons. First, he was interviewed by four teams last year, (as told to be my a fellow poster who’s name escapes me at the moment) four lowly teams and was not hired. Second, a year later he was interviewed by just one team and hired by that team. That team being Cleveland. In that hiring press conference Chud was lauded as having one of the top offensive minds if not the top in the NFL. Well if all of this were true then why exactly were you the only team so impressed by him? So impressed to hire him?

    I’m not stuck on all of this it’s just kind of interesting to me. It’s interesting because I am still of the position that a first time head coach was something this organization didn’t need, just my opinion. What helps ease my problem with this particular hiring however is that at least Chud has been around the NFL for awhile but more importantly appears to be bringing in Norv Turner whom he worked under in SD. I like this decision alot. It’s what helps lessen my degree of nervousness over the hiring of Chud.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    So I’m guessing you wouldn’t draft or want T’eo for the Browns then right? But easy big fella I can see you are really wrapped up in this ESPNesque story. Btw I just love how much airtime this story received in Sportscenter last night when the story was “Breaking News.” I can only imagine all those talking heads today going giddy over it. I have no interest or care which is part of the reason I’m enjoying your obvious ferocity over the subject.

  • mgbode

    it’s an obvious HUGE story. this g/f dying the same week as his grandmother and then his Mich St. game was a big part of what started his Heisman campaign. there were specials dedicated to “the Teo story” about all of this leading into the Nat’l Championship game (where ND & Teo already knew it was a hoax).

    How about his Nat’l Title game collapse? if true that he just found out about all this and was coming to terms, it could even explain all of that.

    finally, on the Browns, I didn’t want him at #6 at all. no interest. before the Bama game. But, now that this might send his stock tumbling, he becomes and intriguing guy we might be able to “steal”

    so many angles, every answer leads to 3 more questions, i don’t see why it’s bad to be fascinated.

  • Ritz

    Maybe the Browns were not ‘played’ by Chip Kelly. Maybe he just was not interested in the job. Maybe the Browns decided after speaking with Kelly that he was not the coach they wanted. And maybe their second choice was not interested either – now is that ‘getting played’ – probably not, but maybe so.

    Sometimes there is no hidden story – sometimes teams interview coaches and candidates at the top of the list before the interview process starts are not mutual fits, so someone else is hired. It is not a colossal PR failure, management failure, or any of the like. To claim so, without information supporting such a claim, is a little over the top.

    A coaching search is not about looking good, getting the hot candidate, or selecting someone before interviews and only being satisfied with hiring that individual. It’s about finding a good fit and a good coach – and only time will tell if the Browns have done that.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    It’s not bad to be interested but I’m not fascinated. The keyword is I, just my opinion. That being said it’s kind of a sad story in a number of ways too. Time will tell I’ll be aware of it but frankly far from fascination.

    Honestly though the only reason I’m even interested is because of the possibility of him with the Browns.

  • SteamingPileOfCraphonsoThorpe

    Whoa, slow it down Captain Sarcasm…look here:

    General Knee Injuries

    and

    Definition of a Knee Sprain

    Unless it was a Grade 1 sprain, where the ligament is only stretched, not torn, (I don’t remember if anyone ever came out and said Grade 1, Grade 2, etc. – Dictator Shanahan probably at work there) then he already had a partially torn ligament. While I am not a professional athlete, I had an equivalent injury (stretched ligament) to one of my feet and had to wear a walking boot for a month. The only way for that to feel better is to rest it, you can’t really “rehab” it, per se, and definitely not in a week.

    I based my second point on just what I saw from the game: that he had a huge brace on his leg (possible joint instability – look again at the sprain stuff, usually mild to moderate instability w/ G2), he was in obvious pain when running, and lastly, go back and watch the video again. As soon as he twists and plants his leg in the ground when going after the errant snap, the bad knee buckles in a way that it is not meant to, a sure sign that one or more knee ligaments tore, those ligaments are what keep the knee stable and keep the leg from bending in ways it shouldn’t. His ankle didn’t twist or give way at all, it was the knee that exploded. As another example, go watch video of Willis McGahee getting hurt in the National Championship Game in 2002/3 – his leg bent in a very similar way and that was due to contact – RGIII wasn’t even hit when it went out.

    No, I am not a doctor, although I do have a doctor and a nurse in my immediate family who help me understand medical situations, just an informed football fan who spends too much time reading up on such things! No need to get insulting, we both agree he shouldn’t have been out there, I just don’t think the turf had much to do with the injury. Although it certainly didn’t help.

  • Garry_Owen

    Whoa, Lieutenant Sensitive! I was giving you a compliment, in humorous format. (Notice the “no sarcasm font” parenthetical. I meant it. I was genuinely being genuine – before I tried to be sarcastically funny.)

    I’m a horrible comedian, but I truly did love your comment and I wasn’t trying to insult you. The “F— this, we quit!” line was really, honestly awesome. I wish my various orthopedic surgeons had been that clear with my various knee, ankle, shoulder, collar bone, etc. injuries.

    Friends?

  • SteamingPileOfCraphonsoThorpe

    Of course, no problems here. I took the “no sarcasm font” to mean that you had no other way to indicate sarcasm, and were actually being sarcastic…so, thanks. And thanks, Internet, for sucking so bad at context!

  • Garry_Owen

    Yeah, I’m about to throw my internet machine out the window. Sometimes I really hate this thing.