For Rob Chudzinski this whole deal is a dream come true. He’s a Browns fan that gets to be the head coach of his childhood team. Plus, he will get to cash some mighty fine NFL head coaching paychecks for the first time in his career. It’s the pinnacle coaching position in the sport – being a head coach in the NFL – regardless of which team you end up working for. Chudzinski told the media that his cousin has a bus / Browns-mobile that he uses to tailgate. I can safely say he was probably the only candidate with those kinds of “qualifications.” Of course as I said previously, these are nice things, but ultimately mean very little and probably nothing at all. Jimmy Haslam backed that up as well, indicating that he initially didn’t know Rob Chudzinski grew up a Browns fan and that those kinds of things are nice to have, but definitely not necessities.
Haslam also seemed pretty defensive in dealing with the media. Haslam said that despite the reports, the Browns never had a specific “guy” at the top of the leaderboard of coaching candidates. That might be kind of true, but the Browns certainly recognized the opportunity and urgency surrounding Chip Kelly, didn’t they? Rob Chudzinski wasn’t the one they rushed off to see first, so even if they didn’t have a list, it’s kind of obvious that the reality of the situation dictated an order of importance. Again, I say the Browns could have handled the media better, but I don’t want to go down that road again.
So what, exactly made Chudzinski the guy for Haslam, Banner and the Browns?
Jimmy Haslam said that Rob Chudzinski was definitive and clear in his interview about what he said he was going to do with this team. Haslam also said that he clearly got “the right guy” in Chud. There’s little doubt that “attack” is the new “battle” in Berea. Rob Chudzinski stressed attacking on both sides of the ball. He didn’t commit to a lot because the coordinators haven’t been hired, but he stressed that the Browns will need to be balanced. His definition of balanced doesn’t mean even numbers of plays between the pass and the run necessarily, but an ability to win both ways depending on the situation. Make no mistake though, Chudzinski later said that this will be a vertical, down-field passing offense.
Jimmy Haslam tipped his hand just a bit when he pointed out that Chudzinski’s been responsible for 88 touchdowns over the last two years while the Browns mustered 48. That’s a bottom-line approach and somewhat commendable, but it certainly comes off pretty simplistic when one team has Cam Newton and the other team does not. Still, it shows just how frustrated Haslam was this season watching the Browns’ offense.
All of this is likely good news for Brandon Weeden. Weeden’s skillset seems to lend itself to the deep passing attack, firing lasers vertically instead of working the flats and playing pitch and catch in a more horizontal fashion.
And what of the rumors about the Browns moving to the 3-4? Chudzinski said that a lot of that will depend on who he hires as a coordinator, but what he went on to say was encouraging. Chudzinski indicated that there are lots of different hybrid defensive plans in the NFL today that aren’t purely 3-4 or 4-3. This is great to hear. It shows (at least from a high level) that Chudzinski is going to have an eye on his preferred systems, but also play to the strengths of his team. Chudzinski wouldn’t rule out calling his own plays, but he made it sound like it would only potentially be temporary while his coordinator built up enough confidence to do it himself. That was one of my largest criticisms with Shurmur, so I’ll take it. It’s too early to draw conclusions on it, but early indicators are alright.
That’s the summary of the press conference for me as a whole. Rob Chudzinski still doesn’t excite me, but at this stage of the game, I’m not sure anyone would have given me much more confidence. Chudzinski did talk about the “process” and wouldn’t commit to saying much about 2013, but he was definitive in saying “we will win.” I mean, I guess what else could he say? But he did punctuate one of his answers with it, so there’s that.
My takeaways are that Rob Chudzinski wanted this job, knows he has a lot to prove and will be looking to hire the best possible staff to do it. Every coach says those things, but I did believe it knowing about the Norv Turner rumors. Chudzinski seems determined to not just want to put a system in place, but to spend every week trying to beat his opponent. That seems like an obvious thing, but I think it is one of the differences between what we saw with Eric Mangini and what we saw with Pat Shurmur. It will be a good thing if he can do it successfully.
I wouldn’t say “so far so good,” but I will say so far “not a nightmare.”