July 31, 2014

If Rob Chudzinski is fired, it’s just another Browns embarrassment

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 3.33.49 PMI could sit here and break down what happened in the Steelers game, but I have no interest in doing that. The only thing on my mind right now is what an embarrassment the Cleveland Browns organization continues to be with today’s “one-and-done” rumors involving Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski. Granted nothing has happened yet, but just the fact that this rumor has legs across multiple analysts – From Chris Mortenson to John Clayton – is embarrassing. It may be even more embarrassing than the Browns’ bad record, which at 4-12 says so very much, but we’ve seen bad won-loss records plenty of times. I really hoped that the embarrassing Berea chaos of things like Mangini / Kokinis and even Phil Savage’s power struggle were long gone. If Rob Chudzinski gets fired after one year, it’ll be tough to believe that organizational dysfunction doesn’t flow through the pipes of even a renovated Browns complex in Berea.

Rob Chudzinski is not coming off of a good rookie head coaching campaign, to be sure. No matter what happened to the Cleveland Browns from a personnel standpoint, the fact is that only winning four games is a miserable failure. The Browns weren’t even able to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars at home. The fact that the Browns couldn’t win after having their bye week is miserable, but even given all that, I find it shocking to think that the Browns are going to fire Rob Chudzinski and his staff after just one year coaching a roster that wasn’t exactly loaded up on both sides of the ball by the front office. Yet, those are the rumors that persist today. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting…Rating the Browns offense, Breaking ‘Bama, and The American Pharaoh

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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“I’ve never really been in a situation where I’ve been doubted like this – and it lights a fire, motivates me to get into this building before anybody, study at night more than anybody because I want to prove everybody wrong,” Weeden told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday. “I want to prove to everybody that I can be the guy to lead this franchise to the places we want to go.

“If I’m worried about making mistakes, I’m making it harder on myself. So I just want to go out, have fun, just let it rip, and try to make the plays to help this team win. I have confidence in my ability and in everybody on this football team. So when I do it, hopefully, everybody will come back and say, ‘I can’t believe we doubted him.”’

Browns fans have doubts about Weeden’s ability to ditch the methodical minor league pitcher still ticking within.

“I hope Brandon proves me wrong,” said long-time Browns fan Breanna Makowski, 33. “If he can give us a reason to be hopeful, that would be great. Brian Hoyer came in and gave us reason to hope. It’s hard to be hopeful when you get crushed every time as a Browns fan.

“Brandon’s been too slow to get rid of the ball. Hopefully, he learned from watching Brian.”
[Corbett/USA Today]

[Read more...]

Browns coach search and why the excitement over Chip Kelly was justified

Joe Banner will have some decisions to make in Cleveland

On to the next one…

Despite all my criticisms of the Browns’ media handling in the hunt for Chip Kelly, I fully supported their chase of him as a coach for the Browns. The idea of Chip Kelly coaching the Browns was awesome. There’s no guarantee that Chip Kelly was going to be anything more than a complete bust. That’s pretty much the case for any coaching candidate. It drives me nuts that in order to talk about Chip Kelly in Cleveland that we constantly had to talk about Butch Davis because, you know, they both coached in college. That connecting of the dots is probably about as lazy as you can get from an intellectual standpoint.

You just can’t tell me with a straight face that a defensive specialist with experience as defensive coordinator of the Cowboys and head coaching experience at the U is the same thing as a guy who was almost solely an offensive coach on his way to becoming head coach at Oregon. That’s just the resume side of things. The fact remains that each candidate is a completely different human being. Even two doctors who went to the same medical school are completely different, and their training and professional background will be far less diverse than two guys like Butch Davis and Chip Kelly.

[Read more...]

Saban to NFL, Browns: Thanks, but no thanks

“How many times do you think I’ve been asked to put it to rest? And I’ve put it to rest, and you continue to ask it. So I’m going to say it today, that — you know, I think somewhere along the line you’ve got to choose. You learn a lot from the experiences of what you’ve done in the past. I came to the Miami Dolphins, what, eight years ago for the best owner, the best person that I’ve ever had the opportunity to work for. And in the two years that I was here, had a very, very difficult time thinking that I could impact the organization in the way that I wanted to or the way that I was able to in college, and it was very difficult for me. This is where I belong, and I’m really happy and at peace with all that.

– Alabama head coach Nick Saban, 61, on Tuesday after his men’s Division I program won it’s third National Championship in four seasons. While everyone may indeed have a price, it appears that Alabama’s Nick Saban is rooted more in his heart than in his wallet. Despite continued rumors hope-based speculation that would pin the former Browns defensive coordinator back in Cleveland, the Crimson Tide head coach will be staying put with his dynasty.

[Related: WFNY Roundtable: The Chip Kelly debacle and the ongoing search for a Browns head coach]

Browns fans split on Chip Kelly and Bruce Arians as favorite coaching candidate

As the Browns start to interview candidates and whittle down the list, I was curious where Browns fans were on the list of candidates. I posted the question to our Facebook page to let everyone weigh in, and two candidates emerged as the favorites.

Some of the comments were interesting too. [Read more...]

Grossi: Josh McDaniels and Mike Lombardi likely to become Joe Banner’s puppets

Fresh off of their soul-crushing loss to the Washington Redskins, it appears that the inevitable shake-up of the Cleveland Browns front office and coaching staff is starting to take more shape. From ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi:

It is commonly believed that GM Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur will not be back. Heckert, my sources say, knew it the day Banner reported to work in October as Haslam’s CEO. Shurmur surely knows it now, after that coaching debacle against Washington on Sunday.

Banner has diagramed an organization chart that calls for football operations to report to him. That means Heckert’s position will be replaced by a glorified player personnel director who will work closely with Banner. He may win some battles but ultimately he will have no real authority to establish a vision, pick players or make trades. Banner will set the agenda.

So who would accept these restrictions? Someone who has been out of the league for five years – Mike Lombardi.

Grossi continues by listing three coaching candidates who could join Lombardi in Cleveland: Alabama’s Nick Saban, Oregon’s Chip Kelly, and New England’s offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Saban is rumored to be on the receiving end of a 10-year, $100 million deal, but has no interest in coming to Cleveland, especially if it is Lombardi who is calling shots.

Kelly would be a serious candidate, but is rumored to want full control of the roster if he would accept a head coaching spot in the NFL. With Banner and, potentially, Lombardi in tow, this would not happen in Cleveland.

The third choice, and potentially the most likely to actually happen, would be former Denver Broncos head coach and current New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. A native of Canton, Ohio, there are ties to the area; at age 36, he is not considered to be much of a retread despite his failed attempt at Mile High. Grossi adds that if it were McDaniels who is hired, it would likely meant that Dick Jauron would be retained as defensive coordinator.

[Related: Did Brandon Weeden call the 69-yard TD pass to Travis Benjamin himself?]

Michael Lombardi on Browns: “I haven’t talked to anybody”

The Michael Lombardi rumor just won’t go away for whatever reason. There must be at least a couple sources continuing to push this name around. The latest from this past weekend had Lombardi linked to Cleveland with Nick Saban in tow. 92.3 The Fan’s Baskin and Phelps talk to Lombardi every week, and he weighed in (barely, but a little bit) on the latest round of rumors that Andy Baskin playfully confronted him with.

Andy Baskin: “Are you coming with Nick Saban? Can you address those rumors for us please?”

Michael Lombardi: “You know, look. As I’ve said many times on the show, you know, the decisions about what’s going to happen in Cleveland haven’t been made yet. I think only Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner know those answers. I don’t know those answers. I don’t know where the rumors start from, but I just know that what I’ve read in the papers, I haven’t talked to anybody. And so therefor, just enjoy the Browns three game winning streak and move forward.”

Lombardi went on to talk more about the Browns and where they are with three games left on the schedule.

[Related: Chiefs’ Shaun Smith fights fans on Twitter, threatens reporter]

NFL Rumors: Report links Lombardi, Nick Saban to Browns

As if the smoke had not been billowing enough as it was, a report from The Boston Globe links media vagabond Michael Lombardi and Alabama head coach Nick Saban to the Cleveland Browns as a leadership team of the future.

Greg Bedard, citing league sources, states that there is “indeed fire” behind said smoke.

“[Browns CEO Joe] Banner, who was with [current Browns GM Tom] Heckert with the Eagles from 2001-09, also has a connection to Lombardi, who was in personnel with the Eagles from 1997-98,” writes Bedard. “Lombardi has been associated with winning teams wherever he’s been, from Bill Walsh’s 49ers, to the Browns (where he helped build the organization into a Super Bowl contender before Art Modell pulled the plug and moved the team to Baltimore), to the Eagles and the Raiders. Lombardi’s past weakness has been the cap, but Banner is an expert in that area.”

Per Bedard, it is also believed that Lombardi could provide a link to Saban, long been a target of Browns majority owner and SEC-fueled Jimmy Haslam III.

“According to the NFL sources,” writes Bedard, “Saban has let it be known that if he returns to the NFL — where he flopped, going 15-17 with the Dolphins from 2005-06 — it would likely be with Lombardi playing Pioli to his Belichick.”

The other two names listed in accordance with Lombardi were Oregon’s Chip Kelly and current New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

[Related: Tom Heckert’s future may rest in his own hands]

“Cleveland ’95: A Football Life” will be mandatory viewing for me

I’ve read countless tweets from Browns fans saying they won’t watch this documentary about the 1995 Cleveland Browns. Tony Grossi wrote about it and likened it to reliving a family member’s funeral. While those scenes depicting the stadium being torn apart might cause me to shed a few tears, after seeing the sneak preview, I think I’ll have to watch it because there is so much more there for someone like me born in 1979. I wasn’t anywhere near maturity as a football fan by that point in my life.

I know all the names of the guys in and around the Browns, but to say that I have vivid memories of Bill Belichick as Browns’ head coach would be a lie. It makes this story almost mandatory viewing for NFL fans when you consider that names like Bill Belichick, Mike Lombardi, Nick Saban, Kirk Ferentz, Scott Pioli, Eric Mangini and Ozzie Newsome were all at least partially built during this time period. Yes, it hits hardest for Browns fans who lost their team and in many ways still don’t have it back. Even still, part of being a Browns fan is understanding and wanting to explore the rest of the ecosystem that they exist in in the wider NFL view.1 [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. One of the most difficult adjustments for Browns fans since the team has been back has probably been missing out on five years of game evolution in terms of on and off-field culture. In many ways, I think Browns fans are still fighting many of the changes that happened while we were… ahem… “away.” []