One of my daughter’s favorite games to play in the car is ‘This or That’. You know the premise. Would you rather have a super power or a million dollars? Those kinds of questions.
The Cleveland Browns are playing that game right now. Or perhaps they should have earlier. The question for Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner is this:
Is there really a coaching staff combination AVAILABLE out there better than the one they just lost? Better than the one they are paying $50 million dollars to not coach the Browns?
Rob Chudzinski was fired. Ray Horton is interviewing for at least one head coaching vacancy, but will likely interview for a few because of the Rooney rule. Even if he isn’t hired as a head coach somewhere, it would be tough to imagine he returns to the Browns.
The same is true of Norv Turner. Turner reportedly was quite surprised by the firing of Chudzinski, thinking that the front office was putting things into place for 2014 or 2015 rather than expecting wins in 2013. With his close connections to Chudzinski, running the offense for a different head coach in Cleveland seems highly unlikely. The same goes for Turner’s son Scott who was Cleveland’s WR coach. Defensive line coach Joe Cullen has reportedly agreed to go to Tampa Bay. He certainly won’t be the last assistant to jump ship.
Odds are that this group disbanding isn’t exactly the Andy Reid coaching tree, or Holmgren or Belichick for that matter. What they did have was a good mix of experience and success in their fields.
The Chudzinski hire was collectively easier to swallow knowing that Norv Turner would be running the offense and Horton was heading up the defense.
So is there a combination of head coach candidate and assistant coaches available that is better than the group leaving Berea?
Josh McDaniels is the name most commonly associated with the Browns early on. The 37 year old Barberton, Ohio native interviewed with the Browns on Saturday. His only experience as a head coach was in Denver where he complied an 11-17 record, and might be most remembered for trading up to get Tim Tebow in the first round of the 2010 draft. He is currently the offensive coordinator of the Patriots, the same job he held before taking the head coaching position in Denver.
McDaniels also ran the St. Louis Rams offense in 2011. That offense was the worst in the league and McDaniels was allowed to seek another opportunity after head coach Steve Spagnuolo was fired.
So McDaniels’ only real success in the league has been as the offensive coordinator in New England for Bill Belichick.
Another hot name linked to the Browns is Jim Schwartz to become the defensive coordinator. Rumors have had Schwartz told he will be the next coordinator with approval from whichever head coach is brought in. Those reports have been disputed and denied. Regardless of those reports, Schwartz is a possibility.
There are other names of course. There is current Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase. Gase has no head coaching experience. The Broncos scored a record 606 points this season under the 35 year old, first time offensive coordinator. Of course, it certainly helps when you have a machine like Peyton Manning who is as much a tactician on the field as he is a passer.
Could the Browns find gold among the candidates that are out there? Of course they could.
Looking at the coaches in play though, is there a combination out there that is definitively better than the trio walking out the door?
Now that’s a good question.