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Sports


Browns give Rob Chudzinski his first head coaching job
Life-long Browns fan is team's sixth head coach since 1999 return to league
by WKSU's KEVIN NIEDERMIER


Reporter
Kevin Niedermier
 
Rob Chudzinski (center) is introduced as the Browns new head coach by team C.E.O Joe Banner (L) and owner Jimmy Haslam (R) at the team's Berea headquarters.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
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A life-long Cleveland Browns fan is now head coach of the team. Rob Chudzinski has been hired to replace Pat Shurmur who was fired after a second losing season. Chudzinski comes to the Browns from the Carolina Pathers where he was offensive coordinator, a  job he also held with the Browns in 2007 and 2008. This is his first head coaching job, but he’s the Brown’s sixth full-time head coach since the team returned to the N.F.L. in 1999. WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier reports on how the new coach could turn the losing franchise around.

 

Growing up in the Toledo area, Rob Chudzinski was always Brown’s fan, sometimes pretending to be Brown’s star Ozzie Newsome in backyard football games.  

“My cousins and I were very close and we wanted to be in that stadium, in the Dog Pound so bad that we would watch games in December in the snow, we would flip the T.V. around in the window so we could be there. And I have to admit I’ve eaten a dog biscuit or 2 in my day.”

Chudzinski went on to play tight end for the Miami Hurricanes where later became an assistant coach. On the pro level he was a tight ends coach and offensive coordinator for the Browns. He was fired with the rest of the staff in 2008 and went on to the San Diego Chargers. Last season, he served as the Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator. Chudzinski calls the Brown’s head coaching job a dream come true. He plans to install an aggressive, attacking defense and offense built on fundamentals and innovation. And Chudzinski will strive for his version of offensive balance.

New Brown’s coach will stress innovation and his version of balance

“Balanced to me doesn’t mean you run and throw the ball the same number of times. Balanced means you can run when you need to win and throw when you need to. In this league you have to be able to win in different ways, and that’s where the 3 pronged philosophy of offense, defense and special teams complementing each other comes in, as well as from an offensive standpoint, being able to win a low scoring game in the snow or a high scoring shootout, you have to be able to do both.”

The 44-year old Chudzinski says it’s too early to say what changes he’ll make to the coaching staff and player roster. But he believes he can build this offense from many of the team’s young talented players. During his two seasons at Carolina, that offense scored 88 touchdowns, while the Browns only crossed the goal line 48 times.                 Cleveland Plain Dealer sports writer Terry Pluto says he was surprised to hear Chudzinski was hired. But he says the new head coach’s ability to adapt to a player’s skills makes him a good fit for the young Browns.

Chudzinski’s ability to adapt to athletic talent a plus

“When he was in Cleveland he had a long pass offense with quarterback Derrick Anderson who was immobile and could only stand and throw a long ways. He goes to Carolina where they drafted mobile quarterback Cam Newton and used parts of his college game plan to make him work for the Panthers. Those are attributes of a good coach. Too often they try to make the system fit the athlete instead of developing a system around the athlete.”

Good references from across the league

The Browns new owner, Jimmy Haslam, says he interviewed at least 10 head coaching prospects before deciding on Chudzinski. Haslam credits Chudzinski’s direct answers on how he would build a winning team, plus good references from coaches across the league.

“Whether it was an offensive person or defense person, and many coordinators, and this is a big complement, they said they hated to go against the guy, he’s a great schemer and I’m never sure what he’s going to run. Players he’d coached or played against said the same things, so the feedback was very positive.”

This was Chudzinski’s only head coaching interview this season, thought he was interviewed for that position 3 times after last season.  Haslam describes his plans to turn the Browns into a contender as a “process” that will result in a sustained run of winning seasons. But neither he nor Chudzinski would predict what might happen next season as that process begins.

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