Jan 11, 2013; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns chief executive officer Joe Banner during a press conference at the team

Browns taking smart approach to coaching search

The Cleveland Browns have entered the second week of their search for a head coach.  A few candidates have been interviewed, some reported interest that was later dismissed and some front runners have appeared.  Nevertheless, there seems to be a negative connotation to the search in how it is being handled despite the fact the Browns are not doing anything out of the ordinary.

So far, the Browns have interviewed Dan Quinn, the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks, Todd Bowles, the defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals, and Josh McDaniels, the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots.  The Browns are also reported to have a strong interest in Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, and Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase.  Now, they have also been linked to Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo and are reportedly going to interview him.

To this point, McDaniels and Malzahn seem like the guys the Browns really want.  Malzahn might be a more difficult get because he is extremely deliberate with his choices of jobs.  After being the offensive coordinator of the Auburn Tigers and guiding them to a National Championship, Malzahn went to Arkansas State.  He had offers to go to bigger schools, but he chose the Red Wolves.  Soon after, he went back to Auburn as their head coach.

Ambition and coaching legacy always play into these decisions as well as money.  With Malzahn, he seems to always have a plan in what he wants to do and where he wants to go.  It remains to be seen if Cleveland is in that plan or if he is content to stay at Auburn either for an extended amount of time or if is he waiting for a specific fit in the NFL.

With the National Championship now behind him, he may take a day or few before responding to any talk of the Browns job.  He did a great job in coming up with a gameplan that kept his team which had inferior talent in the game with the Florida State Seminoles and if players were simply able to execute the plays and a field goal, Auburn likely wins that game.  Malzahn demonstrated why his coaching prospects are on a meteoric rise.

McDaniels makes sense from a number of angles; connections to the area, the New England Patriots tree, and a young offensive mind that had success early.  The fact he would not have total control and would only focus on being a coach is intriguing.  Still, the Browns have interviewed him but cannot do anything else until the Patriots’ playoff run has ended.

The Browns and Minnesota Vikings were teams that reached out to get permission to interview Gase.  Gase opted to turn down all interviews until the Broncos playoff run is over, much like McDaniels did last year.  It remains to be seen what he will do after that happens, but that is where that stands now.

The Browns have not yet interviewed Franklin.  Franklin most recently interviewed with Penn State and interviewed with the Houston Texans before they hired Bill O’BrienWashington has also requested permission to talk to Franklin.  The Tennessee Titans could also be interested.  The Browns may ultimately just be waiting in line to speak with Franklin.

As a result, the Browns are left in a holding pattern as they wait to be able to talk to various candidates.  The smart move would be to reach out and interview various candidates that are sitting out there.  They have the opportunity to see if anyone really impresses them in the interview.  Additionally, they may find potential coordinators that could be added to the staff later.  That is exactly what happened last year when the team interviewed then Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton to be the head coach of the team.  They ultimately hired Rob Chudzinski, but then brought back Horton as the defensive coordinator; a move celebrated by most everyone.

Now, the Browns appear to be doing the same thing with a coach like McAdoo.  McAdoo has been linked to the Miami Dolphins as a potential offensive coordinator because of the connection to Joe Philbin, former.  The Browns get a chance to interview him for the head coaching job, if the report is true.  If he blows them away, they can hire him.  If not, he could be someone they consider for the offensive coordinator job when they find their head coach.

Some might call that prudent planning, a smart move or a great way to get a sense of which coaches are out there.  If there is a coaching superstar out there, the Browns might be able to stumble upon them or get great prospects for their staff.  That is not the case if you are Steve Dorschuk of the Canton Repository:

Of course, it cannot simply be a good idea.  They must be only interviewing McAdoo because McDaniels is not interested in the job.  This utter lack of critical thinking is typical and hardly surprising given the state of the media in Cleveland.  Whatever it is, it must be bad.

If Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi were sitting on their hands, confident they would get their man, it would be criticized for not considering other options, probably fairly.  The fact they are active and trying to talk to a large number of candidates means they are scared.  It is a no-win situation in that respect.  The teams expects it, knows it is coming, but that does not mean the fans have to sit by and put up with this slop.

This front office has to nail this hire.  They have to nail this draft.  Any and all measures taken to make sure that happens are a smart move.  Interview everyone who is a legitimate possibility or could potentially help this team down the road as a coordinator or the head coach.  Banner and Lombardi’s jobs are on the line here.  They can be confident in the hire if they know they have covered their bases.  The fans can have a wait and see approach, the media can be skeptical, but the team has to be all in on this hire.  Making absolutely sure they have their man is how every hire should be approached, but especially this one.

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  • Sam Gold

    “The fact he would not have total control and would only focus on being a coach is intriguing.” I think this is critical in any discussion of McDaniel’s merits and almost universally ignored.

    “Whatever it is, it must be bad.” This is astonishing to me. Regardless of what they do, because they’re doing it, it’s bad. I’m surprised by how the majority of the fanbase reflected through various formats continually looks for ways to confirm that the Brown’s suck now, have always sucked and will always suck rather than looking for signs of progress and hope. It actually seems that a sizable segment of Brown’s fans are so vested in losing that they won’t know what to do or how to react when/if things start to go right for this team.

    “This front office has to nail this hire.” But if they actually take steps to make that happen then surely they will fail…

    • Josh Hart

      Because even with all of the talent on the team, they find a way to always suck and haven’t proven to do anything but suck. Until they do, there’s no reason to be opitimistic about this team.

    • randyosu

      I’m ALL for this front office taking the steps to nail this hire, in fact I’ve been very supportive of this regime. All bets are OFF if the guy is McDaniels……anyone who doesn’t know about this guy, do some research and you’ll find out why not a single other organization is interested in even interviewing this guy. Brown’s made that mistake with Mangini/Chud…..let’s not repeat such.

      • Letterman007

        I have to agree with you Randy, I don’t see them lining up to get on McDaniels calendar!! The Titans, Redskins, Vikings and the rest with openings, haven’t been linked to McDaniels in any way. But Franklin, Gase, and Malzan are hot commodities and they are being sought out! This sounds like a Lombardi thing and I just can’t bring myself to trust him!!!

  • randyosu

    I’m all for interviewing multiple candidates, on that we agree-you can always garner valuable competitive information if nothing else. The Josh McDaniels assessment, however, is mind boggling on all referenced counts. 1.) Connections to the area. Really? How did that work out with Chudzinski and Mangini? Irrelevent. 2.) New England Patriots tree. Seriously? We here in Cleveland have “plucked” the incompetent Romeo Crennel and the Belicheck mini-me (in his own mind) Eric Mangini who both failed miserably. In fact, practically every piece of “fruit” from Belicheck’s tree has failed miserably once they’ve left on their own to do their OWN work. A terrible assertion. 3.) McDaniels having focus on coaching and not “total control” intriguing. Huh? McDaniels without Tom Brady and with focus on offense was a horrific failure as offensive coordinator in St. Louis. What is KNOWN about McDaniels is that he’s arrogant, fashions himself yet another Belicheck-lite and got along with nobody in Denver, that after banishing/dispatching anyone in his way.
    Let’s interview multiple candidates, great. Let’s not lavish any of those candidates without merit.

    • Nc browns fan

      I agree with you totally, randy. If this arrogant man boy is hired here it would be a terrible mistake. I think I could be a off coordinator with Brady as my qb. Belicheck is pulling the strings on off not McDaniels.

    • Pete Smith

      Everything I mentioned with McDaniels is listed as to why it would make sense for HIM to take the job as well as why the Browns would want him, specifically Lombardi. I don’t care that he is from the area. It is tough to find a coach who isn’t.
      The only parts that matter and could potentially benefit him as a coach are the idea that he would be on the same page as the front office and he has been able to run an effective offense, but should not be given control of the entire team.
      Dismiss him if you want, but getting 7,600 yards in 2 years from Kyle Orton is not bad at all. For those reasons, he is intriguing.

      • randyosu

        You didn’t not write it makes sense for McDaniels….you wrote “McDaniels makes sense”, and then referenced the Browns-it can ONLY be inferred you were suggesting items as to why it makes sense for the Browns……we can disagree here but that’s how you wrote it.
        McDaniel’s hasn’t been on the same page outside of Brady/Belicheck-reference his recent work in St. Louis. I just listend to a local radio interview with a sportswriter who’s dealt with McDaniels personally and said he’d be wary, that the guy is a hothead and explosive. That’s one man’s view, but if McDaniels is such a hot candidate why isn’t a single other NFL team even interested in interviewing the guy? As for the Orton thing, Pat Shurmer got almost 3500 yards out of Brandon Weeden in less than a full season, what did that prove?
        If the merit of hiring McDaniels is that he’ll fit with Mike Lombardi and the front office…..that’s scary. I have enough respect (currently) for that front office to hope they are likewise doing their homework on McDaniels……particularly with Denver and St. Louis.

        • Pete Smith

          Orton was effective for the Broncos those 2 years. Weeden was awful.
          None of that matters though… prepare to be unpleasantly surprised with how down you are on McDaniels. So far, it seems to be his job. I can see positives and negatives with the hire, which is what I have said all along. And the positives are enough where I am at least intrigued.

          • randyosu

            I’m no dissing Orton…he’s “capable”. What was his RECORD with McDaniels?

          • Pete Smith

            Started 6-0, then the team became a miserable failure. Capable Orton had his two best season with McDaniels. If McDaniels is so bad, why does Tom Brady want to keep him? I don’t know if it would work better this team than last time but short of landing Gus Malzahn, I’m not sure who you hire. Plenty of coaches have failed the first time and come back and had huge success. If they go that route, combined with not giving him total control, the hope is it works. All I can do.

          • Nc browns fan

            Pete, at the start of the 2014 season I’ll be 39 years old. I’m just so tired of the teams I’ve seen. We need stability. I think Lombardi and Banner are a cancer and need to be shown the door. Pay a coach who has one before. Not some arrogant man boy who has a proven track record of losing.

          • Pete Smith

            And who is that? Who should they hire?

          • Nc browns fan

            Dungey, cowher, gruden, shotty. Back the brinks truck up to their house and pay them. I would rather see that then paying 49mil to past coaches.

          • Pete Smith

            You picked 4 coaches who AREN’T coaching. Dungy is retired and staying that way. Gruden and Cowher have both said they aren’t coming back this year (assuming they ever come back). Schottenheimer is retired.
            None of them are options. Nevermind the fact they are bad ideas given they have an excuse to quit now, but they are not options.

        • randyosu

          Pete…you wrote the following “McDaniels makes sense from a number of angles; connections to the area, the New England Patriots tree, and a young offensive mind that had success early.” That’s suggesting items as to why he’d be attractive to the Browns, it’s not in any tense relating to McDaniels terms.

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  • John Duquette

    Please do not use Browns management and smart in the same sentence.