Cleveland Browns: A Puzzling Time for Fans


Dec 8, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski throws up his arms after pass interference was called on cornerback Leon McFadden during the fourth quarter of their 27-26 loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The end of 2013 brings worry and a lack of understanding to Cleveland Browns fans.  Much like the early season trade of Trent Richardson, the Browns front office has left us in awe with the firing of Coach Rob Chudzinski.  Whether good or bad, the move will fall under harsh scrutiny and we will likely never get a complete explanation.  Many of us can only sit back, scratch our heads, and try desperately to understand the puzzling situation in Cleveland.

I was very surprised to hear of Coach Chud’s release.  He was one of us and many feel that he was not given an honest shot at success.  I will not pretend to understand the move, and I cannot honestly determine if it was wise or not without seeing the entire picture.  Several rumors do however make the move a little more understandable.

Why would any coach be fired after only one year?

There is likely much more to the situation than we know.  Rumors have been circling that some players have stated that he did not have the trust of the team.  A winning team must have unity in the locker room, without a united atmosphere, our losses will surely continue.

Other rumors state that the front office was upset with his roster decisions.  A coach wants to win and will play whomever gives the best chance at victory.  Although honorable, the front office wanted to evaluate the young talent and improve our overall value, regardless if an experienced player can play slightly better.  As made obvious by the trades in the 2013 draft, this year’s focus was on building, not instant success.  We are building and we must focus on the slow and tedious process.  A quick fix will not provide a sustainable winner.

If our coach does not have the players behind him, we will lose.

If an employee does not do what is expected by the boss, they will be removed.

If our young talent is not properly evaluated, we cannot grow.

In my mind, Coach Chud had a solid debut, with one exception.  I did not approve of leaving Jason Campbell at the helm.  His play was sporadic at best and unbearable at worst.  I do not feel that Brandon Weeden is anything close to a franchise quarterback, but he did get the ball down the field.  I would side with the front office in that, I would rather know what Alex Tanney could do on the field, rather than suffer through Campbell’s inadequacies.

Campbell brought us back to the Pat Shurmer days of throwing for three yards when we need four and screen passes for a loss on second and twenty.  Throwing it away on third down with Josh Gordon on the field is, to me, a remarkable shortcoming.  Josh Gordon has proven an elite capability to make plays. Would it not be better to allow him an opportunity?

Some still consider Campbell to be a quality quarterback, and they are entitled to such opinions, but I would have released him well before Coach Chudzinski.  We likely had a better chance to improve as a team, by determining if Tanney should remain on the roster next year, or by risking the mistakes of a shunned, second-year quarterback who is willing to take a few chances, at the expense of his own reputation.  Perhaps our coach should have the same mentality.

I hope the coaching decision plays out as well as the T-Rich trade, but as we know all too well, only time will tell.  Have faith fellow Brownies, our future remains brighter than years passed.  We must offer support for the decisions made by those making them.  Faith, trust and respect must be earned, certainly, but we must allow their decisions to play out before we can accurately judge them.

Many other rumors now float about regarding the next coach in Cleveland.  Several bring strong records of performance and I can only speculate that the position was filled before Chud knew he was out, although rules and policies prevent such an announcement.  I frankly don’t care what name he goes by, as long as he can bring unity to the locker room and focus on building.  We need a true leader and we need to continue to put the pieces in place for sustainable success.

It falls upon Jimmy Haslam, first and foremost.  I am confident that he will do whatever it takes to rebuild the dynasty that has been vacant in Cleveland for nearly fifty years.  If Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi veer off course, they will be released as well.  Our owner has a plan, and a good one at that.

Our future is a puzzle.  As with any puzzle, the most difficult part is finding the right pieces and putting them in the right places.  As with all of you, I hope that our puzzle comes together quickly.  Was this a step back?  Or simply a discovery that a piece was out of place?  A piece in the wrong place will set us back much farther than a piece that has yet to be placed.