Browns taking smart approach to coaching search


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

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.