Cleveland Browns request to interview two top NFL coordinators
The Cleveland Browns are building their list of head coach candidates, and they have now requested permission to interview two top NFL coordinators in 2019.
After firing Freddie Kitchens Sunday night, the Cleveland Browns are quickly going to work to build their head coach candidate wish list, as they have sent out several interview requests on Monday. So far, all of their requests have gone to coaches who will be in the playoffs.
Two of their most recent requests are for two of the top NFL coordinators this season: Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, both according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Browns could interview both coaches this week because their teams earned a first-round bye in the playoffs.
The Browns have already requested to interview New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who is believed to be the top choice for the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland will have to wait until next week to interview McDaniels due to the Patriots playing Wild Card weekend.
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Roman has gained a lot of steam as a head coach candidate because he created the blueprint for the dynamic and explosive Ravens offense. After drafting Lamar Jackson in 2018, the Ravens overhauled their offensive playbook and personnel to tailor to Jackson’s strengths.
By doing so, Roman led the second-best overall offense in the NFL and helped Jackson go on a likely MVP campaign. The Ravens led the NFL with 33.2 points per game. Baltimore had the top rushing offense in the NFL and was the first team to rush for an average of 200 yards a game since the 1970’s. The Ravens were not as lethal through the air, as they had the 27th ranked passing offense.
Roman has been known to tailor his offense to the strengths of his personnel. During the 47-year-old’s time as the San Francisco offensive coordinator from 2011-2014, Roman built an offense to Colin Kaepernick‘s strengths, which helped take the 49ers to the playoffs regularly.
The Browns appear to have their eyes set on an offensive-minded head coach, as both Roman and McDaniels are offensive coordinators. However, the Browns are not limiting their search to only the offensive side of the ball.
Robert Saleh’s defense has been one of the most dominant in the NFL in 2019, helping San Francisco earn a first-round playoff bye. The 40-year-old is an energetic head coach whose personality is reflected by his defense, as they fly around the field and get to the football.
Saleh’s defense in 2019 was the second-best in total defense, allowing only 281.8 yards per game. They allowed the fewest passing yards in the league and was ranked 17th in rushing defense. Allowing only 19.4 yards per game, Saleh’s defense ranked as the eight-best scoring defense.
Saleh has been the San Francisco defensive coordinator since 2017 and has improved the defense since his first season. Prior to San Francisco, Saleh was with the Seattle Seahawks for three seasons, and then another three seasons in Jacksonville under former Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. In that time, Saleh has learned and adopted the Cover 3 defensive scheme that made Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” defense famous.
The Browns interviewing Saleh would also satisfy the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview at least one ethnic-minority candidate for head coaching jobs or senior football operations jobs.
Cleveland seems unlikely to hire a first-time head coach after dealing with the struggles of a rookie head coach in 2019. However, the Browns are expected to have a wide-ranging search in order to find the right head coach. With the success of Roman and Saleh in 2019, it is understandable why they were two of the first candidates the Browns have requested to interview.