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Four Reasons Why Firing Chud Makes No Sense

December 30, 2013

Absent some untold story behind the scenes that evidences Rob Chudzinski’s ineptitude, the decision to fire the first-year head coach makes no sense. I cannot even wrap my head around the idiocy of it all.

flabbergasted

Here’s four reasons why:

1. The New Browns Regime Looks Hypocritical After Preaching Patience and Continuity

“We’re well aware that this has been a carousel and as I’ve said before, it’s Joe and I’s job to find the right coach and the right GM and bring stability long term for the organization. That’s our role and we take it very responsibly, very seriously.” – Jimmy Haslam, 12/31/12.

In that introductory press conference preceding last year’s coaching search, one reporter asked how important it is to have a winning team next year. Haslam stayed true to form by deflecting the question and emphasized the importance of consistency: “Our goal is to be good for a long period of time, not to knee jerk.”

Consistency, patience, sustained success, looking at the bigger picture, refusing to overreact. These are the themes that the new Browns regime have preached all year from their (soon-to-be-renovated!) pulpits.

It all looks very hypocritical now in light of their knee-jerk scapegoating of first-year head coach Rob Chudzinski.

Does that mean that the front office could never pink slip a first-year head coach? Of course not. But circumstances should exist that warrant the decision. Such instances might include failure to take advantage of the tools available, inexplicably laughable coaching decisions a la Pat Shurmur, or losing the locker room. None of these things happened. In fact, it appears the opposite.

2. The Browns Were Clearly Punting to 2014

Every move pointed to the fact that the Browns were evaluating in 2013, playing in 2014.

  • They sat on a ton of cap space.
  • They traded 2013 draft picks for 2014 draft picks.
  • They traded their starting running back for a 2014 draft pick.

Now, I loved all of these moves from the moment they made them—and I still do. But if we look at this year in a vacuum, these decisions did nothing to help to help Rob Chudzinski win with the 2013 Cleveland Browns. Yet the front office still held Chud responsible.

I’d say this tweet just about sums it up:

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 3.50.45 PM

3. Chud’s Team Wasn’t Actually That Bad

Despite these front office decisions and lacking a quarterback, Chud really didn’t do that bad of a job.

In recent years under Shurmur or Crennel, we’ve seen some laughable coaching gaffes (i.e., calling a time out before challenging—then losing the challenge, thereby killing two timeouts with one stone) and embarrassingly pathetic displays of football.

But I didn’t really see that in Chud’s team. Yes, they were 4-12. That’s bad. But they were in every game outside of four (the two Pittsburgh games, Green Bay, and the second Bengals game). I’d argue that the Browns were “consistently competitive” the other 12 weeks.

You’d be hard pressed to convince me that the on-field disappointment alone warranted the firing of a first-year coach who was the product of a “very responsibly, very seriously” conducted search meant to stop the “carousel” and “bring stability long term for the organization.”

4. The Players Are Pissed

The firing would have been warranted if it was evident that Chudzinski had lost the locker room. An “NFL Draft Scout” from Bleacher Report tweeted: “‘He’s a douche. No one on offense trusts him.’ Text from a player regarding Rob Chudzinski.”

Beyond my skepticism of anything on Bleacher Report, I’m reluctant to add much weight to this because (1) the tweet says nothing as to whether that text came from a Browns player—it could be Steve Smith for all we know, and (2) Browns players seemed to go out of their way to defend their coach in post-game comments on Sunday.

Other players reached out to the media to vent their frustration. Mike Silver’s column on NFL.com really says it all. He documents a number of current Browns veterans voicing their displeasure with the decision. Here are some of my (least) favorite quotes from the article:

  • “This organization is a joke. I’m completely in the dark about this. Please (rip them). I feel for Chud. He was good to us.”
  • “We are so dysfunctional. These billionaires need to pick somebody and stay with them. These aren’t girlfriends. You can’t dump them if they (fail to please you) one time. Too many dominoes fall and (screw stuff) up when that happens. This is highly upsetting.”
  • “Tremendous mistake, just epic. It makes no sense. Everything we did this year was setting up the future — trading draft picks, trading players for next year’s picks, playing young guys toward the end of the year to see what they look like, sitting older guys at the end to get them healthy when they could have played.”
  • “This is such a rash decision. They just (expletive) hired him last year! The whole year we were making all decisions for the future and now you’re pissed the coach didn’t win this year? What the (heck)? It was like a big experiment with players and scheme. I think it came from upstairs, and then they are surprised we didn’t win more games? Yes, it’s all about patience and then fire your coach Year 1. This blows.”
  • “We had a disappointing season, but it wasn’t like we invested heavy into this year anyways. Trading away our starting running back was not the way to win games today.”
  • “Yeah, it’s hard to say (Chudzinski) got a fair shake when usually it takes a few years to get things established and see dividends, especially with all the quarterback changes we had. There’s a reason coaches typically get a few years before changes are made, right? The whole thing just seems odd.”
  • “It’s a crazy league, man. I didn’t see it coming. There’s just too much turnover in this organization … always looking over your shoulder.”

D’Qwell Jackson had this to say to Peter King regarding the ordeal: “We fired Chud? You’re kidding, right? Are you kidding me?”

Sadly D’Qwell, while this decision is a joke, no one is kidding.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Dan permalink
    December 30, 2013 5:13 pm

    5. No Offensive Player Personnel Support. Chud was hired in January after overseeing the development of the Carolina Panthers offense. Their offensive system was largely successful in 2011 led by a talented rookie quarterback in Cam Newton. Despite the success Chud experienced as an offensive coach with quarterbacks as varied as Newton and Derek Anderson, the Browns offense was granted one draft pick on the offensive side of the ball by the front office: Garrett Gilkey.

    In free agency, the most pertinent additions were Davone Bess, an allegedly reliable third-down threat, and tight ends Gary Barnidge and Kellen Davis. The front office also dumped Trent Richardson, who, despite not living up to potential, still finished with 11 touchdowns rushing in 2012.

    Despite adding minimal talent to an offense that finished 24th in the NFL in points and 25th in yards the year before, Chud managed to score more points and finish with more yards. The most dramatic impact was felt in the pass game, where the Browns were a respectable 11th in passing yards and touchdowns. (The run game finished closer to expectations, given the loss of Richardson–30th in yards and dead last in rushing touchdowns.)

    Certainly the development seen by Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron were the impetus behind the surge in passing yards and touchdowns, and such improvement can’t entirely be laid at the feet of a brand-new coaching staff. But the front office made very little effort to improve the offensive personnel. The players who did play for the Browns improved. Isn’t that the goal of any coaching staff?

    Indeed, when the Browns were lacking for anyone to play the quarterback position in the mid-to-late season, they signed–not established NFL backups who could provide veteran leadership and know-how–but a rookie whose claim to fame was a trick-throw video. While Alex Tanney didn’t play a snap in a game, who knows what spark might have been injected had a veteran quarterback been signed off the street? At least some competition for a banged-up Jason Campbell and a shaken Brandon Weeden would have enabled Chud to try to save his job. Instead, he was left with pieces that didn’t fit, and no opportunity to find pieces that did.

    Godspeed, Chud.

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