The Suburbanite
  • Browns notebook: Leading up to Chud's hiring

  • ‘Owner Jimmy Haslam says Rob Chudzinski was on the Browns’ list of desirable prospects all along, but Chudzinski did not hear from the team until after Chip Kelly said he was staying at Oregon.

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  • ‘Owner Jimmy Haslam says Rob Chudzinski was on the Browns’ list of desirable prospects all along, but Chudzinski did not hear from the team until after Chip Kelly said he was staying at Oregon.
    “I was initially contacted on Tuesday,” Chudzinski said. “ I interviewed on Wednesday at Jimmy’s house (in Bratenahl, on three acres with a view of Lake Erie, a few miles east of downtown Cleveland). I flew back that evening. Yesterday afternoon, at 3 or 4 o’clock, I was told that Jimmy and Joe wanted to come down to Charlotte and meet for dinner.”
    Haslam says he went to Charlotte thinking Chudzinski was his man, but ... “I wanted to be sure.”
    Haslam said Chudzinski spent “five or six hours” in his home Wednesday, and that he knew he had his man “about an hour” into Thursday’s three-hour session in Charlotte.
    Terms of Chudzinski’s contract are unknown, but an educated guess has him earning $3-4 million a year for four years.
    Coach speaks
    Hours after flying to Cleveland as the Browns’ new head coach, Chudzinski said:
    • “I promise you we’re going to put a team on the field that you can be proud of, and will win.”
    • “I would not miss this for the world ... the opportunity to come back and bring a winner to Cleveland. I can’t wait to get started. I will work tirelessly.”
    • “We’re going to win here. How soon that will be, time will tell, but (determination building in his voice) that’s going to happen.”
    • (On whether he will call the plays) “That’ll be determined. If I’m confident with the offensive coordinator doing it, he’ll do it.”
    • “It’s going to be an attacking offense and an attacking defense. Great effort and great finish, built on a foundation of fundamentals.”
    • “We’ll focus on innovation ... the best possible schemes ... and pushing the envelope.”
    General manager
    Haslam says Chudzinski will join him and CEO Joe Banner in the search for a general manager type. The scope of that person’s authority and the actual title appear to be up in the air.
    “We could have somebody in a few days,” Haslam said. “It may take a month.”
    Who’s running the personnel department until someone is hired? Banner would not confirm whether long-rumored person of interest Michael Lombardi is helping in the process and will wind up with a role. Asked specifically about Lombardi, Banner said, “I’ve picked the brains of a lot of people.”
    Inherited roster
    Chudzinski refused to say word one about Brandon Weeden or any other current member of the Browns roster.
    Page 2 of 2 - Haslam was a bit more forthcoming. The owner said “one thing kept coming back” in his conversations with NFL types during the coaching search. Namely: “You guys have a great offensive line.”
    Haslam also said he thought Chudzinski’s innovative approach to getting the most of players will be valuable because: “We think we have great young talent on offense.”
    Why Chudzinski, Mr. Haslam?
    Haslam on Chudzinski:
    • “If you talk to NFL people, he’s one of the brightest, if not the brightest mind, in the business.”
    • “Carolina (with Chudzinski as offensive coordinator the last two years) scored 88 touchdowns. We scored 48.”
    Coaching staff
    Chudzinski refused to address rumblings he will bring in Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator. Brad Childress will not be back.
    Banner said he learned during myriad interviews with NFL types during the coaching search that some sort of “hybrid of a 3-4 and 4-3” is “where the league is headed.”
    Early signs are that incumbent defensive coordinator Dick Jauron may not be retained, although Chudzinski was expected to talk to Jauron at length this weekend. Chudzinski said specifics of his defense “will tie in more with the coordinator that I hire.”
    How many were interviewed?
    Haslam said he and Banner “talked to nine or 10 of I believe the best coaches in the country.”
    He declined to mention names.
    Canton disconnection
    In his opening remarks about Chudzinski, Haslam mistakenly said the new head coach “grew up in Canton.” Chudzinski grew up in the Toledo area, with ties to Bowling Green, Fremont and Toledo. He played high school football at Toledo St. John’s.
    Ghost of owners past
    Haslam introduced his first head coaching hire on the same day former Browns owner Art Modell was announced as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013.
    One of Modell’s most striking decisions was to fire coach Paul Brown after the 1962 season — 50 years ago this month. The move that has kept Modell out of the Hall of Fame, moving the Browns to Baltimore, was part of the odd progression that led to the Haslam ownership.
    Jonathan Ogden, the first player Modell’s pirated team drafted after splitting for Maryland, also was one of the 15 Hall of Fame finalists announced Friday.

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