Only five days ago the Cleveland Browns hired a new head coach in Rob Chudzinski. Happiness abounded in Berea and all was right in the world. Then came the weekend. A weekend the Browns front office wish would have been quiet and serene became a jumbled mess in 48 hours.
After the presser Thursday a joke started to circulate around the league, especially in Cleveland, that Chud would bring back Derek Anderson to be the back-up quarterback to Brandon Weeden. People laughed, some wondered if Anderson was still in the league. Then came reports Monday morning not only was Anderson still around, but was thinking of returning to the Browns.
It seems Anderson has been in Carolina with Chudzinski for two years, but is ready to resurrect his career in Cleveland. On Friday night Anderson posted on his facebook page, “Looks like it is time to make a return to a familiar place for some unfinished business. I would be honored to return to Cleveland to play football if the fans would have me.”
It’s questionable Browns fans would want him back. After all Anderson committed the cardinal sin of blasting the fans on his way out the door in 2009. Anderson commented “The fans are ruthless and don’t deserve a winner.”
Of course Anderson’s play on the field after his 2007 season had nothing to do with it. “I will never forget getting cheered when I was injured. I know at times I wasn’t great. I hope and pray I’m playing when my team comes to town and we roll them.”
That hasn’t happened. Anderson was in Arizona for the 2010 season, playing in 12 games and completing just over 50% of his passes under Ken Whisenhunt. The Cardinals have been searching for a quarterback since Kurt Warner retired for “Dancing with the Stars,” so Anderson had to be a train wreck to not win the job.
Anderson’s best season was 2007 when the Browns just missed the playoffs. He started all 16 games and threw for 29 TD’s with 19 interceptions on 527 attempts. The next year he lost his edge, got hurt and was on his way out of Cleveland. Anderson was proclaimed when acquired from Baltimore as a “big, strong, rifle armed” quarterback out of Oregon State. That same description now applies to Weeden. It also was how they spoke of Jeff George.
Before Chudzinski was hired, Whisenhunt was interviewed for a second time on Wednesday. The following night came the Chudzinski news. Now reports are surfacing Whisenhunt may have been offered the position, but walked away because of a difference in philosophy with Browns President Joe Banner.
Reportedly Whisenhunt disagreed with Banner on assistant coaches and who would hire them. Banner supposedly wanted the final say on assistant’s while Whisenhunt thought he should. Nether could agree and that led to the split.
Before you say that is unlikely, remember during the press gathering (they are no longer called press conference’s) Owner Jimmy Haslam said one thing Chud could bring to the team was outstanding assistant coaches. Without mentioning names Haslam was naming Norv Turner. Turner hasn’t made a decision to join the Browns. The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting Turner is in Hawaii vacationing with his family and will not make a decision until he returns. However now it is said Carolina would like Turner to join them and replace Chudzinski. That would reunite Turner with his former defensive coordinator in San Diego, Ron Rivera.
On the defensive front, the Plain Dealer is also saying Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano is in line for the same job with Cleveland. Pagano, who has had only one season as a DC, is the brother of Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano. Before becoming the DC last year, Pagano was the Chargers linebackers coach since 2005.
Even though the Chargers fired Turner, the assistant coaches are still under contract. That means Pagano cannot go anywhere until San Diego releases him. That puts the Browns in a tenable position.
Pagano also ran the 3-4 defense out west, something Browns fans aren’t interested in. As stated before the Browns strength is the defensive line with six, proven down linemen. They are short at linebacker. A 3-4 will cause the defense to take a step backward and dictate the number 6 pick in April’s draft to be a linebacker, possibly more picks after that. A draft that has nobody leading it right now, but that will be talked about in the coming days.
So many troubles for an ownership that just took over in October. This is making the Dolan’s look like geniuses. The Browns have been a laughing stock since returning in 1999, being a continual loser with only one playoff appearance. This comedy of errors makes this group look ineffective and mediocre. They are not demanding respect or showing leadership with Browns fans, something that is needed.
If this team hopes to win, they need to prove it. Chudzinski has to be a home run. He can only work his plan with the people around him he wants. Based on his choice, not Banner’s.
Banner appears to want input on everything, even though he has no football expertise whatsoever.
In Philadelphia he was the executive that handled off the field duties but wanted more. That led to the split with his long-time friend and Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. Now he has the ear of Haslam and until he fails, Haslam will give him rope. Unfortunately for Browns fans, that means another failed attempt at winning.
This is just one weekend. But this comes after the previous weekend which included the Chip Kelly fiasco. These weekends individually mean nothing, except these weekends string into months and years. Still all this will be forgotten if the organization does something no Browns organization has done in a long time. Win.
But we have several weekends to go before we see that happen again.
Dave Mitchell co-hosts with Mark Donahue the UST talk show “Ohio Baseball Weekly,” highlighting the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. The Show return in March, 2013.