Former Cleveland Browns assistant coach Rob Chudzinski was introduced as the team’s 14th full-time head coach by owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner at the Berea training facility on Friday morning.
For Chudzinski, joining the Browns organization as a head coach is a homecoming. He started his NFL career as the tight ends coach of the Browns in 2004. Later that season, he moved into the role of interim offensive coordinator. After a two-year stint as tight ends coach of the San Diego Chargers, Chudzinski came back to the Browns as offensive coordinator for 2007-08.
“I’m excited about this opportunity,” Chudzinski said. “I’m excited about the chance to bring back what I grew up in, and the feeling that this city, this region, this area had in the Cleveland Browns. I was the kid in the backyard pretending I was Ozzie Newsome or Brian Sipe or the greats that played for Cleveland. The tradition of this franchise is such that the people here want a winner and I would not miss this for the world, the opportunity to come back and bring a winner back to Cleveland.
“This is about a process. There are some pieces here and some parts here that we can build on. I feel like we can work together and build this to what we want it to be, a winner and be able to sustain winning over the course of time. I promise that we’re going to put a product and team on the field that you can be proud of, and that will win.”
Chudzinski brings 19 years of coaching experience, including nine in the NFL, with him to Cleveland.
“This is a very, very exciting day for the Cleveland Browns, for the Cleveland Browns family, and everybody excited about Cleveland Browns football,” Haslam said. “We talked to nine or 10 of, I believe, the best coaches in the country. We talked to current pro coaches; we talked to former pro head coaches; we talked to current college coaches; we talked to several pro coordinators and I believe we came back with the best person to lead the Cleveland Browns to the kind of winning format that we want to have in Cleveland and that we all expect to have.”
Banner added, “We were focusing on a strong leader, somebody that was going to create a culture, an entire program, put together a great staff and manage them, and was really, really committed to setting a very high bar and achieving it. We’re very excited about having Rob here and believe he fits exactly what we’re looking for.”
Under Chudzinski’s direction in 2004, tight ends Steve Heiden and Aaron Shea were among the team leaders in receptions. Heiden led the tight ends with 28 receptions for 287 yards and five touchdowns. Shea caught 26 passes, gained 252 yards and scored four touchdowns.
In 2007, Chudzinski’s first year as offensive coordinator for the Browns, four of his players made the Pro Bowl.
Quarterback Derek Anderson started 15 games and completed 298 of 527 attempts for 3,787 yards and 29 touchdowns against 19 interceptions. Anderson’s top two targets, wide receiver Braylon Edwards and tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., also earned invitations to the Pro Bowl. Edwards caught 80 passes for 1,289 yards and a team-record 16 touchdowns, while Winslow led the Browns with 82 catches, gained 1,106 yards and scored five touchdowns.
Through his experiences in Cleveland, as well as with the Chargers and Carolina Panthers, Chudzinski feels he has improved as a coach.
“I felt like the opportunities I’ve had to be with the coaches I’ve been with allowed me to see some of the day-to-day things that head coaches do and what comes across their desk,” Chudzinski said. “I feel very prepared. I’ve been fortunate to be around some great coaches going back to my playing days.”