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Browns Mailbag: How important is NFL head coaching experience?

The offseason is in full swing, and with a coaching search underway, there's no slowing down at

We've understandably got a surplus of questions this week, so there's no use in wasting any more time.

How many NFL teams have gone at least 30 years without ever hiring a head coach with NFL head coaching experience? I believe for the Browns it has been forever, 50 years. - Ray M., Strongsville

You're right in insinuating the Browns don't have a history decorated with hiring coaches with NFL head coaching experience. You're wrong in thinking it's been a streak dating 30-50 years. Eric Mangini was the head coach for the New York Jets for three seasons before he landed with the Browns in 2009.

You were definitely on to something, though. Before Mangini, the last Browns coach to have NFL head coaching experience before he landed the gig here was Nick Skorich, who was the Eagles' head coach from 1961-1963. Skorich coached Cleveland from 1971-1974 and went 30-24.

Among the Browns coaches who had head coaching experience outside of the NFL before coming to Cleveland: Butch Davis, Bud Carson and, of course, Paul Brown.

The trend in the NFL of late sees the majority of head coaching jobs going to first-timers with a handful going to those on their second or third go-around. A look at the 12 teams in the playoffs shows a mix of four on their second NFL head coaching job (Bill Belichick, Gary Kubiak, Andy Reid and Pete Carroll) and eight on their first (Marvin Lewis, Bill O'Brien, Mike Tomlin, Bruce Arians, Ron Rivera, Mike McCarthy, Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer).

When he laid out the criteria for the job, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam didn't mention a thing about head coaching experience at the NFL. The qualifications he wants -- intelligent, strong leader, collaborative, team player, able to assemble good staff and an intense desire to win and improve every day -- applies to first- or second-timers.

What are the chances that the Browns will draft a QB with this new analytics approach? From what I have read there is no NFL-ready QB that has declared for the draft. Don't you think it would be wise to pick up some of the great defensive, offensive players coming in? - Nick W., Charleston, S.C.

Without the hiring of a head coach and top talent evaluator, and without hearing from new executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, it's simply too early to speculate on what the Browns will do with the No. 2 and 32 picks in the 2016 NFL Draft.

That said, I'm all for taking the best player available because the Browns are not in a position to overlook someone because of depth at their respective position. You're right about the quarterbacks, but again, it's pretty early in the process to know who exactly projects as an early pick. At this time two years ago, barely anyone knew who Jimmy Garoppolo was, and he ended up landing with the Patriots in the second round. Rewind one year earlier than that, and no one in the NFL Draft projection business was pegging offensive lineman Jake Fisher to the Chiefs at No. 1.

We've got a LONG way to go before the draft, and we'll be chronicling every step of the way at

I am wondering since analytics is the path we're headed in how much of the final decision in player/personnel will analytics have? - Ben M., Dover

That's tough to say at this point because it's so early in the process of reorganizing the Browns front office. Clarity will abound in the coming weeks, but I will put this out there. The term "analytics" is a very broad one, sort of like "spread offense" when it's discussed at the college level. To some degree, every NFL team is using analytics because, again, it encompasses a whole lot of areas. DePodesta is understandably associated with this field, but the Browns' hiring of him and excitement to bring him aboard went far beyond it.

When can we have a "throwback" uniform game like other teams have? Would be great to see the them in the traditional Browns uniform, the ones they wore when they were a playoff level team. - Laura L., Canfield

NFL teams are permitted to have just one alternate jersey, and they're allowed to wear them twice per season. Throwback jerseys fall under this category. Cleveland's alternate jersey in 2015 and, until further notice, is its orange jersey.

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