Strong safety T.J. Ward and cornerback Joe Haden are first-time Pro Bowlers
MOBILE, Ala. – Here are my five thoughts on the Browns' head-coach search:
The fact the search is well into its third week is not the catastrophe that so many media pundits locally and nationally say it is. The Browns have been nothing if not thorough in talking with numerous candidates, including some whose names (amazingly) have not become public. They have been able to develop a fairly substantial list of coaches from which to choose. They also have been able to assemble a thick file of thoughts and ideas from a wide range of coaching minds, and that not only is helpful to the process of finding a head coach but also can be incorporated into the team's football procedures.
The Browns will hire a candidate they want rather than simply filling the spot with the "only" person willing to accept it. Yes, multiple candidates have removed themselves from consideration, but that doesn't mean no one wants the job. It is only one of 32 such positions on the planet. It has some attractive features, including the fact the Browns have 10 draft picks (including two first-round choices) and roughly $40-million-plus in salary cap space. It offers a roster with six Pro Bowlers. It likely will offer the head coach the chance to grow with a rookie quarterback who will be deemed the team's "franchise" player at the position. There are names on the candidates list with solid credentials as assistant coaches, including Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
Contrary to popular belief, there are competent assistant coaches available for the Browns to hire to their staff. The Senior Bowl serves as an unofficial job fair for out-of-work coaches and scouts. There are plenty of them roaming around, eager for an opportunity. The man the Browns hire will no doubt have his connections to assistant coaches on existing staffs.
I don't care if the Browns' coach ends up being someone with a strong defensive background – which appears to be the case – rather than an offensive guy, as was originally believed to be the team's preference. Someone who knows how to get much better production from the existing talent on defense, especially from the front seven, is important. That would also make the need for a good combination of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach even more crucial.
Speaking of coordinators, my sense is that it makes no sense to fixate on the idea of having highly established coaches in those roles. Wasn't that what the Browns did last year in hiring Norv Turner and Ray Horton to be the offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively, to provide the higher level of support that Rob Chudzinski would presumably need as a first-year head coach. Eleven months later, the trio was gone.
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