Let me just start by saying that I am not a Browns fan and that outside their two games against my Bengals I don’t really care how they do, especially if my Bengals are playing well. My hatred for the Steelers is much more than my dislike of the Browns. That being said, I think the Browns made a pretty bad decision firing their head coach Rob Chudzinski.
I have a few theories on coaches. The first of which is that it’s unrealistic to hire a guy and expect a 180* turnaround in one year, coaches need time to establish continuity and bring their guys in. I believe that barring extreme scenarios, coaches should be given a minimum of three years. If by the end of the third year when the head coach’s staff is comprised of his guys, he’s likely headed up three draft classes by then and he has brought in a qb, then you can consider to let him go if signs of improvement or a solid foundation don’t seem to be there. People get so caught up with “keeping up with the Jones’” that they lose sight of reality. For every one new hire that takes a team from drafting high one year to the playoffs the next, I can show you four that needed til year 2-4 before we started to see them stringing winning seasons together. The sad thing is that people all think they can bring one guy in and turn losers into winners in just a few months, and when that happens a lot of potentially good coaches get fired before they really get going. Could you imagine if the Patriots fired Bill Belichick after he went 5-11 in his first year? Sometimes good things take time.
Also, it’s important to be blaming coaches for what they actually should be blamed for. Head coaches should be blamed for game plans, play calling (if they call plays), crucial in game decisions (4th down conversions, 2-pt conversions, fg or 4th down, onside kicks etc.) and other things. Head coaches shouldn’t be blamed for injuries, game changing blown calls by refs, draft classes (if the GM has the final say) among others. Is it Chud’s fault that every one of his 3-qbs he started the season with went down with injuries at one point? Essentially no coach can win with that going on. Also, at least half of the guys on team aren’t his guys. You hate on Weeden, but that’s not Chud’s fault. Hate on Trent Richardson, but that’s not his fault, and trading him away is looking like a genius move at this point. A coach can’t come into a bad situation and get a franchise qb, great o-line, powerful running game and a stifling defense in a year, but yet he’s being fired for that reason.
Finally, there’s a lot to be said about signs of improvement. Though the team lost 12 games, do you realize that 9 of them were only be two scores or less? 5 of those losses were by 8 or less points to teams that finished .500 are better! All while juggling a bunch of sub-par qbs. Also this team last year had 3 pro bowlers (two of whom were special teamers in Phil Dawson and Josh Cribbs), now just one year later it has five (none of whom are special teamers). This is a team on the rise who was competitive in just about every game due in part to a strong nucleus of talent and according to Dan Patrick and Mike Florio today on the Dan Patrick Show, “Cleveland is one of the top jobs out there.” Good things were being done.
The browns are a good qb away from being a team no one wants to play. Had Chud gotten a couple more years, I think he will have gotten that qb. Now we’ll never know. I hope Chud lands on his feet and that the new guy in Cleveland is given a little more leeway than his predecessor.