Gus Malzahn, the Browns Last, Desperate Hope


Oh Browns.  Could you have done anything more Cleveland Brownesqe than fire your “hand picked’ head coach after less than twelve months on the job, and NOT have any idea who your replacement would be?  Could there be a better sign of dysfunction and failure than this?  We’re left here in January, coach-less, and the store where you go to buy Head Coaches is starting to look like a Best Buy at 6 pm on Black Friday.  The shelves are getting bare, and before much longer you’re going to have to just chalk it and pay full price for a less model.  I read somewhere that the Browns remaining list of candidates looks like a yard sale on its last day.  That’s pretty accurate at this point.

As the Browns continue their search for their next “THE GUY” who they will assure us is a visionary leader who will lead our beloved franchise back from decades of irrelevance and painful to endure seasons, the list of candidates is getting pretty thin, and frankly pretty weak.  With fans whipping themselves in a frenzy for the beloved name of Jim Tressel to be named as a coaching interviewee, the list of candidates the Browns are actually going to, or will probably interview is going to look mighty bleak to Browns fans by comparison.

I try and give you realistic perspectives on things.  So I’m going to tell you, point blank, I don’t think there is a chance in hell that Jim Tressel will be your next head coach.  I don’t think the Browns are even going to extend an interview offer to him.  We’ve got to get past the “If it works at Ohio State it MUST work in Cleveland” thing anyhow.  Kenny Guiton isn’t a viable QB option, nor Braxton Miller, nor Pryor or any other Buckeye that we loved.  Ohio State is a different animal than the Browns.  We’ve got to stop the madness, because really, we’re trying to mix oil with water.

Now, knowing Tressel is off the board, let’s take a look at other guys who’ve fallen by the wayside as we’ve moved along here: James Franklin (Going to Penn State), Bob Stoops, Josh McDaniels (thank Christ actually).  First, let’s be honest with ourselves.  Those aren’t names that get any of us even remotely excited.  They’re names that would likely have made us groan if we had read that they were being announced as the next Cleveland Browns head coach.  Those aren’t names that we want to hear, we want to hear unrealistic names like Cowher and Gruden (Jon).  We want to feel excited.  We want a savior.

More reality friends.  There’s only one savior type coach left on the board.  There’s only one guy left who makes any sense considering the direction the front office is rumored to be heading (read: Johnny Football).  That guy, the only actual THE GUY left out there, is Gus Malzahn.

Gus went from a High School head coach, to Auburn Head Coach, to a National Championship game in eight short years.  That’s impressive, regardless if the naysayer will mock him as a high school coach.  Those people are idiots.  If you know anything about the situation that Gus took over at Auburn, and how unbelievably impressive it is that he made them a relevant program, no less got them to a NC game, you know why people who know what they’re talking about respect the man.  He’s fixed, in under 24 months, a program that had become as broken, crooked and dysfunctional as any program outside of Miami in the past 20 years.  Easily.  And he did it with energy, with passion, with gusto.  As importantly, for those of us who adhere to the old ways of the Dawg Pound, he did it with hard work and integrity.  Gus is squeaky clean, unlike his predecessor at Auburn, and it’s real.  He’s the real deal.

But outside of the reasons why you should like Gus Malzahn the Man, you should love Gus Malzahn the coach.  It’s impossible to question his football acumen, and his results on the field speak for themselves.  That, and its a brand of football that Browns fans should LOVE.  It’s built on pounding down opposing defenses with a crushing running game, and blazing speed and big plays on the outside.  While I do usually shy away from drafting OSU players in Cleveland, if you gave Gus a backfield of Carlos Hyde, Dion Lewis and the emergent Edwin Baker, they would run holes into any defense.  Pair him with a QB like Brian Hoyer, and yes, maybe even Johnny Manziel, and they would sprint down the field.  Give him a weapon like Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron and one of the premier WR’s in this draft, and the Browns would start to look like a track team on Sundays.

Gus has the goods, but its still a long shot that he’ll leave Auburn.  The Browns would have to do some serious work to get him.  They’ll have to overpay, rightfully, because of all the past failures around coaches in the organization.  They’d have to swallow the arrogance that they’ve so often displayed under this regime, and give Gus the keys to all the doors in Berea.  They’d have to let him have final say on players and personnel, they’d have to not question his decisions, and they’d have to trust the man driving the Gus Bus.  But isn’t that what we’ve cried out for for YEARS?  A strong, decisive leader who will passionately change the way the world looks at Cleveland Browns football?

Get on the Gus Bus Browns fans.  Drop the Tressel nonsense, stop asking for Cowher.  Get on the Gus Bus, put some media pressure on the front office, and let’s turn this mother around, for good.

 

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Josh McDaniels Early Favorite In Browns Head Coach Search


Sources have told DPN that Josh McDaniels is the Cleveland Browns inside favorite to take the reigns as the new Head Coach, in the wake of the sudden dismissal of former Head Coach Rob Chudzinski.

McDaniels has connections to both Browns GM Michael Lombardi and Joe Banner, and sources inside the Browns front office tell us that he is their hands down favorite.

That being said, the Browns cannot interview him until after January 5th, and could have to wait longer due to the Patriots playoff games.  Also, there are rumors that McDaniels may not be interested in the job in Cleveland.

One Pound Of Sadness: Beginning To Love Chud


I’ll be honest with you.  When the Browns whiffed on Chip Kelly, and made no clear effort to go after any other big name coaches on the market, I was pretty discouraged.  Then, when they hired a non-headline coach in Rob Chudzinski, I was ready to slam the door on the new ownership “regime”.  I mean, did these guys know the precarious situation they were walking in to?  A rabid fans base, arguably one of the most involved, certainly one of the most loyal, in the entire NFL.  A fan base who has experienced nothing but failure after failure, disappointment after disappointment, literally for longer than I have been alive (I’m racing up on 30).  And to this fan base, who they needed to win over, they throw some no-name head coach to, and hire the much maligned Mike Lombardi to be the GM.  How could this be the good start they desperately needed?  Did they realize how bad this looked?

Then, I started to pay attention a bit more to Coach Chud.  The things the man said, the things he does, and (probably most importantly to the oft nostalgic Browns fans) to the things he HAS done.  I won’t lie, I started this from a fairly critical, openly sarcastic position.  Coach Chud wasn’t getting a fair shake at this from me, but I’ll be honest in saying that he’s started to win me over. Why? Well, I took the name away. I made him simply “Coach X” in my head. Then I thought about what he brings to the table as the Browns Head Coach.

1. Passion.

There is no question that Coach Chud is the single most passionate head coach the Browns have had in my lifetime. He WANTS to be here. Cleveland, unbelievably, was his dream job. You are probably not going to find another Head Coach option where this is the case. Most guys would use Cleveland to show that they can get the job done in a more glamorous market. The Cleveland Browns head coaching position is not one that most coaches look at as a final, permanent spot. The hard truth is that this has been a disaster of a football franchise for more than 40 years (one-to-two year stretches of non-mediocrity don’t count, those were flukes imo). Who wants to be responsible for an extension of that disaster? The answer is, simply, Chud. Chud wanted this job, badly. He grew up, like the rest of us, as a Browns fan who desperately wanted his favorite team to be better than the mess that they were/are. And now he’s in a position to do something about it. Now as we know, passion alone is not enough…

2. Brains.

The guy has the brains to turn this thing around. He’s widely considered to be one of the most innovative, creative young minds in the NFL. Now, since Chud has never coached a national champion contender in college, or been a head coach in the NFL, he’s flown under most of the national medias radar. To get a real opinion of him, you need to ask the guys he’s coach under. The opinion you come up with is unanimous. Heaps of praise, tons of respect, and an almost glowing admiration from his former superiors. It’s not an accident that so many people share the same opinion of Coach Chud. He might be one of the best guys in the league at breaking down film (which he does borderline obsessively), which is big in my eyes. Coaches who obsess over film are the ones who get the real, objective story. Film doesn’t get emotional, it isn’t biased. Winning coaches are the ones who follow the film.

Outside of that, Chud did something that Chip Kelly has yet to do, which is successfully apply the spread offense to the NFL. Think about who the first QB to have great success running the spread. A hint, it was RGIII/Kaepernick/etc. It was Cam Newton, smashing rookie QB records in the system Chud built. That is no accident…

3. Past Success

Coach Chud has been successful at every level he’s coached thus far. Most notably as a TE coach/asst head coach in San Deigo, where he helped build Norv’s vaunted offense. In Cleveland in 2007, he took an objectively awful QB in Derek Anderson and built a system for him that made him a pro bowl QB. Additionally, its worth noting that it was statistically the Browns most successful offense in well over 30 years. Then, as I noted above, he was the one who brought the spread successfully to the NFL, building around Cam Newtons unique skill set. Now, its worth noting the immense versatility this shows. Cam Newton and Derek Anderson and Phillip Rivers are all about as different from one another as Quarterbacks can be. Yet, Chud was able to work out a system for each that played to their strengths, covered up their weaknesses, and allowed them to thrive.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are still question marks. Can Chud’s systems be sustained over the long haul? He only got a year with DA, and Cam certainly had a little drop off in his second season. Can Chud adapt when NFL defenses start to figure out his systems? This is certainly a matter for concern, but after a neutral examination of the facts, I’m willing to get behind the kid from Toledo and give him a shot. Besides, what’s the worst that can happen, we can have a few more losing seasons?

On Chip Kelly Claiming No Interest In Browns Job


Cleveland Browns, Chip Kelly were never close to agreement, Kelly says: Browns Insider | cleveland.com.

 

I think Chip Kelly is a snake, and he’s either lying, or he was very manipulative/misleading in his apparent courtship with the Browns.  Its one thing to clear up rumors that didn’t have much foundation in fact, but Chip Kelly spent a lot of time talking to the Browns, and his camp leaked it that he was close to signing a contract at the dinner that he never showed up to.  Now, either he really was close to signing up to be the Browns Head Coach, or he was using that rumor to get a better deal from Oregon/Philly, but either way he gave very clear signs and spoken words to indicate that he had a strong interest in taking the job in Cleveland.  Now for him to come out, for no clear reason, and speak on the subject as if it was Philadelphia for him from the start either makes him look like a liar or a manipulator.  Why spend an entire afternoon/evening talking with Haslem and Banner if you weren’t ever seriously considering the job?  Why let it leak that you were set to have a dinner, with lawyers and agents present, presumably to sign a contract?  Either you were close, and the Browns actually decided against signing you, or you were trying to play everyone involved.  Either way, I think Chip has shown himself to be far too flip-floppy and sneaky for my taste.  Good riddance.

 

When do we play the Eagles again?