AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Rob Chudzinski didn't even get a full year to fix the dreadful Browns.
seeing the progress it wanted, Cleveland's front office fired
Chudzinski on Sunday night just hours after a loss in Pittsburgh to end
his first season, which started promising but ended with a seven-game
losing streak and a 4-12 record.
Chudzinski had only been in place
since Jan. 11, when the Ohio native and lifelong Browns fan was hired
for his dream position by owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner. The
Browns were 4-5 after a win over Baltimore on Nov. 3, but they collapsed
in the final two months, blowing several late leads and the
organization decided to cut ties before heading into a second season
with Chudzinski in charge.
"We appreciate Chud's passion for the
Browns, and we have great respect for him both personally and
professionally," the team said in a statement not attributed to any
person. "We needed to see progress with this football team. We needed to
see development and improvement as the season evolved and,
unfortunately, we took a concerning step backward in the second half of
"Our fans deserve to see a consistently competitive
team. We have high standards, and there's an urgency for success. When
we believed we were not positioned to achieve significant progress in
2014, we knew we had to admit that a change was needed, and move
forward. Browns fans are the most loyal and passionate supporters in the
NFL. We're fully committed to bringing them the winning football team
The Browns scheduled a 12:30 p.m. news conference on Monday to explain Chudzinski's shocking dismissal.
Just last month, Banner praised Chudzinski, who had dealt with more than his share of obstacles.
be hard pressed to think that in nine weeks a first-time head coach can
do any better or any more than he's doing," Banner said on Nov. 13.
"All of the measurables that you'd look to come up with, if you even
wanted to create a yardstick of measuring at this moment, I just think
he's doing an outstanding job."
But the losses began to mount,
with four of them during the seven-game slide by more than 10 points.
Cleveland's front office felt as if the team was getting worse and knew a
change had to be made.
Cleveland ended its sixth straight
double-digit loss season with a 20-7 setback to the Steelers. Although
the Browns dropped 10 of their last 11, players were united in support
of Chudzinski and were stunned to hear his job was in jeopardy.
think he's done a good job," Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas said, "and if
you fire coaches after one bad season, it's not like we won the Super
Bowl last year, and we were coming back with the same offense. We had
tremendous changes philosophy-wise, offense, defense, and so many
different players that we brought in. To get that consistent winning is
by having consistency in the coaching staff and the philosophy of
management, to me, that's how you become a winner.
"I'd just be really surprised."
Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was upset to learn there were reports that Chudzinski was on his way out.
ridiculous," he said. "Chud's gonna be here for as long as he wants to.
He's a great head coach and that's all I've got to say about that.
That's not going to happen. Chud's a great coach. He's had our attention
from Day 1."
Chudzinski had plenty to deal with as a rookie
coach, including an unsettled quarterback situation as the Browns were
forced to use three starters because of injuries. The team also traded
running back Trent Richardson and never adequately replaced him. The
Browns didn't give Chudzinski much help in the draft as No. 6 overall
pick, linebacker Barkevious Mingo, had a disappointing season.
the Browns, who have made the playoffs just once since 1999, will
embark on yet another coaching search. They've gone through four coaches
in the past six years and their next hire will be their seventh
full-time coach since their expansion rebirth.
Less than a year
ago, Haslam and Banner thought they had found the right guy in
Chudzinski, who had two previous stints as an assistant coach with the
Browns. Chudzinski wasn't the team's first choice as the new regime
interviewed Chip Kelly, Ken Whisenhunt, Bill O'Brien, Doug Marrone and
Ray Horton, whom they hired as their defensive coordinator, before
giving Chudzinski his chance.
It's over now, and it's time to go looking again.