The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

January 11, 2013

Browns hire Rob Chudzinski as new coach

(Continued)

However, Chudzinski wowed Haslam and Banner during his meeting and the team decided it was time to end their search after nearly 10 days.

It's not yet known whom Chudzinski will bring in as his coordinators. There are reports he may hire former San Diego coach Norv Turner to run his offense.

In his first season in Carolina, Chudzinski turned Newton, the No. 1 overall draft pick, loose and the Panthers set club records for total yards (6,237) and first downs (345). Carolina also scored 48 touchdowns after getting just 17 in the season before Chudzinski arrived. The Panthers jumped from last in the league in total yardage to seventh, the biggest improvement since 1999.

Following the season, Chudzinski interviewed for head coaching jobs with St. Louis, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay before returning to Carolina.

Newton continued to develop in his second season with Chudzinski. The Browns could be counting on him to improve Brandon Weeden after his uneven rookie season.

After his first stint on Cleveland's staff, Chudzinski spent two seasons as San Diego's tight ends coach, working with perennial Pro Bowl standout Antonio Gates.

Taking over the Browns offense in 2007, Chudzinski helped the Browns win 10 games — the most since their expansion rebirth in 1999 — and had four players make the Pro Bowl.

However, in 2008, the Browns struggled on offense and a six-game losing streak led to a 4-12 finish and Crennel's firing. The Browns finished 31st in offense that year.

Chudzinski went back to the Chargers for two more seasons before he was hired in Carolina.

On Thursday, former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt was brought to Cleveland for a second interview and he appeared to be the frontrunner. The Browns were also expected to meet again with Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and interview Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

But in the end, the Browns decided to go with Chudzinski, who has no head coaching experience but is regarded as one of the league's brightest up-and-coming coaches.

The hiring won't cause Cleveland fans to dance in the streets, but it is in keeping with Banner's past of hiring a coach without a meaty resume.

When he was in Philadelphia's front office, Banner went outside the box and hired relatively unknown Andy Reid, who spent 14 seasons with the Eagles before he was fired after this season.

The Browns can only hope it goes as well with Chudzinski.

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