McDaniels to the Browns?

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels watches

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels watches his team play against the Denver Broncos in the fourth quarter. (Nov. 24, 2013) (Credit: AP)

Now that Rob Chudzinski is out in Cleveland, speculation has turned to his replacement. The name that keeps cropping up: Josh McDaniels, the Patriots' offensive coordinator and former Broncos head coach. 

Browns general manager Mike Lombardi, who was Bill Belichick's right-hand man when the two worked together in Cleveland in the 1990s, has high regard for McDaniels, even though he lasted just two seasons as the Broncos head coach. 

McDaniels last year took himself out of contention for any head coaching opportunities, wanting instead to concentrate on getting back to his roots as an offensive play-caller. It remains to be seen whether he'll consider getting back into the head coaching ranks this time. 

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady loves playing for McDaniels, and said he hopes McDaniels coaches him for the rest of his career. But if an attractive head coaching job comes his way, McDaniels will almsot certainly be interested. 

The question is whether the Browns' job fits that criteria. After all, Cleveland's situation seems chaotic now that the Browns have given Chudzinski, who grew up in Clevlenad and has been a lifelong Browns' fan, his walking papers after just one season. Chudzinski was forced to go with three different starting quarterbacks because of injuries. 

Team owner Jimmy Haslam said Chudzinski was doing a terrific job when the team was 4-5. 

"I'd 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," Haslam said on Nov. 13. "I just think he's doing an outstanding job."

But the Browns lost 10 of their last 11 games, six of them by double digits. 

At a press conference today, a television reporter asked Haslam if the Browns were being run by The Three Stooges - a reference to Haslam, team president Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi. Haslam did not directly answer that question, but understand the doubters. 

"We understand why there might be some skepticism," he said. "We also understand the importance of getting it right. This is the crucial off-season for the Cleveland Browns. We have lots of room on the [salary] cap, we have 10 draft picks and we've got to hire a new coach. If we get it right, we'll have a lot of really positive press conferences. If we get that wrong, the responsibility is on us. We fel a lot of pressure to get this right, for the franchise, for the city of Cleveland, for our fans."

The Browns will soon have their fifth coach in the last seven seasons. 

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