Coach Chud Going NowhereBrowns Extend Offensive Coordinator’s Contract, Chudzinski Declines Ravens’ Interview Offer

In what can only be described as a most fortunate turn of events, the Cleveland Browns have given offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski an extension, and Coach Chud has turned down the Baltimore Ravens’ request to interview him for their vacant head coaching position.

The story appears in the Baltimore Sun, where Jamison Hensley writes,

“Cleveland offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski won’t interview for the Ravens’ head coaching vacancy today because he got a contract extension from the Browns, a league source said.

Chudzinski joins Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as coaches who have removed themselves from the Ravens’ list.”

This is great news for the Cleveland Browns organization. Not only does it solidify the Browns’ offensive system for the next year, it also gives the Browns the option of handing the team over to Coach Chud in 2 years should they decide that Romeo Crennel is not the man for the job. Now that Coach Chud is going to be sticking around, it should be interesting to see if the Browns extend Coach Crennel’s contract.

Chudzinski, a native of Toledo, Ohio who grew up rooting for the Browns, could be in a situation where the team is grooming him to be their next head coach, similar to the Jason Garrett situation with the Dallas Cowboys. Two years ago Coach Chud turned down a chance to call plays for LaDainian Tomlinson to come home to the Browns, despite the fact he would be joining an offense that was inept at best and a coach who was expected to be on the hot seat by week 5. Instead, he revamped the offense and turned it into one of the NFL’s elite offenses, even despite the fact he was using a discarded QB whom the Browns picked up off waivers. Chudzinski has shown a great mind for football and a vision that is neccessary to be a successful coach. So it is not out of the realm of possibilities that the Browns are looking to eventually hand the team over to Chudzinski, and that could be why he turned down the Ravens’ interview offer.

Or else he simply turned it down because it was the decent thing to do, knowing full well he wouldn’t accept the job and/or he was an outsider at best in the odds of winning the job. But a small part of me still can’t help but think, why not interview? It would be good practice for when he’s ready to really interview for jobs. It would seem he has every reason in the world to interview if his aspirations are to someday be a head coach somewhere else. But if the Browns’ organization’s internal plans are to eventually have Chudzinski take over the team, then there would be no reason to interview.

Either way, this is a good day for the Browns, and for now we can leave all speculation behind. For once, the Browns look to be returning their coaching staff in tact from the previous season…a sign of cohesiveness and stability that has long been lacking in this organization.

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Sit Down KyleHow Sweet It Is!!! Browns Persevere Through Bizarre Ending To Complete Season Sweep Of The Ravens

Coming into this game, the Browns hadn’t lost 2 games in a row all season. That was on the line when Phil Dawson lined up to attempt a 51 yard FG with 0:03 left in the game to try to send the game into overtime. The kick glanced off the left upright, bounced down and hit the back extension of the crossbar, and bounced forward into the field of play. The refs looked at each other and signaled ‘no good’, and just like that, the Browns were looking at their first losing streak of the season.

It was about that time, a crazy thing happened. The refs started huddling to discuss the call. The television replays showed the ball clearly went through the uprights and hit back extension before bouncing forward, thus making it a good FG. After over 5 minutes of deliberations, the refs came back and got the call right, calling the FG good and thus tying up the game and sending it to overtime.

In overtime, the Browns won the coin toss and got the ball first. The Ravens inexplicably kicked the ball to Joshua Cribbs, who proceeded to run it out to the 41 yard line. From there, the offense took over, driving 43 yards on 9 plays to setup the game winning 33 yard FG. When it was all said and done, the Browns won the game 33-30 and moved to 6-4 on the season, moving 2 games ahead of Baltimore (4-6) and just one behind Pittsburgh (7-3) in the AFC North.

I’ll start with the positives in this game. Joshua Cribbs was without a doubt the MVP of this game. He finished with 245 yards in kick returns and gave us excellent field position time and time again. He made the field shorter and the job easier for the offense against a tough Baltimore ‘D’. Jamal Lewis played a tough, inspired ballgame, rushing for 92 yards and 1 touchdown on 22 caries. The first half rush defense was superb, as they pretty much shut down McGahee to that point. The pass rush was excellent. By far the best performance, as we picked up 6 sacks, forced Boller to fumble once, and intercepted him twice, one in particular being returned for a 100 yard touchdown. Phil Dawson did a nice job of coming back from a missed FG of 35 yards in the 1st quarter, making his next 4, including the tying 51-yarder and the winning 33-yarder. The offensive line was excellent in its blocking, opening up some holes and giving DA pretty much all the time he needed. And the biggest positive, of course, was that we won the game. In the end, that’s all that really matters.

As always, though, there were some rather disturbing negatives. Once again, DA did not look particularly sharp, as he was erratically throwing the ball all over the placing, sometimes hitting his receivers, sometimes coming nowhere near them. The penalties of the offensive line were inexcusable, including one particularly embarrassing sequence in which a 3rd and 9 conversion was turned into a 3rd and 30 nightmare thanks to foolish offensive line penalties (yeah, I’m looking at you, Joe Thomas). The second half rush defense was sick. Just plain sick. The Ravens and McGahee tore through our defense at will in the second half, which was the main reason they looked like they had won the game with Stover’s kick with 26 seconds left in the game. Allowing a team to come back from at least 13 points in the second half for the second consecutive week….well, I don’t even know what to say about that. The injury to Eric Wright looked serious, and could be a major blow to an already struggling pass defense.

So there’s still plenty to work on, but at 6-4, the Browns will be favorites in every game from here on out. As I’ve said before, 4-2 is a more than reasonable goal for the last 6 games, which leave us at 10-6 and almost certainly in the playoffs. And keep an eye on Pittsburgh. After their tough loss today, the Browns are back in the division hunt as well, especially considering the Steelers still have to play at New England, at Baltimore, and face Jacksonville at home. The playoff hunt is here, and it’s legit. Lets face it, for all this team’s shortcomings, they still have an excellent shot to get back in the playoffs. These last 6 weeks are going to be fun to watch, for sure.