However, Chudzinski wowed Haslam and Banner during his meeting and the team decided it was time to end its search in its second week.
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.
In getting the Browns‘ job, Chudzinski was picked over Zimmer, Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman, fired Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt and Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Whisenhunt was in Cleveland for a second interview on Thursday, and appeared to be the front-runner. The Browns also were expected to interview Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.
Newton continued to develop in his second season with Chudzinski, and the QB’s development may have helped his case since the Browns are hoping Brandon Weeden will improve this year 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 go 10-6. They barely missed the playoffs, but four players, including quarterback Derek Anderson, made the Pro Bowl. However, in 2008, the Browns struggled on offense and a six-game losing streak led to a 4-12 finish and Romeo Crennel’s firing.
But his selection is in keeping with at least one of Banner’s past moves. When he was in Philadelphia’s front office, Banner went outside the box and hired Green Bay assistant Andy Reid, a relative unknown who spent 14 seasons with the Eagles.
Now that they’ve got their coach, the Browns can focus on finding a GM to replace Tom Heckert, fired after three seasons.
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