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Chudzinski replaces Pat Shurmur, another first-time coach when he was hired, who was fired on Dec. 31 after a 5-11 season. For the past two years, Chudzinski has worked with talented Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and resuscitated Carolina’s offense, which was one of the league’s worst before he arrived.

When Haslam and Banner embarked on their coaching search as 2013 began, the pair vowed they would wait as long as necessary to find “the right coach” for Cleveland. They promised to give their new coach final say over the roster and planned to pair him with an executive to help pick players.

Chudzinski wasn’t seen by many as an option.

And then he became the choice.

Haslam said Chudzinski’s passion for the Browns was a bonus, but he had all the credentials and characteristics they were looking for in a new coach.

“If Rob was from Plano, Texas, we would have hired him,” Haslam said.

Chudzinski said he wants a team that attacks on both sides of the ball. He would not comment on any of Cleveland’s players, and sidestepped a question about rookie Brandon Weeden, who had an uneven first season with the Browns.

Chudzinski interviewed with the team on Wednesday, when the club also visited with Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. Chudzinski appeared to be a long shot for the job, not because he wasn’t qualified, but because it was thought Haslam wanted to make a big splash with his first coaching hire.

However, Chudzinski wowed Haslam and Banner during his meeting and the team decided it was time to end its search in its second week. Haslam said 10 minutes into the interview that he nodded at Banner that they had found their man.

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.

Haslam pointed out the Panthers scored 88 touchdowns the past two seasons. Cleveland scored 44.

Following last 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.

Chudzinski’s hiring may have shocked some Cleveland fans, many of whom at fantasies about Nick Saban or Jon Gruden or Kelly brining his supersonic offense to the NFL.

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.

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