Following Oregon’s win over Kansas State in Thursday night’s Fiesta Bowl, Kelly said he hoped to have the interview process “wrapped up quickly and figure out where I’m going to be.”
All indications are that he’s headed to Cleveland, where he’ll inherit a young roster that showed some promise this season.
Cleveland has also spoken with former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Marrone and Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, who removed himself from consideration Thursday and said he would return for his second season with the Nittany Lions.
The 48-year-old restored Syracuse’s program in his four seasons at the school, leading the Orange to a 25-25 record. After a slow start this season, Syracuse won six of its last seven games and defeated West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Before he was at Syracuse, Marrone spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator at New Orleans, where he helped Saints quarterback Drew Brees throw for more than 4,000 yards in three straight seasons.
The Browns are not commenting on any candidates or interviews until they hire a successor for Pat Shurmur, who was fired after going 9-23 in two seasons.
Haslam and Banner believe Kelly can fix Cleveland’s franchise, which has made just one playoff appearance in 14 years. Saturday was the 10th anniversary of the Browns’ last postseason game, a 36-33 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the decade since, the Browns have had nine double-digit loss seasons and changed coaches four times.
Cleveland’s current run of at least 11 losses in five straight seasons is the second-longest streak of futility in NFL history. Only the Oakland Raiders (2003-2009) have had one longer.