By: Ian Logue
Apparently in Cleveland they’ve seen what has transpired this season here in New England, and they seem to be potentially hoping they can lure Josh McDaniels there so he can bring along some of the Patriots’ magic with him.
According to Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, the Browns have asked the Patriots permission to interview offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels for their head coaching vacancy, which comes after the team fired Rob Chudzinski after one season.
The team held a press conference on Monday and Browns CEO Joe Banner, along with team owner Jimmy Haslam, were asked about justifying the decision considering all the roster turmoil they encountered this season. They were injury-riddled for much of the year, which included having little stability at the quarterback position after losing Brian Hoyer for the season with a knee injury, as well as dealing with concussions with Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden.
However, as we know here in New England, the Patriots have lost starters on both sides of the football this season and yet finished 12-4 and have the number two seed heading into the postseason. Back in 2008 after losing Tom Brady in the opening game, McDaniels was also able to make adjustments and helped guide then back up quarterback Matt Cassel through the season and as a result New England went 11-5 that year.
Banner hinted that he’s watched other teams deal with “similar situations” while still improving, which didn’t happen for Cleveland this year and obviously fits exactly what’s transpired this season with McDaniels and the Patriots.
“I think it’s just what we said and if you look around, you’ll find similar situations to what you’re describing and teams that improved as the year went on,” Banner told reporters when asked about the decision to make the move despite their personnel issues. “I don’t want to walk through all of the teams around the league, but I think that the improvement that should be happening during the season, regardless of the talent level that you’re at, is something that you have to be able to see.
“It’s something that’s happening on many of the rosters. I think you can argue this year that on every roster with a first-year head coach in spite of very difficult quarterback situations and each of the quarterbacks on a number of those teams. That’s just what you need to see.”
Haslam told reporters that he believes with the amount of talent in the upcoming draft, as well as the number of picks the team has, the Browns are in position to turn things around in a short period of time. While they may not be at the level personnel-wise that they’d like to be, it sounds like he believes they’re not far off.
“We like the talent in the draft of 2014,” said Haslam. “We have 10 picks: two firsts, a second, two thirds and two fourths. We think that free agents, both free agents we signed and free agents we’ve picked up along the way, have considerable talent and ability. Do I think we’re where we need to be talent-wise now? No, I don’t. Do I think we can get there over the next couple three years? Yes, I do.”
McDaniels, who graduated from Canton McKinley High and is a John Carroll University Graduate, suddenly finds himself in a situation that will likely be one he may at least consider. He’s getting the opportunity to coach his home town team, and he would be coming into a situation where he’d be working with a general manager in Mike Lombardi, with whom he has a longstanding relationship with.
Should Hoyer return, McDaniels would have a player he has familiarity with who might be enough to help get them started in moving in the right direction. Most mock drafts seem to lean toward Cleveland strengthening their offensive line and their defense, although others explore the possibility of bringing in a quarterback like Fresno State’s Derek Carr or Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel.
Either way, it’s going to be an interesting situation to watch, although there haven’t yet been reports on whether or not he’ll even agree to interview with them. Some local experts including ESPN BOSTON’s Mike Reiss even wondered if McDaniels could one day succeed Bill Belichick here in New England as head coach when Belichick decides to hang it up. But considering he now has the opportunity to coach the team he grew up rooting for, it would be tough to blame him if he accepts it.