The Cleveland Browns have begun conducting interviews for their open Head Coach position this week. Gregg Williams (Interim Coach) and Jim Caldwell have already been interviewed earlier this week but, now the list is continuing to grow longer. The Browns are looking for their 6th head coach since the 2010 season, in other words, you can say they’ve struck out in this spot many times in the recent past. As a matter of a fact, none of those recent coaching hires have led to a winning percentage over 32% while at the helm of the Browns. This leads to the question who is the best candidate to take over the uprising team led by Baker Mayfield and Myles Garrett?
The list of candidates is as long as you would expect due to the Browns finishing the season the way they did under Interim coach Gregg Williams along with the play calling from Offensive Coordinator Freddie Kitchens. Coaches that either without a job (Mike McCarthy, Jim Caldwell) or ones that are looking to progress their careers from a coordinator/position coach (Kevin Stefanski, Dan Campbell, Matt Eberflus, Nick Sirianni, Brian Flores, etc) are really intrigued by the amount of young talent the Browns have at their core. Just the rookies alone are enough to interest some of the best available coaches out there when you consider the fact that a Browns rookie won “Rookie of the Week” 11 out of 17 weeks between Denzel Ward (Twice), Nick Chubb (Twice), and Baker Mayfield (Seven Times).
Lets, take a closer look at each individual candidate the Browns have been rumored to be in contact with and break down what they have done at the National Football League (NFL) level. I’ll start with Interim Coach Gregg Williams who took over mid-season after Hue Jackson was fired. Gregg led Cleveland to a 5-3 record over the course of his 8 games as HC. Williams who has served as a defensive coordinator throughout most of his time in the NFL, however, has been a head coach before. He was at the helm of the Buffalo Bills from 2001-2003 and compiled a 17-31 record with the best season 8-8 in 2002. Williams has been considered one of the best DC’s in the league for quite some time as a has held that title for 17 years with 6 different teams (two stints with the Rams).
Next, let’s look at Freddie Kitchens another member of the current staff of the Cleveland Browns serving as Offensive Coordinator (OC). Freddie took over play-calling duties after Jackson and Todd Haley were both fired earlier this season. This is Freddie’s first season as an offensive coordinator but has been in the league on the offensive side of the ball since 2006 serving as multiple position coaches such as Tight Ends Coach, Quarterbacks Coach, and Running Backs Coach. The offense and Baker Mayfield really seem to take off and begin to excel once Kitchens took over. This is one reason the Browns are reportedly blocking other NFL teams from interviewing him for a Head Coach Position. Before getting much deeper into coaches not currently on the staff I believe will take a hard look at both Williams and Kitchens which is deserved after they made the strides they did this season.
Next on the list is Jim Caldwell who has already been in for his interview for the opening as of Wednesday. Caldwell has served as a Head Coach for two different teams for a total of 7 years. He spent 3 years (2009-2011) with the Colts and another 4 (2014-2017) with the Lions compiling a career record of 62-50. Jim also led his teams to the playoffs 4 out of the 7 years he was at the helm which is something the Browns are not used to. Other then Mike McCarthy which I’ll talk about shortly Caldwell offers the most head coaching experience in the NFL and Playoff experience between the aforementioned short list of candidates.
If you’re an NFL fan playoff teams then you’ve heard the next name on the list Mike McCarthy who was recently fired by the Green Bay Packers. He was the Head Coach in Green Bay from 2006-2018 leading the Packers to one Super Bowl win in 2010 and an overall record of 125-77. The Packers had fallen on hard times in the last two years between some key injuries and reported feuds between McCarthy and members of the team/organization but there is no doubt McCarthy would be a home-run hire for the Browns in my opinion. It’s not every day a team like Cleveland can add a guy with SuperBowl winning pedigree as well as over 200 games of head coaching experience to lead their team.
Lastly, I’m going to group the remaining candidates together because they all have some similarities as they all are currently coordinators or position coaches in the NFL. Kevin Stefanski is a name also being considered for the head coaching opening, he is the current interim offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. Kevin is more on the young side at 36 and would become the 2nd youngest head coach in the NFL if he were to get the job. He’s been with the Vikings in multiple roles since 2006.
Next, on the list is Dan Campbell who once served as an interim Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2015 compiling a 5-7 record. He is a current assistant Head Coach/Tight Ends Coach of the New Orleans Saints who is bound for the playoffs.
Matt Eberflus is an interesting name on the short list as he was actually in Cleveland back in 2009-2010 as a Linebackers coach, he currently serves as the Defensive Coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts. This season is his lone season as a DC at the NFL level but he held that title from 2001-2008 at Missouri.
The Browns may have a thing for what the Colts are doing in Indy as they are also reported to be interested in Nick Sirianni which is the Colts Offensive Coordinator also in his first year. Sirianni spent 5 plus years with the Chargers in different offensive roles before taking the OC job for the Colts. When hiring a new head coach it may not be a bad idea to take a look at the most winning program in last few two decades right?
The Browns are also planning to interview Brian Flores who is the current DC of the New England Patriots. Flores who is in his first year under the DC title in New England has been with the Patriots since 2004. Knowing the winning culture that Bill Belichick has built in New England this could be where the Browns interest arose from.
Two things are certain in Cleveland right now, one they are looking for their next head coach and two they can’t afford to screw up the decision this go around. With the influx of talent, the Browns currently have and dare I say their first franchise Quarterback since Tim Couch the time is now. Cleveland is on the upswing and with a good hire this off-season you could be looking at a playoff team as soon as next year, hard to believe after coming off a winless season in 2017.
The Browns need to get their guy and get him fast because with as many Head coaching openings as they’re in the NFL they could miss their opportunity at the best choice. If I was voting, I’d take a long hard look at Williams & Kitchens but if they decide to go outside of the organizations I believe McCarthy would be the home-run hire. Don’t forget though anything can happen, stay tuned for new names to join the “short list” and possibly a sleeper like Josh McDaniels sees a young team he could take over and lead to the promise land.