Rob Chudzinski Winning This Browns Fan Over From Day 1
While he wasn't even on most people's radar, Chud is starting off strong as the new Cleveland Browns head coach
As I was reclining in my La-Z-Boy late Thursday night, my phone went off with an alert from ESPN.
"Browns hire Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski as head coach."
Shocked. Flabbergasted. Disappointed. Those were the words to describe my feelings about this news.
I didn't understand where this even came from and why they would bring a fired Browns offensive coordinator back as the head coach four years later.
I was prepared for another few years of losing football and yet another coaching search.
Now, less than 24 hours later, I'm singing a different tune.
After Friday's press conference in Cleveland, I'm much more optimistic that Chudzinski (more affectionately known as "Chud") might be a good man to lead this team.
"We're going to win here," Chudzinski said.
And while all new coaches come in with that "winning" attitude, it's different with Chud. Most coaches have come in without really knowing much about the Browns before they were hired. Not so with Chud.
"It's a dream come true and almost unbelievable," Chudzinski said.
Now 44, Chud grew up in Toledo and has loved the Browns since childhood. He told the story of how he longed to watch a game in the infamous Dawg Pound, would go outside on a snowy, December Sunday and turn the TV towards the window to watch the game.
This isn't about a job for Chudzinski, it's about a life-long passion.
"I will work tirelessly as the head coach of this franchise," he said.
Just hearing the love for this team in his voice made me a believer. But I know passion can only go so far if he doesn't have the success.
"He has played and won at the highest level and had success there," Owner Jimmy Haslem said.
It wasn't until I read Terry Pluto's blog that I truly believed. When it comes to Cleveland sports, I don't trust, or respect, anyone more than Pluto and he thinks this could work.
Pluto, looking purely at the numbers, said Chudzinski's offense in Carolina was much better than anything the Browns put on the field in recent years and would be a great set up for quarterback Brandon Weeden.
Last season Carolina scored 40 more touchdowns than Cleveland and scored 30 or more points five times with the 12th ranked offense in the NFL.
Finally, there are numerous reports that he will bring former Chargers coach and offensive mastermind Norv Turner in as offensive coordinator. If that's true, this hire looks even better.
"Let's hope the reports of hiring veteran Norv Turner as offensive coordinator are true," Pluto wrote Thursday. "Turner has been a head coach, has a strong relationship with Chudzinski and that should help the rookie coach."
I'll admit it. At first I couldn't believe this hire and was annoyed. But now, I see what Haslem and CEO Joe Banner saw.
Chudzinski said when he walked off the field for the Browns in 2008, he knew he'd be back.
I hope Chud walks off the field in Cleveland for the last time on his own terms, a winner and on top.