Turned off by Chip Kelly, reminded again that Nick Saban has no interest in the NFL, beaten to the punch by the Buffalo Bills...it's hard to tell what letter the Cleveland Browns are on in their succession of head coaching search plans, but we know it's well beyond at least A, B and C.
So what's next? Where do the Browns turn if they want to find the perfect, long-lasting, all-in head coach of their dreams?
With the Gruden brothers, Jon and Jay, apparently having no interest in coming to Cleveland, former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith's whirlwind tour of NFL teams having no stops in Berea as of yet and Ken Whisenhunt's and Ray Horton's visits to the Browns yielding no particular results, the Browns' best choice may just be Marc Trestman—he of the two-time Grey Cup-winning CFL Montreal Alouettes, the coach of the once-regarded too-old-to-quarterback quarterback Anthony Calvillo.
Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer reported on Tuesday that the Browns and Trestman were meeting at team headquarters. Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is also in the mix. Both are offensive-minded coaches who have helped develop quarterbacks throughout the course of their careers, and they pose perhaps the last good opportunities for Cleveland to get a head coach who gives them a chance at long-term success.
Though Arians may be the more-coveted name of the two—considering how well he did working with Ben Roethlisberger as the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive coordinator, and this past season as coordinator and interim head coach for the Colts—Trestman is mighty intriguing in his own right.
Beyond his CFL experience, Trestman has also many years as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in the NFL. He performed those duties for the Oakland Raiders, helping them to a Super Bowl appearance, as well as for the Cleveland Browns, who went to the AFC Championship Game in 1989 with him steering their offense.
In 17 seasons, he's worked with eight NFL teams, and his quarterbacks resume includes Steve Young, Jake Plummer, Bernie Kosar, Scott Mitchell and Rich Gannon. He's also worked with two current NFL rookie quarterbacks—Brock Osweiler of the Denver Broncos, and, yes, the Browns very own Brandon Weeden.
Trestman's relative familiarity with Weeden, as well as his time with the Alouettes coaching the now-40-year-old Calvillo, makes a convincing case for his ability to turn around Cleveland's offense. Trestman's never had a losing record with the Alouettes.
The only problem with both Arians and Trestman is that both names are pretty hot at the moment when it comes to coaching vacancies around the league. At this point, just two of the seven total openings have been filled, with prized head-coaching positions with the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles—teams that have at least put up winning records in recent memory—up for grabs alongside the Browns job.
Therefore, the holding pattern owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner are currently in regarding their search cannot stay that way for long. They'll need to make a move soon and make a real offer to one of these candidates, lest they find themselves again as they did with Doug Marrone, their ideal hire taken away by another team.
It's not to say the Browns need to rush into a situation that ends up being the wrong one, or that they are or need to be desperate. However, as much as the Browns would prefer that this search move at their own pace, the abnormally high number of head coaching vacancies requires a greater sense of urgency on management's part.
Trestman, Arians, Whisenhunt, Horton, etc.—once the Browns like someone enough to make them an offer, there needs to be less time spent waiting and thinking between the interview and that decision.
After all, once the head coaching situation is figured out, there are still other important decisions to be made. The fates of the coordinators and other assistants have yet to be sealed; the general manager still needs to be hired, and free agency isn't all that far off when you're rebuilding the coaching staff and front office.
Time is of the essence, and the result may not be as pretty as hoped for if the Browns don't have their head coaching situation close to sorted by week's end.
No pressure or anything.