Reportedly, Chudzinski is out after just one season with the team, per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. So much for hiring a leader who can lead the Browns to sustained success.
Rob Chudzinski will be fired by the #Browns, per league sources.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) December 29, 2013
The speculation began about an hour before the Browns kicked off their season finale in Pittsburgh. Mortensen and many other reporters tweeted about the possibility of Chudzinski not making it to his second season in Cleveland.
About midway through the third quarter, the Browns released a statement, via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, to all of their media members saying, "Our focus is on the game today. We will not discuss any evaluation of the season until this upcoming week."
What was glaringly obvious in the statement was that they did not address the future of Chudzinski. That’s never a good sign.
Now, despite reports to the contrary, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora and Florio are reporting that Chudzinski has not been fired yet, but it doesn’t look good.
Rob Chudzinski has not been fired, according to sources. Changes to the organization could be made early this week however...— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) December 29, 2013
So, heading into an offseason in which the Browns will most likely be looking to select a franchise quarterback at the top of the draft for the first time since 1999, everything is up in the air.
This was supposed to be the regime that would bring stability, respect and sustained success to Cleveland. This was supposed to be the regime that would stop the revolving door at quarterback and head coach.
Instead, the Browns used three quarterbacks in 2013 and may jettison their hand-picked rookie leader after just 16 games.
There is certainly a case to be made for firing Chudzinski, however. His team did finished the season losing seven straight games and 10 of their last 11.
They finished 27th in the NFL in points per game and 23rd in the NFL in points allowed per game. He also made the glaring mistake of naming Brandon Weeden the starting quarterback out of training camp.
That will be a huge black mark on his resume whether he gets to stay in Cleveland or not. While the front office and the fans will hold that against him, the players all seem to have his back.
After the game, linebacker D’Qwell Jackson told Nate Ulrich of The Akron Beacon Journal that he would defend Chudzinski given the chance.
#Browns LT Joe Thomas said firing Chud would be wrong move, wouldn't be fair & he'd defend Chud if he gets chance to talk to management.— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) December 29, 2013
Once reports leaked of a possible Chudzinski firing, the players lashed out. Mike Silver of NFL.com took to Twitter after the game and relayed texts he was receiving from anonymous Browns players.
One Browns player: "We are so dysfunctional. These billionaires need to pick somebody and stay with them. These aren't girlfriends..."— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) December 29, 2013
Another Browns player: "This organization is a joke."— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) December 29, 2013
All of this paints the perfect picture of the joke the Cleveland Browns have become around the NFL. Not only did they get their doors blown off by their rival in Week 17, but there is also a full night’s worth of turmoil off the field to follow.
The public relations backlash that will ensue, whether the Browns decide to fire Chudzinski or not, is completely self-inflicted. This was the guy they supposedly “hand-picked” last offseason, and now, they are chopping his legs out from under him.
If they fire him then they look like they have no clue what they are doing. If they keep him then everyone will know he has zero job security, and he won't be able to lead the franchise. They just killed his chances at success either way.
The madness has to stop. Despite the fact that only five head coaches have ever been fired after just one season, if the Browns feel he isn’t the guy, then just cut ties with him. The one thing they cannot do is let this dangle.
It makes the front office look bad and would be a red flag to possible future head coaching hires and free-agent signings. The indecision is what is killing them, not the decision.
Instead of acting with a heavy hand and cleaning this matter up, however, they will let it linger until Monday morning when they decide Chudzinksi’s fate. But no matter which way they decide to go, the damage to the organization has already been done.