Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Rob Chudzinski was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio where he grew up a fan of the Cleveland Browns.
Now he’s in charge of trying to lead his childhood team back to the glory days he used to celebrate in his youth.
“I am excited about this opportunity,” Chudzinski said. “I’m excited about the chance to bring back what I grew up in and the feeling that this city, this region, this area have in the Cleveland Browns. I was the kid that was in the backyard playing, pretending I was Ozzie Newsome or Brian Sipe or the greats that played for Cleveland. The tradition of this franchise is such that the people here want a winner, and I’m here.
“I would not miss this for the world – the opportunity to come back and bring a winner back to Cleveland.”
For the third time in 5 years, the Browns introduced their hope to turn the woebegone franchise around on the field – Chudzinski.
He’s the 6th coach hired since 1999 and the 14th overall in franchise history.
“For me, personally, it’s the best job,” Chudzinski said. “There have been other head coaching jobs I’ve seen or potentially had the opportunities for, but this is the one that’s special to me. I can’t say enough about how excited I am to be here. The emotions are running wild. I can’t wait to get started.”
Owner Jimmy Haslam said that the team interviewed “9 or 10″ coaches before settling on Chudzinski. CEO Joe Banner confirmed that 4 or 5 received a second interview.
“I believe we came back with the best coach to lead the Cleveland Browns,” Haslam said.
The hire of Chudzinski, who did not meet with any other teams, moved quickly.
He was contacted Tuesday, interviewed Wednesday and Thursday evening Banner and Haslam flew to Charlotte to offer him the job.
“We sat here 11 days ago despite what a lot of people in the room said, that we did not have a clearcut choice, Haslam said. “We did not have a clearcut favorite. We knew in our minds, these were the characteristics that we wanted. I feel very confident we’ve got the right guy.”
The question remains – can Chudzinski do what has been the impossible for his 5 predecessors since 1999 do – and win?
“We’re going to be an attacking offense, attacking defense and we’re going to play that way, that style, great effort and great finish,” Chudzinski said. “On both sides of the ball we’re going to build on a foundation of fundamentals and technique. We’re going to give these guys great coaches. We’re going to give them the tools they can utilize to win games. We’re going to focus on innovation. We’re going to focus on giving them the best possible schemes and pushing the envelope on those things and putting them in the best possible position to win and be successful. We’re going to focus on critical situations in games. We’re talking third down. We’re talking about red zone two-minute, four-minute because those things are the things games come down to.”
Unfortunately for fans, that remains nothing more than a dream that Chudzinski will now try to turn into reality.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself,” Chudzinski said. “This opportunity is the opportunity of a lifetime.”
And he’ll get it close to home which was news to Haslam when they first sat down with him Wednesday.
“I was not even aware of it,” Haslam said. “I’ll be honest, to me, that’s a nice to, not a have to.
“It’s a great story, but if Rob had been from Plano, Texas, we’d have hired him.”
If Chudzinski can finally turn this thing around that’ll make for an even better story.