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December 30, 2013 - Mike McLain
CLEVELAND -- Browns owner James Haslam and CEO Joe Banner addressed the media for 30 minutes Monday morning to put their best spin on the firing of coach Rob Chudzinski.
The theme was that the team regressed in the second half of the season. The front office didn't believe that Chudzinski, who was hired last January, possesses the necessary talents to take the Browns where Haslam and Banner envision they should be in the future.
"If you look at Joe's career in Philadelphia and you look at how we run our business, it's not like we're ones to make personnel decisions frequently," Haslam said. "We understand the importance of continuity.
"We also understand the importance of getting it right. There will be a lot of people that will say we should have given this staff a second chance, and that's very fair and valid. In our estimation is was best to make a change and try to get it right and move forward and give the fans the kind of winner they deserve. Nothing galls me more than to read on Monday mornings: 'The same old Browns.' "
Haslam and Banner knew they would take a lot of criticism from the media and fans. Banner disagreed with the premise that there wasn't enough talent in place for Chudzinski to do much better than 4-12. Injuries, especially at quarterback, also had a major impact on the fall from grace after a 3-2 start.
The two are confident they can attract a quality coach in light of the fact they just fired a coach after only one season on the job. Haslam said he's been told several times since assuming ownership that he's fortunate to own such a storied franchise, putting it in the class of the Packers and Steelers.
Banner said that current assistant coaches haven't been ruled out of the coaching search, which means defensive coordinator Ray Horton might be on the list. Since the plan is to pair an offensive-minded coach with a rookie quarterback, it's doubtful Horton would be the man.
Banner also indicated that none of the coaches interviewed last year in the search for Pat Shurmur's replacement won't be interviewed again. That would rule out Penn state coach Bill O'Brien, who's rumored to be closing in on a deal to coach the Houston Texans.
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