Cleveland back to the drawing board

Cleveland Browns owner James Haslam is learning that money can’t buy everything in the NFL.

Haslam was able to purchase a franchise for the price of $1 billion, but his money wasn’t enough to persuade Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly to take the dive into the NFL.

According to several reports, the Browns pulled out of the Kelly sweepstakes Sunday after deciding that he didn’t show enough interest in the job. Kelly was then left with two options – accept the Philadelphia Eagles’ coaching offer or return to Oregon.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported late Sunday that Kelly would return to Oregon. It marks the second time in as many years that Kelly has returned to college after being tempted by NFL riches.

The pursuit of Kelly has heated up the twitter world. Rumors from league sources had Kelly and the Browns likely to agree to a deal after the two sides met for five hours last Friday. Then, before the Browns could meet with Kelly again Saturday to finalize a contract, the Eagles stepped in and had serious talks with Kelly that lasted a reported nine hours.

Why Haslam and Browns CEO Joe Banner didn’t back away from Kelly after their meeting Friday makes you wonder if they called off the marriage or were they jilted at the altar by Kelly, who may have had issues regarding the opportunity.

At the press conference last Monday to announce the firings of coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert, Banner stated his belief that the coaching opening would be attractive to any prospective candidate.

“We don’t believe there’s going to be any job in the league that’s going to become available that can tell a better story about why you want to come to this particular team and this particular city to take a job,” Banner said. “We’re going into this extremely confident that we can go after the top people available and have a good chance to be successful and convincing them this is the right situation.”

Banner didn’t mention the fact that the Browns don’t have a quarterback on the roster capable of running the fast-paced option attack that is an Oregon trademark. It was almost laughable when rumors surfaced stating that Kelly would highlight quarterback Colt McCoy and that Banner told McCoy he’ll be part of the plans going forward.

McCoy isn’t an option quarterback. He’s more of a traditional dropback thrower, and a shaky one at best. The Browns would be best served by moving McCoy in the offseason.

The Browns are now left in a precarious spot. They can’t wait until after the season to pursue a coach on a Super Bowl team Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy comes to mind. If they were unsuccessful in landing Mike McCoy, it would be early February and most of the top assistant coaches would be off the market.

The Browns have to go to option two as soon as possible. Likely candidates could be former NFL head coaches Lovie Smith (Chicago) and Ken Whisenhunt (Arizona), both of whom took teams to the Super Bowl. In addition to McCoy, possible assistant coaches include Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. One report has the Browns interested in Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman, a respected offensive-oriented coach that spent one season as Bernie Kosar’s coordinator with the Browns in 1989.

If none of those work out, Haslam could always offer his Pilot Flying J kingdom to Nick Saban.