Chud finding what it’s like in Cleveland
All Rob Chudzinski needed to do was ask. There were a few people who would have stepped forward to warn him of the risk he was about to undertake.
Chris Palmer might have been the first to give Chudzinski a call. Butch Davis might still be too bitter about his problems in Cleveland, but Romeo Crennel is a congenial guy willing to help out his fellow man.
Eric Mangini? Probably not. Ditto Pat Shurmur, who’s still sorting out people he liked and disliked during his two years in town.
Each of the aforementioned, other than Chudzinski, held what can be termed one of the worst jobs in Cleveland – coaching the Browns. No tools of heavy labor are required. You can dig your own grave quite well enough without the help of a shovel.
Chudzinski is two games into his first season as coach, but you can already see signs of bewilderment. That tends to happen when the offense you’re counting on to show signs of improvement has scored one touchdown in eight quarters.
Palmer, who was first in line when the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999 as an expansion franchise, can probably best relate to Chudzinski. Like Chudzinski, Palmer had a promising quarterback in Tim Couch, but he didn’t have a good offensive line or a steady group of receivers.
There was plenty of hope about the line in ’99 with starting tackles Lomas Brown and Orlando Brown, guards Jim Pyne and Scott Rehburg and center Dave Wohlabaugh. That promise quickly gave way to desperation each time Couch was sacked or seen running for his life.
Couch eventually drifted away from the NFL, the victim of a bum right shoulder. Such was life for the first overall pick in the 1999 draft and the supposed leader of a new generation of Browns football.
Palmer was gone after the 2000 season, carrying with him a rightful claim that he wasn’t given a fair chance. It’s kind of like what Chudzinski might be thinking today as he begins practices for Sunday’s road test against the Minnesota Vikings.
Yeah, there are so many similarities to 1999. Is there really a big difference between the ’99 offensive line and this year’s starting cast of tackles Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz, guards Oniel Cousins and John Greco and center Alex Mack? The quick answer is about seven Pro Bowls (six by Thomas), but to the naked eye there’s not much that distinguishes the two lines.
Couch and Brandon Weeden? Can you tell the difference between the two quarterbacks?
Palmer could have told Chudzinski what he was about to get involved with when he signed his contract. In a capsule, Palmer could have said, “Great pay; good benefits; some travel; lousy job satisfaction.”
As of now Chudzinski is in full “I’ll-have-to-look-at-the-tape” mode. It’s his way of evoking the Fifth Amendment when asked about troubling issues he doesn’t want to detail.
Palmer often said, “I don’t know that.” Davis said whatever came to his mind, which was usually comical. (He once referred to the “injury du jour of the week”). Crennel responded with “sure” to many questions. Mangini mumbled something inaudible and Shurmur just looked mad.
I’m telling you, the job can get to a guy, as Chudzinski is starting to discover.