When the Cleveland Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, Michael Stanley and the Cleveland Browns All-Star Band published a song called “Here We Go Again” to celebrate the Cleveland Browns history, tradition and rebirth to the NFL.
That motto has stuck around this Browns organization for the last twenty years but not for good reasons.
After losing to the Cincinnati Bengals in the season finale, the Browns fired head coach Freddie Kitchens after going 6-10 in one season with the team.
While this list is not all-inclusive, these are potential head coaches that Jimmy and Dee Haslam and John Dorsey should interview.
Here we go… again.
Mike McCarthy will probably be the most talked about in Cleveland as a potential successor to Freddie Kitchens. Barring any changes to the front office, McCarthy and his ties to Dorsey make him the favorite for the position.
McCarthy, since being fired from Green Bay last season, has been studying the NFL and assembling a coaching staff on his own to prepare for this off-season.
In this week’s Peter King’s Football Morning in America, Peter King featured the different things that Mike McCarthy has been doing differently since his days with the Packers. Among the highlights of the article is McCarthy’s willingness to chance and incorporate things such as analytics, usage of GPS, NFL’s Next Gen Stats and PFF data.
All of this data and planning sounds wonderful but the changes have to translate on the field where he went 23-23-1 with Aaron Rodgers in his last three seasons before being fired. McCarthy emphasized in the article that jet motion, RPOs and tempo are things he is looking to incorporate into his revamped offense.
Kevin Stefanski is no stranger to the Cleveland Browns. Before the Browns hired Freddie Kitchens, they interviewed Stefanski twice and was one of the finalists for the job. After not getting the position, Stefanski returned to Minnesota and remained the offensive coordinator.
This season, the Minnesota Vikings have found great success with the running game with Dalvin Cook leading the way with 1,135 rushing yards and 519 receiving yards. It took awhile for the passing game to get going along with reported requested trades, quarterbacks taking blame, etc. but the passing game ranks 12th in the NFL.
Jason La Canfora reported that the Browns analytics department, headed by Paul DePodesta, recommended to ownership that the Browns should hire Stefanski last season.
While this may be the case, Stefanski has had a similar coaching path to Freddie Kitchens. He became the interim offensive coordinator last year after the Vikings fired John DeFilipo (another former Browns coach). Stefanksi has been with the Vikings organization since 2006 when he was hired by Brad Childress at the age of 24.
Matt Rhule’s name has been popping up around the NFL as a potential head coach for teams like the Browns, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. Rhule had a cup of coffee in the NFL as an assistant offensive line coach for the Giants in 2012. From there he left to coach the Temple Owls and eventually got hired by Baylor at the end of 2016.
Rhule has turned around a Baylor program that was crippled from the rape scandal under former Baylor head coach Art Briles. The Bears have won 11 games this season and are heading to the Sugar Bowl to play Georgia. Because Rhule has turned around two consecutive college programs in Temple and Baylor, many believe that he is a future NFL head coach in the making.
Last off-season, he was reportedly a finalist for the New York Jets head coaching vacancy before it was filled with Adam Gase.
This would be the splash hire.
Every time the Browns head coaching vacancy comes up, which is every other year, Josh McDaniels name surfaces. He was going to be the coach of the Indianapolis Colts before essentially ghosting them and remaining in New England.
Many believe that he has learned a lot from his first head coaching stint with the Denver Broncos and his subsequent return to the Patriots after that. But with what he did to the Colts, it left a bad taste in many general managers’ mouths. However, that will not stop general managers from asking permission from the Patriots to interview him.
While he may be the Patriots head coach in waiting, he has done tremendous work with that offense to keep Tom Brady rolling at the age of 42. The thing that is well apparent on offensive is his creativity, something the Browns have been lacking.
Because he has had experience as a head coach before and has spent so many years under Bill Belichick, McDaniels is primed to be a head coach again. It is just a matter of if it is sooner rather than later.
While hiring Ron Rivera would not be the splash hire like McDaniels would be, Rivera might be exactly what the Cleveland Browns organization needs in terms of leadership on the field.
Rivera was recently fired by the Panthers after spending nine years with the organization.
Rivera coached 140 games for the Panthers that included a 76-63-1 record and one appearance in the Super Bowl in 2015.
He is a clear leader, something the Browns have lacked on the field this season.
Update: It appears that Rivera is the favorite in Washington.
Other Notable Candidates
Urban Meyer – There has been a little buzz about Urban Meyer being the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Urban has been a very successful head coach at the college level but has never coached in the pros. While he has been successful, his health issues have caused him to resign from both Florida and Ohio State.
Jim Caldwell – No one expected the Dolphins to win 5 games this season, especially going into Foxboro and getting a win in week 17. He interviewed with the Browns last year, but like Meyer, has faced health issues over time. As a head coach, he made four playoff appearances with the Colts and Lions.
Eric Bienemy – If Dorsey wanted time to with someone familiar like McCarthy, Bienemy fits that mold. Bienemy has been Andy Reid’s right-hand man in Kansas City and has help the Chiefs and their high-powered offense. But, he has not been a head coach and after the firing of Kitchens, it appears the Browns want an experienced head coach.