Why did the Cleveland Browns fire Rob Chudzinski?

rod-chudzinskiMost new NFL head coaches are given 2-3 years before an organization makes a decision on their job status. This being said, it was extremely puzzling when the Cleveland Browns decided to fire Rob Chudzinkski after just one season.

Chudzinski had just completed the first year of a four-year contract when he received news of the firing. So why was the former Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator dumped after his lone season in Cleveland? Well there’s the organization’s stated reason, and also the reasons why many insiders thought Chud was axed. Let’s look at the team’s media statement first:

We needed to see progress with this football team. We needed to see development and improvement as the season evolved and, unfortunately, we took a concerning step backward in the second half of the year. Our fans deserve to see a consistently competitive team. We have high standards, and there’s an urgency for success. When we believed we were not positioned to achieve significant progress in 2014, we knew we had to admit that a change was needed, and move forward.

After hearing this statement and looking at the Browns’ record over the past 11 games, there are some glaringly obvious reasons why Chud was fired. They began the year with some promise after starting off 3-2. However, they won just one out of their last 11 contests, including a seven-game losing streak to close out the season.

rob-chudzinskiThere were two weeks in a row that were particularly telling of this season, where the Browns lost to Jacksonville at home, then blew a 12-point lead against New England with three minutes left. Couple this with losses to the Bears, Jets and Steelers to close out the year, and you can definitely see how this year ended on a sour note.

Beyond the losing, the front office felt that Chudzinski’s players showed a lack of accountability and effort as the season wore on. They especially felt that Brandon Weeden and Greg Little weren’t held accountable for their poor play. One prevalent thought was that as the coaching staff spent more time with the players, the worse they were getting.

Another point worth making here is how the Browns organization sees a couple of talented coaches that they like. Penn State’s Bill O’Brien and New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels are rumored to be at the top of Cleveland’s list. Given Chud’s perceived shortcomings as the Browns coach, it seems like a perfect time for this team to chase another top-notch coaching prospect.

Of course, Chud didn’t leave this job without some public outcry – most notable from many of his players. D’Qwell Jackson was really critical of the move as he said, “After the Trent Richardson trade and our quarterback injuries, I thought for sure he’d get a pass. Not one year. Come on. One year? There’s no way. Chud was good for us, good for the team. He came in and did everything right, I thought.”

As Jackson referred to, the team lost Weeden to injury for an extended time period while Brian Hoyer suffered a season-ending knee injury. Plus the team traded Richardson just two games into the season and never truly replaced him with a decent starting running back. But despite all of this, management apparently felt that their team was talented enough to win more than four games.

What will the New England Patriots do with Tim Tebow?

tim-tebowJust last month, reports surfaced that New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick “hates” Tim Tebow as a player. Given all of the unwarranted animosity towards Tebow by the rest of the NFL, it didn’t seem like a far-fetched story.

But just days ago, Belichick came out and said that the reports of him hating Tebow’s game were completely false. “I wouldn’t get into the probability of us pursuing any free agent. Every single player has strengths and weaknesses but regardless of that, for anyone to have represented that is the way I feel about Tim Tebow is completely untrue, baseless and irresponsible,” Belichick told ESPN. “It is unfortunate that something so inaccurate was reported.”

Perhaps this statement foreshadowed what was later to come as Belichick and the Patriots signed Tebow to a deal. This is a very interesting move, given that some people wondered if any NFL teams would even want the former New York Jets backup quarterback.

tim-tebow-1The Patriots current offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, probably had a lot to do with convincing the New England organization to sign Tebow. After all, McDaniels got Denver to draft the Florida product in the first round. And now that the Patriots have Tebow, the question is what they’ll do with him.

Last year, the Jets claimed that they were going to use number 15 quite a bit in Wildcat packages. But in reality, he rarely saw the field and generated just 75 passing yards and 102 rushing yards throughout 2012. Given what happened in New York, the Patriots aren’t making any guarantees about Tebow’s playing time or role with the team.

Belichick said, “Tim is a talented player, is smart and works hard. We’ll see how it goes.” When asked about what position he’ll play, Belichick added, “We will see.”

One thing that has been revealed about Tebow is how he’s been signed as a quarterback. He’ll compete with Ryan Mallett and any free agent(s) the Patriots bring in for the two backup spots behind Tom Brady. New England cut third-string QB Mike Kafka on Monday, thus giving Tim a better opportunity to make the roster.

Divisional Playoffs - Denver Broncos v New England PatriotsAssuming he makes it, Tebow won’t have to worry about the pressure of fans calling for him to start like in New York. Brady is arguably the NFL’s best quarterback and is completely solid in his role. This is a different story from the Jets’ Mark Sanchez, whose shaky play caused a controversy when some fans thought that Tebow should start.

Since he obviously won’t be starting, some people think that the former Broncos and Jets QB was brought in to handle short yardage duties. However, it’s worth mentioning that Brady has the best QB sneak percentage on both third-and-short and fourth-and-short situations since 2006. He’s converted 97.8% of his attempts, which is far higher than second place David Garrard (91.7%), who retired this offseason.

Another thought is that, given the Patriots’ injuries to the tight end position last year, they could use Tebow here. Sure he has nothing on Aaron Hernandez or Rob Gronkowski because they’re two of the NFL’s top tight ends, But if they were to miss significant time again, some believe that Tebow could step in and provide help.

Belichick isn’t entirely above doing this since he’s used wide receivers Troy Brown, Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater as defensive backs. But making the switch from backup quarterback to tight end is a little more of a leap, and Tebow may not be quite as good as somebody who’s trained for this position their whole life.

In the end, signing Tebow seems like more of a development move than anything. Belichick and McDaniels are great at taking projects and shaping them into usable on-field talent. Tim Tebow is still young enough to where he could be groomed and take over for Brady – or at least be trade bait – if his throwing mechanics significantly improve. And if this doesn’t work out, well then, the Patriots can simply cut their losses like they did with Chad Johnson and Albert Haynsworth.

Tim Tebow hated by Belichick, Rest of NFL

tim-tebowIn theory, Tim Tebow embodies what the stereotypical pro athlete/role model is supposed to be: hard-working, selfless, team-oriented and a proven winner. Nevertheless, this rare combination has earned Tebow nothing but disrespect and contempt from the majority of the NFL.

Terrell Suggs called him “terrible.” Kordell Stewart said Tebow playing QB is a “slap in the face” to other great quarterbacks. Most recently, Bill Belicheck said he “hates” Tebow as a player. Even his own teammates turned on him as anonymous Jets players completely ripped number 15.

tim-tebow-1The borderline hatred that this collection of high-profile NFL names have spewed generally reflects what the entire league thinks of Tebow. Players, coaches and the media despise the constant attention he receives and feel as if his mere presence on an NFL roster cheapens the profession. Furthermore, they can’t stand the media circus that accompanies Tebow wherever he goes.

So is all of the hate and disrespect warranted? The truth is that Tebow has never really done anything wrong from a moral standpoint. But his peers have tired of the clean-shaven, straight-laced, Captain America persona he emits. Furthermore, they can’t stand his cult-like following or how he practically rubs religion in the world’s face. But above all, it’s Tebow’s awkward, unconventional style and awful throwing mechanics that has the talking heads bashing his every move.

tim-tebow-2In the eyes of media members and coaches, there’s nothing more wrong than Tim Tebow throwing a football. His accuracy is bad, the delivery is off, and he can’t find anybody downfield. But through it all, Tebow has found success…when he’s actually seen the field.

After the Denver Broncos defied logic by taking Tebow in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the devout Christian responded by throwing for 654 yards, 5 TD’s, 3 INT’s, and rushing for 227 yards and another 6 TD’s in three starts.

The following season was even better as he took over a 1-4 team and led them to the playoffs. During this dream run, Tebow passed for 1,729 yards, 12 TD’s, 6 INT’s, and ran for 660 yards and 6 TD’s. Perhaps more important than all of this is that he actually led Denver to a playoff victory – something which even Peyton Manning didn’t do.

tim-tebow-3The only time that Tebow didn’t manufacture wins was in New York, where he warmed the bench for Mark Sanchez. For all of the hype surrounding Tebow entering 2012, he produced a measly 75 passing yards, 102 rushing yards and zero touchdowns.

Many fans called for Tebow to see the field after Sanchez struggled mightily in a season that saw him produce 13 TD’s, 18 INT’s, 14 fumbles and a 54.3% completion rate. But when it came time to replace the inconsistent Sanchez, it was seventh round draft pick Greg McElroy calling the signals – not Tebow.

After the failed experiment in New York, Tim Tebow is a free agent looking for his next home. However, the question is, who will give him another shot?

Much of the league seems to be anti-Tebow, so his available choices are quite limited. With Belichick not a fan of his play, perhaps the San Francisco 49ers or Jacksonville Jaguars could be potential stops for Tebow. The Niners are a good option because they already have an unquestioned starter in Colin Kaepernick – unlike the Jets with Sanchez – and Tebow wouldn’t come in with any expectations.

In Jacksonville, Tebow could even see significant playing time because the Jags have no clear starting QB. Plus this is right in his backyard, near where he starred with the Florida Gators.

Whatever the case may be, it’ll be interesting to see what NFL team, if any, decides to take on the Tim Tebow experiment.