And the Browns next head coach is…

It was only really a matter of time before the inevitable happened.  After one win in 32 games, many were surprised that GM John Dorsey chose to keep Hue Jackson on as head coach.  Maybe he didn’t want to rock the boat too much with the upheaval of the rest of the front office. Maybe he was just getting bored with a power struggle between Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley.  Whatever the reason was, after just two wins (which is the Browns best season for a while!), Dorsey (or maybe ownership?) pulled the trigger and got rid of Hue. Now the search is on for who will fill the hot seat. From the outside, it looks like a decent job, the Browns have a lot more talent on their roster than they’ve had for a while and so there may be more candidates willing to put their hat in the ring then there would have been this time last year.  

I’ve seen quite a bit of speculation in the media and from various commentators about who will take the job.  Below I’ve combined media bluster and added in my own thoughts about who might be the Browns next head coach. From my point of view, I think Dorsey will likely go for an offensive minded head coach.  He’s had success in a similar approach when he worked with Andy Reid in Kansas and he’ll have seen the success of the approach with the Rams, Eagles and Bears – all with young quarterbacks.

I’ve left off one name which is being heavily linked with the job – Urban Meyer, head coach at Ohio State.  Ohio have had a slew of talent go in the top rounds of the draft in recent years (2019 will likely be the same) and continue to be a powerhouse in the college game.  But with reported physical and mental health issues, I don’t think the Browns will want to risk it.  However Meyer is a big name in Ohio sports so it wouldn’t be a shock if he were to take over despite confirming he’ll return to Ohio in 2019.

Lincoln Riley – Head Coach at the University of Oklahoma

As Baker Mayfield’s head coach at college, this was a obvious name to put top of the list and is seemingly the current favourite to take the role.  In recent years we’ve seen a few franchises (namely the Rams and the Bears) give their young quarterbacks a big say in the next head coach, and given his success at Oklahoma, including a Heisman Trophy win, one would expect Mayfield to give Riley a nod of approval.  Couple that with the fact that Riley ran an offensive scheme that Mayfield had mastered by the end of his tenure at OU.

It’s a system which has had NFL minds curious as well, Albert Breer reported last summer that there was at least one NFL coach that was an admirer of the Riley system: “When I asked one NFL head coach about OU’s system, he answered, “I like it a lot. His players know what they’re doing, and his plays complement each other. He gets the quarterback lots of easy yards and completions.” Another head coach added, “The way he mixes tempo and attacks people, love it.”

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Eric Bieniemy – Offensive Coordinator at the Kansas City Chiefs

Andy Reid’s coaching tree is impressive anyway but especially recently where former offensive coordinators Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy have gone on to take on head coaching roles.  Bieniemy is the successor to Nagy as offensive coordinator and the Chiefs are scoring at will in 2018 behind a young, relatively inexperienced quarterback. Some will argue that it’s head coach Andy Reid himself who’s the mastermind behind but according Adam Teicher of ESPN, Reid trusts Bieniemy with not only putting the playbook together but also relaying the calls and speaking to Mahomes on the field on game day.  Before being offensive coordinator in Kansas, Bieniemy was the backs coach, a role he also fulfilled in Minnesota where he was famous for coaching Adrian Peterson to “Hall of Fame” heights, later in the same article above, Peterson describes Bieniemy as likely to be a good head coach in the future – not a bad endorsement.  

It may be too early for Bieniemy to take on such a role but Dorsey could be encouraged around Beiniemy’s ability to nurture young talent into stars.

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Zac Taylor – QB Coach at the LA Rams

Taylor might be seen as too young and too inexperienced to take on the role as a head coach in the NFL, but teams should look no further than his current employers, the Rams, as an example of the potential rewards on offer for bringing in such a raw talent.  Before taking over the reins as QB coach, Taylor was the wide receiver coach in LA so has had a grip on this offense from day one of the new regime. He’s credited with helping turn Goff from a potential draft bust into one of the more polished pocket passers in the game.  

If he were to take the role, he’d need to follow his head coach’s example and employ a strong defensive coordinator to lead that side of the ball. Currently listed as one of the favourites for the role by various betting houses, he’s not a name that’s likely to be familiar to a lot of people but could fit the bill nicely with a project like Baker to get behind.

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John DeFelippo – Offensive Coordinator at the Minnesota Vikings

There was some buzz about DeFelippo fulfilling a head coach role before this season after working as QB Coach in Philadelphia and working his magic first with Wentz and then with Foles in their march to the Superbowl.  Instead he moved to Minnesota to take over from where Pat Shurmur left off and so far this season, the Vikings offense hasn’t missed a beat behind DeFelippo and Kirk Cousins.

DeFelippo has extensive NFL experience with stints at the Giants, Raiders, Jets, Browns, Eagles and now Vikings and whilst he grew up in Pennsylvania he’s actually a native of Ohio having been born in Youngstown.  His experience with developing Carson Wentz into an MVP calibre quarterback though will be the thing on his CV that stands out the most to Dorsey who will be looking for Mayfield to develop to a similar standard.

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Dave Toub – Special Teams Coordinator & Assistant Head Coach at the Kansas City Chiefs

Another link to the Chiefs with is due primarily to GM John Dorsey.  Toub has been touted for a head coach role for a number of years. He was turned down by both the Chargers and the Broncos for younger options – his age (56) being something which could go against him this time around due to the NFLs obsession with younger coaches.  However, Dorsey is more of an ‘old school’ GM and will look favourably on his old employee who has helped turned the Chiefs specials teams units into one of better ones in the NFL. As per Beiniemy though, he’s also got the experience of working under one of the best head coaches in Andy Reid.  

As a special teams coach, he’s well placed to work with all manners of talent on the roster and get them ready for the week ahead. With the right coaching staff in place under him he could be a viable bet should the Browns want to zag when the rest of the NFL is zigging.

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