Since the Cleveland Browns‘ reincarnation in 1999, the franchise cycled through 29 different quarterbacks before naming Baker Mayfield the starter.
One fan has a jersey listing all of those quarterbacks, beginning with former No. 1 overall draft pick, Tim Couch. It goes through Doug Pederson, the Super Bowl-winning head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles (no. 3), Brady Quinn (no. 11), Johnny Manziel (no. 21), Robert Griffin III (no. 25) and this year’s starter on opening day, Tyrod Taylor (no. 29).
Hell, you can even buy a t-shirt with this list on ebay.
However, what’s probably a better barometer for the Browns’ ineptitude since resurfacing, is the number of head coaches they’ve gone through. Including interim head coaches, Gregg Williams–he of Bountygate fame, recently promoted from defensive coordinator after Hue Jackon’s firing–is number 10.
Preceding Williams and Jackson were the likes of a national title winning college head coach (Butch Davis, no. 2), two former New England Patriots defensive coordinators (Romeo Crennel, no. 4; Eric Mangini, no. 5), and a one-year blunder (Rob Chudzinski, no. 7).
Of the previous nine coaches, Crennel lasted the longest (four years, three last place finishes), and only Davis led them to the playoffs (a 36-33 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2002).
Speaking of the Steelers: that franchise has had only three head coaches since the start of 1969.
It won’t be Williams who leads the Browns, currently 2-5-1, back to the playoffs. Instead, that will be whomever general manager John Dorsey and owner Jimmy Haslam III choose (well, convince) next. And despite the Browns’ recent woes (3-36-1 under Jackson, hired in 2016), this is a job coaches should want.
Mayfield may very well be the elusive answer at quarterback. The team also has one of the best young pass-rushers in the league in Myles Garrett, the No. 1 pick in 2017. Rooking running back Nick Chubb has shown glimpses of something special, while the team was able to trade for, and then sign long-term, wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Plus, 2018 No. 4 pick Denzel Ward, a cornerback, looks solid.
What’s more, the team has 11 draft picks in the 2019 NFL Draft to go along with more than $80 million in cap space. This team has the means for a badly needed makeover. They now have a head start on every other crumby team looking for a new head coach for the 2019 season. (coughJetscoughBucscough)
Here, I’m going to look at 10 coaches who could be the next head coach of the Browns, in no particular order, the Browns should target to be coach No. 11. There three NFL offensive coordinators, three NFL defensive coordinators, an NFL special teams coordinator and three college head coaches. Three of these guys have coached an NFL team in the past, while it would be a first professional head coaching gig for the other seven.
Coaches I’m not including are Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley, who said yesterday he wouldn’t be up for a jump to the pros–yet; Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, who, for some odd reason (because he was born in Ohio?) has the best betting odds on taking the job; or Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who can’t keep his word. So let’s take a look at some possible candidates to be the next head coach of the Browns.
John DeFilippo, Minnesota Vikings Offensive Coordinator
DeFilippo, 40, is in his first year as offensive coordinator for the Vikings after spending the previous two years as the quarterbacks coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. There, he helped transition Carson Wentz from a Division II star to a potential NFL MVP while also getting the most out of journeyman Nick Foles. He ended up winning Super Bowl MVP.
This year, despite the team’s struggles, the Vikings new starting quarterback, Kirk Cousins, is putting up solid numbers while wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs look like one of the NFL’s best tandems. That should be enough for him to considered as the next head coach of the Browns.
Pete Carmichael Jr., New Orleans Saints Offensive Coordinator
Carmichael broke into the NFL coaching ranks in 2000 as the tight ends coach for the Cleveland Browns. He’s been with the Saints since 2006, serving as the team’s offensive coordinator since 2009. Having worked with offensive guru Sean Payton and Drew Brees, Carmichael knows what it takes to be a successful head coach. He also knows what it takes for a quarterback to succeed in the NFL.
He and Mayfield could be a winning duo in Cleveland for years to come.
Jim Bob Cooter, Detroit Lions Offensive Coordinator
If not for his name alone, Cooter should be considered as the next head coach of the Browns based on his turning the Lions’ offense into a balanced unit. He doesn’t just rely on the cannon of Matthew Stafford; he’s built a solid running scheme around rookie running back Kerryon Johnson.
He’ll be a head coach one of these days. He would certainly be able to use the current offensive weapons collected in Cleveland if he became head coach of the Browns.
Teryl Austin, Cincinnati Bengals Defensive Coordinator
Cooter’s former colleague with the Lions, where he was the defensive coordinator from 2014-2017, Austin has mostly solidified a unit that dropped the Bengals to records of 6-9-1 and 7-9 the past two seasons. He still has a lot of work to do this year, but at 4-3, he has the Bengals in the thick of it.
If he can help Cincinnati reach the playoffs for the first time since 2015 after helping guide the Lions to the playoffs and three winning records in four seasons, then Austin should finally be able to land himself a head coaching gig. Watch for him to be a contender for head coach of the Browns if that happens.
Jim Schwartz, Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Coordinator
The first retread of the list, Schwartz is five years removed from his five-year gig as head coach of the Lions. With Detroit from 2009-2013, he went 29-51 while leading them to the playoffs in 2011.
So why would he get another chance? Well, for one thing, retread coaches are sort of a thing in the NFL more than other sports. It seems owners tend toward a known commodity, even if said commodity mostly failed.
On the other hand, Schwartz, who has been the defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills and Eagles since leaving Detroit, has led two top-four units and helped the Eagles secure their Super Bowl victory last season.
If Schwartz were to become head coach of the Browns, he’d be smart to team up with an offensive coordinator who will know how to utilize Mayfield.
George Edwards, Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator
The Vikings defensive coordinator since 2014, Edwards is a long-time NFL coach, breaking in with the Dallas Cowboys in 1998 and even coaching the linebackers for the Browns for one year in 2004. His stint with the Vikings is his third go-around as defensive coordinator, having previously held the same position with Washington in 2003 and with the Bills in 2010-2011.
But his most recent units have been his best: the Vikings were ranked the no. 3 defense in 2016 and no. 1 defense in 2017. This year, the team’s dropped to no. 10, but still–that’s a top-10 unit!
With offensive pieces mostly in place in Cleveland, it would behoove them to consider Edwards, who could get even more out of Garrett, Ward and future defensive pieces added in the draft or through free agency. As head coach of the Browns, Edwards could really turn this defense around.
Dave Toub, Kansas City Chiefs Special Teams Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach
Before jumping to the pros in 2001, Toub worked for the University of Missouri from 1989-2000. First he was the team’s strength and conditioning coach, then as the team’s defensive line coach. He was later the Chicago Bears special teams coordinator for eight years before landing with the Chiefs in 2013.
On at least two previous occasions, Toub has interviewed for head coaching positions: with the Miami Dolphins before 2012 and with the Bears before 2013.
Plus, he worked for Browns general manager John Dorsey in Kansas City. That may be a handy connection after the season. It’s a connection that might get him the job as head coach of the Browns.
Kevin Sumlin, Arizona Wildcats Head Coach
Sumlin landed with Arizona after flaming out under the crazy-high expectations at Texas A&M. It didn’t help he hasn’t done nearly as well after Johnny Manziel left College Station. But it’s always seemed that Sumlin would be destined for the NFL.
This would definitely be an out-of-the-box hire, but think about it. He wouldn’t be challenging Dorsey for power, which may be what he’s looking for in the next head coach of the Browns. He’d also get to work with a quarterback with skills very similar to Manziel’s.
If Doug Marrone (25-25 at Syracuse) has worked, why not Sumlin?
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan Wolverines Head Coach
- University of San Diego, 2004-2006
- Stanford, 2007-2010
- San Francisco 49ers, 2011-2014
- Michigan, 2014-Present
Yep, Harbaugh’s shelf-life everywhere he goes is three to four seasons. Well, this is his fourth season with the Wolverines, and I don’t see them winning the national championship. Is he getting the itch to jump back to the pros?
If so, he need look no further than the team that nearly traded for him before 2014.
The Browns are in a much better shape than they were then. Harbaugh would have something that has eluded him during his tenure in Ann Arbor: a franchise quarterback.
Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide Head Coach
I’ve always thought Saban would someday jump back to the NFL and that he was just waiting for the perfect situation. What’s more perfect than a desperate franchise with a budding quarterback, a ton of draft picks and a boatload of cap space?
And it would be a reunion, too, as Saban was Cleveland’s defensive coordinator from 1991-1994.
Much like Harbaugh, Saban probably has the itch to get back in the NFL. His lone stint as a head coach in the pros came in 2005 and 2006 with the Dolphins. Those teams went 9-7 and 6-10, respectively. They had the likes of Gus Frerotte, Daunte Culpepper and Joey Harrington at quarterback. (Saban evidently wanted to sign Drew Brees, but was vetoed by the team’s doctors.)
And while Saban’s been with Alabama since 2007, he used to jump around jobs. He coached both Michigan State and LSU for five seasons each. Plus, he’s talked to other teams, including the Texas Longhorns and New York Giants, during his Tuscaloosa stay.
Were Haslam to offer an absorbent amount of money to the GOAT of college football coaches, would he come? To get Saban, it may cost more than money. It may cost power. And if it’s power that will do the trick, then Haslam will have to decide between keeping his latest general manager or hiring a coach with six collegiate national championships.