The news of Rob Chudzinski being hired as the Browns head coach is great news. He has an offensive system that fits what the Browns talent does (imagine that) and has a good reputation with working with young quarterbacks.
In 2007, the Browns had a Top 10 offense with Derek Anderson, Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow, Joe Jurevicious, and the last great year of Jamal Lewis. Anderson, Edwards, and Winslow had career years and along with Joe Thomas, went to the Pro Bowl. The offensive line that year was the best since the Browns came back in '99. The '08 season did not go as well and the staff was fired. Chudzinski then reemerged as the Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator the past two years and helped them to putting together two effective offenses. Cam Newton had a tremendous rookie year and although he a slump early in his sophomore campaign, he and the offense rallied in a big way at the end of the year.
The Browns now have Brandon Weeden, who is in a similar mold as Derek Anderson, though hopefully with better results. Josh Gordon had a great rookie year considering the expectations for him coming in. Greg Little can be that Joe Jurevicious type guy but has potential to be better. And all of it will be based around a good offensive line and Trent Richardson as opposed to Jamal Lewis.
Then, on top of that, he is bringing in arguably the best offensive coordinator in the NFL in Norv Turner, who also has had tremendous success with this type of talent set up, similar to his days in Dallas.
Offensively, the Browns players should be thrilled. You would probably have to go back to Lindy Infante to have this organization in such good hands on the offensive side of the ball on paper.
The headache I woke up with this morning was the realization the Browns were going back to 3-4.
I have a laundry list of worries with this team in the 3-4, especially if the Browns are planning on going to a 2-gap system. I am guessing Chud woud bring in the San Diego 3-4 scheme as this would be the scheme he'd have the most familiarity with, so it would not be surprising if a former Chargers defensive assistant is brought in to run it. There is also a guy who Chud is familiar with from his days with the Browns his last time around that was just fired, who I do not want to see brought back in Rob Ryan, though his 1-gap system is far more palatable than a 2-gap would be.
Here is my list of concerns for transitioning back to the 3-4
1. D'Qwell Jackson - Not only has he had his 2 best seasons as a Brown the last 2 years, but the Browns paid him a bunch of money to be the leader of the defense. If he is not able to flow around at the second level of the defense and is forced to take on and shed blocks, he will not be the player he should be.
2. Phil Taylor - Physically, he has everything to be a 2-gap nose tackle, but his effort is still inconsistent. I am slightly concerned about his motivation to eat up blocks and not make the highlight plays where he lights up. I also worry he could be like Shaun Rogers was where instead of doing his job, he'd be happy to swim right past the center and if the play was going away from him, the defense was totally screwed. He might actually be better served playing left end, but then the concern is his stamina
3. Athyba Rubin - Great football player, but is he going to go back to nose tackle or will they try to make him an end? I'd probably move him back to nose because he knows how to do it and does it extremely well.
4. Jabaal Sheard - He struggled as a right end as a rookie. He has found a home at left end. Will moving him to linebacker, regardless of side cause him issues? And, if he is forced to lose weight, will it impact him negatively?
5. Billy Winn - In terms of his tools, he should be able to play right end and do it well. However, I am slightly concerned that he will be like Ziggy Hood in Pittsburgh. Coming out of Missouri, Hood was a great 3-tech prospect but the Steelers took him and made him a 5-tech. He is not good at it and is struggling. Perhaps he is simply not good and that is the problem, but I would not be surprised if he will find his way out of Pittsburgh and then he goes back to a 4-3 team and finds success. Both Hood and Winn are more penetrating type DTackles. They may not be interested in holding up at the point of attack on a consistent basis.
Personally, I'd have the DLine look like this:
LE - Phil Taylor/Probably gonna need to find another guy to replace Kitchen, which would be unfortunate as he has been promising
NT - Athyba Rubin, John Hughes
RE - Frostee Rucker/Billy Winn
On the plus side... does this mean I get to have Barkevious Mingo now? It also makes DaMontre Moore more attractive as a prospect to me, because my personal opinion is he was better as a 3-4 OLB than he was as a 4-3 REnd. I cannot stress enough how much I do not want Dion Jordan. He is a phenomenal athlete, but they would need Jordan to be a contributor immediately and that is a tall order for someone who needs as much time and development as Jordan does.
The fact that Chud is from Toledo and a life long Browns fan only is important to me for one reason. Unlike Chip Kelly, this is Chud's dream job. He really, really wanted it and he's going in 100%. That does matter. Beyond that, I don't care. Forget the he understands the fanbase crap and everything else. He really, really wanted the job. That's it.
The Browns seem to have delivered on getting a good coach and the makings of a good staff, in spite of my concerns regarding the change to the 3-4. Now, they have to make the next step and find someone good to run the draft for them and maintain the momentum Tom Heckert started.