Former Browns and current Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer were in Berea today to interview for the Browns job, according to reports.
Chudzinski grew up in Toledo as a big Browns fan and in 2007 led the best Cleveland offense since the team’s return. Quarterback Derek Anderson, receiver Braylon Edwards, tight end Kellen Winslow and left tackle Joe Thomas earned trips to the Pro Bowl as the Browns went 10-6 and ranked eighth in total offense and scoring with 351.3 yards and 25.1 points per game.
Anderson threw 29 touchdowns, while Edwards, Winslow and running back Jamal Lewis had 1,000-yard seasons.
Chudzinski spent 2004 with the Browns as tight ends coach under Butch Davis and returned in 2007. He left after 2008 when coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Phil Savage were fired.
Chudzinski joined Carolina as coordinator in 2011 and teamed with rookie quarterback Cam Newton to turn around a dismal offense. The Panthers set team records for yards (6,237) and first downs (345) a year after franchise lows in both categories. They went from last in the NFL in yards to seventh.
Zimmer’s interview was reported by Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer.
Zimmer, 56, has been an NFL defensive coordinator for the last 13 years. He’s only the second defensive coach of the eight known interviews by the Browns since firing coach Pat Shurmur on Dec. 31.
Zimmer was coordinator for the Cowboys from 2000-06, spent a year with Atlanta and the last five with the Bengals. He’s emotional, confrontational and loved by his players. He’s interviewed several times over the years but has never gotten the head coaching job he seeks.
The Browns have also interviewed ex-Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman, Oregon’s Chip Kelly, Penn State’s Bill O’Brien and Syracuse’s Doug Marrone. Kelly and O’Brien stayed in school and Marrone was hired by the Bills.