April 17, 2014

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Browns 1 of 2 teams still looking for a coach; Todd Bowles, Ben McAdoo out of running

Ben McAdoo

Ben McAdoo

Bowles

Bowles

Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles won’t be the next coach of the Browns. Neither will former Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo.

Two of the candidates that interviewed for Cleveland’s coaching vacancy have removed themselves from the running.

Bowles became the second candidate of the six known to interview to withdraw his name from consideration, joining New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. McAdoo was hired Tuesday by the Giants as their offensive coordinator.

A perception exists nationally and locally that the Browns’ job isn’t desirable, and these moves don’t help, even if Bowles and McAdoo weren’t considered favorites to land the job. McDaniels was reportedly a front-runner, but a league source told The Chronicle-Telegram he only withdrew after he called the Browns last week and was told he wasn’t expected to be hired.

“I’ll definitely be here (in New England next year),” McDaniels said Tuesday during a conference call with reporters. “This is the right time for me to be here.

“I’m very happy here. Sometime you have to make choices for what’s best for you and your family, and that’s what I tried to do.”

The Browns’ job has been described by some national reports as “toxic” and “radioactive.” Those in Berea would disagree.

“I am still convinced that this group can not only identify but attract, recruit the right person to come here,” owner Jimmy Haslam said Dec. 30, a day after firing Rob Chudzinski. “We’re not naive to the fact that we just let a first-year head coach go but we do think we can attract the right candidate here.”

The Browns seem content to wait to meet with Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, 35, who delayed interviews until after Denver’s done with the playoffs. The Broncos host the Patriots on Sunday in the AFC championship. The Super Bowl is Feb. 2.

While the Browns wait, other teams hire coaches.

The Titans on Monday hired Ken Whisenhunt, who interviewed with the Browns on Saturday and twice last year before they hired Chudzinski. Whisenhunt was offensive coordinator for the Chargers this year after six seasons as coach of the Cardinals.

On Tuesday, the Lions hired Jim Caldwell. He was Baltimore’s offensive coordinator and former coach of the Colts.

Whisenhunt and Caldwell lost Super Bowls during their tenures as head coach.

ESPN’s Ed Werder reported Bowles felt Cleveland’s search was dragging and it was important for the coach to be in place before the Senior Bowl next week.

The Browns and the Vikings are the only teams left with vacancies.

Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and former Titans coach Mike Munchak are the known interviews who remain candidates for Cleveland, along with Gase. The Browns reportedly also have interest in Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, and others could be added to the search.

The Browns will likely be in the market for a defensive coordinator, too. Ray Horton was granted permission to interview for any coordinator and head coaching positions, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That coincides with what CEO Joe Banner said after Chudzinski was fired.

“We’ve indicated to them we’ll be very liberal in agreeing to any permission requested by any other team to talk to them,” he said.

Horton could end up as coordinator under Whisenhunt in Tennessee. They held the same roles in Arizona in 2011-12.

Horton’s standing within the Browns organization has changed considerably. He interviewed for the head coaching job last January before Chudzinski hired him as coordinator. Haslam and Banner raved about him, and Haslam talked to Horton frequently at practice during the season.

Horton’s defense posted solid numbers – ninth overall, 18th against the run, eighth against the pass – but it blew three straight fourth-quarter leads in December losses that contributed to a season-ending seven-game skid. Many players would view his departure as a setback.

“I hope he’s here,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said last month. “We’ve learned a ton from him with his experience. I want him here for a long time.”

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.