Chudzinski thrilled to get Browns' job


Chudzinski thrilled to get Browns' job

CLEVELAND (AP) Rob Chudzinski's roots run 44 years deep with the Browns.

As a kid, he buckled on his orange helmet and ran around his backyard in Toledo, Ohio, pretending he was Ozzie Newsome. He sat outside in the snow and watched Cleveland games on TV through the window to make it feel like he was in the Dawg Pound.

He chomped on dog biscuits.

On Friday, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came true for Chudzinski, who was introduced as the Browns' sixth fulltime coach since 1999. Although he has never been a head coach, ``Chud'' was selected over candidates with more experience and stronger resumes.

Chudzinski, though, stood out. He wanted it more than anyone.

``It's a dream come true, almost unbelievable in a lot of ways,'' Chudzinski said.

There is a segment of Browns fans as stunned as Chudzinski, whose hiring seemed to come out of nowhere.

After interviewing several high-profile candidates, including Oregon coach Chip Kelly, former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt and other top coordinators, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner picked Chudzinski, who spent the past two years as Carolina's offensive coordinator.

Haslam said he spoke with ``nine or 10 of the best coaches in the country'' and insisted Chudzinski was on the team's list of candidates from the outset.

``Rob was always on our radar screen,'' Haslam said of his first coaching hire. ``Rob has been identified as a top, bright, young guy for a long time. I feel very confident we've got the right guy.''

This is Chudzinski's third stint with the Browns. He coached Cleveland's tight ends in 2004 and was the team's offensive coordinator in 2007-08. In his first season calling plays, the Browns went 10-6 and had four players make the Pro Bowl. It hasn't been nearly as good since he left

``Happy to see Chud coming back,'' Browns Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas said in an email to the AP. ``We had a good year in 2007. Very smart offensive mind. When he left, I knew he'd be a great head coach someday!''

Chudzinski's first task is to assemble his staff. He'll speak with the assistants still under contract and is confident he'll be able to bring in quality coaches to build the Browns into a consistent winner. Chudzinski would not comment on any specific candidates. There are reports he'll hire former San Diego coach Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator.

Chudzinski was the Chargers tight ends coach under Turner.

Working on an hour's sleep after getting his dream job. Chudzinski would not comment on any players on Cleveland's current roster. He said his philosophy will be to ``attack'' on offense and defense and he feels the Browns have the versatility to run a 4-3 or 3-4 defense.

The 44-year-old Chudzinski interviewed for head coaching jobs last year with St. Louis, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay before returning for his second season with Carolina, where he spent two years working with quarterback Cam Newton.

When he left the Browns for the second time in 2008, Chudzinski always thought he would return to Cleveland.

``I remember the last game walking out of the stadium and looking across the field, somehow knowing I'd be back somehow, someway,'' he said.

The Browns had a whirlwind courtship with Chudzinski. Haslam and Banner spent last week in Arizona, where they spoke to at least five known candidates. They got deep in talks with Kelly before backing away because of the offensive mastermind's indecision about jumping to the NFL.

The team rebooted its search and spoke with several other candidates including Whisenhunt, who was in Cleveland on Thursday for a second interview. Chudzinski met with the Browns on Wednesday at Haslam's estate on Lake Erie, where he laid out his coaching philosophies.

``Rob was very decisive,'' Haslam said. ```This is how I'm going to do things. I'm an offensive guy, but here's my role on defense. Here's my role on special teams. Here are the type of people I would bring in as coordinators, here are the type of coaches.' It was just very definitive.''

Chudzinski received a phone call on Thursday that Haslam and Banner wanted to have dinner with him in Charlotte, N.C. They had been impressed with Chudzinski's thoroughness in the first interview, but wanted to spend more time with him.

``''We felt very positively that Rob was the man,'' Haslam said. ``This organization has had a lot of change in terms of leadership, so it was exceptionally important that we get that right. An hour through dinner, we felt like that definitely this was the right guy.''

Haslam said he wasn't aware of Chudzinski's Ohio background or his love for the Browns.

``It's a great story, but if Rob had been from Plano, Texas, we'd have hired him,'' Haslam said.

Banner has tracked Chudzinski's career for some time as he does with ``the best young people in the league.'' It was Banner who had plucked Andy Reid, a then-unknown assistant from Green Bay, and hired him as Philadelphia's head coach in 1999. Reid spent 14 years with the Eagles before he was recently fired.

Now that they've hired a coach, Haslam and Banner will focus on finding a new general manager to help pick players for Chudzinski, who will be involved in finding the next GM.

Chudzinski has it better than any of his five predecessors in Cleveland. He inherits a young roster with more talent than the team has had in years, and it's his job to develop a team that has lost at least 11 games in each of the past five seasons.

Chudzinski understands Cleveland's passion for football - and its pain.

He knows the heartbreak felt by Browns fans, who are still waiting for their team to make the Super Bowl. He knows it because he's felt it, too.

The Browns have had other coaches, but never one so intensely attached to the team. Chudzinski could have stayed in Carolina and waited for another head coaching job to come along. But there's no other job that could match this one.

To Chudzinski, this was the only one.

``I wouldn't have missed this opportunity for anything in the world,'' he said. ``To bring back the pride, the passion, the success this franchise has had in the past, I want to be part of that.''


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Wizards lose again, this time to Nuggets as offense falls flat

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Wizards lose again, this time to Nuggets as offense falls flat

The Washington Wizards lost to the Denver Nuggets 108-100 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Another loss: It is becoming more and more clear that the Wizards need a shot in the arm, something to change the direction of where they are currently heading.

Whether that will come in the form of All-Star point guard John Wall coming back, an adjustment to their lineup or strategy or something else entirely, the losses are piling up and at a tough time in the season.

With another loss on Friday night, their seventh in their last 11 games, the Wizards are now 40-32 on the season. They have plenty of room to still clinch a playoff berth, as their magic number stands at two, but they only have 10 games left to secure their all-important playoff seed. 

The Wizards lost their second straight game and again offense was their problem. They scored 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers.

Big third quarter: The Denver Nuggets have emerged as a team on the rise, a young squad with burgeoning stars that could someday soon make some noise in the Western Conference. The reason is because they are very good on offense. Defense is a much different story.

That was not the case on Friday night, as the Wizards had all sorts of trouble scoring in three of their four quarters. They managed just 43 points by halftime, the fewest the Nuggets have allowed in a first half since Jan. 27.

The Wizards, though, did get cooking in the third quarter. They erupted for 33 points in the frame while shooting 63.2 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from three. Markieff Morris, who finished with 17, had 11 points in the third quarter and Bradley Beal (24 points) hit three threes.

The Wizards also found a solution for Jamal Murray, one of the Nuggets' brightest young stars. He had 20 points at halftime, but went scoreless in nine minutes in the third quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. (15 points) was among those who gave him trouble. Murry finished with 25.

The big third quarter reflected well on the Wizards' ability to make adjustments, but their 24-point fourth quarter flipped the script again.


Didn't force mistakes: The first time these teams squared off back in October, the Wizards forced the Nuggets into 23 turnovers. This game was a very different story. 

The Nuggets didn't commit their first turnover until midway through the second quarter and had only three by halftime. They had just 10 turnovers for the game.

Denver deserves some credit for limiting their mistakes, but all of it did not reflect well on the Wizards' defense. They didn't put enough pressure on the ball and failed to disrupt passing lanes like they usually do. It was uncharacteristic, as the Wizards entered the game 10th in average turnovers forced.

Not creating mistakes allowed the Nuggets to get way to many field goal attempts. Though they shot just 43.5 percent, Denver managed 108 points. And not getting turnovers offered the Wizards few opportunities for easy transition buckets.


Special night: Halftime offered a memorable moment in franchise history as legendary player and broadcast Phil Chenier had his No. 45 jersey retired by the team. His longtime broadcaster and friend Steve Buckhantz hosted the ceremony with about 20 friends and family members of Chenier's seated behind him. Buckhantz had opening comments, then majority owner Ted Leonsis spoke as everyone in the crowd stood and cheered.

Then, it was Chenier's time to talk. He thanked his former teammates, members of the organization and those close to him. He kept his composure until the very end when he brought up his mother, Peggy, who could not make the event. Chenier choked up and wiped away tears as he described what she has meant to him in his life.

It was a powerful moment and a great ceremony to honor a guy who has impacted the lives of many in the D.C. area. Now, his No. 45 will hang up in the rafters forever. That banner, by the way, features a picture of a microphone and the phrase '33 years,' signifying how long he was the color analyst for Bullets and Wizards games.


Up next: The Wizards do not have a game Saturday, though they are going to practice and Wall is expected to take a big step forward in his rehab. Their next game is Sunday at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington when they host the Knicks. That will also be a special game, as the Wizards are set to honor the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship.

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

Philadelphia Eagles lineman Michael Bennett has been indicted on felony abuse for allegedly pushing an elderly NRG Stadium worker during Super Bowl LI.

Bennett was indicted by the Harris County, Texas district attorney's office for injury to the elderly — which is intentionally and knowingly causing injury to a person 65 years or older, according to a press release from the Harris County Sheriffs' Office.

A warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest.

The 66-year-old paraplegic stadium worker was attempting to control field access when Bennett allegedly pushed her. 

The maximum penalty Bennett faces is ten years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine.


Bennett — whose brother Martellus played in that Super Bowl for New England — was a member of the Seattle Seahawks during the incident and was in attendance as a noncompetitive player.

The NFL has been made aware of the situation and is looking into the matter, according to Pro Football Talk.

The 32-year-old 10-year NFL veteran could potentially face NFL discipline under the league's personal conduct policy.