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Browns hire Rob Chudzinski as new coach

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Browns hire Rob Chudzinski as new coach

CLEVELAND (AP) Rob Chudzinski's first head coaching job will be with the team he loved as a kid.

Chudzinski, who spent the past two seasons as Carolina's offensive coordinator, has been hired by the Browns as their sixth full-time coach since 1999. It's the third stint in Cleveland for Chudzinski, who worked with the Browns previously as an assistant.

The Browns hope the first-time head coach can end years of despair and constant losing, and maybe resurrect a franchise that has made just one trip to the playoffs in the past 14 years.

The team confirmed Chudzinski's hiring with a release Thursday night and said he will be introduced at an 11 a.m. news conference at the team's facility in Berea on Friday.

Chudzinski will be the Browns' 14th coach in team history. He replaces Pat Shurmur, another first-time coach when he was hired, who was fired on Dec. 31 after a 5-11 season. For the past two years, the 44-year-old Chudzinski has worked with talented Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

When owner Jimmy Haslam embarked on his coaching search last week, he pledged to bring back the ``best person for Cleveland.''

After meeting with at least seven other candidates, Haslam, who bought the Browns this summer, decided along with CEO Joe Banner that Chudzinski, was ready.

Known simply as ``Chud,'' Chudzinski coached tight ends in Cleveland for Butch Davis in 2004, and then came back to the Browns in 2007 and was offensive coordinator for two seasons under Romeo Crennel.

Chudzinski, who was never embarrassed to acknowledge he rooted for the Browns while growing up in Toledo, Ohio, interviewed with the team on Wednesday. He was viewed by many as a longshot for the job, not because he wasn't qualified, but Haslam figured to make a big splash with his first coaching hire.

However, Chudzinski wowed Haslam and Banner during his meeting and the team decided it was time to end their search after nearly 10 days.

It's not yet known whom Chudzinski will bring in as his coordinators. There are reports he may hire former San Diego coach Norv Turner to run his offense.

In his first season in Carolina, Chudzinski turned Newton, the No. 1 overall draft pick, loose and the Panthers set club records for total yards (6,237) and first downs (345). Carolina also scored 48 touchdowns after getting just 17 in the season before Chudzinski arrived. The Panthers jumped from last in the league in total yardage to seventh, the biggest improvement since 1999.

Following the season, Chudzinski interviewed for head coaching jobs with St. Louis, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay before returning to Carolina.

Newton continued to develop in his second season with Chudzinski. The Browns could be counting on him to improve Brandon Weeden after his uneven rookie season.

After his first stint on Cleveland's staff, Chudzinski spent two seasons as San Diego's tight ends coach, working with perennial Pro Bowl standout Antonio Gates.

Taking over the Browns offense in 2007, Chudzinski helped the Browns win 10 games - the most since their expansion rebirth in 1999 - and had four players make the Pro Bowl.

However, in 2008, the Browns struggled on offense and a six-game losing streak led to a 4-12 finish and Crennel's firing. The Browns finished 31st in offense that year.

Chudzinski went back to the Chargers for two more seasons before he was hired in Carolina.

On Thursday, former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt was brought to Cleveland for a second interview and he appeared to be the frontrunner. The Browns were also expected to meet again with Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and interview Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

But in the end, the Browns decided to go with Chudzinski, who has no head coaching experience but is regarded as one of the league's brightest up-and-coming coaches.

The hiring won't cause Cleveland fans to dance in the streets, but it is in keeping with Banner's past of hiring a coach without a meaty resume.

When he was in Philadelphia's front office, Banner went outside the box and hired relatively unknown Andy Reid, who spent 14 seasons with the Eagles before he was fired after this season.

The Browns can only hope it goes as well with Chudzinski.

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How to watch Capitals vs. Maple Leafs NHL 20 simulation and Caps' chippy Nov. 18 win over Ducks

How to watch Capitals vs. Maple Leafs NHL 20 simulation and Caps' chippy Nov. 18 win over Ducks

The Capitals’ simulated season continues on Tuesday night when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs in NHL 20, aired on NBC Sports Washington. Real-life Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin will be on the call.

In a partnership with Monumental Sports Network, NBCSW is airing all Wizards and Capitals games in simulated NBA 2K20 and NHL 20 games, taking place on the dates and times according to each team's regular season schedule with commentary from NBCSW's experts surrounding the coverage.

After the game wraps up, NBCSW will also air the Caps’ physical Nov. 18 affair with the Anaheim Ducks. Richard Panik scores his first goal in a Washington and Garnet Hathaway is ejected after exchanging more than just blows in a fight with several Ducks.

Here’s how you can catch both games Tuesday night.

Broadcast Schedule

7:00 PM – NHL 20: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Capitals (P)

8:00 PM – NHL Classics: Anaheim Ducks @ Capitals from Nov. 18, 2019 (R)

10:30 PM – NHL 20: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Capitals (R)

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

How Ben Olsen is coaching D.C. United during coronavirus quarantine

How Ben Olsen is coaching D.C. United during coronavirus quarantine

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the MLS season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen is finding a sense of “underlying positivity” in the face of massive changes to the day-to-day life of so many around the world.

"The priority right now with the group that we have is to maintain a level of fitness," Olsen said on a conference call with local reporters this morning. "All we can do right now is follow the guidelines given by MLS."

Even though the team is not able to meet face-to-face like they normally would, Olsen and his staff have had to get creative in ways to continue to build team chemistry and make sure everyone is on the same page.

"We have a once-a-week call with everyone on a Zoom chat with the trainers," he said. "We talk about things like social media and how to stay connected to fans, the programs we are sending out and we get feedback from [the players] on what is going well."

Dealing with the pandemic has been especially challenging for players from overseas, who might not have the same support systems that those longtime MLS players have in the area. The club is making a particular point to reach out to those players.

D.C. United and its staff are also making sure that all of the club’s players are able to partake in individualized training to keep a level of fitness, even if that means getting some workout equipment to players who might not have it where they live.

Olsen noted after a personal story of taking his kids to a local field to play some soccer and being turned away by policemen and that “there’s all these hurdles that the [players] are coming up against and we are now constantly having to adapt off our new reality.”

As new challenges arise and are met, Olsen is trying to keep a positive mindset and joked that he now has the time to be a better husband and father than he normally would at the start of a new season.

"There’s this underlying positivity that again I feel very, very lucky because of the scenario I’m in," the head coach noted. "I’m also constantly thinking about others that are not in the situation I’m in. Whether it’s the EMTs, the firemen, the D.C. support system, our medical doctors, so many people on the frontlines that are doing so much and putting their lives in danger right now. I make sure we as a family are constantly reminding our children that there’s a lot of people out there doing some great things in a very, very tough time."

When asked what he misses most about what would be the end of the opening month of the MLS season, Olsen stated that he misses the locker room and being with his players.

"Dealing with the ups and downs of a season, dealing with the journey of the season," he said. "It’s a special thing that we have and I think in some ways you have to lose it to appreciate it. Right now I miss being in that locker room, I miss the guys, I miss my staff."

While no one knows yet when the season will return, Olsen is "very bullish and optimistic" that MLS will recover quickly.

"Of course the league will take a hit, just like every other league and every other business across this country," Olsen said. "This league will be just fine when we get through this, just like our country will be just fine."