The Browns didn’t pick Ken Whisenhunt to become their head coach last year, but they’re compelled to give him a chance to convince them they were wrong.
The Browns will interview Whisenhunt on Saturday for their head-coaching vacancy, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported this morning. Whisenhunt, the offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers, will interview with the Detroit Lions today and the Tennessee Titans on Friday, according to the report.
The Browns interviewed Whisenhunt twice last year and he became a finalist for their head-coaching job before they chose Rob Chudzinski instead. Chudzinski went 4-12 and was fired Dec. 29 after his first season on the job.
Browns CEO Joe Banner left himself some wiggle room last week when he said, “I don’t think there will be anybody from last year’s search who will be a candidate this year.” Whisenhunt, 51, is obviously the exception.
NFL rules prohibit teams from offering jobs to coaches whose teams are still in the postseason. The Chargers will face the Denver Broncos in a divisional playoff game Sunday night. In his first season with the Chargers, Whisenhunt helped the offense finish the regular season ranked fifth in the NFL (393.3 yards per game).
Whisenhunt was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals for six seasons. They fired him after the team started 4-0 but ended the 2012 season with record of 5-11 record.
Whisenhunt compiled a regular-season record of 45-51 with the Cardinals and went 4-2 in the playoffs. He guided the Cardinals to the Super Bowl following the 2008 season, when they lost 27-23 to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Whisenhunt was a special-teams coach for the Browns during their expansion season in 1999. He later served as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator from 2004-06 before becoming the Cardinals’ head coach in 2007.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam bought a minority stake in the Steelers in 2008, so he is familiar with people who know Whisenhunt well from his days in Pittsburgh. He and Banner also got to know Whisenhunt better through the interview process last year.
Whisenhunt was an NFL tight end for nine seasons (1985-93). He played for the Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins and New York Jets.
The Browns have interviewed New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo, Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, according to reports. The Browns are not commenting on interviews.
McDaniels, though, removed himself from consideration for the job after he reached out to the Browns following his interview this past weekend and was told he wasn’t the front-runner, a league source said Wednesday night, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the search. NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported the primary reason for McDaniels staying with the Patriots is to create stability for his family. He and his wife have four young children.
The first interview request the Browns submitted went to Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase. However, Gase said he would postpone all interview opportunities until the Broncos are done with the playoffs.
The Browns also are interested in two college head coaches, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported last week. But Penn State offered Franklin its head-coaching job Wednesday, the Scranton Times-Tribune reported. Franklin is expected to make a decision today, according to the report.