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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Thoughts on the Browns coaching search and other weekend musings

By Marla Ridenour Published: January 7, 2013

On Browns coaching search:

  • I must admit I am relieved that Chip Kelly remained at Oregon. I still have serious doubts on whether his offense can work in the NFL and what happened to Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III on Sunday only amplified them.
  • Perhaps Kelly was really just on a “fact-finding mission,” as he said Thursday night after the Fiesta Bowl. But after three long interviews in the past two years – with the NFL’s Buccaneers, Browns and Eagles – I wonder if Kelly has ruined his future chances of jumping to the pros. Will an owner take him seriously if/when he expresses interest in interviewing again?
  • Still wondering what will happen if the Ducks are slapped with NCAA sanctions. Not sure Oregon alum Phil Knight of Nike can help Kelly in that regard.
  • Not ruling out the possibility that the Browns will contact Alabama coach Nick Saban again, especially if the Crimson Tide wins tonight’s BCS title game against Notre Dame. Saban would be the big splash that would help Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner save face after interviewees Bill O’Brien of Penn State and Kelly remained in college and Doug Marrone of Syracuse opted for the Buffalo Bills. (That one might sting the most.)
  • Hope the Browns interview Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who deserves a chance after developing quarterbacks at each stop in his career. That is likely the reason for their interest in CFL coach Marc Trestman, another ex-Browns assistant who worked with Bernie Kosar. Trestman has tuturoed many collegians preparing for the NFL draft, including Brandon Weeden. Even if Banner is not enamored with Weeden, it seems crazy to dump Weeden after one season, especially if they’re not switching to Kelly’s zone-read scheme.
  • If neither Arians, Trestman or former Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt or his defensive coordinator Ray Horton fit the bill with Banner and Haslam, I expect them to go searching for the next Mike Tomlin – i.e. an unknown assistant. That's what they had with Pat Shurmur. But there have to be some NFL assistants with the charisma and strong leadership qualities they seek waiting in the wings for their chance. Hiring one of those might put a wrench in Banner’s plan to give the coach control of the 53-man roster. It might require a stronger player personnel director. Some of the top candidates in that category could be hired by the end of this week.

On Kent State’s 17-13 loss to Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl:

  • Two plays stand out in my mind – Spencer Keith’s interception in the end zone on the Golden Flashes’ first drive and Dri Archer’s dropped pass on third and 7 at the Arkansas State 9 in the third quarter. KSU could have set the tone with a touchdown on the former. On the latter, Archer had already suffered a knee injury that kept him out in the fourth quarter. (He admitted afterward he’d been hurt in the second quarter.) But had Archer converted the first down, Trayion Durham would have had three cracks at the TD.
  • The Golden Flashes looked somewhat rusty, especially with seven penalties for 68 yards.
  • Arkansas State wisely exploited KSU’ season-long problem with the hurry-up offense. I actually wondered what took the Red Wolves so long.
  • I’m torn about whether Archer should declare for the NFL draft or return to KSU for another season. I’m wondering how many hits his 5-foot-8, 175-pounder can take, which could hasten his departure. Even with 4.28 speed in the 40, he’ll be a kickoff returner and role player in the pros. But the right offensive coordinator could make him a dangerous weapon.
  • Although the Golden Flashes were far from their best and the matchup with Arkansas State exposed their overall lack of speed, the outcome doesn’t diminish an amazing season. Going to the MAC championship game and their first bowl in 40 years will do much mentally for KSU’s returning players, who might have previously believed they’d never play in the post-season.

On the NFL playoffs:

  • I was turned off by the hoopla over Ray Lewis’ final home game. The Baltimore Ravens' leader may be the greatest middle linebacker in history, but he still pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in the still-unsolved murders of two Akron men. After all these years, I’m still having problems separating the two. Even commissioner Roger Goodell’s bear hug of Lewis bothered me.
  • Why was RG3 in the game against Seattle, especially in the second half? Obviously the new concussion protocol isn’t enough to protect the NFL from itself and its players from their warrior mentality.
  • Can’t remember the last time Seahawks coach Pete Carroll seemed like the good guy. But with speculation on how much of a part Redskins coach Mike Shanahan played in Griffin being on the field, that’s the way I felt.
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