Rob Chudzinski called his appointment as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns a “dream come true.” Perhaps the most appealing aspect of his selection is his understanding of how intensely the Browns faithful have been dreaming of a return to the glory days, a team in the playoff hunt, with a real chance to claim an NFL championship.
The story has been relayed many times since Jimmy Haslam tapped Chudzinski for the post last week: Chud ate dog bones as a kid in Toledo. He sat outside in the cold as he watched the Browns play on television, all the better to gain the feel of the Dawg Pound.
After years of frustration since the return of the franchise, the club now seemingly stuck at 5-11, Browns fans surely take some comfort in a coach who grasps the agony. More, there was Chudzinski leading the Browns offense for a brief time during one of the bright moments of the past 13 years.
Haslam, the new, ambitious and purposeful owner, gets it. He chased an innovator, Chip Kelly of Oregon, and a proven veteran, Ken Whisenhunt. He landed on an up-and-comer, taking a risk, yet pleased with what the data show about Chudzinski’s potential, bright, demanding and organized yet able to motivate in the right way.
True, the Browns have been here before, new coach, new hopes, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and even Cincinnati in the division. In a couple of years, it may not matter that Rob Chudzinski ate dog bones. Still, it feels much better with many young players already in place and a leadership with something big to prove.