Rob Chudzinski convinced one of his mentors to reunite with him in Cleveland and help lead the offense.
One week after the Browns hired Chudzinski as their new coach, the team formally named Norv Turner its offensive coordinator on Thursday.
Turner’s resume is highlighted by 14 seasons as an NFL head coach, including the past six with the San Diego Chargers. He and Chudzinski will bring their brand of football to Northeast Ohio by installing an offense that features a vertical, downfield passing game.
The Browns also hired Scott Turner, Norv’s son, as a wide receivers coach, Mike Sullivan as an offensive line coach and Brad Roll as a strength and conditioning coach. They retained special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor and offensive line coach George Warhop, both of whom were assistants for coach Pat Shurmur.
Owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner fired Shurmur on Dec. 31 after the Browns went 5-11 last year. They hired Chudzinski on Jan. 10 and cited his ability to assemble a stellar coaching staff — headlined by Norv Turner — as one of the reasons.
“I am very excited about the coaches we have been able to add to our staff thus far,” Chudzinski said in a statement. “I have worked with Norv, Mike, Scott and Brad previously and know the quality of coaches and teachers that they are and how much our players will benefit from their presence.”
Chudzinski, though, still has plenty of work to do. In addition to defensive coordinator, the Browns have openings for several position coaches: quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends, defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs. They also have vacancies for quality control and senior assistant positions.
Raheem Morris, the Washington Redskins’ defensive backs coach and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, is expected to interview for the defensive coordinator job today, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Three other defensive coordinators, John Pagano of the Chargers and Mel Tucker of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Ray Horton of the Arizona Cardinals, are reportedly on the Browns’ radar. New Chargers coach Mike McCoy reportedly wants to keep Pagano. Tucker interviewed for the Jaguars’ coaching job Monday, but they hired Gus Bradley. Horton, who interviewed with the Browns, was a candidate for the Cardinals’ coaching job, but they hired Bruce Arians.
Still, Chudzinski locked down an essential assistant by securing the elder Turner, whom the Chargers fired Dec. 31. Turner also has served as a head coach for the Washington Redskins (1994-2000) and Oakland Raiders (2004-05). His career record as a head coach is 118-126-1, including 4-4 in the playoffs.
He went 59-43, including 3-3 in the playoffs, with the Chargers. But in the past three seasons, they went 9-7, 8-8 and 7-9, missing the postseason each time.
The Browns will be the fifth NFL team for which Turner, 60, has been an offensive coordinator. Turner, who replaces Brad Childress, called the plays during his tenure with the Chargers and will likely do the same for the Browns.
Chudzinski was the Carolina Panthers’ offensive coordinator and play-caller for the past two seasons. But during his introductory news conference on Jan. 11, Chudzinski said he would be willing to relinquish those duties if he enlisted the right lieutenant.
“If I’m comfortable with the offensive coordinator doing that, he’ll do it,” Chudzinski said. “If I’m not sure about that or uncomfortable with that, I’ll call the plays until I become comfortable with that.”
Considering the relationship and trust factor in question, Turner will probably call the plays. Chudzinski served as Turner’s assistant head coach and tight ends coach with the Chargers from 2009-10.
“Norv has been one of the most respected offensive coaches in the NFL over the last 25-30 years, and he has had a tremendous amount of success at each one of his stops — as a position coach, coordinator and head coach,” Chudzinski said. “I was able to learn a great deal in the time that I worked for him in San Diego, and I expect that having him as our offensive coordinator will make a big impact on that side of the ball.”
As for Scott Turner, he was Chudzinski’s right-hand man the past two years as an offensive quality control coach for the Panthers. The younger Turner, 30, sat next to Chudzinski in the coaches’ box during games and provided input on play-calling, the Charlotte Observer reported. He replaces Mike Wilson.
Like Chudzinski, Sullivan is entering his third tour with the Browns. Sullivan, 45, was the Browns’ assistant offensive line coach from 2001-04 and 2007-08. Chudzinski was a tight ends coach for the Browns in 2004 and an offensive coordinator for the final five games of that season. After a stint as the Chargers’ tight ends coach from 2005-06, he returned to Cleveland as an offensive coordinator from 2007-08.
Sullivan and Chudzinski were also teammates at the University of Miami, where they won national titles in 1987 and ’89. Sullivan, who played guard and center in the NFL for four seasons, was the Chargers’ offensive line coach for the past four seasons.
Roll is another familiar face for Chudzinski, because he was Miami’s strength and conditioning coach from 1989-92. Roll, 54, spent last season as the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the University of Southern California after working for the Raiders (2008-11), St. Louis Rams (2006-07), Buffalo Bills (2004-05), Miami Dolphins (1996-2003) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1993-95). He replaces Kent Johnston.
Tabor, 41, has been the Browns’ special-teams coordinator for the past two seasons. After the special teams suffered several letdowns in 2011, they bounced back last year.
Warhop has been with the Browns since 2009. This is the second coaching change he has survived. Although Warhop, 51, and Sullivan will hold the same title, Warhop is expected to take the lead in guiding the team’s offensive line.
“After sitting down and getting to know both Chris and George, I was extremely impressed with the type of coaches and men that they are,” Chudzinski said. “Not only was this special-teams group vastly improved from the previous season, but special teams became one of the top units in the league last year. George played an integral role in helping to shape a young unit that I feel made great strides last year, and which has the potential to get even better. The continuity we have been able to create by retaining Chris and George will be big pluses in both of their respective areas.”
Shurmur, Panthers quarterbacks coach Mike Shula and ex-Raiders coach Hue Jackson are finalists to succeed Chudzinski as the Panthers’ offensive coordinator, the Charlotte observer reported. … Chip Kelly flirted with the Browns and Philadelphia Eagles before returning to the University of Oregon and then accepting the Eagles’ coaching job Wednesday. But Kelly told Philadelphia reporters Thursday that the NFL Network’s report that he was close to a deal with the Browns wasn’t true and that he narrowed his decision down to the Eagles and Oregon.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com.browns.abj.