Berea, OH – Rob Chudzinski is coming home, sort of.
Chudzinski was named the new coach of the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night and said Friday during his introductory news conference that he was a fan of the team while growing up on the other side of Ohio in Toledo.
"I'm excited about the chance to bring back what I grew up in, and the feeling that this city, this region, this area had in the Cleveland Browns," said Chudzinski. "I was the kid in the backyard pretending I was Ozzie Newsome or Brian Sipe or the greats that played for Cleveland. The tradition of this franchise is such that the people here want a winner and I would not miss this for the world, the opportunity to come back and bring a winner back to Cleveland."
Chudzinski had two previous stints in the Browns' organization, first as tight ends coach in 2004 and as offensive coordinator in 2007-08. He most-recently spent two years as the offensive coordinator with the Carolina Panthers.
"We were focusing on a strong leader, somebody that was going to create a culture, an entire program, put together a great staff and manage them, and was really, really committed to setting a very high bar and achieving it," said Browns CEO Joe Banner. "We're very excited about having Rob here and believe he fits exactly what we're looking for."
Chudzinski will become the sixth full-time head coach for the Browns since 1999. He'll take over for Pat Shurmur, who was fired at the conclusion of a 5-11 season in 2012. Shurmur was 9-23 in his two years at the helm and was ousted a few months after Jimmy Haslam purchased the club and brought in a new front office.
The Browns interviewed numerous candidates, including what was said to be a serious discussion with Oregon's Chip Kelly last weekend. Kelly decided to remain at Oregon, although the Browns had indicated that they had moved on before the coach made his decision to stay in the collegiate ranks.
"We talked to nine or 10 of, I believe, the best coaches in the country," said Haslam. "We talked to current pro coaches; we talked to former pro head coaches; we talked to current college coaches; we talked to several pro coordinators and I believe we came back with the best person to lead the Cleveland Browns to the kind of winning format that we want to have in Cleveland and that we all expect to have."
The Browns have made the playoffs just once since returning to the NFL as an expansion franchise in 1999. That came in 2002. The team has had just one winning season since -- a 10-6 mark in 2007.
Chudzinski was the offensive coordinator for that 2007 club. Four of his players made the Pro Bowl that season.
Following his second stint with the Browns, Chudzinski went to San Diego as assistant head coach and tight ends coach under Norv Turner. Reports indicate that Chudzinski may bring in Turner, fired as Chargers head coach last week, as his offensive coordinator.
"I felt like the opportunities I've had to be with the coaches I've been with allowed me to see some of the day-to-day things that head coaches do and what comes across their desk," said Chudzinski, a first-time head coach at any level. "I feel very prepared. I've been fortunate to be around some great coaches going back to my playing days."
Chudzinski was a tight end at Miami-Florida from 1986-90 and was a member of two national championship teams. He began his coaching career with the Hurricanes in 1994 and remained there until 2003 before his first stint with the Browns.