Nine coaching candidates not on Banner’s radar.


The family portrait of “Sustained Success.”
None of these guys will be working for Banner/Haslam. Ever.

I was going to do a Banner-Chud thing but I think I’ve covered where I’m at with Banner/Haslam.  I’ve got no especially fresh takes on this.1

No, I’ve killed Banner enough.  Let’s move forward.

And kill him in a different way.

Because he’s fixin to be the same douchey, inside-the-box-thinking Banner again and it’s a missed opportunity at best; a[nother] mistake at worst.

Josh McDaniels?  Err, ok.

But cripes… there’s a lot of interesting coaches out there who aren’t on anyone’s lists.  Just for fun last night I jotted down who’d be on my list of coaching candidates to talk with.  Top of my head, 30 seconds of thought.  It’s a better list than Banner’s.

Welp, first, please scratch Graham and insert Kingsbury.  Geez, ASU and bowl games.  Still a problem.

Let’s do a thumbnail on each of these guys and make a call on whether they would pick up the phone.


Prototype players’ coach.

9.  Ed Orgeron, ex of Ole Miss and USC.
The players’ coach.  If you accept the NBA precept that the players make the coach, perhaps it can be applied to the NFL.  I don’t know of Orgeron’s X’s and O’s skill; but his team played great for him both at Ole Miss2 and USC and you can hire smart coordinators.  In theory anyway (**cough** Carthon).

Would snap up job in a second.



You ordered a strong-jawed ex-Steelers coach?

8.  Ken Whisenhunt, ex of Cardinals, Steelers.
Who did this guy piss off?  The resume is better than anyone else you’ll find today:  OC for Super Bowl winning 2005 Steelers; HC for Super Bowl almost-winning Cardinals in 2008.  And he just OC’d the Chargers to the playoffs.  That Cardinals team, by the way, was not stacked. had some decent talent.  Fitz, Boldin in his prime, Warner; Dockett, Dansby, good DRC on defense.  I’m looking at the roster and what jumps out is that all five of the o-line had 16 starts.  Anyway, Whisenhunt is 4-2 in the post-season which is the same number of Browns playoff wins since 1969.3  So naturally he’s not on the Browns’ list.  You figure it out.

Possible/unlikely.  Didn’t he meet with Banner last year?  But here Whisenhunt is mentioned by McManamon as being on Browns list.



Nic Cage is gonna coach-up your team.

7.  Todd Graham, ASU Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech.
What is it with Arizona State and bowl games?  I thought that era was over when Dennis Erikson left.  Anyway… I’m glad in a way because last night reminded me that Kingsbury has all you want.  Or all I want.  Young, players like him, work for him, and plays an aggressive-attacking OFFENSE.  Because now that the Browns have Ray Horton’s aggressive-attacking defense, shouldn’t we pair it up with an aggressive-attacking offense?  No really, it’s funny/ironic but it’s also obvious.  The Browns sold us the sexiness of pressuring QBs all last off-season.  How about an offense that pressures defenses?  Kingsbury runs a prototype of that offense.

Would pick up phone.

So does this guy…


Poor man’s Chip Kelly.  Even he will insist that he gets to make final cuts.

6.  Mark Helfrich, Oregon.
Was Chip Kelly’s OC before becoming head coach.  You whiffed on Kelly last year, Joe.  Here is your chance to get the Kelly offense that you really really wanted last year.  I say again:  aggressive-attacking OFFENSE would be a terrific path to take in particular against the aging AFCN defenses.

Hire a skilled practitioner of current offense either as HC or OC.

Would not pick up phone.



Might save what’s left of the locker room.

5.  Ray Horton, your current DC.
He’s made it plain he wants to be a HC.  Though there’s a smidge of disloyalty to taking Chud’s job, most understand that HC gigs are hard to come by and would forgive.  (I’m pretty sure Chud wouldn’t hold a grudge about it.)  It’s probably the best way to keep the locker room together if that’s a concern.  If this route is taken, then definitely see if you Klingsbury or Helfrich would be game to be your OC.

Takes job in a heartbeat.



The Harbaugh Tree guy you can get.

4.  Willie Taggart, USF.
If you buy into coaching trees, there is one tree that has seen more and faster spectacular success than any in memory:  The Harbaugh Tree.  Willie Taggart is the Harbaugh-est of Harbaugh fruit.  Was recruited by Jim, played for Dad, assistant for Jim at Stanford… then went from Stanford back to his alma mater, WKU.  (I just love the guy who leaves Palo Alto for Bowling Green, Kentucky.  That’s a guy with heart.)  He killed it with WKU, took another hometown-ie job at USF (He’s from Bradenton).  Give him two years and he’ll kill it with USF and then he won’t be answering your phone calls, Joe.  But this year?  Maybe.  Don’t blame me Joe, you painted yourself into this corner with the Chud-fiasco and you are firmly in a buy low situation.

Would listen.  Might jump.  Possible.

Because… see #2.


Nothing but solid for decades.

3.  Mike Zimmer, Bengals DC.
Players run through walls for him.  When the Bengals crap out in the playoffs it won’t be Zimmer’s defense.  It’ll be Jay Gruden’s misuse of his terrifically large receiving targets and/or Andy Dalton’s suck.  Completely NFL HC ready, knows the division, nothing not to like here.  Smart enough to hire a great OC, would probably be fine with Norv.  (Although Norv won’t be staying will he?)

Would listen.  Might jump.  Possible.  Also probable Mike Brown denies permission to talk to him.



The Harbaugh Tree guy you can’t get.

2.  David Shaw, Stanford.
Continued from the Taggart paragraph… Here is a buy-high candidate and he’s not talking to you.  That’s why you go after Taggart now.  Because by the time a Harbaugh Tree HC compiles 34-6 record, he ain’t talking to Joe Banner.  Don’t believe me?  Go ahead, you and Jimmy take your lawyers out to Pasadena like lololol last year, see how that works out.

Laughs at your phone call.  Calls staff in to laugh with him at your phone call.



How do you feel after playing Malzahn’s Skynet offense? Bielema’s face says it all.

1.  Gus Malzahn, Auburn.
This would totally suck for Auburn so I’m glad it won’t happen.  But it should.  What do the Browns suck at?  Offense.  Have for years.  Who is the best offensive mind in football?  Chip Kelly.  (Whiff.)  Second best?  It’d have to be Malzahn, no?  When his offense is clicking it isn’t stoppable.  I base this on:  UGA couldn’t stop it, Bama couldn’t stop it, Mizzou couldn’t stop it, and take the OVER 67.5 that’s currently available for the BCS.

For enough cash, he’s yours.

Not rocket science.

The Browns offense sucks.  Has for a long time.  You invested last year’s resources on building defense.  You didn’t do a good job, but still… now is the time to focus on offense.  It starts with a coach who is current on today’s emerging offense.  Didn’t hate Norv, but he earned his spurs with Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and like seven all-pro blockers.  You want a good offense?  Hire a good offensive coach.

You want a team that works its balls off for you?  You hire a good leader of men.  Sucks that you just fired that guy.  But there are other coaches who inspire their team and max their players’ ability.  (Hint:  Jim Schwartz is not one of those.)  Pretty sure everyone on this list satisfies what-should-be the top criterion in your decision-making.

One non-reported data point on Josh McDaniels.

And so if leader-of-men is the top criterion, naturally  Josh McDaniels is pretty much the opposite.  I’ve seen MKC fluffy I-HEART-JOSH piece.4  You know what she forgot to “report?”  The year after Josh McDaniels was fired mid-season, John Fox had the same team in the playoffs in his first year.  With Tim Tebow.

Sorry that I’m not overly impressed by OC’s who OC with Tom Brady at QB.  It’s like the Charlie Weis experience never happened.

This shit show is a long way from over.

  1. Ok I have one:  I’m starting to lean toward Banner as a discreet water-carrier for a back-room Woody-Johnson-esque meddlesome know-it-all owner.  I suspect Haslam was behind the defense change; I suspect Haslam wanted the show trial of Chud; I suspect Haslam wanted to fire someone for 4-12 in a mis-guided attempt to demonstrate that losing will not be tolerated. [back]
  2. Orgeron was the Blind Side HC. [back]
  3. I shit you not.  Counting backward the Browns have one playoff win in 1994, 1989, 1987, 1986, then 19-freaking-69. [back]
  4. MKC’s ball-washing of coaching candidates is so pathetic.  Please forward me a link of any main-stream media type who mentions anything critical about Josh McDaniels.  Or who fails to mention that he went to John Carroll. [back]
  • With the current group of coaches the Browns have been linked to, I’m almost to the point where I would favor Malzahn or James Franklin just for something different.

    Hadn’t thought about Whisenhunt before, but surprised he’s not on Browns radar because of his Pittsburgh connection. It could be that because he didn’t start Hoyer at QB then Lombardi has decided that Whisenhunt is not worthy of an interview.

    I know when the inevitable happens and they hire McDaniels we will all talk ourselves into it, but that hire will set the franchise back at least another decade.

    • i like that james franklin is on the list of candidates-we’re-leaking-to-JLC-that-we’re-interested-in however bogus that list is and even though said list seems purpose-built to get people talking about not-Chud.

      but though franklin maxes his players and has a private school competitive in the most rugged of football conferences, i cant say i’ve seen anything especially innovative. i can’t speak to his play-calling or game-management. i’ll just leave it with, sure, if they can get james franklin, i’m in favor.

      • Agree on Franklin. The one thing I find intriguing is that he took Vanderbilt, essentially the Browns of the SEC, and made them competitive. Whether that transfers to the NFL, who knows?

        I’m just so uninspired by some of the names linked to the Browns and right now have zero faith that these guys can get this hire right.

  • bupalos

    I’m fundamentally opposed to the “lets get guy x so he can bring his flavor-of-the-month system y to our team.” Malzahn is the poster child for that. I think people make the mistake of thinking that’s what Kelly is, despite his own attempts to disown it. Chip Kelly is just hella smart, and people confuse the man himself with one of the high-profile ways he scrambled for an advantage in college. Great coaches like Belichick and JiHarbaugh are not about that at all. They are just smart guys that look through every nook and cranny and know investing resources in covering every base a tiny bit better than the other guy is what makes a winner. Finding the particular matchup advantage this week. Declining the safety that could mean 1 extra hail mary. Playing the clock to give the other guys 3 plays before half instead of 5. Pushing your advantage as far as you can while you have it. Having extreme urgency and extreme attention to detail and a lot of different schemes and weapons that you can adapt as needed. In the NFL, everything important happens at the margins. There are not great unstoppable systems that turn everything on their head. That stuff is all a mirage.

    • i don’t think you’ve been watching auburn closely enough and also forgot the cam newton championship for which he was OC.

      as for me, my avi speaks for itself. but here’s how i got there (aside from it being the best CFB logo i’ve ever seen): i went 5-0, 8 cheddar points, with malzahn from week 10 to week 15. that’s admittedly a humble-brag that informs that i’ve watched the team and watched them improve week over week and i feel completely qualified to state:

      Malzahn’s Auburn offense is no flavor-of-the-month system.

      it’s a crisply paced read-option that gets a defense on its heels and steps on its throats not through gimmicky-system-trickery but through perfect execution. in order to run up 296 against bama and follow it up with 545 against mizzou you must practice, practice, practice. this accrues to malzahn.

      w.r.t. to great unstoppable systems, there is a rich history of such teams and the team that takes kanick’s four-studs-on-o-line rule to heart will rediscover this truth.

      • bupalos

        I should clarify, I’m not saying I think Malzahn really is just a factor for a system, I don’t know him that well. On the face, it looks like a flavor of hurry up read-option like Oregon. I think there are a couple reasons why zone read plays and hurry up are well structured for the college game, one being that it places high mental demands on the defense in a league that restricts practice time and whose player development is limited by their max 4 year playing time. Another being that just about every power team has multiple quarterbacks that don’t have nearly the same talent separation as the pros. There’s a reason Kelly just runs zone read and sprinting hurry up in bits and spurts now, as opposed to the first couple games where they pushed it pretty maximally. In the NFL, the best teams can run everything all the time, and reform their attack each week and each quarter to fit the opposition. Unlimited practice time, unlimited player development, and unlimited resources mean having as many weapons as possible is the order of the day, not a “system.”

        Kelly knows this. Maybe Malzahn does too, but I can’t say I see that on the surface. Hopefully it’s not my hard-won prejudice against southern evangelicals blurring my vision, but I just don’t think Malzahn is as sharp. That he’s gone ahead and written a book on his amazing world-beating discoveries figures into that too. Very possible I’m not being fair with this though.

  • Dave Kolonich

    Of course Malzahn is interesting but that move also screams of trying to make up for not getting Chip Kelly last year. While parts of his offense could (and already do) work in the NFL, it would be a reach to assume he will evolve into an NFL HC. Although it’s always tempting to think that the Browns might actually run a contemporary offense someday.

    A Zimmer hire would be walking back in time. Zimmer plus Norv Turner would mean the Browns would again be stuck in the 1990’s.

    Honestly, there’s no winner here on this or any other list. This is the most limiting HC job in the league. The decision makers have already created an environment that is not conducive to coaching success. Yet in other places, Belichick and Reid’s teams are in the playoffs. The Browns have Lombardi and Banner.

    • bupalos

      It’s not limiting to a guy like JMcD who would probably pick the exact guys who are here if he could. I do agree we aren’t getting anyone who isn’t already Banner-Lombardi positive. These guys are…how shall we put it… a very particular brand.

    • there’s no magic beans with coaches just as there’s no magic beans with quarterback. don’t try telling that to browns fans.

  • squeekycleen

    1. david shaw is garbage. when he wins with something he put together, then we might be able to talk. otherwise, hes just an overconservative statue who likes to slam his team into the other one.
    2. malzahn is a college coach wed to a rinky dink offense. malzahn is not chip kelly. chip kelly has run different offenses at every stop based on personnel. malzahn is in love with a high school/college offense that will not work in pros. you dont want a system guy.
    3. nfl job totally out of helfirch’s league.
    4. ed orgeron, you must be joking.
    5. willie taggart would be a wild reach.

    • squeekycleen

      malzahn would be the ultimate train wreck. i’m laughing my ass off at the potential there. the pickins are slim browns fans.

  • Matt Borcas

    Forget about drafting Tebow in the first round (or, as you noted, John Fox’s immediate success), the biggest red flag when it comes to McDaniels is that he took over a Rams offense that ranked 30th in offensive DVOA (coordinated by PAT FREAKING SHURMUR, of all people) and somehow made it worse. The 2011 Rams finished 32nd in offensive DVOA.

    That being said, I don’t *hate* the idea of hiring McDaniels. I preferred him to Chud last year, and I imagine he’s learned from some of the mistakes he made in Denver. (The Browns don’t even have a franchise QB for him to alienate and trade in his first offseason, which is comforting!). But I’m drooling over the prospect of Malzahn; JH3 needs to barrage him with blank checks until he signs a contract.

    • Matt Borcas

      Nevertheless, I have to LOL at your suggestion of Orgeron. Under what criteria did his teams play great for him at Ole Miss? He strikes me as too much of a players’ coach for the pro game, verging on Crennel-esque.

      • Im just assuming they played well at Ole Miss but I admit I never watched the movie. But hey, he did better than Lane Kiffin. Actually and seriously, I was pretty impressed at USC’s 180 and while it was accomplished mainly by removing Kiffin, players seems to love Orgeron.

        He’s strictly in there under the banner of players coach’ if one subscribes to that NBA-ish theory. If you want an Erik Spoelstra type who’d just get out of the players’ way, Orgeron would seem to be your guy.

  • Capitalgg

    David Shaw IMO won’t leave Stanford. That said, your top 2 not named Shaw would be my first 2 phone calls.

    If you can weaken a division opponent while improving your team, while improving your team, that’s gotta be considered.

    Well, unless you are “smarter” than everyone else.

  • humboldt

    My, is it ever so much easier to breathe outside the Belichick box! Thanks for the encouraging list of candidates, if only to stoke the imagination of what could be if we had a management team that wasn’t so hopelessly doctrinaire. I would only suggest that the Kliff Kingsbury picture is less Nic Cage, and more of a Ryan Gosling meme waiting to happen.

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