In the midst of a stunning Week 17 Sunday came a stunning report by ESPN's Chris Mortensen: The Browns will fire head coach Rob Chudzinski after only one season. By 9:30 p.m. ET, "will" turned to did following a Sunday night meeting, per Fox Sports' Jay Glazer. Cleveland cratered over the second half of the season, losing its final seven games and finishing 4-12. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweeted out the following statement from the Browns: "We needed to see development and improvement as the season evolved and, unfortunately, we took a concerning step backward in 2H."
The offense also turned wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron into Pro Bowl selections despite struggles at quarterback. Based on what we know, this makes no sense. Nobody wants a 4-12 record, but the coach should be given all kinds of slack in this case.
Other than the handful of surprising weeks from Brian Hoyer, the quarterback position was limited at best. On either side of Hoyer's injury, Cleveland had Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell under center. Yet some weeks that scenario looked down right peachy compared to the largely non-existent running game. Don't forget the Browns traded Trent Richardson early in the season, another shocking move, but one I respected at the time. On the positive end, Chudzinski's offense produced the No. 1 fantasy wide receiver in Gordon. Cameron's season dipped over the second half, but he's a major weapon.
Bottom line, we're talking one season. No rational mind can think that's enough time for a turnaround. Now, there are no reports of locker room rifts. Actually, quite the opposite; players are reportedly baffled by the firing rumors. Does that mean there is something behind Door No.3?
Who knows at this point. This is what we call a developing story. Initial speculation targets Patriots OC Josh McDaniel. Browns GM Mike Lombardi, a former analyst for the NFL network, defended the former Broncos coach when Denver fired McDaniels in 2010.
We'll throw one wild dart at the wall. The Browns need a QB and likely a coach. The Redskins are apparently set to fire the Shanahan's, head coach Mike and his play calling son Kyle perhaps by Monday. Washington has two young quarterbacks and needs draft picks.
Now we remind everyone that Lombardi also wrote an article in 2012 titled, "Kyle Shanahan-Kirk Cousins package could entice many teams." Cousins certainly didn't help his value over the final three games after taking over for Robert Griffin III. However, considering the deep dysfunction going on with the Redskins, those who were previously intrigued by the former Michigan State star can justify issues as franchise-related.
With the Patriots in the playoffs, McDaniels likely won't be available for a while. The Shanahan's should be available by lunch time on Monday.
Is this a stretch? Perhaps, but suggesting Chudzinski would be fired even 24 hours ago would have been as well.