CLEVELAND (AP) — Todd Bowles was on the last coaching staff to get the Browns to the playoffs. He might get a chance to take them back.
Bowles will interview for Cleveland’s head coaching job Friday, NFL Network reported Thursday. Bowles, who spent the past season as Arizona’s defensive coordinator, was an assistant with the Browns from 2001-04, coaching defensive backs on Butch Davis’ staff.
With Bowles, the Browns went to the AFC playoffs in 2002, their last visit and the only time they’ve been to the postseason since their expansion reboot in 1999.
Now, the team is looking for its fourth full-time coach in six years — and seventh in 15 years — after Rob Chudzinski was fired last week after one season.
Bowles certainly has an impressive, varied resume.
In his first year with the Cardinals, the 50-year-old Bowles helped Arizona to a 10-6 record. He spent 2012 with Philadelphia, starting the season coaching the secondary before finishing as defensive coordinator when Juan Castillo was fired. He was Miami’s interim head coach for the final four games of the 2011 season after the Dolphins fired Tony Sparano.
Bowles’ background with Cleveland will help his cause, so may his Arizona connection. Last season, the Browns hired former Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who improved the unit but isn’t expected to return.
Bowles played safety for eight seasons in the NFL with Washington and San Francisco, winning a Super Bowl with the Redskins in 1988.
An interview with Bowles would satisfy the Rooney Rule, requiring teams to meet with at least one minority candidate. Bowles also is expected to interview for Minnesota’s head coaching vacancy.
The Browns are not commenting on their search or confirming any interviews.
On Saturday, owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner are expected to meet with New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, considered the favorite to replace Chudzinski, whose dismissal came after the Browns lost their last seven games and finished 4-12.
The team has also reportedly met with Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
McDaniels has long been connected to Cleveland’s job because of his relationship with Browns general manager Michael Lombardi. When McDaniels was fired as Denver’s coach after going 11-17 in 2010, Lombardi condemned the move and said the young coach would grow from the experience with the Broncos and develop into a successful coach the way Bill Belichick did.
The Browns can speak with McDaniels this week because the Patriots have a first-round bye.
There are also reports the team is interested in meeting with Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, who is preparing his team for the BCS national championship game against Florida State on Monday night. Malzahn has no NFL coaching experience, but he’s seen as an offensive innovator much like Chip Kelly, who was at the top of Cleveland’s wish list last year before he signed with Philadelphia.