Browns vow to ‘get it right’ with next coach

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam vowed to ”get it right” when he

hires his next coach.

Haslam fired Rob Chudzinski on Sunday night, just hours after

Cleveland’s 20-7 loss at Pittsburgh and less than a year after the

first-time head coach was charged with turning around the

Browns.

Haslam and CEO Joe Banner cited an overall lack of progress in

their decision to dismiss Chudzinski, who had the Browns off to a

4-5 start before they lost their final seven games and finished

4-12 – the club’s sixth straight season with at least 10

losses.

”As the season developed, and as we got later in the season, it

was our feeling that the team was not getting better,” Haslam

said.

He knows there are skeptics with their doubts about him and

Cleveland’s front office.

”Candidly, we deserve it,” he said.

Banner and Haslam have already begun their search for

Chudzinski’s replacement. Banner said the team is still deciding

whether to interview Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton for

the opening.

Horton interviewed with the Browns last season before the job

went to Chudzinski, a lifelong Browns fan who was caught off guard

by his ouster.

Banner said none of the other candidates interviewed last year

will be considered again. That would rule out Penn State coach Bill

O’Brien and San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

”This is the crucial offseason for the Cleveland Browns,”

Haslam said. ”If we get that right, we’ll have a lot of positive

press conferences. We feel a lot of pressure to get this right for

our players, our fans and the city of Cleveland. It galls me when

people write, `Same old Browns.’ I think the key message needs to

be that we’re going to work hard to get this right.”

Chudzinski was told of his firing after the team returned by bus

from Pittsburgh.

”I shocked and disappointed to hear the news that I was

fired,” Chudzinski said in a statement released by the Browns. ”I

am a Cleveland Brown to the core, and always will be. It was an

honor to lead our players and coaches, and I appreciate their

dedication and sacrifice. I was more excited than ever for this

team, as I know we were building a great foundation for future

success.

”While clearly I would have liked to see the long-term vision

through to the end, I am very grateful to Jimmy Haslam and the

Haslam family for letting me live my dream.”

Chudzinski has three years left on his contract worth a reported

$10 million.

Chudzinski’s firing is the fourth in six years by the Browns,

who haven’t made the playoffs since 2002.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org