A flurry of head coaching moves have been made last night and this morning, but one team already had a significant head start on the process. The Browns were the first team to move on from their coach, firing Hue Jackson after eight games, and have had a while to formulate a plan. The team went 5-3 after moving on from Jackson, and might have the most attractive opening of any team with Baker Mayfield looking like a star in the making.
The Browns’ first step in the process will be to interview Gregg Williams tomorrow, GM John Dorsey revealed at a press conference this morning, per Pat McManamon of ESPN (Twitter link). Williams is the interim coach right now and although he isn’t expected to land the full time job, Cleveland’s strong play down the stretch certainly earned him consideration. Dorsey also said that offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, who has drawn rave reviews for his work with Mayfield, will get an interview although he wasn’t sure when that would occur.
Meanwhile, the Browns have also requested to interview Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). Flores is in his first year calling plays, but is highly regarded around the league and was a candidate for the Cardinals’ job last year. The Browns are also expected to interview former Titans head coach and current Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak, according to Alex Marvez of Sporting News (Twitter link). We heard earlier this morning that the Broncos have interest in Munchak as well, who’s earned a ton of praise for his work with the Steelers and is instrumental in Pittsburgh and far more influential than your average offensive line coach.
We first heard late last night that the Browns had reached out to Mike McCarthy, and while he wouldn’t confirm anything, Dorsey certainly didn’t throw cold water on the rumors. Dorsey said he has “a lot of respect for Mike McCarthy and what he’s done”, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). Dorsey also praised Kitchens, saying the first time coordinator has “done [a] wonderful job developing [a] relationship with” Mayfield, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal (Twitter link).
As soon as Adam Gase was fired by the Dolphins, he was immediately linked to Cleveland. Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald tweets that Gase going to the Browns is a “very real possibility”, and Mike Garafolo of NFL Network followed up with a tweet saying Peyton Manning, a very close friend of Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, is a “big fan” of Gase. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk tweeted that Haslam “aggressively pursued” Gase five years ago, “but Gase decided to wait to become a head coach.”
The Browns have also put in a request to interview Saints assistant head coach Dan Campbell, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Campbell has been a popular darkhorse candidate for some jobs, and impressed during his brief stint as the Dolphins’ interim head coach in 2015. In addition to Campbell, Rapoport tweets they requested an interview with Vikings interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski.
Two last candidates for the Browns are Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, as Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets that the Browns have submitted an interview request for him, and Colts offensive Nick Sirianni is also on their interview list Pelissero tweets separately. Adam Schefter followed up on Pelissero’s report by tweeting that while the Browns do want to interview Eberflus, they won’t be able to this week with the Colts playing a playoff game this weekend, and the same presumably goes for Sirianni.
Cleveland will be one of the most buzzed about teams in the coming days and weeks, and we should know a lot more about their intentions soon, and they’re clearly casting a very wide net. At this point, it still seems most likely that they’ll pursue an offensive coach to pair with Mayfield despite their reported interest in Flores and Eberflus.