Despite rampant reports linking former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer to the Cleveland Browns, the organization’s ownership denied that they are eyeing the three-time national championship-winning skipper.
At least not yet.
While addressing the media for the first time since parting ways with coach Freddie Kitchens and general manager John Dorsey, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam addressed the reports that the team was looking at Meyer as their next head man.
“Right now we’re just focusing on people with NFL coaching experience,” Haslam said.
It was reported earlier in the day by Bruce Feldman of The Athletic that the Browns had “strong interest” in bringing in Meyer.
The 55-year-old Meyer has 17 years of college coaching experience in which he amassed a 187–32 record. He started at Bowling Green, moving on to Utah, Florida and eventually Ohio State.
When asked about the report, Haslam replied: “I think it’s pretty clear what I said.”
Haslam was fairly somber in the press conference, apologizing for the team’s inability to keep a staff in place. The next coach will be the fifth since the Haslams bought the team in 2012.
“We feel terrible about what’s happened, but more determined than ever to get this right,” Haslam told reporters gathered in Berea. “Patience and continuity are good as long as you think you have the right people in place. We just did not feel like we had the right people in place to move forward like we’d like to.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to work with these candidates over the next week or two, or however long it takes.”
Haslam said the team will hire a coach before a GM.
“If you look at the successful organizations that are consistently in the playoffs, there is alignment within the organization and they have the right people in the right place, coach and GM,” Haslam said. “That’s what we’re focused on tremendously and that alignment is something that is really, really important.”
Jimmy Haslam Backs Baker Mayfield
The Cleveland opening is attractive because of the amount of compelling talent the team assembled over the last two seasons with Dorsey running the show. The offense is loaded with running back Nick Chubb, wide receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry and quarterback Baker Mayfield, who will be entering his third season in the league next year.
After setting the rookie passing touchdown record and being in the MVP conversation entering the year, Mayfield’s year was largely disappointing. The former No. 1 overall pick closed out his second year in the NFL with a three-interception performance in a 33-23 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals — who will finish with a league-worst 2-14 record.
In all, he collected 3,827 yards, 22 touchdowns and a whopping 21 interceptions.
“It was a different year for me,” Mayfield told reporters after the game. “Definitely didn’t have it all figured out. A lot of learning lessons, life lessons for me. I’m going to come back a different animal come spring time.”
Haslam backed his QB in his press conference, saying the team has a responsibility to help him reach his full potential.
“Baker caught a lot of grief this year. With everything that was asked, put on his plate, he did a remarkable job. We need to do everything we can to help Baker to realize his full potential.”
Browns Kick Off Interviews With Mike McCarthy
It was a busy day at the Browns facility, with the team also kicking off the interview process for their next head coach with Mike McCarthy.
McCarthy is among the most veteran candidates on the Browns wish list. He spent 13 seasons in Green Bay as the head coach, winning a Super Bowl and regularly leading the team to the playoffs. He went 135-85-2 as the coach in Green Bay.
The Browns have requested interviews with New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman and Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.