The Cleveland Browns will not be bringing back defensive line coach Chris Kiffin next season, with the veteran assistant landing a new gig with the Houston Texans.
There’s been some shuffling in the coaching ranks for the Browns in light of the hiring of Jim Schwartz as the defensive coordinator. Kiffin is the latest to move on, accepting the linebackers coach job with the Texans.
Kiffin briefly left the team last season to go to the college ranks with his brother, Lane Kiffin, at Ole Miss. He later returned but it wasn’t an easy year for Kiffin and the Browns, who dealt with injuries on the defensive line and what appeared to be an extended period of uncomfortableness with veteran pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney was upset with how he was used in the Browns system, although that might have been an issue with former coordinator Joe Woods as much as it was with Kiffin.
“I just feel like I need to be around somebody that believes in me and my ability,” Clowney said. “(It can’t) just be me believing in myself. I believe in myself more than anybody.”
Clowney accused the Browns of giving Myles Garrett — who had 16 sacks — more favorable matchups. Clowney had just two sacks last season.
Defensive backs coach Jeff Howard left this offseason as well to join the Chargers to coach their inside linebackers. Woods — who was fired shortly after the season — signed on to be the Saints defensive coordinator.
Browns QB Coach Drew Petzing Interviewing With Cardinals
The coaching changes could extend to the offensive side of the ball as well, with quarterbacks coach Drew Petzing interviewing with the Cardinals for the offensive coordinator position.
Petzing has been with the Browns for three seasons, originally coaching the team’s tight ends for two seasons after coming over following Kevin Stefanski’s hiring from the Vikings. He was named the quarterbacks coach last season.
Jonathan Gannon was hired as the Cardinals’ head coach shortly after the Super Bowl and he is expected to hire Petzing to be his OC. The duo worked together in Minnesota.
Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported that Petzing is the “leader in the clubhouse” for the job.
“New Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon has requested permission to interview Petzing for offensive coordinator, and he’s still the leader in the clubhouse, a source told cleveland.com. He’ll interview within the next couple of days and could get the job soon,” Cabot reported on Thursday.
Jim Schwartz Ready to Put Browns in Attack Mode
The Browns’ defense needed a shot in the arm after an inconsistent season and Schwartz should be able to do that. He plans to allow the unit to play more freely.
“I like to call it an ‘attack defense,'” Schwartz told the Browns’ official site. “We’re not a ‘read’ team up front. We’re an ‘attack’ team. We’re going to be disruptive. We’re hitting spots. It’s probably not as wide as it used to be, but it’s pretty simple in theory.
“It allows the players to play fast and puts them in the best position to rush the quarterback and play the run in between.”
While no player outright blamed Woods for the unit’s struggles, safety John Johnson III got pretty close after his firing was announced.
“I wouldn’t say it was too complex schematically, but I would say in certain moments in the game, yeah, maybe we didn’t need to trick ourselves trying to trick the other team,” safety John Johnson III said. “Maybe we could just line up, get our cleats in the ground and make plays, ’cause that’s when we’re at our best. When we’re panicking and stuff like that that’s when you see you guys running wide open. When we got our cleats on the ground we’re a pretty good defense.”