The Colts added former Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski to their coaching staff today. Chudzinski and Chuck Pagano worked together at the University of Miami for 8 years, beginning when Pagano was a graduate assistant and Chudzinski was a freshman tight end.
“Chud” has coached in the NFL for 10 years, mostly bouncing back and forth between the Browns and Chargers, plus a two year stint as Carolina’s offensive coordinator.
He has gone 80-80 overall in NFL games, which is respectable considering all the time he spent in Cleveland. The Browns (including the original franchise) have won 10 or more games just twice since 1989, and Chudzinski was their offensive coordinator for one of them.
Under Chudzinski, the Browns offense finished 18th in the NFL in total offense and 11th in passing yards, their highest finish since 1991. The team also finished ninth in total defense, marking their highest ranking since 1994. Cleveland recorded 40.0 sacks as a team and tied for the league lead with 16 total players with a sack.
Readers can either be impressed that Chudzinski was able to guide a team with serious problems at quarterback to finish just outside of the top ten in passing or sad for a franchise that hadn’t finished that “high” in 23 years. Or both. It’s perfectly acceptable to be both.
Chudzinski’s title will be “Special Assistant to the Head Coach.” That’s right, assistant to the head coach. As much as that title might bring a smile to fans of The Office, Pagano’s decision to give a position to an old friend could prove beneficial to the Indianapolis Colts.
A .500 record and some middling offenses doesn’t look terribly impressive at first, but in the six seasons Chudzinski wasn’t working for the Browns, the teams with which he was associated went 58-38 and ranked an average of 5.8 in scoring and 7.3 in offensive yards, including Chargers teams that led the league in scoring in 2006 and total yards in 2010 (they were 2nd in scoring that season as well).
Chudzinski is good with tight ends, which as Colts Authority’s Kyle Rodriguez pointed out, could be beneficial to a team developing two very talented young players at the position in Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener. He also seems to favor the downfield passing attack, which could add a nice balance of opinions to the offensive meeting room on West 56th Street.
Whatever his role ends up being, Rob Chudzinski looks like a good hire for the Colts and a nice opportunity for a guy who was let go suddenly after one season as a head coach.
I hope Pep opts to utilize Chud's knowledge in order to better facilitate his own absorbance of the pro game. Chud and Clyde are invaluable assets for Pep, and if he's half as smart as I believe that he is he'll relax and seek their counsel.
Two possible outcomes - 1) The offense ascends to elite levels ; 2) Pep is even more hotly pursued for head coaching vacancies. In which case, Pagano has his insurance policy already on board to ensure offensive continuity (or at least some degree of familiarity).
Part of me wonders if secretly Pags and Grigsy weren't hoping Pep would take the Vanderbilt job. Just a thought.
If the Colts are not overwhelmed with the injury bug on offense like this year, they should put up impressive numbers in 2014. Pep is bound to get some plum head coaching offers in the college ranks. Like this move a insurance that Luck will not have to break in an entirely new coach as OC in his critical fourth contract year. Downside is any potential clash between Pep and Chud. Let Chud oversee getting the maximum potential out of so many young players on offense.
@dbgindy Thanks :)
I wonder, what does Pep think of all this? Is Chud waiting in the wings to take over if the offense has problems? The FO seemed pretty down on Pep for a first year guy (and who, at least to me, acquitted himself better than Manusky or Grigson last year).
@erhall01 I think it was more about his relationship with Pagano. Chuck wants to help out his friend who got fired after just one season, and in doing so he could end up helping the team quite a bit. Chudzinski is a good offensive guy. He's a former tight end, and that's his main positional focus, but I'm sure it won't hurt to have him working with Richardson.
@hankster I think it's just Chuck helping out a friend who was fired suddenly. He'll be here a year and have "Colts offense" on his resume, instead of taking a year off after getting canned.
It could also be beneficial if Pep is still interested in coaching college football, which we have no way of knowing ourselves, of course. If he leaves for a better job than Vandy next year, Indy will have another guy to choose from to maintain continuity on offense.
The Browns owe him $10M, he doesn't need much helping out. I really think you're right, he's "Pep insurance".