It’s not about the quarterbacks and it’s not about the 2019 NFL draft. The Cleveland Browns’ winter will be all about finding the right head coach and Mike McCarthy and Bruce Arians lead the discussion.
December is typically a busy time in the life of a Cleveland Browns fan. Twitter scouts are already sick of talking about the number one rated quarterback prospect as most mock drafts have become old news by now and the search for a head coach to finally resurrect this franchise is in full-swing. However, in December of 2018 only the latter applies for the Cleveland Browns, and it’s likely the most important task the organization faces moving forward in the John Dorsey era.
Baker Mayfield is the quarterback of the future and the Browns are currently drafting outside of the top-ten in April’s upcoming draft. It’s new territory for Cleveland and the fans are eager as to who will be this young and upcoming team’s new leader.
There are several names already being tossed around as potential candidates from both the college ranks and former NFL coaches.
Two viable candidates from the NFL coaching ranks currently exist, both being disciples of Marty Schottenheimer.
The Green Bay Packers recently fired head coach Mike McCarthy after nearly 13 seasons with the team. McCarthy had a solid tenure with the Packers winning six NFC North division titles and a Super Bowl in 2010.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers won his MVP under McCarthy’s play-calling and the Packers finished inside the top 10 in passing yards all but two of his 12 seasons as the team’s play-caller. Of course, the Browns are likely to covet an offensive-minded head coach with experience at controlling an offense, and McCarthy fits the bill.
Browns starting center J.C. Tretter, who played under McCarthy from 2013-2016, gave his stamp of approval for his former coach as a viable option for Cleveland’s head coaching vacancy.
Mike McCarthy and #Browns Baker Mayfield 'would do great together' says former #Packers OL JC Tretter. He says McCarthy still has a 'great offensive mind' https://t.co/rI9EvgSw7k
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) December 3, 2018
The Cleveland Browns front office is also filled with former Green Bay Packers employees, which could certainly expedite bringing McCarthy in for a visit. General manager John Dorsey, assistant general manager Eliot Wolf and player personnel Alonzo Highsmith all have prior experience working with McCarthy in their time with Green Bay.
According to Matt Verderame of Fansided, the Browns are already contemplating if they will hire McCarthy.
Working together with quarterback Baker Mayfield will be the largest task for the position and McCarthy’s time working with Rodgers certainly offers a unique perspective that most candidates don’t have. The 2011 NFL MVP isn’t shy about voicing his opinion and his disagreements with his coach were well-documented. However, their disconnect wasn’t due to a lack of honesty or communication. It was simply a philosophical difference, and both now walk away with respect for one another.
It’s no secret Baker Mayfield is an expressive person, both on and off the football field. He needs someone that will approach this job with honesty and hard work in order to earn his respect. The lack of realness eventually became the demise of former head coach Hue Jackson, and his desire for being liked rivaled Michael Scott’s from The Office.
Another candidate who will have absolutely no issue with this is former Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians.
Arians has long voiced his desire to one day be the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. After all, he got his first NFL play-calling job with the Browns in 2001 and Arians certainly hasn’t lost his love for the city.
“That was the job I always wanted. I felt like Cleveland deserved a winner. They have the most loyal fans in the world. I just thought it was a goal of mine. Every time that job came open, I tried to get it.”
Arians, like McCarthy, has a solid resume to offer in any potential job interviews. However, he has bounced around much more than the former Packers coach and Arians has ultimately found success everywhere he has been.
He won the AP NFL Coach of the Year award in 2012 with the Indianapolis Colts and in 2014 with the Arizona Cardinals. Not to mention he is also a two-time Super Bowl champion, both with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Though he does possess these nice accolades next to his name for his success in the NFL, they are not the only why he makes perfect sense for the Browns.
Bruce Arians’ greatest accomplishment was his role for revitalizing Carson Palmer’s career in 2015. Palmer was just coming off an injury in 2014 and many doubted if he would return to the same level ever again.
Then, Arians and Palmer turned in one of the best seasons in Arizona Cardinals history in 2015 with a 13-3 record. Palmer threw for 4,671 yards, 35 touchdowns on 63.7 completion percentage and a career high 77.1 QBR.
Working with and teaching Baker Mayfield is the greatest responsibility for the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns and the the former Cardinals coach has a great track record with young quarterbacks. Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam along with GM John Dorsey all realize they absolutely must have a high comfort level with their next coach, specifically one comfortable with grooming a franchise quarterback.
Arians worked closely with Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck all early in their careers. That is a damn nice topic point for Arians should he interview for the job, one nobody is likely to compete with.
Lincoln Riley of Oklahoma University and Matt Campbell of Iowa State are the hottest names at the collegiate level right now, and the Browns have already been connected to both as well. There will be plenty more names mentioned for the head coaching vacancy as interim head coach Gregg Williams will get consideration too.
The Cleveland Browns head coaching job is arguably the best gig in the NFL right now. That right there is a sign that this organization is truly turning the ship around.
Whether it’s a young, first-time NFL head coach in Lincoln Riley (who coached Mayfield at Oklahoma for his Heisman campaign) or an experienced and respected coach such as Mike McCarthy or Bruce Arians one thing remains certain, the Cleveland Browns are close to becoming a legitimate playoff contender and the next coach will be expected to take them there.
The Browns have their blue-chip players on both sides of the ball in Baker Mayfield and Myles Garrett. They still have a tremendous amount of draft capital and cap space while also having one of the youngest teams in the league.
The front office is firmly in place for years to come and all that is left to fill is the head coaching job. Whether Dorsey and the Haslam’s go for a young, innovative offensive-minded head coach remains to be seen. But Mike McCarthy and Bruce Arians are undoubtedly the favorites to land the position.
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