by Sam Allard
From the comfort of your living room or antlered den in Chagrin Falls, you now have game day access on your LCD TV that would have been unthinkable 15 or 20 years ago. But the telecast is optimized for the run, for the grunt and grapple of a close-up, WWI-style scrum.
Haslam knows that to experience a marquee football pass in all its parabolic loveliness — the dual dramas of passer and receiver at once — you simply have to be there, at “FirstEnergy Stadium.” The eye will always be a more advanced optical machine than the video camera.
Enter Rob Chudzinksi, the beefy, corn-fed tight ends guy from Toledo, a man oriented almost magnetically toward the end zone. Most recently the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers, Chud has already served two short sentences with the Browns franchise. He was offered the head coaching gig over dinner in Charlotte last week after some sort of head nod or winking communiqué between Haslam and Joe Banner.
Notwithstanding the absent “wow” factor, the stats are more or less on Chud’s side. His offenses have been electrifying (excepting, of course, the 2008 Browns). As tight ends coach in 2004, he made of the forgettable Steve Heiden and Aaron Shea a more productive duo than the combined ground attack. In 2007, he called the plays which led to Braylon Edwards’ 16 TDs — more than the entire receiving corps in 2009 (11) and 2010 (13). He turned Derek Anderson into a pro-bowler.
Chud’s work with Antonio Gates in San Diego and Cam Newton in Carolina has been well-documented, and the current Cleveland roster — holes and all — has enough ammo to suggest that Chud will find a way to put points on the board.
Jimmy Haslam understands that points don’t necessarily win games, but they sure put butts in the seats. In his remarks before Chud’s introduction, he said he wanted a team that “candidly, will be fun to watch.”
Chud’s starry-eyed “dream job” talk smacks a tad of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, but it’s frankly a welcome change from Pat Shurmur’s drowsy sideline persona. And it sure beats the martyrdom of Byron Scott, who, from his Cavs’ courtside perch, may as well be cast in bronze.