Players on the Cleveland Browns were just as shocked as the rest of us following the firing of head coach Rob Chudzinski after just one season at the helm. Reports of player reactions have steadily emerged since the news became official Sunday night and emotions have run from bewilderment to anger.
"We are so dysfunctional," one anonymous player told Michael Silver of the NFL.com. "These billionaires need to pick somebody and stay with them. These aren't girlfriends..."
"This organization is a joke," another told Silver.
Rumors of the impending firing began appearing just before kickoff of the Browns' eventual 20-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The loss dropped the Browns to 4-12, and by the time the team buses arrived back in Cleveland, Chudzinski had been fired.
Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was incredulous when he heard the rumors on the team bus after the game, he told Peter Kings of Sports Illustrated.
On the bus back to Pittsburgh, [defensive teammate] Jabaal Sheard showed me a text from his agent that said Chud could be fired. I said, ‘No way. No way.' After the Trent Richardson trade and our quarterback injuries, I thought for sure he'd get a pass. Not one year. Come on. One year? There's no way. Chud was good for us, good for the team. He came in and did everything right, I thought.
The Browns have now had five coaches since returning to Cleveland in 1999.
"That's incredible," Jackson said. "Next year will be my ninth season here -- and it'll be my fifth head coach."
"You look at the great franchises. They don't fire your coach after the first season," offensive tackle Joe Thomas told Nate Ulrich of the Beacon Journal when rumors emerged prior to the game. "You can't do it."
Thomas continued, saying the firing would be "devastating."
It sets everything back. You just hit the reset button. Anytime you hit the reset button, it severely damages the organization, and it lengthens the amount of time that it takes to get back to the playoffs and turn the team into a consistent winner. ... I think that this organization needs continuity and that's the only chance that we're going to have to turn this team into a consistent winner.
SB Nation's Browns blog, Dawgs by Nature, is somewhat torn over the firing, explaining that Chudzinski did not have the tools he needed while acknowledging the results of 2013 were unacceptable. Writes Mike Krupka:
That being said, let's cut Chud a break, he was a first-year head coach on the Browns and the current roster is missing the biggest and most important piece of a NFL franchise - the QB. Still, the rosters did and does boast talented players at several positions such as Pro Bowlers LT - Joe Thomas, C - Alex Mack, TE - Jordan Cameron, and WR - Josh Gordon. The expectation from up top was that the coaches could take that talent and build a team certainly better than 4 - 12. To finish as poorly as they did was heartbreaking for fans and I think they wanted to see a coach who gave the team a personality and a gameplan to win and that inspired all his people to break the cycle of a losing culture. When the season started to slide, and things didn't get any better and Chud couldn't right the ship, I can only speculate that [team owner Jimmy] Haslam became as upset and enraged with the results as many Browns' fans did.
Initial reports indicated the Browns planned on retaining the current staff of assistant coaches, but Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer is reporting that the team will allow a new head coach to hire his own staff.