The Browns today have made up their mind, and have named Rob Chudzinski as the 14th full-time head coach in franchise history.
Chudzinski comes to the team after spending the past two seasons (2011-12) as the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. Overall, Chudzinski’s résumé includes 19 years of experience, including nine seasons in the NFL.
Chudzinski re-joins the Browns organization, where he spent the 2004 season as tight ends coach and 2007-08 as offensive coordinator. In 2007, he orchestrated Cleveland’s best offense in terms of total yards (5,621), passing yards (3,726) and points scored (402) since the club’s return in 1999.
In 2011, during Chudzinski’s first season with the Panthers, the team set club records for total yards (6,237) and first downs (345), one year after experiencing franchise lows in both categories. Carolina also scored 48 touchdowns after recording 17 the year prior to Chudzinski’s arrival. The Panthers also moved from last in total yardage to seventh, marking the biggest improvement in the league since the St. Louis Rams went from 27th in 1998 to first in 1999.
In 2011, Chudzinski tutored Cam Newton, who became the first rookie in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards, while setting an NFL record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 14 en route to being named the 2011 Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Panthers also became the first team in league history with three 700-yard rushers in DeAngelo Williams (836), Jonathan Stewart (761) and Newton (706).
The Panthers went from two wins in the year before Chudzinski’s arrival to winning six in 2011 and seven in 2012, including victories in the final four games this past season. Wide receiver Steve Smith eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving both seasons under Chudzinski.
Chudzinski had two stints with the San Diego Chargers where he served as the assistant head coach/tight ends coach from 2009-10 and tight ends coach from 2005-06. He worked with tight end Antonio Gates, who was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of Chudzinski’s four seasons with the team. Gates recorded 1,157 receiving yards in 2009 and 1,101 in 2005, marking the only times he has eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau in his career. In four seasons working with Chudzinski, Gates averaged 72.3 receptions, 991.0 yards and 9.3 touchdowns per season, compared to an average of 58.8 receptions, 726.1 yards and 7.7 touchdowns in six seasons without Chudzinski.
In 2007, he guided the Browns’ offense as they scored 402 points and totaled 5,621 net yards of offense, both figures which ranked as third-best in franchise history. Wide receiver Braylon Edwards set franchise records with 1,289 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns, tight end Kellen Winslow set a career-high with 1,109 receiving yards and running back Jamal Lewis finished fifth in the NFL with 1,304 rushing yards. The Browns won 10 games, which are the most victories by the team since 1994 (11).
Chudzinski began his pro coaching career in 2004 as the Browns’ tight ends coach, where he worked with first-round draft choice, Kellen Winslow. During that season, Chudzinski was elevated to offensive coordinator for the final five games following Butch Davis’ resignation as head coach.
From 1994-2003, Chudzinski coached at his alma mater, the University of Miami (Fla.). He spent two seasons (1994-95) as a graduate assistant, five (1996-2000) as tight ends coach and three (2001-03) as offensive coordinator. During his three seasons as offensive coordinator, the Hurricanes played in a BCS Bowl game each year, including two National Championship appearances. He helped shape future NFL Pro Bowlers Bubba Franks, Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, Willis McGahee, Bryant McKinnie, Clinton Portis, Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow.
In 2001, the ‘Canes went 12-0 and defeated Nebraska to win the National Championship. In 2002, Miami’s offense set school records for points (527), total yards (6,074) and rushing touchdowns (33). They averaged 40.5 points per game, 284.2 passing yards per game and 183.0 rushing yards per contest. The Hurricanes went 12-1 in 2002, with their only defeat coming in overtime against Ohio State in the National Championship game. In 2003, Miami finished with an 11-2 record, including a 16-14 victory over Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
At Miami, Chudzinski tutored Kellen Winslow, who won the John Mackey Award in 2003 as the nation’s top collegiate tight end, while he also helped to develop two other All-America tight ends in Bubba Franks (1999) and Jeremy Shockey (2001). All three players went on to be first-round NFL draft picks.
Chudzinski played tight end at Miami from 1986-90 and was a three-year starter and a member of two national championship teams (1987 and 1989). He graduated with a B.A. in business administration in 1990 and went on to earn his MBA in 1996.