By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
The Morning Kickoff …
And then there were … two?: The next Browns coach could be the defensive coordinator of a team that went 6-10 last year.
Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine reportedly is receiving a third interview with the Browns on Thursday in Cleveland.
Or the next Browns coach could be someone else. Nobody is quite sure as the Browns’ “methodical” coaching search slogs to a conclusion.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported there is a second finalist also interviewing in Cleveland on Thursday.
That unidentified finalist is not Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who was presumed to be the front-runner as the week began.
Quinn, one of the earliest candidates to receive an interview when the Browns launched their search on Dec. 30, has a regularly-scheduled press conference in Seattle on Thursday. Per NFL rule, the Browns can interview Quinn a second time before Sunday, after which the Seahawks will amp up preparations for the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 48.
The other finalist also is not Greg Schiano. The Browns did interview the fired Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach in Tampa, FL, on Wednesday. But a source confirmed that Schiano, who has a Bill Belichick-to-Mike Lombardi connection, would not be considered for the Browns’ job.
The other finalist may or may not be Dirk Koetter. The Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator came out of nowhere as a longshot candidate. He was interviewed on Wednesday and reportedly fared well enough to be considered for a second session.
But as Schefter said in a radio interview on Wednesday, “Expect the unexpected.”
B’josh, is he back?: ESPN Cleveland confirmed on Wednesday night that there were new conversations about the job this week between the Browns and New England Patriots coordinator Josh McDaniels.
McDaniels was interviewed by the Browns during the Patriots’ playoff bye week. Shortly afterwards, McDaniels called the Browns and withdrew from consideration and told Boston media he would “definitely” be back with the team in 2014.
But after the Patriots were eliminated by the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game, the Patriots have had a turnover of two positions on Belichick’s offensive staff. ESPN Cleveland learned that McDaniels had conversations with the Browns this week. They were not characterized as a formal interview.
The source said that McDaniels expressed renewed interest to be considered. Subsequent reports characterized the conversations as Browns owner Jimmy Haslam reaching out to McDaniels to change his mind.
Whatever the extent of the talks, it appeared that McDaniels was not totally back into the mix. But the source wouldn’t rule it out.
Twisting in the wind: Sources in Buffalo report that the Bills were getting a little miffed about the extended courtship of Pettine, who coordinated the Bills’ defense in 2013 to a franchise-high 57 sacks and 23 interceptions. Both figures ranked second in the league.
Pettine was interviewed in Mobile, AL, on Tuesday and was telling associates that he believed he would be offered the Browns’ job. The Bills were making preparations for that inevitability. The Browns left the interview without offering the job.
Coincidentally, the Bills were the team that snatched Doug Marrone from the Browns’ grasp a year ago. The Browns had turned to Marrone as their second choice after Chip Kelly walked away from them. Haslam actually congratulated Marrone on being the Browns coach via a text message – only to learn from Marrone that Marrone was on his way to honoring an interview commitment with the Bills.
The moral of that story is that there is no deal until there is a signed contract.
And though Pettine will receive a third interview on Thursday and appears to be in the driver’s seat for the Browns’ job, just remember this: Ken Whisenhunt was interviewed three times by the Browns in the span of a year – and Whisenhunt is now the coach of the Tennessee Titans.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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