Rob Chudzinski might get a third shot at coaching the Browns. Maybe this time as the head man.
A person familiar with the meeting says Chudzinski, Carolina’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons, interviewed Wednesday with the Browns. Chudzinski had two previous stints as an assistant with Cleveland, the team he rooted for as a kid growing up in Toledo, Ohio.
Chudzinski visited the team’s facility in Berea, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the teams are not confirming any interviews. Chudzinski’s interview comes one day after the Browns met with another former assistant, Marc Trestman, coach of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes.
The 44-year-old Chudzinski has spent the past two seasons with the Panthers working with quarterback Cam Newton.
Carolina finished fifth in total offense in 2011 and 12th last season under Chudzinski. He was Cleveland’s tight ends coach in 2004, but was fired along with the rest of Butch Davis’ staff.
He returned to the club in 2007 as the offensive coordinator for Romeo Crennel.
Last year, Chudzinski interviewed for head coaching jobs with St. Louis, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay.
Chudzinski’s connections with the Browns run deep.
He grew up pulling for Cleveland and was thrilled when his first NFL coaching job was on Davis’ staff. After he left Cleveland the first time, he spent two seasons as San Diego’s tight ends coach, working with perennial Pro Bowl standout Antonio Gates, before he was hired by Crennel in 2007.
That year, the Browns won 10 games — their most wins since 1999 — and had four players make the Pro Bowl. However, 2008 didn’t go nearly as well as injuries and a six-game losing streak to close the season resulted in a 4-12 record and the firing of Crennel. Cleveland’s offense sputtered in Chudzinski’s second year.
He went back to the Chargers for two more seasons before he was hired in Carolina.
FOX Sports reported the team will interview Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, the first known defensive coach to meet with the Browns.
Zimmer, who has never been a head coach, has been in charge of the Bengals defense since 2008. Before joining Cincinnati’s staff, the 56-year-old worked in Dallas and Atlanta. He coached Browns linebacker Scott Fujita with the Cowboys.