It doesn't take Nostradamus or Ms. Cleo to realize Tony Sparano will not be the Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2012 unless we somehow finish 10-6 or better. Unless you've been sleeping under a rock, which doesn't sound like a bad proposition if you've watch Miami play this year, you probably realize Miami is 0-5 and a 10-6 record would mean we'd finish 10-1 to finish the year. Even the most optimistic fans would have a hard time fathoming such a finish. So with that, I'm going to do my best Stephen Ross impersonation by searching for Head Coach candidates while Sparano is still employed.
The most popular names are Bill Cowher, Jeff Fisher, and Jon Gruden. I'll focus on another popular name this time, albeit an individual not as well known as "The Other Big Three." The spotlight is on Rob Chudzinski this week.
Rob Chudzinski was born in Toledo, Ohio and grew up worshipping Woody Hayes and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Rob Chudzinski was a former tight end for the Miami Hurricanes and was a member of the 1987 and 1989 National Championship teams. He was not only successful on the field, but he earned a Master's of Business Administration in 1996 after completing a bachelors in Business Administration in 1990.
Chudzinski started his coaching career at the University of Miami in 1994 as a graduate assistant. He worked under the tutelage of Dennis Erickson and Butch Davis for two years until he was promoted to tight ends coach in 1996. In 2001, he was promoted to Offensive Coordinator and helped lead the most prolific offenses in Hurricane history. Miami set school records for points in a season (475) in 2001 and topped it in 2002 with 527 offensive points. The Hurricanes finished with at least 33 points in 10 of 12 games in 2001 and averaged 40.5 points per game in 2002, a number we would drool over for the Miami Dolphins. By the time Chudzinski left Miami, he created a multitude of stars at TE with Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey, and Kellen Winslow. Ken Dorsey, Brett Romberg, Bryant McKinnie, Willis McGahee and Joaquin Gonzalez were all among offensive players that have won awards and earned All-American honors under Chudzinski's direction.
Chudzinski was hired by the Cleveland Browns in 2004 and served a single season as a tight ends coach. He departed for San Diego to hold the same position in 2005 and 2006. In 2007, he returned to the Browns as Offensive Coordinator for Romeo Crennel. Prior to Chudzinski arriving in Cleveland, the Browns were dreadful on offense and ranked 30th in points (238) and 31st in yards (4,233). In his first year as Offensive Coordinator, Cleveland ranked 8th in the NFL in points and yards with 402 points scored and 5,621 yards gained. The Browns finished 10-6 and won the AFC North and Derek Anderson earned a trip to the Pro Bowl. Chudzinski's offense faltered the next year and again ranked 30th in points scored and 31st in yards gained. The Browns played hot potato at QB with Anderson starting only 9 games. Ken Dorsey, Brady Quinn, and Bruce Gradkowski split the remaining games for Cleveland.
After Crennel was fired as Cleveland's Head Coach, Chudzinski returned to San Diego to serve as Assistant Head Coach/Tight Ends Coach under Norv Turner. While Chudzinski was not the Offensive Coordinator, the San Diego Chargers still enjoyed offensive success in 2009 and 2010 as they ranked 4th and 2nd on offense in the NFL. Thus far in 2011, the Chargers rank 13th in points scored.
When former Chargers Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera was hired as Head Coach of the Carolina Panthers in 2011, he elected to bring Chudzinski with him and Chudzinski was hired as Carolina's Offensive Coordinator. The Panthers struggled terribly on offense in 2010 with Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore at the helm. The Panthers ranked last in the NFL in points scored and yards gained and they looked completely inept on offense. The Panthers selected Cam Newton with the first overall pick and brought in Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey to provide talented targets at tight end. The rest of the offense, including RBs and OL essentially remained the same. Under Chudzinski's direction, the Panthers currently rank 18th in points scored an 5th in yards gained. Newton has shown flashes of talent as a rookie and the Panthers offense has shown much improvement in a single year.
Chudzinski has had success in every season except for the 2008 Browns. He has done a great job of working with tight ends in college football and in the NFL. He has had tremendous success with Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow, and Antonio Gates. He also did very well with Ken Dorsey at the University of Miami and his offense helped Derek Anderson earn a trip to the Pro Bowl, an honor he has not come close to receiving since his time with Chudzinski in Cleveland. He has also been instrumental in assisting Cam Newton as a rookie. Chudzinski would be a great hire for a team with a young QB they are looking to develop and if given the choice, Chudzinski would be high on any team's list looking for the next young Head Coach.
Chudzinski doesn't necessarily prefer a single system above the rest. He's spent years working under great minds with Jimmy Johnson, Butch Davis, Marty Schottenheimer, and Norv Turner and has been able to learn from all of them. "We don't care how we move the ball. We could run a hundred times, we could pass a hundred times. We just want to get the ball in the end zone and move the football. I'm not going to say we're going to score 60 points a game, but we're sure going to try," was a statement made by Chudzinski prior to Carolina's first preseason game in August.
"My philosophy is to have an attacking style offense. I think that's how you have to be offensively in this league," Chudzinski said. That is a philosophy that would surely be welcomed in Miami.