BEREA, Ohio (AP) — The Cleveland Browns didn’t even talk to Mike McCarthy on their last coaching search. He was first on their list this time.
The former Green Bay coach met Thursday with Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam as Cleveland begins its latest quest to find the right coach after so many failed attempts.
McCarthy, who won a Super Bowl with the Packers in 2010 and went to the playoffs nine times in 13 years before being fired in 2018, would seem to have everything the Browns covet. He’s a respected, proven winner with an offensive mindset and experience handling quarterbacks.
While McCarthy was still at the team’s headquarters, Jimmy Haslam met with the media and laid out the team’s plans to find a new coach and general manager after John Dorsey’s ouster on Tuesday. Haslam said the team will first hire a coach, who will have input into the next GM.
Haslam acknowledged the team’s struggles in the past and a determination to find a coach and GM “who will be here 10 to 15 years.”
“We realize that we’ve had a tremendous amount of change since we bought the team, we accept responsibility,” he said. “At the same time, we’re more determined than ever to get it right for the Browns, the players and for the great fans of the Cleveland Browns, which we have the best fans, I believe, in the world.”
Haslam said NFL head coaching experience is not a prerequisite. He also sidestepped a question about interest in former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, saying the team was only focused on coaches with pro ties “right now.”
The 56-year-old McCarthy spent the past year out of football, immersing himself in studying concepts and trends and embracing analytics. He’s already interviewed with Carolina about its job and will likely meet with the New York Giants.
The Browns are seeking their seventh coach in 10 years after firing Freddie Kitchens on Sunday, hours after ending a disappointing 6-10 season with a loss at Cincinnati. Kitchens’ dismissal was followed by Dorsey mutually parting ways with the team after refusing to accept a diminished role offered by the Haslams.
McCarthy went 125-77-2 in Green Bay, but he was often criticized for not winning more that one Super Bowl with star QB Aaron Rodgers. He was assumed to be a leading candidate with Cleveland last year because of his Packers ties with Dorsey and others in Cleveland’s front office, but he was never interviewed.
The Browns are in the early stages of a comprehensive coaching search led by the Haslams, who have exhibited little patience during their tenure. Since they took over the team in 2012 from Randy Lerner, the Haslams have fired five coaches and five front office executives.
Jimmy Haslam said strategy officer Paul DePodesa is leading the search process this time. The final decision on hiring a coach will be made by the Haslams with collaboration from other members of the search committee: DePodesta, executive vice president JW Johnson, and vice president Chris Cooper.
Dorsey’s insistence on hiring Kitchens a year ago along with some misses in the past two drafts negated all the positives he had gained in his first year with the Browns, who didn’t win a game in 2017.
Cleveland also has interviews lined up with Patriots offensive coordinator John McDaniels, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.