Most of the reaction to the Cleveland Browns' decision to fire Rob Chudzinski after one year as head coach has come from fans, and much of it has been negative.
But one prominent player in the league weighed in this week.
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler does a regular show on ESPN-1000 in Chicago (appropriately dubbed "The Jay Cutler Show"). This week he was on the air with John Jurkovic, the ex-Packers and ex-Jaguars defensive lineman who spent a year in Cleveland on the 1999 expansion team.
Jurkovic mentioned on the show he played for the Browns, and Cutler immediately chimed in: “I can’t believe they fired Chud.”
To which Jurkovic responded: “Shocking. They are the new worst franchise in the NFL, replacing and supplanting the great Dan Snyder for the Washington Redskins.”
“They had a good team,” he said. “Obviously they didn’t win as many games as they wanted to. Defensively, they looked good. I thought J-Camp (Jason Campbell) came in and did a nice job quarterbacking. They had some talented receivers; that tight end is really good.
“It wasn’t an easy win to play them by any means.”
Cutler’s comments on the defense are kind given the Bears scored 21 in the fourth quarter, but the point was made.
It’s also something similar to what Bill Belichick said after the Patriots' win over the Browns. The Patriots produce their own show called "Patriots All-Access," which mikes players and coaches. After New England’s win, Belichick said (at about the 5:00 mark):
“Give them credit. They’re the team we thought they’d be. Young, aggressive, fought their [butt] off, gave us all we wanted and more.
“That’s a win none of us will forget, I’ll tell ya.”
Of course it’s easy for a coach who wins to be complimentary, especially when the win was as dramatic as that one was.
But typically if a coach or player feels like a move was proper or a team isn’t competing, they will talk in innocuous ways about a move or loss being unfortunate or sometimes being time for a change.
Cutler and Jurkovic were a little more direct.
“Joe Thomas said it best,” Jurkovic said. “He said every time you hit the reset button, you set your organization back.”
“It’s hard,” Cutler said. “It’s hard to get a new regime, new offense, new defense, new way of doing things, new way to practice. ... It’s not easy.”
Cutler could be a free agent after the season, and if he is he’ll be the best quarterback on the market.