PITTSBURGH -- Cleveland Browns players reacted angrily to the mere notion that coach Rob Chudzinski could be fired following the team’s 4-12 season.
And when they spoke in the locker room after the season-ending loss to the Steelers, they weren’t even sure it would happen. As they spoke, there were only rumors about the possibility. By early evening, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen cited his sources in saying the decision was made and would be announced early this week.
The feelings of the players were evident, though.
“That’s ridiculous,” linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said.
“I’d be very surprised if they make a change,” tackle Joe Thomas said. “And disappointed.”
“I like coach Chud a lot,” said tight end Jordan Cameron. “He’s a great coach and he did a great job, and it’s his first year. I like the way he is. He’s a competitor and he’s a grinder.”
Cameron later added: “Guys deserve a chance to turn a program around and get things going, so (the possibility) is kind of shocking. I’m all for Chud and what he does, and support him 100 percent.”
Safety T.J. Ward, who could be a free agent, said the team believed in Chudzinski through the entire season.
“If we didn’t believe in him we wouldn’t have played for him,” Ward said. “You’d see a lot of rebelling and a lot of guys doing their own thing, and I don’t think that happened at all this year. It just didn’t happen the way we wanted it. When you have guys playing until the end of the season when there’s nothing to play for, you know you’ve got a good coach.”
Maybe not good enough, evidently.
Chudzinski showed little emotion about the possibility he could be replaced. Asked if he expected to be back, he said: "As far as I know."
He said he had no inkling that there was any front office dissatisfaction with his performance, and said over and over he would start this week making evaluations for next season.
“To start over again, it would be devastating, I think,” Thomas said.
“There’s reports saying that he won’t be back?” Jackson said. “Chud’s gonna be here for as long as he wants to. He’s a great head coach. That’s all I’ve got to say about that. I’m not answering any questions like that. That’s foolish, in my opinion. That’s not going to happen.”