(SportsData) – The Cleveland Browns have hired Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski as head coach, the team announced Thursday evening. The Toledo, Ohio native will be the 14th full-time head coach in franchise history and its sixth since the team returned to Cleveland in 1999. Chudzinski replaces Pat Shurmur, who was fired at the end of the 2012 season.
The 44-year old Chudzinski served as the Panthers’ offensive coordinator the last two seasons. This is Chudzinski’s third stint with the Browns; he was Cleveland’s tight ends coach in 2004 under head coach Butch Davis and its offensive coordinator in 2007-08 under head coach Romeo Crennel.
In 2007, Chudzinski guided a Browns offense that sent four players to the Pro Bowl — quarterback Derek Anderson, wide receiver Braylon Edwards, left tackle Joe Thomas and tight end Kellen Winslow — and finished as the third-most productive in team history in points (402) and net yards (5,621). In 2011 with the Panthers, Carolina set club records for total yards (6,237) and first downs (345) one year after experiencing franchise-lows in both categories.
According to The Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Browns are “very close” to bringing in deposed San Diego Chargers head coach, Norv Turner, as offensive coordinator. Chudzinski has had two stints with the Chargers and most recently worked under Turner as the assistant head coach/tight ends coach from 2009-10.
The Browns will officially introduce Chudzinski as head coach at a 10 a.m. EST press conference on Friday.
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