INDIANAPOLIS — New Cleveland coach Rob Chudzinski has built a reputation as an innovative offensive play-caller.
But one of the biggest calls Chudzinski made this winter was to former San Diego coach Norv Turner, who agreed to join him in Cleveland as the Browns’ offensive coordinator.
League sources say Turner and Chudzinski were a package deal from the start. All Chudzinski – the Panthers’ offensive coordinator the past two seasons – would say is Turner was in high demand and he’s glad he ended up in San Diego.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera, like Chudzinski, worked for Turner in San Diego and was among those interested in Turner.
“There were a lot of people that I’m sure were making calls to Norv. One of the things I had to do was reach out and put my recruiting hat on with Norv,” Chudzinski said Friday at the scouting combine. “He’s a special guy and a special coach. I’m just excited we were able to get him.”
Rivera promoted quarterbacks coach Mike Shula to replace Chudzinski after interviewing former head coaches Hue Jackson and Pat Shurmur. Rivera also wanted to talk to Ken Whisenhunt, but he was pursuing head-coaching opportunities after Arizona fired him.
Whisenhunt ended up in San Diego as Mike McCoy’s offensive coordinator.
Chudzinski said he’s spoken to Shula only briefly since leaving for Cleveland.
“I think Mike will do a great job. He was a big part of what we did there,” Chudzinski said. “He’s been around. He’s done it before. He’s called plays. I think he’ll do a great job.”
The coach known as “Chud” took pride in his play-calling in Carolina, where he helped the Panthers set team records for total yards and first downs in 2011 during Cam Newton’s rookie season. But he said he’s “not an ego guy” who will feel the need to meddle in Turner’s business.
“I’ll be involved in the offense. Certainly, there’ll be times when I make suggestions and talk those things through,” Chudzinski said. “If you do a good job in the game-planning part of it, the calls on game day are a lot easier and you know what’s going on anyhow.”
Rivera said it will be interesting to watch the Browns’ offense.
“They’re both tremendous offensive minds. I had the fortune of being with both of them,” Rivera said. “I think Norv Turner’s one of the sharpest offensive football coaches I’ve ever been around. I know Chud’s a sharp mind as well. It’s going to be interesting to see exactly what they try to do and how they want to do it. I would be surprised if they don’t score a lot of points.”
No Clowning around: Former South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore, whose draft stock took a hit when he tore up his knee last fall, said he does not think Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney should skip his junior season.
Clowney is already being talked about as the top prospect in the 2014 draft, and some observers have suggested he sit out this season rather than risk injury.
“He could do it, but I feel like it’s not a good move for him,” Lattimore said. “I feel like he’s a guy that, he can’t miss a season of football because of the way he is. He loves football, he loves the game, he loves winning.”
“He’s not going to do his team like that. I know he’s going to play this year,” Lattimore added. “An injury could happen anytime to anybody.”