Among hard-core Browns fans, the team's announcement on Friday of four coaches who would not be retained in 2007 provoked little other than minor head-scratching at the names of John Lott and Ben Coates.
While the press release is a clear sign that the team's brain trust is making changes after the team's abysmal 2006 season, fans are clearly looking for more significant changes to be forthcoming. According to team and league sources who have spoken to the OBR, fans are likely to see a new offensive coordinator named by the team, and the team is already cautiously circling current Dolphins OC Mike Mularkey.
Before that happens, however, the Browns need to talk to the rising young coach who has been serving as coordinator since Maurice Carthon "resigned" midway through the season. The OBR was told earlier today that the team's interim offensive coordinator, Jeff Davidson, would have an interview either today or tomorrow. Despite reports to the contrary, the latest we've heard is that the interview will actually take place on Saturday.
One source tells theOBR.com that Davidson's session is simply a courtesy interview and it's highly unlikely he'll be named. Both owner Randy Lerner and General Manager Phil Savage want a veteran coordinator, although Davidson could be a fallback option if one cannot be found. If Davidson doesn't get the offensive coordinator gig, he very well could move on to another team in the same capacity. Davidson feels that he deserves a full off-season to implement his own offense and put his own stamp on that side of the ball. While the young coordinator opened up the offense somewhat during his tenure, he was largely saddled with having to work with Maurice Carthon's scheme and terminology.
The OBR can confirm that another young candidate for coordinator, Jason Garrett, interviewed with the team today. Like Davidson, Garrett doesn't fit the mold of a veteran coordinator that Savage and Lerner would prefer, but he does have intriguing potential. Garrett knows Phil Savage, and played under current Saint head coach Sean Payton when both were with the Giants. It's perceived that Garrett may have picked up some of Payton's penchant for aggressive play-calling.
A seemingly more appropriate fit would be the aforementioned Mike Mularkey, currently serving as offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins. The OBR can tonight reveal that the Browns have spoken with people close to Mularkey and could have him in for an interview this weekend or early next week for the coordinator position.
The Browns are still trying to determine Mularkey's status with the Dolphins organization given Saban's departure for Alabama. They have yet to formally speak to Mularkey in order to avoid any type of potential tampering issues. Mularkey is still under contract to the Dolphins and the Browns will likely need permission to formally interview him. That's one of the things the team is trying to figure out as the weekend begins.
Expect Mularkey's name to show up in the local media soon, as he would be the biggest "name" candidate to appear prominently on the team's radar to date. The OBR has broken the news that the team's interest in Mularkey is quite real, but that they are proceeding cautiously to avoid breaking any NFL rules.
More on these stories as they develop over the weekend on the OBR...