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Extra Points: Browns spend their time Gase-ing at one target

By John McMullen, NFL Editor

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - First to fire, last to hire.

Outside of the Houston Texans, who jettisoned their former head coach Gary Kubiak during the season, the Cleveland Browns had the itchiest trigger finger during this year's coaching carousel, giving up on Rob Chudzinski hours after the regular season ended.

Yet, if the Minnesota Vikings come to terms with Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer as expected, there will be one vacancy left in the entire NFL -- the Browns.

Cleveland didn't wait for "Black Monday," firing Chudzinski, a consolation prize after the Browns failed to lure Chip Kelly to the Buckeye State, shortly after the team finished up a dismal 4-12 season, his first one on the job.

The next day the Vikings axed Leslie Frazier and three other teams bid adieu to their mentors (Detroit (Jim Schwartz), Tampa Bay (Greg Schiano) and Washington (Mike Shanahan). Days later Tennessee also decided to part ways with long-time employee Mike Munchak.

The first club to target a coach and make a decision was the Bucs, who brought ex-Bears coach Lovie Smith back to Central Florida, where he was an assistant for a number of years under Tony Dungy, just three days after parting ways with Schiano.

The Texans, who had the big head start, were the next to act, convincing Bill O'Brien to return to the NFL from Penn State.

Almost a week past before the next domino fell and that resulted in Jay Gruden relocating from Cincinnati to the Beltway with an eye on repairing Robert Griffin III's reputation with the Redskins.

The Titans, perhaps intent on helping Jake Locker in what is likely a make-or- break season for him in Nashville, convinced "quarterback whisperer" Ken Whisenhunt to pass on Motown for the Music City on Monday, and the Lions quickly followed by scooping up their silver medal a day layer, former Indianapolis head man and Baltimore offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell.

That left Minnesota zeroing in on Zimmer and the Browns left looking like an out of touch organization being shunned by the "hot" candidates.

The early speculation in Cleveland's search centered on New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, a close friend of Browns general manager Mike Lombardi.

McDaniels, however, abruptly removed himself from consideration after interviewing for the position, a development which some have painted as a face-saving maneuver by the former Denver coach after it became clear he was not the Browns' top choice.

That is believed to be McDaniels' mirror in this weekend's AFC Championship Game, 35-year-old Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

Making deep runs in the postseason never help coordinators because there is so much pressure on front offices to make decisions quickly once the en vogue names starting coming off the board.

The timing on the Senior Bowl Week, which starts the day after the championship games and serves as almost an assistant coaching convention, is also a big part of the process because that's where staffs get put together.

San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman, for instance, would be generating far more buzz if not for his own success. He has juggled completely different quarterbacks and offenses under Jim Harbaugh in the Bay Area, succeeding with both Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick. The Niners are 41-13-1 (including the postseason) since Harbaugh and Roman arrived from Stanford and will be participating in their third straight NFC Championship Game.

Another win on Sunday and Roman, along with Niners defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, would not be able to be hired until Feb.3, the day after Super Bowl XLVIII.

The same holds true for Gase and Denver defensive chief Jack Del Rio as well as Seahawks coordinators Darrell Bevell and Dan Quinn, who have also gotten a lot of attention during the coaching searches around the country.

The Browns, who probably have the worst reputation among the franchises who were looking for a new pilot and therefore little to lose, are the only ones staying strong and true to their No. 1 target, Gase, a buyer-beware type with little experience.

The Michigan native has only been in charge of Denver's offense for one year and virtually everyone understands the real leader of that unit is Peyton Manning, a future Hall of Fame quarterback who isn't going to be following Gase to Cleveland.

Meanwhile, the wunderkind of the Broncos' record-setting offense already postponed a potential interview with the Browns until the Broncos season is over, a tact indicating he's either buying his own hype, understands he is not ready for an NFL coaching job, or simply doesn't want any part of the Cleveland gig.

On the plus side Manning speaks very highly of Gase and is close friends with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam dating back to Manning's time at the University of Tennessee.

In the end, though, this is shaping up as an all-your-eggs-in-one-basket situation for Cleveland.

While cooling their heels the Browns have played footsy with Munchak, Quinn, Caldwell, Zimmer and Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo but at this point anything other than Gase for Cleveland and this becomes Chud: The Sequel -- settling for a coach the team never really wanted.

01/14 16:43:08 ET

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Standings

 2013 American Football Conference Standings 
East Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-New England 12 4 0 .750 444 338 8-0 4-4 4-2 9-3
NY Jets 8 8 0 .500 290 387 6-2 2-6 3-3 5-7
Miami 8 8 0 .500 317 335 4-4 4-4 2-4 7-5
Buffalo 6 10 0 .375 339 388 4-4 2-6 3-3 5-7
 
North Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Cincinnati 11 5 0 .688 430 305 8-0 3-5 3-3 8-4
Pittsburgh 8 8 0 .500 379 370 5-3 3-5 4-2 6-6
Baltimore 8 8 0 .500 320 352 6-2 2-6 3-3 6-6
Cleveland 4 12 0 .250 308 406 3-5 1-7 2-4 3-9
 
South Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Indianapolis 11 5 0 .688 391 336 6-2 5-3 6-0 9-3
Tennessee 7 9 0 .438 362 381 3-5 4-4 2-4 6-6
Jacksonville 4 12 0 .250 247 449 1-7 3-5 3-3 4-8
Houston 2 14 0 .125 276 428 1-7 1-7 1-5 2-10
 
West Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Denver 13 3 0 .813 606 399 7-1 6-2 5-1 9-3
x-Kansas City 11 5 0 .688 430 305 5-3 6-2 2-4 7-5
x-San Diego 9 7 0 .563 396 348 5-3 4-4 4-2 6-6
Oakland 4 12 0 .250 322 453 3-5 1-7 1-5 4-8
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
 2013 National Football Conference Standings 
East Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Philadelphia 10 6 0 .625 442 382 4-4 6-2 4-2 9-3
Dallas 8 8 0 .500 439 432 5-3 3-5 5-1 7-5
NY Giants 7 9 0 .438 294 383 4-4 3-5 3-3 6-6
Washington 3 13 0 .188 334 478 2-6 1-7 0-6 1-11
 
North Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Green Bay 8 7 1 .531 417 428 4-3-1 4-4 3-2-1 6-5-1
Chicago 8 8 0 .500 445 478 5-3 3-5 2-4 4-8
Detroit 7 9 0 .438 395 376 4-4 3-5 4-2 6-6
Minnesota 5 10 1 .344 391 480 5-3 0-7-1 2-3-1 4-7-1
 
South Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Carolina 12 4 0 .750 366 241 7-1 5-3 5-1 9-3
x-New Orleans 11 5 0 .688 414 304 8-0 3-5 5-1 9-3
Atlanta 4 12 0 .250 353 443 3-5 1-7 1-5 3-9
Tampa Bay 4 12 0 .250 288 389 3-5 1-7 1-5 2-10
 
West Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Seattle 13 3 0 .813 417 231 7-1 6-2 4-2 10-2
x-San Francisco 12 4 0 .750 406 272 6-2 6-2 5-1 9-3
Arizona 10 6 0 .625 379 324 6-2 4-4 2-4 6-6
St. Louis 7 9 0 .438 348 364 5-3 2-6 1-5 4-8
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NOR 0
DUR 3
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
Final
CHC 1
CIN 4
Final
PIT 3
MIL 5
Final
WAS 3
STL 1
Final
CLE 2
TOR 3
Final
DET 6
ANA 11
Final
NYM 0
ATL 6
Final
BOS 4
BAL 8
Final
TAM 11
NYY 5
Final
MIA 8
SEA 4
Final
TEX 12
CWS 0
Final
KAN 5
MIN 0
Final
COL 12
PHI 1
Final
OAK 11
HOU 3
Final
LOS 2
ARI 4
Final
SDP 2
SFG 1
1:05pm Today
WAS
STL
 
1:05pm Today
CLE
TOR
 
1:08pm Today
DET
ANA
 
1:35pm Today
BOS
BAL
 
2:10pm Today
KAN
MIN
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
CIN
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
HOU
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
MIL
 
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
ATL
 
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
NYY
 
7:10pm Tonight
MIA
SEA
 
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
CWS
 
8:10pm Tonight
LOS
ARI
 
8:10pm Tonight
COL
PHI
 
8:40pm Tonight
SDP
SFG
 
12:30pm Today
TOR
BRK
3:30pm Today
LAC
GSW
7:00pm Tonight
IND
ATL
9:30pm Tonight
OKC
MEM
Final
TAM 1
MON 4
Final
BOS 0
DET 1
Final
ANA 3
DAL 2
3:00pm Today
STL
CHI
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
CLB
9:30pm Tonight
COL
MIN
Final
NOR 0
DUR 3
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR