Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When Miami Dolphins fans look across the field on Sunday, they’ll see a face all too familiar to South Florida football fans facing off with Fins head coach Joe Philbin.
The Cleveland Browns are coached by former University of Miami player and coach Rob Chudzinski. Chud, as he’s affectionately known, took over the Browns this year, his first season as a head coach at either the collegiate or professional level.
Chudzinski was a three-year starter at tight end for the Hurricanes and was the offensive coordinator from 2001-2003 during UM’s last run of dominance. The players he coached are a who’s who of Canes legends including Ken Dorsey, Clinton Portis, Andre Johnson, Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey, and Kellen Winslow II.
But UM was simply the stepping stone for Chudzinski to get to the NFL level as a coach. He spent 2004 with the Cleveland Browns before moving on to the San Diego Chargers, serving as tight ends coach for both teams.
Then Chudzinski returned for two seasons to be the Browns’ offensive coordinator. While coordinating the offense in 2007, Chud helped do something the Browns have rarely done since they returned to the league in 1999…win.
Chudzinski’s offense put up 402 points that year led by journeyman quarterback Derek Anderson, running back Jamal Lewis, and wide receiver Braylon Edwards. The Browns finished eighth in the league in scoring offense in 2007.
Chud’s spent the last two seasons with the Carolina Panthers helping coordinate the Cam Newton-led attack. He performed miracles with Newton in his first season only to see Newton regress last season. Still, it was enough to get him the big job in Cleveland where he returns hoping to right the Browns ship.
His first assignment is to try and stifle the up and coming Miami Dolphins in a Week 1 matchup in Cleveland.
The Dolphins remain a bit of a mystery team offensively. The Fins will try to run the football behind back Lamar Miller, but the focus will be on the passing game with second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill leading the attack.
Defensively, the Fins are stout at the point of attack in the running game and have a pair of ball-hawking linebackers. The Fins may be the weakest at cornerback where after Brent Grimes, the cupboard is pretty bare.
Cleveland’s offense will run through Trent Richardson, assuming he can stay on the field. When Weeden does drop back to pass, he will have a familiar face to Fins fans, wide receiver Davone Bess running patterns.
Chudzinski has a tall task in front of him trying to turn around a Browns franchise that has been stuck in neutral since the team came back in 1999.
“I’m happy with what we’ve done and what we’ve been able to put together, with the direction that we’re going,” Chudzinski said. “We’re building for sustainable success. That’s our process of doing that. We’re excited about getting into the season now and getting a chance to go play some teams and do this thing, and I know the team feels that way as well.
Still, Chud’s history shows that given the talent; he can put together a winner. Dolphins fans just hope it’s not in Week 1 of the 2013 regular season.