Former Colts head coach Rick Venturi has carved out a nice little niche in Indianapolis of late, making guest appearances on local radio shows such as 1070 The Fan's late-afternoon "The Ride with JMV." I have a special place in my heart for Venturi because the first Colts game I ever watched on TV was actually the only win he got as interim head coach during the 1991 season. In fact, it was the only win Indianapolis earned that year, period!
On Monday's "The Ride with JMV," host Jon Michael "JMV" Vincent asked Venturi if Chuck Pagano's hiring of Rob Chudzinski as a special assistant was nothing more than an NFL old boy's club move. The equivalent to a buddy helping another buddy out. That sort of thing.
Venturi said he didn't think it was.
"I really like Chudzinski. I'm a Chudzinski fan. The Cleveland thing was an aberration in one year. That never should have happened. But, this guy is one of the premiere offensive coordinators in the National Football League, and he's done it all over."
The "Cleveland thing" is most likely Chudzinski's firing at the end of the 2013 season after just one year on the job as head coach.
Now, no offense to Venturi, but Chudzinski is most certainly not a premiere coordinator. That might be Venturi's personal opinion - and that's fine - but, the numbers don't suggest Chudzinski is the wizard that Venturi paints him as.
Also, Chudzinski certainly hasn't made a rep as an coordinator "all over." He's worked as the offensive coordinator in two places: Cleveland and Carolina. Prior to him landing the one-year Cleveland head coaching gig in 2013, Chudzinski was the O.C. for the Browns under Romeo Crennel from 2007-2008. After Crennel was fired, Chuzinski went to San Diego to coach the tight ends and act as Norv Turner's assistant head coach.
For Venturi, he told JMV that the job Chudzinski did with Cleveland's offense in 2007 was "one of the best coaching jobs I've seen in the last decade in the National Football League." That's high praise, and, to Chudzinski's credit, the Browns' offense that season was ranked 8th in points and the franchise won 10 games with Derek Anderson at quarterback. They haven't won more than 5 games in a single-season since.
If Venturi felt that 2007 was one of the best coached season's he's ever seen from Chudzinski, or from everyone, I'd really be interested to hear how he felt about the follow-up season. With the same quarterback in Anderson, Chud's 2008 Cleveland offense ranked 31st in the league in passing yards and 30th in points. They won only 4 games that year, and both Chud and Crennel were fired at season's end.
A similar pattern developed when Chudzinski was in Carolina. In 2011, the Panthers ranked 5th in points with then-rookie Cam Newton breaking a ton of records once owned by Peyton Manning. In 2012, the offense ranked 18th in points, and players like Steve Smith and DeAngelo Williams were not big fans of Chudzinski's coaching. Had he not landed the Cleveland head coaching job following the 2012 season, it's very possible Chud would have been fired again after just two season's as an O.C.
Still, despite all this, Venturi is a Chudzinski fan. The former Colts coach compares Chudzinski's offensive knowledge to that of Norv Turner and considers him as positive addition for the Colts from "a football resource" perspective.
Venturi has a concern that, for the most part, echoes what I wrote about yesterday. With Chudzinski now on board, there might be too many cooks in the kitchen, chiefs in the tribe, roosters in the hen house, or whatever other metaphor you want to use to describe Chudzinski's presence potentially undermining offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton:
The biggest thing is, where do you draw the line? Where is the input - which is priceless - utilized and and what are the lines. How do Pep [Hamilton], Chudzinski, and even Clyde Christensen work together? You've got a lot of chiefs there. That would be my only concern is that you have a fluid operation, that there's input there, without stepping one another's toes. I've never liked offense or defense by committee.
For some of you readers, I eagerly await your comments calling Rick Venturi "paranoid" or a "conspiracy theorist."
Venturi raised an interesting concern by adding quarterback coach and one-time offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen into the mix. Christensen, Hamilton, and Chudzinski are three men with significant O.C. experience, but only one (Hamilton) presently has the title of offensive coordinator.
Again, we will have to wait and see how this hiring truly benefits the Colts. I'm skeptical and think the move only benefits Pagano himself and not the team. thinks the hiring is smart and will help greatly.
Personally, I hope Josh is right.