In a curious move to bolster his coaching staff, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano hired his old buddy from their days at the University of Miami, Rob Chudzinski, as a special assistant.
Chudzinski was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns last season, his first year on the job. However, he was fired following a 4-12 season, which saw the Browns trade their No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Trent Richardson, to the Colts. Prior to his single-year tenure as head coach of the Browns, "Chud" made his name as the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers. It was Chud who coached and mentored 2011 first overall pick Cam Newton.
The hiring is interesting in that Chudzinski's background in Carolina and, earlier, at the University of Miami, was as an offensive coach. His title in Indianapolis, "Special Assistant to the Head Coach," leaves open what his actual role with the coaching staff will be. However, with his close ties to Pagano from their days at Miami, and with Chud's extensive resume as an offensive coach, what does this mean for current Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton?
Hamilton recently turned down the head coaching job at Vanderbilt, opting to stay in Indianapolis as offensive coordinator. He has close ties to quarterback Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, and Griff Whalen from their days at Stanford. His offense is based on West Coast principles. It is not the type of offense that Chudzinski is known for.
And then there is running back Trent Richardson.
Chudzinski was his head coach last year in Cleveland. Chud, along with Browns team president Joe Banner and front office executive Mike Lombardi, were the brain trust behind trading Richardson from Cleveland in October. Now, he's reunited with Richardson.
The decision to hire Chudzinski almost reads like a power play for Pagano, who is not known as an offensive coach (which is a nice way of saying he's clueless about offense, which he is). All throughout the 2013 season, we heard internal whispers that the Colts brass were not happy with Pep Hamilton's coaching. With Chudzinski now on staff, it means Pagano has a fallback option if he were to sack Hamilton.
The question is, if he did that, how would Andrew Luck take it?
Or, was Chudzinski brought in to coach-up Indianapolis' tight ends? Chud deserves credit for developing players like Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow II at the U. of Miami and Cameron Jordan in Cleveland.
One benefit of hiring Chud is the Colts don't have to pay him much of anything. He is still receiving a check from the Browns because of his early termination.
Hiring Chudzinski brings with it many questions and a smidgen of intrigue. It suggests the rumored divide between Pagano and Hamilton is, indeed, real. If not that, then it absolutely says that Pagano thinks Hamilton needs additional help coaching the offense. In 2013, Pagano gave Hamilton complete control over the offense. The addition of Chudzinski suggests that will not be the case in 2014.