Last week, as the Indianapolis Colts were winding down their OTAs, Rob Chudzinski was made available to the media. For the first time since he was hired under the confusing/cryptic title of "Special Assistant to the Head Coach." the former head coach of the Cleveland Browns attempted to clarify what he's done with his new team since taking the job.
Unfortunately, instead of answering all the questions that his hiring naturally generated, his presence in the organization is actually more confusing now than it was back in February.
Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star posted an article that incorporated Chudzinski's comments to the media in with comments from defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. For Holder, he makes the claim that we're getting "a clearer picture of Chudzinski's contributions."
Sorry, but after reading Stephen's article and watching the media session clips on Colts.com, I'm actually more confused as to what the hell Chudzinski does in Indianapolis.
The only answer I can find is that, after Chudzinski was fired following his one-year stint as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, his good friend Chuck Pagano felt sorry for him and gave him a job as a favor. To me, that's how this reads.
Take a look at some of the things mentioned in Holder's article.
Greg Manusky, the defensive coordinator, has been occupying hours of Chudzinski's time and enjoying every minute of it.
"I can sit down with Chud for a good 30, 40 (minutes) to an hour and just melt through stuff that he did in Carolina and what he did in Cleveland as well," Manusky said. "It's a great addition for me to have a guy like that from an offensive perspective. Even though (Pagano) is here, it's still a defensive perspective. ... I understand, 'OK, I want to beat this protection.' But how do you actually beat it?. ... (Chudzinski explains,) 'Here's what the guard's thinking. This is what the center's thinking.' That helps me to come up with something that'll beat that protection.
As we wrote back back in February, if someone like Manusky wants to know how to beat a coverage, then why isn't he asking current offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton? Or quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen? Or secondary coach Mike Gillhammer? Or wide receivers coach Charlie Williams? These are the guys who were already on staff who, in most organizations, are available to answer such questions.
Now, perhaps does reach out to these people and get their perspective, and having Chud in the people provides even more. It's this that the Colts seem to be REALLY selling as the true reason why they brought Chudzinski onboard.
However, I'd like to revisit a quote from former Colts head coach Rick Venturi. Like me and Colts beat writer Mike Chappell, we all saw this move and it seemed to create more questions than answer them.
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.
Now, apply this quote to some of the things that others in the organization have said about Chud and the role he is playing:
D'Qwell Jackson, who played under Chudzinski in Cleveland last year:
"He's been in the defensive room, he's been in the linebackers' room, he's been all around," said linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, another Cleveland import. "I don't know exactly what his title is, but I know having him in this building ... they're getting a lot of good knowledge out of him because he's got a ton of background."
RB coach David Walker:
Most of [Chudzinski's] contributions have been with Chuck and stuff. He'll obviously peek into the offensive meetings and give his expertise on issues. But, it's been more so with Coach Pagano on that end as opposed to with the offense. Obviously, we welcome his opinions and expertise in certain areas.
And, finally, Chudzinski himself:
I go around to different rooms and spend time with different guys. Different positions groups. Different coaches. Different players. Try and spread myself out a little bit that way.
So, where's the line drawn? What he is actually doing other than sitting in on other people's position meetings and offering his opinion? How does that help?
Also, isn't this the kind of thing a head coach is supposed to do? You know, occasionally sit in on his team's position meeting. Offer insight. Share Perspective.
Again, it's all very confusing.
Another thing I picked up on is that Chudzinski did not mention Pep Hamilton's name once in his media session. Not once. This is interesting because the OBVIOUS element that is hovering in the air is that Chudzinki was hired to, eventually, replace Hamilton. Even if that wasn't Pagano's intention when he brought his old University of Miami buddy onboard, the Colts have done a poor job communicating that it isn't. Chud has a close friendship with Pagano and has a good relationship with Manusky. Both Manusky and Chud worked together in San Diego back in 2005-2006.
Chud is Pagano's/Manusky's guy. Hamilton is Andrew Luck's guy. See the dynamic at play here?
A great way to completely and utterly defuse the elephant turd bomb in the punch bowl is to have Chudzinski talk about how he and Hamilton are working together, just as Chud and Manusky are. Instead, we hear straight from Chudzinski that he's working with his old pal Manusky, and we're told that Chud and Pagano are near-inseparable.
If I'm Pep Hamilton, this does not make me feel particularly good
Chudzinski also said that he's pretty much willing to accept any role on this team in 2014.
Whatever I can do, again, to help him be successful and whatever role, jobs, there's nothing too big or too small that I won't do. That's why I'm here.
If the Colts struggle on offense in 2014, don't be surprised if Chud's role goes from being what looks to be a Pagano spy in meeting rooms to the team's offensive coordinator. If that happens, how will Andrew Luck receive it?