Browns fans' reaction to new Chargers defensive coach says it all

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns
Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The LA Chargers made a big change on the coaching staff earlier this offseason when the team fired Joe Lombardi and hired Kellen Moore to be his replacement. Moore is yet to hire his QBs coach to replace Shane Day, so there should be more offensive coaching changes on the horizon.

There was one change to the defensive coaching staff as well. The Chargers fired linebackers coach Michael Wilhoite (despite back-to-back breakout seasons from linebackers) and hired his replacement on Friday. The Bolts hired former Cleveland Browns defensive backs coach and pass game coordinator Jeff Howard.

This seems to be a positive hire for the Chargers coaching staff as the Browns have ranked in the top five in passing defense over the last two seasons. However, it is never a good sign when Browns fans and writers are celebrating the move like the team just won the Super Bowl.

Browns fans' reactions to Jeff Howard hire is bad news for the Chargers.

This tends to happen when a coach leaves a team to join another staff. Unless it is a promotion from coordinator to head coach, fans of the original team will typically downplay said coach and act like it was an improvement to move on from him. We just saw Cowboys fans do this with Kellen Moore.

That being said, there are some reasons to be concerned about this hire and the fact that Browns fans are outright cheering that Howard is no longer going to be on the coaching staff.

First of all, the top-five pass defense stat is a bit misleading. Sure, the Browns ranked fifth in passing yards allowed and passing touchdowns last season but it was also because the run defense was so bad and that is what teams targeted. The Browns also had the fifth-fewest passing attempts against them.

Cleveland ranked 16th in defensive passing DVOA last season. Not terrible, but certainly not top five. This was also with the benefit of playing some pretty bad quarterbacks in 2022. The year prior was better with the 7th-ranked defensive passing DVOA, but backwards steps are not the best thing to see.

Plus, as Cory Kinnan points out, if Howard was such a good coach he probably wouldn't have taken a demotion while still under contract with the Browns.

At the end of the day, this is not that consequential of a coaching position and if Howard does not work out it is not going to be the end of the world. Only good things can come from this as he could unlock Kenneth Murray or he could just be a non-factor.

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But reactions like this from Browns fans is a nice reminder that not every coach the Chargers hire is going to be a home run. Sometimes fans have to tamper their expectations.