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Updated look at Browns coaching search

By MARY KAY CABOT • Dec 6, 2018 at 6:30 PM

BEREA — Before long, other teams will join Cleveland and Green Bay in the head coaching market, with coaches such as Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis and the Jets' Todd Bowles on the hot seat.

Browns GM John Dorsey, who's leading the search, has gotten an up close and personal look at Lincoln Riley and other college coaches at games over the past few weeks, and will continue to do so.

He likely also checked in with former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians in Houston last week, where Arians was the color analyst on the Browns' 29-13 victory over the Browns.

Here's the latest on some of the Browns' potential candidates:

1. Mike McCarthy

Dorsey knows McCarthy well from their seven seasons together in Green Bay, and Dorsey's two right-hand men in assistant general manager Eliot Wolf and Vice President of Player Personnel Alonzo Highsmith worked with him even longer, for 12 and 13 years respectively.

It's only natural that the Browns will interview McCarthy, and that will likely happen sooner than later since he's free.

Dorsey might view it as a situation similar to that of Andy Reid, who was fired by the Eagles after 14 seasons, four NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl appearance.

Reid has gone on to great success in Kansas City, guiding the Chiefs to four playoff appearances in his first five seasons, and has them at 10-2 this season with phenom Patrick Mahomes at QB.

McCarthy, 55, is 125-77-2 in 13 seasons, and 10-8 in the postseason. He's been to the playoffs nine time, has won the NFC North six times, and the Super Bowl once.

Aaron Rodgers said this week he was shocked McCarthy was fired and was mad about overblown reports of the rift between the two.

Browns center JC Tretter, who played for McCarthy for four seasons in Green Bay, raved about McCarthy on Monday, and believes he'd 'would do great' with Baker Mayfield.

2. Urban Meyer

Meyer was on the Browns' radar before he retired from Ohio State on Tuesday, and I believe they'll keep an eye on his situation in the coming weeks.

Meyer has made it clear that he's done because of his brain cyst, but I'd expect the Browns to do their due diligence and make sure there's no chance he'd consider coming back. The Browns have been in contact with Meyer's agent, Trace Armstrong, because he represents a number of their candidates.

"I believe I will not coach again," Meyer said during his press conference on Tuesday. "I'm certain."

But I wouldn't be surprised if the Browns check in on his condition and his mindset over the next month or so.

But he stressed that something would never be the NFL because of the low win-percentages.

"I could never work at a place. ... I see some of these guys' records because the NFL is so even," he said. "Some of these guys, their record is 74-58. I could never do that."

3. Josh McDaniels

McDaniels, a Canton, Ohio native, has been linked to the Packers, and one league source told cleveland.com that McDaniels would likely strongly consider it because of the opportunity to coach a Hall of Fame quarterback. The source also said that the relationship with the GM will be critical to him.

Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports reported this week that "a handful of NFL assistants have indicated interest in joining" McDaniels in Green Bay, and one even pulled his name from a college coordinator job for the chance to work with McDaniels.

Robinson wrote that those close to McDaniels said he's been advised to stay away from an organizational "structure where the head coach and general manager are on different platforms and reporting directly into some element of ownership that is deeply involved in operations.''

It remains to be seen if the Browns' new head coach will report directly to Dorsey or to Jimmy Haslam the way Hue Jackson did.

4. Lincoln Riley

In back-to-back weeks, Dorsey watched Oklahoma play in person, which is significant. Yes, he's scouting players, but he's also scouting coaches, and spending two straight weeks with Riley is no coincidence.

Dorsey attended the Sooners' 59-56 victory at West Virginia on Nov. 23, and their 39-21 victory over Texas in the Big 12 championship on Saturday.

Whether or not he spoke directly to Riley, he undoubtedly talked to those close to him. Baker Mayfield revealed on Wednesday that Dorsey knows Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione well.

Watching Riley coach in person would also give Dorsey a feel for how players and assistants respond to him.

Mayfield, who remains close to Riley, said Wednesday he believes Riley's "been ready" to be an NFL head coach, but that he's not sure when he'll make the leap. He also said he hasn't tried to lure him here.

5. Bruce Arians

The Browns may not have formally interviewed the former Cardinals coach, but Dorsey undoubtedly checked in last weekend in Houston, where Arians was the color analyst on the Browns-Texans game, possibly during Saturday's production meeting.

Arians has stated on several occasions that he'd only come out of retirement for the Browns, and told NFL Network that he'd keep Freddie Kitchens as offensive coordinator and consider keeping Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator.

He's been mentioned as a candidate for the Packers job, but told Zach Gelb of CBS Sports Radio that he has no interest.

Reminded that the Packers have a Hall of Fame quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, and that the job is attractive, Arians said, "It is. And I have no desire to coach at Green Bay."

Dorsey will have to make sure that Arians is up for the 24/7 grind. But considering that he's wanted this Browns job forever, he'd undoubtedly be all in.

6. John Harbaugh

A funny thing happened to Harbaugh on his way to the scrap heap. He won three games with rookie QB Lamar Jackson and suddenly has the Ravens in contention in the AFC North. At 7-5, they're a half-game behind the 7-4-1 Steelers.

Harbaugh, an Ohio native with extended family in Cleveland, has one year left on his contract, and he could return for a 12th season if the Ravens make the playoffs and advance.

If not, Harbaugh, an Andy Reid disciple, will be a coveted free agent.

The Browns, however, might have a chance to spoil the Ravens' playoff hopes in the season finale Dec. 30 in Baltimore.

7. John DeFilippo

DeFilippo, the Vikings' offensive coordinator, and head coach Mike Zimmer are seemingly at odds over the run game, and DeFilippo might welcome a change of scenery.

After the Vikings ran the ball only 13 times and threw it 44 in a 24-10 loss at New England, Zimmer curtly answered "no'' when asked if they ran the ball enough.

On Monday, he defused the situation, saying DeFilippo is doing a "good job" and that "tries to do" things that Zimmer values.

The Vikings' run game has tumbled to 30th in the NFL, but the passing game is seventh. The Browns, thanks to the talent of Nick Chubb, will likely want a balanced attack.

Still, DeFilippo, who helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl last year as quarterbacks coach, will interest several teams. He was also the former offensive coordinator in Cleveland under Mike Pettine.

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