UPDATE (5:50 p.m. ET): ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports that the Browns will fire Rob Chudzinski. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport also quotes a source who says the Browns are "likely" to fire Chudzinski, while CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora and NFL Network's Michael Silver suggest a final decision hasn't been made.
The Browns cleaned house from top to bottom before the 2013 season, adding executives Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi, as well as offensive coordinator Norv Turner, defensive coordinator Ray Horton and head coach Rob Chudzinski. The former Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator stumbled in his new position with two straight losses to begin the season, but managed a 3-5 mark at the season's half. A series of quarterback injuries that have Brian Hoyer and Brandon Weeden out of the picture (and Weeden probably done with the Browns for good) and an underperforming defense at times have led to a season that will end at 4-12.
"We are so dysfunctional," a Browns player told Silver. "These billionaires need to pick somebody and stay with them. These aren't girlfriends, you can't dump them if they [fail to please you] one time."
With their 20-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns lost their last seven games of the season, and there's a lot of disappointment in the front office of a franchise that hoped for better things.
According to several reports, that could have Chudzinski as a surprise firing when Black Monday rolls around.
Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland, John Clayton of ESPN and SI.com's own Don Banks are among those reading the tea leaves.
There are some bad vibes indicating uncertainty about the future of #Browns HC Rob Chudzinski. Incredible.
— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) December 29, 2013
Like everyone else, I am hearing Rob Chudzinski could be in trouble after only one season.
— John Clayton (@ClaytonESPN) December 29, 2013
1 more Black Monday item, longtime NFL source told me his surprise vacancy will be Cleveland, with Browns disappointed in Rob Chudzinski.
— Don Banks (@DonBanks) December 29, 2013
"I understood the challenges that we had," Chudzinski told Tom Withers of the Associated Press earlier this week. "I know what it takes here, specifically. I think, again, I'll go back to the plan that we have overall as an organization to establish the type of success long term that we want and that that would take some time to get to.
"I know what I signed up for."
Chudzinski was hoping that the Browns would have a long-term plan in mind after Banner hired him -- after all, this is a team that hasn't had a winning season since 2007, and has lost at least 11 games in each of the last six seasons, including this year. Part of the problem this season is that Cleveland has lost five games in which it has been tied or had the lead going into the fourth quarter.
"We've played well coming into games and starting games and have had good starts and started fast, and we haven't been able to maintain those leads," Chudzinski concluded. "Each week, it's for different reasons. So that's the difficult thing is to pin one thing down. When you can pin it down to one thing, you can fix it. Sometimes you fix one thing and something else pops up." If the Browns did want to make that move, it's possible that either Turner or Horton could be moved up the food chain.