Giants Fewell hopes Browns give him first head coach job

Published 2:24 am Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Associated Press

CLEVELAND — Perry Fewell’s first shot as an NFL coach was temporary. He’d like to make his next one a little more permanent.

Fewell, the New York Giants defensive coordinator who served as Buffalo’s interim coach for seven games last season, interviewed on Tuesday with the Cleveland Browns, the third known candidate to formally meet with team president Mike Holmgren.

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Fewell followed St. Louis offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, who met with the Browns last week.

wwIt’s not yet known if the club has scheduled any more interviews or follow-ups. It’s also unclear if owner Randy Lerner has had any role in the process.

However, Cleveland’s search to replace Eric Mangini does seem to be narrowing.

The Browns, who have kept their pursuit of a new coach cloaked in secrecy, were expected to speak with Philadelphia offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg because of his personal and professional connections with Holmgren. However, that meeting has not been set up.

Also, former NFL coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden appears to be out of the Browns’ mix.

Following Monday night’s BCS title game, Gruden said on a radio broadcast that he will not coach in 2011. Gruden grew up in Ohio rooting for the Browns, and it was assumed he would be contacted by Holmgren, who gave Gruden his start in the NFL as an assistant in San Francisco.

Gruden was asked by announcer Mike Tirico if he would get back into coaching.

“No,” Gruden said. “I’ll be back with you.”

On Monday, a network spokesman told The Associated Press that Gruden “remains committed to ESPN and to Monday Night Football.”

Former Carolina coach John Fox may still be on Holmgren’s list, but he’ll interview on Wednesday with Denver.

The only definitive coaching news related to the Browns was that wide receivers coach George McDonald has left Cleveland for the same position with the University of Miami. Holmgren has not yet met with the rest of Mangini’s staff still under contract.

Fewell, 48, came to Cleveland hoping to convince Holmgren that he’s the best candidate to take over a franchise that has had eight double-digit loss seasons and one playoff appearance since 1999. Fewell also interviewed with Denver and Carolina.

The high-energy Fewell is popular with Giants players, who appreciate the way he allows them to think independently on the field. He urged them to take advantage of any opportunities and they did as New York led the league with 39 takeaways this season.

Fewell’s visit means the Browns have complied with the NFL’s Rooney Rule requirement that they interview at least one minority candidate.

Holmgren would prefer to hire a more offensive-minded coach than Mangini, whose run-heavy philosophy and questionable in-game decisions led to his firing after two 5-11 seasons.