Murky search gets tiny bit of clarity tonight

January, 12, 2014
Jan 12
1:42
PM ET
Something should become clearer about the Cleveland Browns' coaching search today.

Whether that leads to a coach being hired in the short term is a complete unknown, though. Either Denver or San Diego will lose in the playoffs today when they play each other. That means Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt or Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase can be hired by another team.

Whether that team is the Browns remains to be seen. Running down the candidates:

Ken Whisenhunt -- Clearly the leader in the clubhouse when résumé and fan opinion are taken into account. But he also is considered the runaway favorite to be hired in Detroit, where a talented team, including a quarterback, is in place. Many in the league feel once San Diego loses it's merely a matter of time for Whisenhunt to be hired by the Lions.

Adam Gase -- At 35 he's the "it" candidate. But he's also been a coordinator for one year, and that was with Peyton Manning. Former Vice President Richard Cheney would probably be a good coordinator with Manning at quarterback. Gase has delayed interviews until after the playoffs, which is admirable. But a lot of word is leaking that Gase will think twice about interviewing with the Browns -- or anyone for that matter -- because he is in a good spot, and the fact his name is out now will help him gain a job in the future.

Ben McAdoo -- The Green Bay Packers' quarterbacks coach has the benefit of Aaron Rodgers. The "Cheney Rule" above applies to Rodgers. McAdoo's name came from nowhere, much like Andy Reid's did in 1999 in Philadelphia. McAdoo was a virtual unknown when the Browns decided to interview him, and he remains that. It's interesting that the Browns would turn to a young up-and-coming coach after firing a guy they described the same way a year ago. Usually teams go the opposite.

Todd Bowles -- Arizona's defensive coordinator interviewed early in the process and his name has hardly been mentioned since.

Dan Quinn -- Seattle's defensive coordinator reportedly is a popular option, but he's now preparing for the NFC Championship Game and the Browns have to wait on him until the Seahawks are out of the playoffs.

Gus Malzahn -- His name continues to flit about, even though he's happy at Auburn and he agreed to a contract extension in early December.

By the wayside -- James Franklin was hired by Penn State and Josh McDaniels pulled his name from consideration.

At least the Browns, and their fans, will know something tonight. It may not take them any closer to hiring a coach, but they'll know something.

Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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