The Browns fired first-year coach Rob Chudzinski on Sunday night, hours after the team lost to the Steelers, 20-7.
Cleveland started the 2013 season 3-2 and was 4-5 at the midway point when team president Joe Banner said he was pleased with the job Chudzinski had done to that point.
"I'd be hard-pressed to think that in nine weeks a first-time head coach can do any better or any more than he's doing," Banner said in early November. "All of the measurables that you'd look to come up with, if you even wanted to create a yardstick of measuring at this moment, I just think he's doing an outstanding job."
But the Browns finished with seven straight losses and clearly the front office had a change of heart.
On Sunday night, shortly after meeting with Chudzinski, the organization released this statement:
"We appreciate Chud's passion for the Browns, and we have great respect for him both personally and professionally. We needed to see progress with this football team. We needed to see development and improvement as the season evolved and, unfortunately, we took a concerning step backward in the second half of the year.
"Our fans deserve to see a consistently competitive team. We have high standards, and there's an urgency for success. When we believed we were not positioned to achieve significant progress in 2014, we knew we had to admit that a change was needed, and move forward.
"Browns fans are the most loyal and passionate supporters in the NFL. We're fully committed to bringing them the winning football team they deserve."
It's a curious decision given that the front office -- spearheaded by Banner -- is responsible for hiring Chudzinski, whose tenure in Cleveland lasted less than a year; he was hired on Jan. 10, 2013.
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora expects Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to be a top target, and notes that Penn State coach Bill O'Brien had a "very rocky interview experience" with the Browns a year ago.
Meanwhile, ProFootballTalk reports that Chudzinski's staff has been retained for now. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner has head-coaching experience and defensive coordinator Ray Horton could be a hot head-coaching candidate this offseason.
From 2008-2013, the Browns have won five or fewer games every season, with four different coaches.