CLEVELAND — The Browns knocked out two more coaching interviews on Sunday, first meeting with Carolina defensive co-ordinator Sean McDermott and then Cincinnati offensive co-ordinator Hue Jackson.
Cleveland’s coaching search concluded its first week without a front-runner to replace Mike Pettine, who was fired shortly after a loss to Pittsburgh in the season finale.
Jackson had his season ended by the Steelers as well. The Bengals committed two costly personal fouls in the closing minute Saturday night, losing an 18-16 heartbreaker to Pittsburgh in one of the AFC wild-card playoff games.
Just hours later, Jackson met with the San Francisco 49ers about their coaching vacancy before sitting down with the Browns’ coaching search committee, headed by owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam.
Jackson’s familiarity with the AFC North and background as a head coach in Oakland — he went 8-8 in 2011 — made him an attractive candidate to the Browns.
But it’s also why the 49ers are after him and it’s expected the 50-year-old will return to the Bay Area.
McDermott, too, is a hot commodity. The 41-year-old has drawn interest from other teams because of his success with the Panthers, who went 15-1 in the regular season and had a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs. McDermott met with Tampa Bay on Saturday.
The Panthers led the league with 24 interceptions and 39 takeaways this season under McDermott, who joined the Panthers’ staff in 2011. His defences have finished in the top 10 in each of the past four seasons. He has also worked as an assistant in Philadelphia.
Cleveland scratched one candidate off its list Saturday, when Adam Gase, the first coach to meet with the Browns, signed with Miami.
The Browns have also interviewed Detroit defensive co-ordinator Teryl Austin, Jacksonville assistant and former Buffalo coach Doug Marrone, Dallas defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson and New England defensive co-ordinator Matt Patricia.
Jimmy Haslam embarked on the search saying it could take "two weeks or two months."
The Browns, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2002, are looking for their eighth full-time coach since 1999.