Bruce Arians: Wish I had chance to turn around Browns


Ahead of Arizona's Sunday showdown with the Browns, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians offered a revelation certain to sting Cleveland's endlessly stung fan base.

Chatting with Browns beat writers on Wednesday, Arians revealed that he was passed over by the franchise during one of their seemingly countless head-coaching searches since returning to the league in 1999.

This came back in 2009, when Cleveland was looking for Romeo Crennel's replacement, a gig that eventually went Eric Mangini.

"I was notified that I was going to be contacted and then someone else was hired that same day," Arians said, per Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland.

Pro Bowl ballot

While Arians went on to craft the careers of Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck, Mangini was swept out of Northern Ohio just two seasons later.

Arians' affection for Cleveland is genuine after he spent three seasons as the team's offensive coordinator under then-coach Butch Davis from 2001 to 2003, helping to guide the Browns in 2002 to their only playoff appearance of the past 21 years.

"I'm shocked because that's one of the greatest fan bases in the world," Arians said of Cleveland's run of ineptitude. "It's a shame because I loved my time there. Wish I would've had an opportunity."

As an ardent defender of former Browns first-round passer Tim Couch, Arians knows the lack of a franchise signal-caller sits at the heart of Cleveland's troubles, saying: "It just comes down to a quarterback. We are all tied to our quarterback."

Passing on Arians sits out there as one of the more grievous sins of a franchise that fired Marty Schottenheimer and also saw Bill Belichick canned by owner Art Modell after the team's gut-wrenching move to Baltimore.

NFL Network's fascinating "Cleveland '95" details the laundry list of soon-to-be-starry coaches who toiled under Belichick. That Davis-led Browns team housed its share of future big names, too, with Arians coaching alongside Todd Bowles and Chuck Pagano.

New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam can point the blame at the previous top man, Randy Lerner, for whiffing on Arians. The truth, though, is that Cleveland has missed on one coach, quarterback and draft pick after the next.

It's painful for Browns fans to play endless versions of "what if," especially after seeing what Arians has created with the Cardinals, Bowles with the Jets, Belichick with the Patriots and -- shall we go on?