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Cleveland Browns fire coach Rob Chudzinski

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Black Monday arrived early for Browns Coach Rob Chudzinski, who was fired Sunday evening at the end of his first season after a 20-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The loss was the seventh in a row for Cleveland, which had started the season 4-5.

Usually there is a wave of firings the day after the end of the NFL's regular season. Earlier Sunday, though, the New York Jets said Coach Rex Ryan would be back.

No such luck for Chudzinski, a native of Ohio who was hired in January to coach the team for which he rooted as a youth.

The team released the following statement:

"We appreciate [Chudzinski'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."

Browns General Manager Michael Lombardi is reportedly interested in Penn State Coach Bill O'Brien and New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. All three have close ties to Patriots Coach Bill Belichick.

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