CLEVELAND - After going through the college ranks and even the CFL, the Browns' coaching search now appears to be moving toward the more traditional route of NFL coordinators. Here are some top coordinators you may hear mentioned.
In his fifth season as Bengals defensive coordinator, Zimmer is someone players reportedly love playing for. his defense finished in the top 10 this season, as the Bengals again reached the playoffs.
Zimmer was a source of inspiration for his players when he coached just days after his wife died. The Bengals beat the Ravens that Sunday in 2009 and Zimmer was given the game ball.
"It's kind of an enigma how he's not a head coach already," Terrence Newman said about Zimmer to Cincinnati.com. The Dolphins and Bucs interviewed Zimmer for their head coaching openings last offseason though he didn't get a second interview for either job.
Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reported Wednesday morning that the Browns would interview Zimmer. He is the first defensive-minded candidate the team has given an interview.
The Patriots offensive coordinator has head coaching experience, leading the Broncos in 2008 and part of 2009. McDaniels got off to a quick start, winning his first six games as a head coach. However, it all spiraled downhill from there, as McDaniels went 5-17 and was fired after week 13 of the 2009 season.
McDaniels cleaned house in Denver, ridding the team of its "franchise" players at the time, Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. He opted for Kyle Orton at quarterback and drafted Tim Tebow with a first round pick.
However, McDaniels is not likely to be a part of the Browns' search. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that while McDaniels would like to be a head coach again one day, he informed the Patriots he will not interview for open jobs this offseason.
When it comes to transforming offenses and working with what you have, there may be no more impressive candidate than the Broncos' offensive coordinator. In the past two seasons, McCoy has reinvented his offense to accommodate completely different quarterbacks. With Tim Tebow under center, McCoy created a zone read system that catered to the quarterback's strengths and became a top rushing offense. Despite Tebow's passing deficiencies, McCoy was able to concoct an offense good enough to get the Broncos to the playoffs and win a game.
In 2012, Peyton Manning came to the Broncos, so McCoy again had to install a new offense on short notice. He has passed that test again with flying colors.
McCoy's pension for making an offense work with different quarterbacks would be a plus for a Browns team that has lacked an offensive pulse and is desperate for quarterback stability.
McCoy was a finalist for the Miami Dolphins' head coaching position last year. He reportedly interviewed with the Eagles Sunday in Denver.
When it comes to beleaguered quarterbacks stagnating with their original franchise, San Francisco's Alex Smith was the standard bearer. The former number one pick was once beaten out by Shaun Hill for the starting job.
However, with Jim Harbaugh as head coach and Roman as offensive coordinator, Smith went from liability to strength, leading the 49ers to the NFC Championship.
Roman has been criticized for some questionable play-calling this season but the offense has still been efficient with a new and young quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, under center.
Reports have Roman tied to freshly hired Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell. Some have said Roman could come as a package deal with Smith for a team in need of a quarterback. The Bears have reportedly requested an interview.
The Browns saw full well just how effective Shanahan's scheme can be in Week 14 this season. With Kirk Cousins filling in for RGIII, the Redskins didn't skip a beat, effectively utilizing play action to come away with a 38-21 win.
Washington finished the season with the NFL's fifth best offense, one based on a zone read scheme. While Brandon Weeden may not be the ideal quarterback for that system, the Browns' reported initial top choice, Chip Kelly, runs that type of system in college at Oregon.
Shanahan became the league's youngest coordinator when he was given the reigns of the Texans' offense as a 28-year-old in 2008. Now 33, Shanahan has some years of experience but would become one of the youngest head coaches in NFL history.
Shanahan has said he would definitely be interested in head coaching opportunities. He has not yet been contacted by any teams.
Green Bay has had one of the league's most high-octane offenses over the past few seasons and Clements is the current offensive coordinator. Aaron Rodgers has offered support for Clements and the guidance he has provided.
Before taking over the offense this season, Clements was the Packers' quarterback coach for six seasons, working with Rodgers, Matt Flynn and Brett Favre. He was chosen for the position after Joe Philibin left to be the Dolphins'
One question mark about Clements, which was also one for Philibin, is that while he's the offensive coordinator, it's not him but head coach Mike McCarthy calling plays.
Clements is reportedly one of a bevy of candidates for the Bears' head coaching vacancy.
So far, only Zimmer has been reported as a candidate for the Browns' head coaching position. That could change, however, if the Browns are not blown away by anyone they have already interviewed.
One factor working against some of these candidates is that fired head coach Pat Shurmur was an offensive coordinator with no head coaching experience prior to taking the Browns job. Teams typically look for a departure from their previous head coach in selecting a new one, whether it's experience, style or offensive/defensive specialization.