By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND - Rob Chudzinski didn't even get a full year to fix the dreadful Browns.
Not seeing the progress it wanted, Cleveland's front office fired Chudzinski on Sunday night just hours after a loss in Pittsburgh to end his first season, which started promising but ended with a seven-game losing streak and a 4-12 record.
Chudzinski had only been in place since Jan. 11, when the Ohio native and lifelong Browns fan was hired for his dream position by owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner. The Browns were 4-5 after a win over Baltimore on Nov. 3, but they collapsed in the final two months, blowing several late leads and the organization decided to cut ties before heading into a second season with Chudzinski in charge.
"We appreciate Chud's passion for the Browns, and we have great respect for him both personally and professionally," the team said in a statement not attributed to any person. "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."
The Browns scheduled a 12:30 p.m. news conference on Monday to explain Chudzinski's shocking dismissal.
Just last month, Banner praised Chudzinski, who had dealt with more than his share of obstacles.
"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 on Nov. 13. "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 losses began to mount, with four of them during the seven-game slide by more than 10 points. Cleveland's front office felt as if the team was getting worse and knew a change had to be made.