Browns hiring Duce Staley to coach running backs; offensive coordinator search continues

Jan. 24—In running back terms, the coach the Browns are hiring to replace Stump Mitchell has fresh legs.

The team hasn't made it official yet, but a league source said the Browns are hiring 48-year-old Duce Staley to replace Mitchell, who was fired three days after they were eliminated by the Houston Texans, 45-14, in a wild-card playoff game. Mitchell coached the Browns running backs from 2019-2023.

Mitchell, at least when he met with the media, was mild-mannered. There is no way to know how he conducted himself in the running backs room when he was meeting with his players.

Staley is not mild-mannered. That comes directly from Frank Reich, who was the offensive coordinator in Philadelphia in 2016 and 2017 when Staley coached the Eagles running backs. Reich was hired as head coach of the Carolina Panthers in 2023 and hired Staley to coach the running backs with the added title of assistant head coach. Reich, Staley and quarterbacks coach Josh McCown were fired on Nov. 27 when the Panthers were 1-10.

"Duce is not even-keeled," Reich told reporters in Charlotte, N.C. when Staley was hired. "I don't think he has an even-keeled bone in his body. That's what I love about him. He's the hammer. But if you're that kind of personality, it has to be authentic and genuine.

"This guy, he's not just a hammer now. This guy is a quality football coach in every way. Duce is a leader of men. Great person. Great coach."

Hiring Staley leaves the Browns with only one vacancy to fill, albeit the most important one. Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt was fired the same day as Mitchell. The Browns are searching for his replacement.

Tight ends coach T.C. McCartney was not retained. Tommy Rees, the offensive coordinator at Alabama in 2023, was hired by the Browns last week to coach the tight ends. The former Notre Dame quarterback might be assigned more extensive offensive duties once the revamped staff is complete.

In other news, even though former Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan has been hired as head coach of the Tennessee Titans, it is unlikely his father, Bill Callahan, will be leaving the Browns to coach the Titans' offensive line. Bill Callahan has been coaching the Browns offensive line since 2020 and is expected to stay with the Browns.

Staley, a third-round draft pick by the Eagles in 1997, played 10 seasons in the NFL — seven with Philadelphia and three with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards three times and finished with 1,430 carries for 5,785 yards and four rushing touchdowns. He caught 287 passes for 2,587 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Staley's coaching career began as an intern with the Eagles in 2010. He worked his way up to running backs coach in 2013 and remained with the Eagles through 2020. He coached the Lions running backs in 2021-22 before taking the job with the Panthers in 2023.