Browns Dump Former Steelers RB Coach, Sign Former Bengals QB Coach In Annual Staff Shakeup

A year ago, after they went just 1-15 for the season, the Cleveland Browns saw fit to clean house on the defensive side of the ball. The team brought back Ray Horton as defensive coordinator, who had previously served a stint in that role, but they let him go after one season, along with other members of the defensive coaching staff, replacing him with what they hoped to be a bigger name.

Now, following the conclusion of the 2017 season, during which they went 01-6, the Browns have cleaned house among the offensive coaching staff, with nearly everybody being shown the door. Among those now seeking gainful employment is running backs coach Kirby Wilson, whose name should ring a bell.

Wilson has a long history of coaching the position at the NFL level, originally breaking in with the Patriots in 1999. But he took over for Dick Hoak when he retired for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007, coming in with Mike Tomlin’s initial staff, and he remained with the team through the 2013 season.

The running backs coach was believed to be the choice for successor at offensive coordinator when Bruce Arians was unceremoniously let go, but he suffered serious burns in a house fire in January of 2012. It took him some time to recover, and the Steelers in the interim brought in Todd Haley, who has remained in that post since then.

Wilson sought other opportunities after that, taking the same position with the Vikings in 2014, spending two years there, and then the past two with the Browns. Where to next for the 56-year-old remains to be seen, but a return to Pittsburgh is highlight unlikely with James Saxon in place for several years now.

One signing of note, which I have talked about recently, is Ken Zampese. Zampese was the quarterback coach for the Cincinnati Bengals from the early 2000s until 2016, when he was promoted to offensive coordinator following Hue Jackson’s departure, taking the Browns’ head coaching position.

He was fired, however, two games into his second season in that post, and remained unemployed for the rest of this past season. But now he rejoins Jackson, with whom he has worked well in the past, and he is returning to the role of quarterbacks coach.

Zampese worked well in helping to develop not just Andy Dalton, but Carson Palmer before him. Given that the Browns’ primary task this offseason is to find and begin developing a quarterback—having the first pick in the draft helps with that—the move makes sense with the prior success and familiarity in mind.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Michael Putman

    Just curious if the Steelers move on from Haley this year if they would give Wilson a shot at coordinating. I remember him being a good and respected RB coach for us. I’m not sure how that translates to a coordinating role though. No matter what I wish him well!

  • Conserv_58

    Mike Brown’s first question to a coach’s agent: “How much is he asking for and how much is he willing to take?”

  • heath miller

    matthew i love you like a brother but this is such a non story … does it really seem to matter who is the head coach .. the RB coach .. the WR coach .. or the F ing water boy in cleveland … they find a way to lose… they are like the bungals… must be an ohio thing.. unless they sign belichek dont even bother writing about it … it would be interesting to see the entire steeelers coaching staff more to the browns and the entire browns coaching staff take over the steelers and just see what would happen .. the reason i say bellichek might make them a winner is he would only go there if he had complete control… but i really dont know how good he would be without brady ? and im sure we will never find out since they will probably both retire the same year? HEEEATH

  • heath miller

    wait ? i could easily be wrong but didnt kirby choose to leave us ? hes the one that got burnt real bad i thought and the steelers took care of him and then didnt he choose to leave us? can someone verify or correct me on that? if that is the case and he choose to leave the burg i rarely wish anyone well that leave on his own accord HEEEEATH

  • Ring4Shaz

    Yup. Here’s what Ed Bouchette wrote for the Post Gazette on Jan. 25, 2014: “Wilson learned earlier today that he would not be hired to become the Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator after he had his second interview with John Harbaugh Friday afternoon. Wilson was under contract with the Steelers for one more year but they granted his request to leave. He will succeed James Saxon, who was not retained by Zimmer after three seasons coaching the Minnesota running backs.”

  • heath miller

    thanks shaz.. so kirby left us to go to minn and now hes going to the clowns.. as they say on the internet .. kirby is TRENDING DOWN LMAO HEEEATH

  • Matthew Marczi

    Actually, he went to the Browns, and was just released. Currently unemployed. The irony is that the Vikings fired James Saxon and hired Wilson. Wilson requested his release and signed with the Vikings, and then the Steelers signed Saxon.

  • Matthew Marczi

    We always try to stay up to date with what’s going on in the division. The bigger story here is really the hiring of Zampese, but Wilson has the Steelers angle.

  • heath miller

    i understand and apprecite everything you do for all of us.. i always got yoru back like with the proof reading A hole the other day … tel him to get the PG and go .. well you knw the rest .. hahah HEEEEEEATH

  • heath miller

    i have no comment on mr kirby… glad hes ok from the fire.. im still in the holiday spirit so i wont blast him .. maybe in february .. not tonight .. some people still have their christmas lights on… festavus for the rest of us … HEEEATH