CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns are nearing the end of their search for a new head coach, and with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels the last scheduled interview on Friday, many believe he’s the favorite for the job. One of the most interesting things about a potential McDaniels regime is that there are a handful of Patriots staffers who have ties here in Northeast Ohio. Will any of them make the move home? Obviously, no one knows. But these are some names to keep an eye on.
Nick Caserio - Director of Player Personnel
Browns co-owner Jimmy Haslam said at the beginning of their search for a head coach that they would first hire the coach and then the coach would assist in selecting the new general manager. "We are going to hire the coach first and then we will do the GM search. The coach will be involved in that process but will not have the final say. [The head coach] will not have the final say but will be heavily involved in that process," Haslam said.
Many believe McDaniels will attempt to bring in former John Carroll teammate and Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio to fill the Browns general manager position. Caserio was the starting quarterback at John Carroll University in each of his four seasons with a 33-7-2 record. He was a two-time captain and three-time all-conference player who helped land the Blue Streaks in the NCAA DIII Tournament and advanced to the national quarterfinals in 1997.
Caserio is a native of Lyndhurst, so coming back to Northeast Ohio would be an easy move and one that makes sense with McDaniels as head coach.
Nick Caley - Tight End Coach
The Browns have a lot of questions at tight end. With five on the roster at the moment, many are unsure who will take the field next season. David Njoku suffered a wrist injury early last season, and he found himself on the bench even after recovery as a healthy scratch at the hands of then head coach Freddie Kitchens. Demetrius Harris didn’t see many targets towards the end of the season and failed to capitalize on the ones he did get. Ricky Seals-Jones had some explosive moments, but will he be able to repeat them more consistently this year? Northeast Ohio native Pharaoh Brown has potential, but he lacked discipline, racking up penalties throughout the season. Rookie Stephen Carlson showed promise but needs a good coach to help his growth.
McDaniels may have just the guy. Nick Caley has been the Patriots tight end coach since 2016 and coached Rob Gronkoswki in 2017 when he received his fifth career Pro Bowl invitation, was named to the Associated Press All-Pro First Team and led tight ends in receiving yards across the league. Caley, like McDaniels is a John Carroll guy, graduating with a bachelor of arts in communications in 2006. He earned his master of science, sport science and coaching degrees from the University of Akron in 2008. Caley was born in Canton.
Joe Kim - Director of Skill Development
With the anticipated return of Myles Garrett to the roster after receiving an indefinite suspension last season, the Browns will once again have a lethal pass rush. McDaniels has a former coworker who can help develop that pass rush even further and isn’t just familiar with Northeast Ohio—he’s already worked for the Browns once. Joe Kim began his career in 1992, coaching under then-head coach Bill Belichick. Yes, Bill Belichick.
In 2017 Kim founded Football Combatives, a program that takes martial arts techniques and applies them to the game of football, something Garrett might find useful, considering his past training with UFC Champion Stipe Miocic. The move to Cleveland might be even more enticing since his two daughters already reside in his hometown of Lakewood.
Carmen Bricillo - Coaching Assistant
If McDaniels is looking to fill his staff with people he trusts and people from the area, Carmen Bricillo might make the cut, especially with his experience coaching an offensive line, which is the Browns' biggest weakness. Bricillo spent nine years coaching the offensive line right here in Northeast Ohio at Youngstown State. In his time with the program, Bricillo coached his players to 15 All-Missouri Valley Conference selections. Before his time at Youngstown, Bricillo also worked at Akron as a coaching assistant from 2007 to 2008.
D.J. Debick - Area Scout
Add D.J. Debick to the list of John Carroll guys McDaniels could bring in to fill his staff in Cleveland. Before he joined the Patriots, Debick was an assistant wide receivers coach and recruiting assistant at John Carroll in 2013. He spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons as a graduate assistant coach, responsible for coaching the tight ends and co-coordinating special teams. Debick was a three-year letter-winner and a three-year starter at defensive back at John Carroll, leading the Blue Streaks in interceptions in two of his three seasons as a starter. He was elected captain his senior season. The Lyndhurst native wouldn’t have to move an inch if hired by McDaniels considering he already lives in Cleveland.
Dave Ziegler- Director of Pro Personnel
You’re probably tired of reading about all of the John Carroll ties McDaniels shares with his Patriots coaching staff, but here’s one more for you. Before his job as director of pro personnel in New England, Dave Ziegler coached the wide receivers and special teams at John Carroll. He didn’t just coach there, he played. A three-time all-conference honoree as a wide receiver/punt returner/kick returner, the Tallmadge native holds multiple Blue Streak records, including career return yards and touchdowns. Ziegler played with McDaniels and Caserio.
Although no longer with the Patriots, Jerry Schuplinski still might find his way back to Cleveland if McDaniels has a say. A John Carroll grad and McDaniels’ former teammate, Schuplinski was an assistant coach for Case Western Reserve for six seasons before becoming a part of the Patriots staff in 2013. He had a role as an offensive assistant and assistant quarterbacks coach in New England before being hired by the Dolphins in 2019. With the loss of quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese, perhaps McDaniels brings in Schuplinski for a quarterback coaching role here in Cleveland.