The Browns of Cleveland were embarrassed in their final game of the 2010 season by the hated Pittsburgh Steelers 41-9 on January 2nd. On January 3rd the Browns fired head coach Eric Mangini after a much maligned two-year stint that featured a 1-11 start last year, flashes of good play this year, and a struggle down the stretch to end up 5-11.
The rumors immediately started swirling. Many thought it was obvious that Mike Holmgren would come down from the front office and take over the sidelines for the Browns. Others thought maybe John Gruden would return to Ohio and coach the team. There were rumblings of big name coordinators such as Marty Mornhinweg in Philadelphia and Mike Mularkey in Atlanta.
Well, the rumors are done and now Cleveland has it’s man.
And it’s….drumroll please…
(Note: I almost put Paul as his first name at first…I hope this isn’t a sign of anything).
Lt me say that one more time: the Browns hired the offensive coordinator for the ST. LOUIS RAMS.
I’ll admit it: I wanted Holmgren to be the head coach, or Gruden. I was lured in by the big names and Super Bowl rings. But the more I think about it, hiring this Paul Shurmer guy may not be such a bad idea. (And yes, I know what I did there.)
Shurmur, after all, did just complete a season in which he guided rookie quarterback Sam Bradford to one of the most successful seasons for a first year player in NFL history. He was also the QB coach in Philly during a time when Donovan McNabb developed into one of the best QBs in the league while leading the Eagles to four straight NFC championship games and a Super Bowl appearance.
I can already hear cries of “But he has no head coaching experience!!” echoing throughout the Cleveland Browns fan base. I say: so what? You don’t even need to look outside of the Browns own division to see two examples that prove head coaching experience doesn’t neccesarilly equal success.
- John Harbaugh – hired as the Baltimore Ravens head coach after being the defensive backs and special teams coach in Philadelphia. He has won 2/3rds of his regular season games and has a 4-2 record in the playoffs so far.
- Mike Tomlin – hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers after a single year as the defensive coordinator in Minnesota. Before that he was the defensive backs coach in Tampa Bay. He has also won exactly 2/3rds of his regular season games, 75% of his playoff games, and has a Super Bowl ring.
So, it may not have been the popular choice (and really…is there a way to make Browns fans happy right now?), but I like this move for a couple of reasons.
First, Shurmur has ties to Holmgren – his dad coached under him in Green Bay and they have the same agent – so Holmgren knows what he is getting. Also, I trust Holmgren right now after the flashes of brilliance last year’s draft picks showed and his previous record of success at both of his head coaching stops. Holmgren knows offense in the NFL and that is what is sorely needed in Cleveland right now.
I personally look forward to seeing how Pat (yes, Pat!) Shurmur can help develop both Colt McCoy and the Browns offense as a whole. I just hope that they leave Rob Ryan alone with the defense and do whatever they can to keep him in that position in the future.
* – Pat Shurmer photo credit: Jeff Roberson / Associated Press via Cleveland.com