Who should the Browns hire to replace Kyle Shanahan?
For the first few weeks of the season that belief was rewarded as the Browns were averaging 26.8 points per game and running the ball effectively under Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme.
Things took a turn for the worst, however, after the team lost center Alex Mack to a broken leg during the Week 5 win against Pittsburgh. Suddenly, the running game struggled, quarterback Brian Hoyer wasn’t as effective running the play-action portion of the offense, and the lack of production started to slowly bring the team down.
It go so bad that the Browns were forced to turn to an unready Johnny Manziel with three games remaining on the schedule. The results were disastrous.
Once the season ended, Shanahan waited until head coach Mike Pettine left town to start calling around looking for another job – despite still being under contract with the Browns.
Coincidentally, and conveniently for Shanahan, unsourced and unsubstantiated rumors also started to circulate that the front office was meddling in the affairs of the coaches, creating a “dysfunctional” situation that would prove too much for the sensitive Shanahan to handle.
The Browns found themselves with two options; they could either:
Sit Shanahan down and explain the concept of a contract to him, and let it be known that he signed up for the project, it was time to cut the crap, man up and get to work.
Or they could tell Shanahan that since he obviously doesn’t have what it takes to get the job done, and since he went behind the head coach’s back, there’s the door, don’t let it hit you in the ass on the way out.
“I look forward to working with the staff as we go through this process to bring in coaches committed to helping the Cleveland Browns lay a strong foundation to take our offense to a consistently high level in the 2015 season and beyond.” – Head coach Mike Pettine
The Browns chose the latter (correct) option, obviously, and now find themselves unexpectedly looking for their sixth offensive coordinator in as many years. (It is interesting to note that with Gary Kubiak leaving Baltimore to take over as head coach in Denver, the Ravens are now searching for their fourth offensive coordinator in as many years. But apparently that’s just business as usual in Baltimore, so it’s OK rather than being dysfunctional.)
The Browns have been linked to several names, some of whom have accepted jobs with other teams. As the search continues, we thought we’d lead off this week’s series of 5 Questions by looking at what’s next for the Browns.
Joining us today are:
Jeff Rich, a Senior NFL Writer at More Than a Fan; co-host of Rapid React on MTAF Cleveland; and who is heard live on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at sportsbyline.com. Find him on Twitter @byJeffRich.
Dave Kolonich, who’s been known to hang around on Twitter @DaveKolonich.
Today’s question: What should the Browns do about the offensive coordinator position?
Jeff: I like consistency, but expectations for anything more sustainable than a warm body is a reach. Junior executives don’t stay junior executives forever. Find someone who “buys into” Mike Pettine and is willing to work with the core of the existing personnel. Keep in mind, this person can’t be irreplaceable.
Jared: I am not sure I know the “right” name here but I do know that it has to fit. Mike Pettine wants to run his team a certain way and the offensive coordinator must play complimentary football. I hope/expect a similar process to the one that brought Pettine to town: long and deliberate. It worked when we hired Pettine, it seems, and can work moving forward. There are quite a few names that have been interviewed and all of them seem to make some sense. The key is that it is Mike Pettine’s hire.
David: I can’t pretend to know the in’s and out’s and schemes that each candidate brings to the table. In terms of an offensive coordinator, I’d settle for it being a coach that Mike Pettine is comfortable with. For that to happen, Pettine needs to have input and be a part of the process. Healthy disagreement and discussion is always going to be part of the equation for strong-willed NFL coaches, but trust and comfort needs to be prioritized. If Pettine is comfortable with the offensive coordinator, I’m comfortable with the offensive coordinator.
Mike: Hand it over to Mike Pettine entirely. I don’t care if some guy ran a zone-blocking system in Houston or coached up a quarterback 20 years ago. Don’t care. The head coach needs to pick his assistants. I don’t think Ray Farmer should have any problem allowing Pettine full rein on this since those two are also – wait for it – “on the same page” concerning team building. Pretty sure that whoever Pettine chooses will be all in on LOS DOM (line of scrimmage domination), so now the job is to find someone Pettine likes and trusts. Résumé is irrelevant.
Dave: Hire someone.
Ryan: Here’s a crazy idea: The Browns should allow their head coach to hire his coordinators. This didn’t happen last year. Joe Banner hired Kyle Shanahan (after hiring Dowell Loggains, no less) and was fired 10 days later. And people wonder why that didn’t work?
They’ve interviewed a number of candidates, but they need to go with someone who is going to be on the same page and share the same vision as Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer. Also, someone who has a plan to develop the young talent on the roster while maintaining some continuity from 2014, ideally the zone blocking scheme.
At the end of the day, I expect Raiders quarterback coach John DeFelippo (Youngstown native) to get the gig with a senior offensive assistant like Al Saunders on staff to aid in the play calling. Pettine could also bring in old friend and former offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh, who was the Bears quarterback coach the last few seasons, to fill the same role here. All are logical fits.
Nice work as always by the boys.
Coming Tuesday: Is the 2015 starting quarterback currently on the roster?