Cleveland Browns Should Learn from the Packers and Give Pat Shurmur Time

Benjamin Flack@@ClevelandFlackSenior Analyst IJanuary 12, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 24:  Head coach Pat Shurmur of the Cleveland Browns motions to his team from the sidelines during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

I live in Wisconsin and am stuck in the middle of Packer country. Green Bay fans can be way over the top and are a little annoying sometimes. They've been quite insufferable lately since they won the Super Bowl, but they're even more insufferable when they aren't winning.

Believe it or not there are a lot of similarities between the Browns and the Packers and their fans.

When you think of tradition-rich franchises, the Browns and Packers are right at the top.

When people talk about the most dedicated fan bases, Cleveland and Green Bay are right there.

Both teams embody the hard working attitude of the people and city that support their team.

The passion that Northeast Ohioans have for the Browns dwarfs that of the Indians and Cavs, much in the way that the people of Wisconsin love the Packers and are lukewarm toward the Brewers and Bucks. I will say this though about both fan bases: when one of the teams is good, no matter which sport, the fans are behind them 100 percent.

But one of the similarities that is most striking to me at the moment is between the head coaches of the football teams.

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 11:  Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers watches as his team takes on the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field on December 11, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Raiders 46-16.  (Photo by Jonathan Dan
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Browns Head Coach Pat Shurmur had a very rough first year in Cleveland. The team was terrible, especially on offense where he was the man in charge. The play-calling—his play-calling—was confusing, boring, unimaginative, and ultimately unsuccessful. All in all he looked lost many times trying to run the team.

So what could a first-year coach of a 4-12 record team have in common with the coach of the defending Super Bowl champions who just finished off a 15-1 season?

Well, clearly nothing this year. But it's more of the Mike McCarthy circa-2008 that bears many similarities to the plights of Pat Shurmur.

The circumstances were very different. In 2008, McCarthy was going into his third year in Green Bay and coming off a 13-3 season where the Packers lost in the NFC Championship, and the coach finished second in voting for Coach of the Year.

It sounds pretty good. But that was the summer of Brett Favre and his, shall we say, "rough" departure from Green Bay in favor of Aaron Rodgers.

McCarthy took a ton of heat for essentially banishing the cult hero that is (or was) revered here about a million times as much as Bernie Kosar is in Cleveland.

To make matters worse, the team was terrible. Even though Rodgers played well, the team finished 6-10. They only did that well because they got to play the winless Lions twice. McCarthy looked lost most of the season. Bad clock management, questionable challenges (to put it nicely), and poor personnel decisions were only a few of the low-lights of that season. McCarthy became known all around as "the chubby, clueless idiot".

There was a hatred for McCarthy at the end of that season by the fans that I can't even describe. Fans were calling for his and General Manager Ted Thompson's heads to roll.

Tons of revisionist history was done on McCarthy, including blaming him for the loss in the NFC Championship game to the Giants. Fans were outraged that they had traded away their beloved Favre, and McCarthy became the face of that travesty.

Well, McCarthy didn't get fired. And even after the 2009 season that sent them back to the playoffs and during the first half of the 2010 season, there were still grumblings that the coach was the one holding the team back.

I haven't heard any of those in quite a while now.

The moral of the story is that patience is needed. Just because a coach has a rough year doesn't mean he needs to be fired. The Packers did a gutsy thing by retaining McCarthy after the 2008 season, but it has paid off huge.

Mike McCarthy, like Pat Shurmur, rubs a lot of people the wrong way with his sideline demeanor and ho-hum attitude at times in press conferences. Fans look at both guys and don't see the prototypical football coach like the Harbaugh brothers or Mike Tomlin.

When you hear the best coaches named you usually hear about Bill Belichick and Sean Payton. You almost never hear about McCarthy. But he's doing pretty well I'd say.

Now I don't know if Pat Shurmur is a great football coach. I'm not in his team meetings or at practice. I don't know how he deals with players in the locker room. We'll find out in time how good he is.

But that's what we need to give him—time.

Getting an offensive coordinator will really help Shurmur. It will allow him to just be the coach.

I'm excited about the Browns future. And I believe that if Mike Holmgren, who knows a thing or two about coaching, believes in Pat Shurmur then that's good enough for me.


You can follow Benjamin Flack on Twitter @ClevelandFlack.