Sadly, we can count on zero hands the number of people who were happy with head coach Pat Shurmur's play-calling in 2011.
Instead of jump-starting a young offense learning the ropes of the NFL, Shurmur appeared lost, overwhelmed and inconsistent in his dual role of head coach and play-caller.
The Browns learned the hard way something that they should have already known: There's a reason very few head coaches call their own plays, and an even bigger reason rookie head coaches never do it.
The team compensated somewhat already by hiring former Minnesota Vikings head coach and another guy who came through the Philadelphia Eagles' coaching system in Brad Childress.
Regardless of what you think of Childress, just the fact that Shurmur is finally getting some help should be at least slightly comforting. Disappointingly, though, we also learned around the same time Childress was hired that Shurmur would continue to do the team's play-calling.
Perhaps simply having less on his plate will make him a better play-caller. Perhaps it won't make a bit of difference in that area. We'll have to wait and see.
Either way, what the Browns have to at least try to do with regard to play-calling is, first and foremost, run a consistently productive game plan and implement the right strategy at the right time.
In 2011 the Browns' play-calling looked like an over-conservative, plodding albatross of a game plan through 75 percent of every game, and a manic, desperate and disjointed set of panic-driven decisions for the other 25 percent.
Essentially, they had only two speeds: manic and narcoleptic.
They need to be more consistent, obviously, but they also need to know when to take it up or down a notch. They played ball control and looked sluggish in situations where they should have been in overdrive, and they did foolish, crazy things and looked frazzled in situations where they should have been being more careful and playing it safe to protect a lead or carefully craft a comeback.
The strategies themselves weren't always wrong; they were just almost always implemented at the wrong times.
Often, it was about playing not to lose rather than playing to win, which rarely—if ever—works at an NFL level. The bottom line is that the Browns need to take more calculated risks in their play-calling and fewer unnecessary risks that imply a sense of reckless abandon and desperation.