Pat Shurmur Fired: Highlighting Best Candidates to Replace Browns Head Coach

Alex KayCorrespondent IDecember 31, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 01:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide motions from the sidelines during the thrid quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs during the SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on December 1, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It comes as no surprise that the Cleveland Browns have decided to part ways with head coach Pat Shurmur after a 5-11 season.

According to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, ownership elected to let the second-year head coach  go after his two-year tenure with the franchise concluded with a 9-23 record (along with two last-place finishes in the AFC North):

Black Monday begins. The Cleveland Browns have just fired HC Pat Shurmur

— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) December 31, 2012

Before the team can start looking for a replacement in earnest, it needs to hire a new general manager. As per ESPN’s staff, incumbent GM Tom Heckert was let go along with Shurmur early Monday.

Whoever is hired to fill Heckert’s shoes will likely have a major influence on which direction the Browns go with their coaching hire, but here are three home-run candidates that any Cleveland GM would love to have coaching the club.


Nick Saban

The Alabama Crimson Tide coach is just over a week away from playing in his second straight BCS National Championship game, but there have been rumblings that the 61-year-old would be willing to jump back to the NFL under very specific conditions.

Greg A. Bedard of The Boston Globe reported that Saban might be interested in the Browns opening if Michael Lombardi (a current NFL Network analyst) is hired as the GM.

Even if Lombardi is selected for the front office position, it’s a long shot that the Tide head coach  would leave his cushy post in Tuscaloosa to take over a tumultuous franchise in Cleveland.

While every Browns fan would love this hire, especially with former ‘Bama RB Trent Richardson on the roster, we’re putting the odds around five percent of it actually happening.


Josh McDaniels

When McDaniels first left the New England Patriots to become the Denver Broncos' head coach back in 2009, it was clear that the younger man was overmatched and ill-prepared for the responsibilities of running a team.

McDaniels finished his disappointing two seasons with a record of 11-17 before being dismissed 12 games into the 2010 campaign, an extremely humbling experience for the 36-year-old.

He has since made his way back to the Pats—once again as their offensive coordinator/QB coach. The New England attack is firing on all cylinders with McDaniels calling the shots, and he has likely put himself on a number of short lists for coaching openings this offseason.

While some franchises aren’t willing to give second chances, the Browns should definitely consider giving someone like McDaniels—an Ohio native—a shot. His offensive genius is something that could greatly benefit a young QB like Brandon Weeden, while the rest of the team blossoms around the duo.

If the new Cleveland GM is willing to take a risk on someone who hasn’t succeeded in the past, it just might pay dividends.


Jon Gruden

The current ESPN broadcaster is reportedly interested in returning to coaching and will be interviewing for a number of open positions, according to Mike Freeman of

Chucky is one of the hottest candidates on the open market, and will draw interest from NFL and college teams across the nation, so you can obviously expect the Browns to throw their hat into the ring.

If the new front office in Cleveland is willing to pay a tremendous price and concede a large amount of control to the 2003 Super Bowl winner, there is certainly a chance they will acquire his services.

Gruden is a hard-working coach who is always prepared and demands excellence from his players, which is an attitude that the Browns have been missing.

If the franchise is serious about ending this 14-year period of irrelevance (since rejoining the league in 1999), they have to get a guy like Gruden on the sideline.


 Keep it tuned here on B/R for the latest on the Cleveland Browns coaching search.