Now that the decision has been made to move on from head coach Eric Mangini, the Cleveland Browns are left with a multitude of unanswered questions.
Who will the next head coach be? Who will be the offensive and defensive coordinators? What type of systems will be put in place? What players currently on the roster fit those systems? What new players will be brought in to fit those systems?
Whoever the new head coach is, the Browns have holes on both sides of the ball that need immediate attention.
On the offense, the Browns are in desperate need of help at wide receiver, right tackle and depth at running back; they also have a question to answer at the quarterback position.
Rookie third-round draft pick Colt McCoy took over starting duties midway through the season and showed promise, but there are still questions about his overall arm strength.
On defense, the Browns need help all along the defensive line, inside and outside linebacker and depth at cornerback. There has also been speculation that the Browns could switch from a 3-4 back to a 4-3 base defense, which would further complicate the list of needs in the front seven.
With many free agents that could help the team, and a talent-rich draft class ahead, maybe the most important question is: Which area of the team do the Browns focus on improving the most in this upcoming offseason?
It stands to reason that if the Browns hire a coach with a defensive background, he will want to focus on improving the defense, especially the pass rush.
It also stands to reason that if the Browns hire a coach with an offensive background, he will, in kind, want to focus on the offense.
Whoever the Browns bring in as coach, I believe the number one priority has to be finding weapons to surround Colt McCoy.
McCoy showed a lot of poise and leadership, but only mixed results on the field this season. Much of that can be attributed to not having weapons for him to throw to.
Many believe McCoy will be the long-term answer at quarterback for the Browns, but there are also many who aren't convinced. While he showed a lot of promise, he fell short of proving his long-term worth as a franchise quarterback.
A major task for a new head coach is always to evaluate the quarterback position.
McCoy did enough to earn a shot at proving himself next season, but if he lacks viable weapons, it will be an uphill climb.
The only way for the next head coach to get a proper read on McCoy moving forward will be to surround him with playmakers at the wide receiver and running back positions, and to provide him with proper protection to keep him upright and healthy.
Many fans and experts alike have already started making mock drafts and roster predictions for next season, myself included.
There are many attractive options on the defensive side of the ball in the first round of the upcoming draft and in free agency.
Defense wins championships, but as much as I'd like to see the Browns have a dominant defense, I believe they must focus first on improving the level of talent on the offensive side of the ball.
This choice will be pivotal in defining the regime of whoever it is the Cleveland Browns choose as their next head coach.