Pat Shurmur a Brown: Top 5 Reasons He's the Wrong Choice for Cleveland

Daymon JohnsonCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2011

Pat Shurmur a Brown: Top 5 Reasons He's the Wrong Choice for Cleveland

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    With a new day comes new news.  And today, the news at the forefront for Cleveland Browns fans is the hiring of oft criticized former St. Louis Rams Offensive Coordinator, Pat Shurmur as the new head coach in C-Town.

    To say this is a bit of a surprise after such a brief and shallow coaching search would be an understatement, and makes me wonder if there's something in the water in the Cleveland area that turns GMs and upper management personnel into half wits?

    With things being as they are, I think it's time to look at this the way it should be looked at, candidly and with a discerning eye.

    If I'm being honest here folks, I think, wholeheartedly, that this is absolutely the wrong decision for the Cleveland Browns.  I have no qualms about saying it either.

    Pat Shurmur is NOT the guy that Cleveland needed.  Not even close.....

    Cleveland needed someone else, someone along the lines of a John Fox, who was also hired today as the Head Coach of the Denver Broncos.  Any takers that Denver finishes better than Cleveland next season? Cleveland needed someone with some experience and someone that has a little clout.

    Shurmur isn't the guy, and here's why....

Reason 1: His Lack Of Head Coaching and NFL Experience

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    Look, I'm not gonna pull any punches here folks.  Josh McDaniels' hire was eerily similar to Shurmur's hire, and look where Denver is now, less than 2 seasons after he took over.

    The reality is that Pat Shurmur has only two seasons......let me restate that...TWO SEASONS of experience as an NFL coordinator, and has NEVER held a HC job at any level. At least McDaniels had several years as an OC before hired as a Head Coach.

    Shurmur hasn't been the HC anywhere.....not Pop Warner, not High School and not College.  So, with that being said, how the hell is he where he's at now? Isn't it strange to anyone else, that he's now the HC of a professional team at the very highest, most competitive level of the game?

    I find it to be quite strange, and down right disturbing.

    Many will say "But, he was lauded by Andy Reid" and he "Really did some great things with St. Louis" and the fact of the matter is, the latter is an out and out falsity.

    Folks, the Rams play in the god awful NFC West and finished 7-9.  That's a division that some teams would find some stiff challenges from the majority of SEC college teams. More on this later.

    His lack of HC experience and NFL experience is a very serious concern for me.  In his coaching career, the highest position in which he served was last season in St. Louis as the Offensive coordinator. 

    Prior to that, he was the quarterbacks coach in Philly under Andy Reid.  Not exactly a position that is as demanding as a Coordinator position, and typically, not a position that is involved, in any way, with much the HC does.

    So, where is his practical experience in understanding the game planning and rigors that an NFL head coach must go through to prepare his team?

    Where's his ability to inspire and lead the guys in the locker room?  Sure, he played at the Michigan State, but, "Rah Rah" speeches don't work in the NFL.

    Working as a Tight Ends coach won't prepare you for a HC spot.  Working as a Quarterbacks Coach won't prepare you for that and working 1 season as an Offensive Coordinator won't do the trick either.

    Preparing positional players is completely different than running a specific unit, which is completely different from running the entire team.  Each job has it's own nuances and responsibilities, and they're there because Coordinators and HC's need to pass off smaller responsibilities.

    This is the BIGGEST concern for me regarding this hire.  Again, this reminds me a LOT of the Josh McDaniels hire in Denver.  The next young up and comer, with no experience is hired, and, well, we saw what happened there.....

Reason 2: What He Did In St. Louis Wasn't As Impressive As It's Built Up To Be

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    Again folks, the Rams play in the god awful NFC West, a division where 7-9 allowed them second place, and a shot at a divisional crown.

    In the "Black and Blue" conference....err...the AFC North, 7-9 would put you third and completely out of contention for even a wildcard spot, as B-More and Pittsburgh are there seemingly every year sitting 1 and 2 respectively.

    Looking at what happened in St. Louis this last season, it's easy to see why everyone thinks what happened with them was impressive.  I mean, they were contending for a divisional crown and a playoff spot for the first time in since 2004, when they went 8-8.

    But, when one looks deeper, the picture becomes clearer.....

    Last season, offensively speaking, the Rams were 26th in points, averaging 18.1 points per game, barely 1 point better than Cleveland, who averaged 16.9.

    They ranked 26th in yards per game, averaging 302.6 per game, while Cleveland was only 12 yards behind them, ranking 29th, averaging 289.7.

    Additionally, Shurmur's offense ranked 21st in passing yards per game and 25th in rushing yards per game, which ranks them BEHIND Cleveland, who ranked 20th.

    That last stat, in and of itself is concerning as well, because let's be honest folks, Peyton Hillis is a nice running back, however, he's nowhere near the running back that Steven Jackson is, and if Shurmur was struggling with S-Jax as his RB, I fear it could be even worse with Hillis carrying the load.

    Oh, and don't forget, St. Louis plays indoors, Cleveland doesn't.....

    Anyway, looking at all those stats, how is what Shurmur did anything to "write home about"?  I don't see it.

    People have also been talking about what he did with Sam Bradford, but the simple fact here folks, is that Bradford finished with 3512 yards, 19TD's and 15INT's.  If you take Colt McCoy's averages and run them out, Colt would have been at roughly 3350 yards, 13TD's and 17INT's.

    My point is that he did nothing special for Bradford.  Had Colt played all 16, as Bradford did, they would have been basically identical, and that's inside Brian Daboll's absolutely horrid offensive game planning.

    Also, giving Shurmur some kind of credit for the guy that was hailed as having the very best workout in 20 years, is kind of silly.  That's like saying Wayne Gretzky was good because of Barry Melrose, which obviously isn't true.

Reason 3: The Lack of Depth in The Head Coaching Search

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    Folks, Cleveland interviewed 3 candidates.  THREE.

    Perry Fewell, Mike Mularkey and Pat Shurmur.

    Tell me, please, how can Mike Holmgren say he actually thoroughly evaluated everyone he could?  Furthermore, how could he know after interviewing only 3 candidates that Shurmur was the right guy?

    Who's to say that Mornhinweg wasn't the right one?  What about Fox?  Oh, right....they weren't even contacted about the opening, so clearly, they weren't right.

    Make no mistake, Cleveland is in a rough place right now, and they needed to evaluate and interview as many people as they could to really figure out who fit what Cleveland needs.

    Perhaps in my mind Cleveland's needs are a bit different than that of Holmgren, but I think it's obvious, regardless of what I think, they didn't need a guy that would have to learn to be an NFL HC "on the job".

    I believe they needed someone with at least some experience, and someone that could draw from those experiences to be successful.  At this point in his career, Shurmur doesn't have much to draw from.

    I guess at the end of the day, this hire feels more like nepotism than anything else.

    Holmgren had ties with Shurmur's father, and Shurmur himself worked with Andy Reid, who's from the Holmgren coaching tree.  All that adds up.

    Like the old adage says, if it looks like crap and smells like crap, then that's probably what it is, and honestly, I think this was done for the wrong reasons.

    I believe that Mike Homgren's job was to evaluate everyone he could in the spirit of bettering the Browns, regardless of what coaching tree they're from, and regardless of what philosophical side of the ball they're from. 

    His job was to make the RIGHT hire, not the hire that made him most comfortable, and this is exactly what that was, and I don't think there's any disputing that.

Reason 4: The Expectations of Holmgren AND The Fans

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    Cleveland is a very proud, blue collar kind of town, and it expects the best, even from a franchise like the Browns that has been largely irrelevant since the expansion.

    And pleasing the fans, the ones who essentially pay the bills, has got to be a priority in regard to the Browns being successful.

    Can Shurmur lead when a disenfranchised fan base is already looking for an explanation as to why he was hired?  I don't know that he can, and honestly, that doesn't surprise me.

    An ideal Head Coach in Cleveland would have thick skin, experience and some kind of swagger, because playing in the AFC North, perhaps the toughest division in football, you gotta have all those qualities.

    Harbaugh, Tomlin and even Marvin Lewis have them.  Mangini did too.

    Can someone show me something that would indicate that Shurmur has them?

    Yes, I'll admit, Cleveland Browns fans can sometimes be quick to jump the gun on their Head Coach.  Heck, most wanted Mangini gone by Week 10 in his first season, and honestly, he may have been gone by seasons end had he not rattled off the 4 game win streak at the end of the year.

    So, having said that, what is everyone going to be saying when the Browns end up well below .500 again?

    Coupled with the expectations of the fans, is the expectations of the man that hired him.

    Surely, Holmgren is going to want to see appreciable growth and improvement and probably sooner than later.  In reality, I think Shurmur is already sitting on a hot seat, because the reality is, if the Browns struggle, they'll both be hearing it...loud too.

    The reality is, Mike Holmgren's name is as much on this now as Shurmur's is, and until now, Holmgren has had an out, and that out was the fact that he didn't hire Mangini, and wasn't held responsible for what happened, especially if it was bad.

    That's changed, and Holmgren, as well as Shurmur are officially on the clock. 

Reason 5: The State Of The Team

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    For the first time in a while, the Browns actually have some signs of life on an otherwise dismal and largely irrelevant roster.

    Offensively, Colt McCoy looks like he may settle nicely into the starting QB position, and has already been given the seal of approval by the QB guru himself, Mike Holmgren.

    Peyton Hillis is a decent RB, and a guy that Cleveland can build around and have one of the most dominant running games in the NFL.  And, Ben Watson looks like one of the rare players that The Hoody didn't get everything out of before he let them go, and he's developed a nice rapport with McCoy.

    The left side of the O-Line is a good looking group and will be dominant for years to come, but, aside of that, what really is there?

    Sure, Shurmur is used to working with minimal talent, but, I would say that the Rams showed more offensive prowess than Cleveland did in 2010.  Maybe that's because of the Daboll effect, or, maybe not.

    Defensively, the Browns have some bright spots in Haden, Ward, Rubin and some others, but, in general, they're equally devoid of talent on the defensive side as they are the offensive side.

    Here's just a quick set of stats for you, courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau...

    • When a new Head Coach is hired to a sub .500 NFL team, only 16% of the time, has he improved the record of the previous season to at least .500.  Mangini didn't after Crennel left, and Crennel didn't after Davis....
    • In the NFL, when a Head Coach with less than 3 years of Coordinator experience is hired, they have .500 records or better only 9.7% of the time.
    • Only 1 - ONE head coach in Cleveland Browns history has had a .500 or better record in EVERY year of his tenure.  Know who?  Yep....Marty Schottenheimer.
    • When an NFC Coordinator has moved to an AFC team as the Head Coach, only 21% of the time does that coach reach .500.

    At the end of the day, you can see the issues the exist with this hire.  The numbers don't lie, and don't necessarily indicate good things coming with Shurmur at the helm.

    And, with the Browns where they're at, to expect anything from them even close to .500 would be unlikely.  They'll be learning a new system offensively, assuming Daboll is gone.  They may be losing a Defensive Coordinator, which means another new system to learn, and finally, Shurmur is going to be learning on the job.

    Another point of concern is how the majority of the players felt about Eric Mangini.  Many of them have come forward and spoken freely about how they felt about him as a coach, and how they enjoyed playing for him. 

    Who's to say that Shurmur can endear himself to them and earn their respect the way Mangini did?


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    I've stated it throughout this slide show, I think Shurmur is the wrong guy for this job.

    That said, I HOPE I'm wrong.  I really do.  But, looking at all the information available, it's pretty clear that there are some very real, very scary concerns.

    Shurmur doesn't inspire a lot of hope in a lot of people, myself included.  And, make no mistake, the players read the paper and they hear the radio, and I'm willing to bet that some of them feel the same way.

    Mangini was fired by Holmgren for the betterment of the team, but, perhaps keeping him in place for one more year may have served Cleveland better?

    The continual carousel of coaching changes in Cleveland has been the biggest crutch for the Browns.  If this is the wrong choice, which it could be, in 2 years, Cleveland could be going through this very same thing again.

    As I said earlier, Holmgren's neck is on the line, and as a respect Head Coach and GM in the NFL, I can't believe that he'll let this get too far out of hand. 

    Which is maybe a good thing, because if Cleveland struggles mightily next season, we may all see the Walrus on the sidelines in Orange and Brown, and that's the last thing Cleveland needs.....ANOTHER coaching change.