Pat Shurmur: Can He Be Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator of the Cleveland Browns?

Chris MarkochContributor IIFebruary 6, 2011

ST. LOUIS - 2009:  Pat Shurmur of the St. Louis Rams poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by NFL Photos)
NFL Photos/Getty Images

The latest news from multiple sources is that the Cleveland Browns may not hire an Offensive Coordinator in 2011. According to reports, Pat Shurmur, who has already said he will call the plays, will be the de facto coordinator with newly hired Marc Whipple serving as Quarterbacks Coach.

So will this help or hinder the offense, specifically Colt McCoy?

Last season Norv Turner and Jason Garrett served in both roles for the San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys, respectively (I’m leaving off Mike Singletary, who ended the season as OC for the 49ers).

A quick look at the end-of-the-year statistics shows Turner’s Chargers ranked number one in total offense and Garrett’s Cowboys ranked seventh.

The point of this is not to compare the personnel of the offenses, which had a lot to do with where they ranked. Although it's worth noting that Dallas accomplished this with a backup quarterback playing the majority of the season.

Nor is it to say that the Cleveland Browns will be a top 10 offense because Pat Shurmur is doing double duty.

No, the point is that I’m sure that many fans will be concerned about the effect of such an arrangement on the offense, particularly with a young head coach.

However, at least statistically, the absence of San Diego and Dallas from the playoffs cannot be traced to the head coach carrying the extra burden of Offensive Coordinator.

In the case of the Chargers, special teams was their downfall. In the case of the Cowboys, the list is long, but when your offense is putting up 24.6 yards per game—the defense needs to get a look.  

And here’s something to think about for those that would say that Turner is a veteran coach who could handle both roles. The Dallas defense started to play better after Wade Phillips was fired. In other words, after Garrett was given the extra responsibility.

But what does this mean for Colt McCoy?

It’s clear that Mike Holmgren has had a plan from day one. I see this move as, while maybe not the first option, an extension of the plan.

I think it is absolutely essential that you limit the number of voices that are in Colt McCoy’s ear. This move ensures that McCoy will be getting a consistent message day in and day out. It’s the only way that the Cleveland Browns will be able to determine, for sure, if he is someone that they can build a franchise around.

In the end, if the reports are true, only time will tell. But if statistics mean anything, then you can say it’s the singer, not the song. And we’ll just have to wait to see if the Browns and Shurmur can make sweet music together.