Cleveland Browns: Can Pat Shurmur Be Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator?

Chris MarkochContributor IIFebruary 1, 2011

PHILADELPHIA - 2005:  Pat Shurmur of the Philadelphia Eagles poses for his 2005 NFL headshot at photo day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Getty Images)
NFL Photos/Getty Images /Getty Images

The latest news is 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, and specifically Colt McCoy?

Last season both Norv Turner and Jason Garrett served as head coach/offensive coordinator 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 rankings shows Turner’s Chargers at No. 1 in total offense and Garrett’s Cowboys at No. 7.

The point of this is not to compare the personnel of the offenses, which had a lot to do with where they ranked. Still, it is 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 I’m sure many fans will be concerned that having such an arrangement will be detrimental to 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 were 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 1. 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.