On Monday, the Cleveland Browns added to their collection of former head coaches on staff by hiring Mark Whipple for the position of quarterbacks coach. Whipple served as a head coach at the collegiate level from 1988-2003 with New Haven, Brown, and the University of Massachusetts.
Whipple joins defensive coordinator Dick Jauron--who spent time as head coach of the Bears, Lions and Bill--and team president Mike Holmgren, former head coach of the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.
With a trio of former head coaches present to guide Pat Shurmur, who has no prior head coaching experience, it seems that the Browns will head into 2011 without filling the position of offensive coordinator (OC).
The prevailing thought is that with Jauron handling the defense, Whipple guiding young quarterback Colt McCoy, Shurmur calling the offensive plays, and Holmgren steering the ship, there is no need to formally announce an OC.
However, there is another man lurking in the shadows who cold allow the team to function without an actual OC.
Senior Adviser Gil Haskell.
During his time in Seattle, Haskell served as OC under Holmgren from 2000-2008, and was brought to Cleveland as Holmgren's adviser in February of last year.
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Haskell brought with him a wealth of offensive knowledge, primarily of Holmgren's favored west-coast offense.
While Haskell's name wasn't thrown around much in Cleveland last year, he could often be spotted during practice, roaming the sideline with clipboard in hand, helping the team execute game-day preparation. With the exception of Sundays, it seemed that Haskell was more of an offensive coach than he was an adviser during the week.
With the hire of Shurmur as head coach, the Browns shift to the west-coast offense is now certain, making it all the more likely that Haskell will have a bigger role in the development of the offense.
When Shurmur first announced that he intended to handle the offensive play calling, it meant that anyone brought on as the OC would have a limited role. While Shurmur would run the offense on Sundays, the OC would be responsible for running practices and preparing the offense for each week's coming game.
It seems as though that's the role Haskell has been filling all along.