Cleveland Browns: The Lesson From Green Bay

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Cleveland Browns: The Lesson From Green Bay
Matt Ludtke/Getty Images

When Cleveland Browns team president Mike Holmgren hired Pat Shurmur as head coach of the Browns, he sent a signal to Browns fans—the West Coast Offense is coming to Cleveland.

Many applauded this decision, stating that the Browns finally had a plan—an identity, while others quickly stated reasons why this offense would never work in the AFC North division.

Sports analysts were quick to point out questions about Browns rookie quarterback Colt McCoy's arm strength, while others claimed you could not beat the Baltimore Ravens or the Pittsburgh Steelers via the air, you must run the ball and keep running the ball.

Some writers would claim that the West Coast Offense is not suited for a team that plays in the harsh winter months up north; cities such as Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland and others.

Statements regarding McCoys' arm strength, or lack of, can quickly be set aside in any discussion about the West Coast Offense. Yes, it is nice to have a "rocket-armed" quarterback; however, this is not a major requirement in the WCO.

Analysts so "star struck" by 50-yard bombs (exciting to watch) fail to understand that the WCO is primarily a short and intermediate passing attack that relies heavily on the receivers ability for yards after catch. This attack spreads out the defense, allowing for the running game to develop.

Primary focus is on the quarterback. A quick release, the ability to scramble and make plays on the run are vital, along with passing accuracy. McCoy, in the few games he has played in, has shown these traits.

A strong arm would be nice; however, not a major requirement.

Any statement about this type of offense not being suited for a team from the north, especially in the winter months, is almost laughable.

The Green Bay Packers run a variation of the WCO. It has worked out pretty well for them, so well that last Sunday they won the Super Bowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Packers are from a city "up north" located in the state of Wisconsin, home of some brutal winter weather.

Many critics of the WCO coming to Cleveland have the view that in such a physical division, the primary offensive attack has to be the running game. Run all over them, through them and establish the passing game. I find little logic in this statement, considering the Steelers finished last season rated first against the run and 12th against the pass.

My intent is not to compare the Packers to the Browns; the Browns need a lot of improvements at key positions. The Packers are Super Bowl Champions, while the Browns are still a work in progress.

I also cannot guarantee that McCoy will be a success; that remains to be seen. Although I do not think arm strength will be a factor, there is no solid proof that the WCO will work in Cleveland.

However, there is one thing we do know.

A team from up north, running the WCO, went to Dallas and threw their way to victory against the AFC North Pittsburgh Steelers.

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