One of the Browns newest employees, head coach Pat Shurmur is taking over a team that most would say was offensively impaired last season. The Browns ranked 29th in the league in total offense and passing yards per game. Shurmur, along with general manager Tom Heckert and team president Mike Homgren, have a large sum of work to do for this team to be able to do what they want it to do: Run an efficient west coast offense. Hired to help the Browns do just that, the first time head coach has several qualities that make him a great candidate to right the Browns ship. But where his strengths exist, so do his weaknesses.
PLUS: Shurmur is an offense first guy
Let's face it. This is a pass happy league, and in order to keep up with the competition, the Browns need to make adaptations. The only season where the pass offense flourished in the past decade was in 2007 when Derek Anderson threw for almost 4,000 yards. Anderson and Colt McCoy are polar opposites in quarterbacking style. Anderson could make all the vertical throws with superior arm strength, McCoy is more of a quick route, let the receiver do his thing, type. Shurmur made an immediate impact on the career of the Rams Sam Bradford, there is no reason he could not do the same for McCoy. However it does feel like Shurmur got a bit more credit for the number one overall pick in the drafts' success that he should have. The Rams were only three spots ahead of the Browns in offense at 26th last year.
PLUS: Shurmur, Homgren, and Heckert share the same offensive beliefs
This is the ‘bread and butter' reason that Shurmur was brought here. The west coach offensive system is without question the best system for McCoy. The Browns nearly cut McCoy in training camp, but now have handed him the keys to the franchise on a silver platter. Was that the best thing for the Browns? Perhaps; because wasting another draft pick on a quarterback would be better utilized either at the receiving position, or on the defensive line. The Browns are committed to this style of offense in which Shurmur is a specialist.
But be weary. This could actually work against them, worst case scenerio. If, come the first few games of the year, they can not run the W.C.O. effectively, what can they do? It might be a good idea not to place all of their eggs in one basket. Anything multi-dimensional is usually tougher for opposing defenses to defend.
PLUS: Shurmur is ‘excited' to get to work immediately
I know this doesn't mean much; and that anyone would be as excited if they were in Shurmur's shoes. But the Browns were quick to make this coaching move, and could be ahead of the game in terms of trying to find what else they are looking for. Teams that make late coaching moves are usually less prepared for the draft and free agency.
MINUS: Shurmur has never been an NFL head coach
A guy who has been there, done that probably would have been best to sort things out. Shurmur had only been an offensive coordinator for two seasons. Also, most of the best head coaches began as defensive coordinators. Some worthy names would consist of: Bill Belichick, Jeff Fisher, Rex Ryan, Jack Del Rio, and Mike Tomlin. But every now and then, there will be an offensive coordinator, even a special team's coach that turns into an outstanding coach at the helm of an entire team.
MINUS: Early woes might mean Holmgren intervention
The Browns can not afford to keep remodeling their coaching staff every two or three years; eventual stability is expected. But if the players don't adapt to Shurmur's style early, which it may take some time to do, fans are going to chant ‘Holmgren, Holmgren' at games. I guarantee it. In fact, I will stow this article away for safe keeping so I can make reference to it come September, if it happens.
Many people's ideal head coach for the Browns was Jon Gruden. Connections to the Cleveland area, good offensive insight, and a fiery attitude were hard for any fan not to like. I had a feeling he didn't want to return to coaching with his ESPN gig, so my pick was Mike Mularkey, but the Browns did not want to wait for him. He gave the Buffalo Bills offensive legitimacy and a 9-7 record in just his first year in 2004. Pat Shurmur, hoping to have the same kind of immediate impact, has the sixth overall pick, some cap room, and a good team president to work with to achieve his goals of getting the Browns to Super Bowls. With an "S." As in, more than one; several, multiple.