As the Browns are reportedly on the verge of hiring Pat Shurmur to be their next head coach, most Cleveland fans don’t get it.
The hand-wringing and sniping reminds me of all that TV footage of Jets fans complaining about their team’s draft picks live on TV over the years. Point being, just because you don’t know anything about Shurmur doesn’t mean that he isn’t the right guy for the job.
“But he doesn’t have a track record that we can look at like Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher!” Neither did Mike Tomlin or John Harbaugh to name two men who we see a combined four times per year.
“But the St. Louis offense isn’t even that good!” That team was 1-15 in 2009, was forced to rush their rookie QB into the starting lineup for the 2010 season and won seven games. Sure, they only scored enough points to be 26th in the NFL offensively, but that was a jump of six spots year-over-year.
None of this stuff really matters anyway as every situation is different. The Rams had to climb out of the basement and they are seemingly on their way. The Browns were trying to climb out of the basement this year and Eric Mangini got them off on the right foot. Now the Browns organization is primed to take the next step. That step requires the right coach, but it is a little different than we are used to thinking about it.
The coach needs to be a part of the team with the front office. They need to be able to work in concert with Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert. There needs to be singular focus as they work through tough decisions on personnel in free agency and the draft. These aren’t disparate units with walls up. The success of the organization will hinge on all of them working together.
Everyone in this town is used to looking for a fall guy and sending them packing. Butch Davis, Mo Carthon, Romeo Crennel, John Collins, Phil Savage, Brian Daboll, Eric Mangini, George Kokinis, and Randy Lerner have all been in the crosshairs of Browns fans as the singular point of negativity over the last five years or so. It has been one witch hunt after another, and who could blame us? There was no cohesive organization in any of these cases. Just seemed like independent pods in various struggles for control.
Pat Shurmur needs to be a good coach who can come in here for the long haul. That task isn’t really only riding on his shoulders though. It is up to Tom Heckert to make Pat Shurmur look like the savior next year with his personnel decisions. It is up to Pat Shurmur to make Tom Heckert look like a savior by getting the most out of the players that he is given. It is up to both of them to make Mike Holmgren look like a genius king sitting atop it all building a competitive winner.
Finally, it is up to all three of them and then some to finally make Randy Lerner the afterthought that he so desires to be as the owner of the Cleveland Browns. Let him just be the guy with the bottomless pit of a checking account as long as real football men are taking care of everything else.
If you want to micro-analyze Pat Shurmur’s career as a coordinator to try and figure out how he projects as a head coach, be my guest. I am argumentative, so I can probably make any case you want work. The truth is that beyond being extremely competent as a coach between games and on game day, he will only be as good as his president, front office, coordinators and players allow him to be.
Too often we look for a singular scapegoat, and rarely are things that simple. I am not sure if this is a ringing endorsement of Shurmur or not, by the way. It is just how I feel about it right now.