The Browns will begin next season with new voices leading all three phases of the game. Whoever is selected as OC will implement Pat Shurmur’s offense. Dick Jauron will bring his own set of calls and schemes to the defense, and Brad Seely will have to be replaced as special teams coach.
Sure, the Browns and other teams have swapped out coaching regimes and installed new systems in the offseason before. But this year could be especially challenging.
The elephant in the locker room for these NFL playoffs has been the potential labor strife headed our way.
After the Super Bowl, owners and players must work out a new labor agreement, and both sides have already started to dig their heels in the ground. At stake is how to divide up the billions of dollars the NFL makes every year. Players naturally want a larger portion of the pie, along with extended medical benefits.
Owners are clamoring for a reduction in the percentage share for the players, and want to add additional games to the schedule. Oh, and then there’s the matter of a rookie wage scale to boot.
There is of course a chance that a deal does not get done in time for next year’s regular season. Popular opinion is that the two sides would be crazy to let the dispute carry over into the season and risk jeopardizing the popularity of the most lucrative sport in the country. For whatever popular opinion is worth.
So let’s assume for a minute that the players and owners will eventually come to terms.The problem for the Browns, and several other teams who have switched coaches and coordinators this offseason- is the amount of time they will have to get these new systems integrated before the season begins.
Without an agreement in place, there is no way the players participate in OTAs (organized team activities) during the offseason. These OTAs are very valuable for a team trying to learn a new system, let alone three.
Say a deal doesn’t get done until right before training camp is set to begin, which is not a stretch by any means. That would leave the Browns with just a few weeks to learn a new playbook, and be ready to execute those plays. By the way, they would be the only team in the division trying to accomplish that feat.
In fact, of the seven teams changing head coaches this year, only the Browns, Broncos, Panthers and 49ers are bringing in new coaches that haven’t been part of the organization already. Dallas and Minnesota retained coaches who had an interm tag last season, and Oakland promoted it’s OC. In other words, don’t expect a lot of sympathy from other clubs if there is not much time between the start of camp and the start of the season.