As the year comes to a close, like we have done the last three years, WFNY will take a look at what we view to be the 10 biggest sports stories affecting our local sports scene. Each day through the rest of the year, we will be counting down from ten to one. We started with #10 – The Colt Concussion, next was #9 –Key Cavalier Wins. Then, we broke down #8 – the Baron Davis Trade. Yesterday, it was Carlos Santana’s walkoff grand salami. Today, we hit some stellar timing with the hiring of Pat Shurmur.
On January 13th, 2011, Browns team president Mike Holmgren made the announcement that he was hiring St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to replace the recently fired Eric Mangini, becoming the 13th coach in Cleveland Browns history. It was a decision made largely to bring the front office and coaching staff onto the same page, striving for a clear direction and building a sustainable competitive team in the near future and for the longterm.
Shurmur was well versed in the West Coast Offense from his days as a QB coach under Andy Reid in Philadelphia, and he was applauded for his work with rookie QB Sam Bradford in St. Louis. The hope was (and still is) that Shurmur could take second-year quarterback Colt McCoy under his wing and help him vastly improve.
The honeymoon hasn’t lasted long, however. Shurmur calls his own plays, and without an offensive coordinator, he has taken the heat for several questionable decisions this season. They include yesterday’s debacle at the goal line before half (not the first time his clock management has come under scrutiny), taking point off the board in Jacksonville, his team getting caught in the defensive huddle in the opener against Cincy, and handing off to tight end Alex Smith as a fullback. The collection of bad decisions constitute a blame that can be spread around to the quarterback, other players, assistants, and of course, the medical staff (see #10), but in the end, being a NFL head coach is an elite job, and with it comes accepting the blame for pretty much everything that goes on with your football team.
In his defense, the loss of the team’s top three running backs for a large chunk of the season, the NFL lockout eliminating precious practice time, and some of the decision-making of his young quarterback have not aided Shurmur in his quest to turn this team around. He has overseen the creation of weapons in Greg Little, Jordan Norwood, and Evan Moore for stretches this season. With another draft, let’s hope we can start to see sustained progress in the new offensive system.
While I think Shurmur is in over his head, I don’t think we can determine whether he is worth keeping or not just after this season. He does, however, need an offensive coordinator who will handle the playcalling. I hope we don’t have his firing on this Top 10 next season.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
(Photo: Mark Duncan/AP)