April 24, 2014

Pettine’s staff needs a major piece to fall in place

224-20130726-0581_600On Monday night, the Cleveland Browns officially announced that Jim O’Neil will be the team’s defensive coordinator, and that Chris Tabor will return as the special teams coordinator.

Additionally, six assistant coaches were confirmed to be on Mike Pettine’s staff. Two of those—assistant special teams coach Shawn Mennenga and assistant defensive backs coach Bobby Babich—were holdovers from last year’s Browns staff.

Linebackers coach Chuck Driesbach and assistant linebackers coach Brian Fleury both followed Pettine and O’Brien from Buffalo. Interestingly enough, the Browns also added a pair of coaches from Tampa Bay’s staff that were not retained by new coach Bill O’Brien. They are Secondary coach Jeff Hafley and Tight ends coach Brian Angelichio. Technically, Hafley followed the O’Neil from Buffalo having joined the staff after the season was over.

The Browns did not confirm Anthony Weaver, who Bills head coach Doug Marrone said was most likely coming to Cleveland.

What’s missing of course is an offensive coordinator and the majority of an offensive coaching staff. On Monday the Ravens and Gary Kubiak came to an agreement for the former Houston head coach to be the offensive coordinator. The Browns won’t comment on coaching searches of course, but reports had Kubiak wanting more control than the Browns or perhaps Pettine was willing to give to an offensive coordinator.

So they lost Kubiak to Baltimore.

Kubiak would have filled a few needs within the organization—the first, and obvious one, would be for an offensive-minded coach with a track record of success. Kubiak had a dismal time in Houston last season, no question about that. He has had success before as an offensive coordinator though, and would have—like Norv Turner last season—been allowed to return to a position at which he excels after having been a head coach.

The second need that Kubiak would have filled would be for someone on staff with head coaching experience at the NFL level. It is a voice in the organization that Pettine acknowledged he would like have on his staff.

It is here where Browns fans should have real reason for concern.

Mike Pettine is a first time head coach. Ideally, you would like to set up a first time head coach with very experienced coordinators. On the defensive side of the ball, O’Neil has worked closely with Pettine before, and even though he has never been a defensive coordinator before, that relationship should be strong enough for O’Neil to make the transition to coordinator without major alarm. At the very least, Pettine’s signature will be all over the defense, so if it fails it won’t be against the system that Pettine wants in place.

The offense is another story.

If the Browns aren’t able to get an offensive coordinator with experience, especially in developing a young quarterback, they could be in for another long season.

Let’s not forget that the Browns fired Rob Chudzinski for failing to improve the team. After one season. That’s the standard that they have set for themselves. If Pettine fails to take a significant step forward what will the front office do?

The answer to that question likely isn’t to fire another head coach. It would be hard for anyone, even Haslam to stand on a podium and try to explain why Banner and Lombardi get another shot at hiring a head coach. This puts the pressure squarely back on Pettine and whomever he brings in to teach whichever quarterback the Browns end up with how to succeed at the NFL level.

Is Dowell Loggains that guy? Loggains has six years of coaching experience in the NFL, all with the Titans. He went from offensive quality control coach to quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator last season. He was not retained when the Titans hired Ken Whisenhunt.

Cam Cameron may have fit the bill, but reports say that Cameron will not be leaving LSU. Could the Browns turn to former Redskins coordinator Kyle Shanahan? With more than six seasons as an offensive coordinator for the Texans and Redskins Shanahan may be the most qualified coach the Browns could find for the position.

  • Josh

    Isn’t Lovie Smith the HC in Tampa and not Bill O’Brien?

  • mgbode

    I wouldn’t mind Kyle Shanahan, but I prefer Bloomgren. Matt Cavanaugh (Bears -QB) is close with Pettine and could be a good get too. DeFillippo has made the most out of every offense he has been associated. My ideal situation:

    OC: Bloomgren
    QB: Loaggins
    OL: Bruce Matthews

  • mgbode

    yes.

  • Harv 21

    I’ve wondered why Kyle Shanahan’s name hasn’t come up more often. Maybe it’s because a savvy new HC doesn’t often bring in a younger, talented coordinator whom he doesn’t know, lest he make it too easy for the FO to slide the young guy up without as much upheaval if they yet again decide haven’t found the right guy.

  • mgbode

    from what I have been able to find, they likely have already reached out to Kyle. he seems to be in the mix. here’s a good breakdown of some of the candidates with ties.

    http://www.cleveland.com/browns/index.ssf/2014/01/as_the_browns_continue_their_s.html

  • Kildawg

    Kyle Shanahan has the shadow of his father’s failure in Washington as well, then again he had an injury-prone QB that liked to run. I would be fine with Kyle as long as he doesn’t bring his father “Can’t Win Without Horse Face Elway”…

  • Garry_Owen

    “So they lost Kubiak to Baltimore.”
    Despite the fact that the Eagles got Chip Kelly and the Browns didn’t, this sentence isn’t true. You can’t lose what you didn’t have.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    i’d take kyle shanahan over the duller gruden brother. (i know that’s not a superb endorsement.) was anyone else laughing at the hype surrounding jay gruden? mother of god, no offene has ever done less with more than the bengals.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki
  • CB Everett

    Garry Owen loses Megan Fox to the guy from Beverly Hills 90210

  • Big Z

    The Browns will probably pursue Shanahan relentlessly at this point. He’s the most credible option. It’s a shame that the FO wouldn’t bring Kubiak on because he wanted his assistants to get 3 year contracts. I’m sure the ratbirds will make them pay for that mistake next year and perhaps the next few years. Such is the way of things here in C Town…

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    good link there thank you.

  • Garry_Owen

    My wife will be relieved!

  • Garry_Owen

    Yeah, but how many of them share the same AGENT? Huh?
    Arise, tired narrative, and walk!

  • Tron

    Yea. I don’t think the situation was, hypothetically “Kubiak was ours if we wanted him but we blew it again”. Kubiak had options and he went with the better of the two. Even if we gave Kubiak the same options as the Ravens did why would he come here over Baltimore?

  • WFNY_DP

    “Can’t Win Without Terrell Davis”

    FTFY

  • Harv 21

    my knee jerk was to agree 100% about Gruden. But I keep remembering how many bonehead throws we saw Andy Dalton make during the season. One of them played the part of Dean Smith suppressing Michael Jordan, just not sure which one.

  • mgbode

    that’s so Holmgren regime. we now only care if they coached at Towson, North Penn, or Central Bucks West.

  • mgbode

    failure last year in DC had more to due with defense than offense (though RGIII certainly left alot of plays on the field)

  • Harv 21

    I’d be quite fine with this. It’s as good a risk as anything currently available. But I’d be finer if had Norv stayed.

  • mgbode

    will she?

  • Harv 21

    yep. How soon they forget. And Elway deserved Terrell after carrying mediocre rosters and coaches for a decade.

  • Harv 21

    Marketing campaign for the ’14 Browns (voiceover by “In a world where” movie preview guy) : “THERE … IS … NO … HONEYMOON.”

  • Garry_Owen

    More talent on offense? (Seriously.)

  • eldaveablo

    I liked Shanny from the get-go. He’s young, experienced, and has been successful in both Houston & DC – with two completely different systems and talent sets. That means he can adapt to the talent he is given. Get that man a QB and let him do some work.

  • mgbode

    I was initially thinking the same thing, but need to see it.

    Flacco v. Unknown Rookie (or Hoyer) – advantage Balt, but upside to us?

    Rice v. Unknown Rookie (or D.Lewis) – slight advantage to Balt, but man Rice looked run down last year. Possible injury or just old?

    Torrey v. Gordon – huge advantage to us.

    Garbage WR2/3 v. Garbage WR2/3 – wash

    Dickson/Pitta v. Cameron – huge advantage to us (but no depth)

    V.Leach v. Noone – huge advantage Balt but at least important position

    Monroe v. JoeT – huge advantage to us

    Shipley? v. Lauvao? – wash of badness
    Gradkowski v. Mack – advantage to us (if we keep him)
    Yanda v. Greco? – huge advantage to Balt
    Oher v. Schwartz – wash of mediocreness

    Overall, 4-4-3. Pretty even though we have all the harder spots to fill in our favor (WR1, LT, TE) except the MOST important (QB).

  • mgbode

    Elway deserved NOTHING

  • Tron

    I think Baltimore is a more stable organization which gives Kubiak a better chance to land another head coaching job in the future.

  • Kildawg

    Griffin is overrated to begin with, especially with being worth 2 #2 overall picks plus a later 1st and a 2nd. Need a QB to stay healthy all year to begin with, but Kyle Shanahan made both Griffin and Kirk Cousins look like decent NFL QBs (when healthy of course).

  • Garry_Owen

    Also, with respect to his mistakes with RG3, I’d like to think that this falls within the “lessons learned; won’t do that again” category. I’d like to think that he’d do much better with a second turn (ahem, assuming Manziel at #4).

  • Kildawg

    That applied to the Super Bowl of course. I want the Browns to win a real one, not just whenever I played Madden (before it got too fancy).

  • Garry_Owen

    Sure, but I can also see that, given the same options, he might pick Cleveland. (I’m sure he wasn’t given the same options.)

  • Kildawg

    Forgot to include Pierce in the RBs. Most teams have the RB by committee anymore. Dion Lewis would help if healthy, but is still a complimentary RB like Baker, Ogbonnaya, and Whittaker. Hated to make the Rats look better but facts speak for themselves.

  • Kildawg

    Hoyer! Tanney and a draft pick can be the backups. Campbell and Weeden likely cut first thing on February 3rd.

  • Tron

    Don’t know how you can say “you’re sure he wasn’t given the same options” but if all things were equal Baltimore is clearly the better situation someone can put themselves in for present and future success. Just look at the track record.

  • Harv 21

    I’m sorry, he broke my heart but have nothing but respect for that guy. Maybe the most potent combo of athleticism and QB brain to play in the NFL ever. (Didn’t say the very best QB). And teams keyed on only him and beat the snot out of him for years before he got the team and rings. Nothing but respect for that warrier.

  • Garry_Owen

    “Clearly.”

  • mgbode

    you turn around the Browns’ offense, then you are immediately hired away as a HC. you turn around the Ravens offense, then you might be hired away as a HC.

    the offenses are pretty similar in talent (as seen above). so, really it depends on how easy you think it is to fix the other holes and your own confidence in your coaching abilities.

  • mgbode

    yeah, they already had the advantage, so it doesn’t change the overall numbers.

  • mgbode

    I see you didn’t put this answer down for my question to you above :)

  • Garry_Owen

    Man, CB draws me in and then you corner me. What’s a G_O to do? Silence is my friend.

  • Tron

    I’m not saying we don’t have talent and that a coach can’t have success as an OC here. I’m just saying given our history of instability and coaching turnovers, plus the whole federal investigation, all things being equal I think Baltimore is a no-brainer. That’s why I think the likely scenario was that Kubiak would have chosen Baltimore even if we gave him full reins.

  • woofersus

    I actually really like Kyle Shanahan. Not so much his dad, but by himself he’d be a great choice. My second pick would be Cavanaugh. I think they should stay away from Hostler, Callahan, and Chryst, who are much better position coaches than coordinators, although if Callahan does get the boot at such a late date, we may be able to get him as OL coach, where he’s generally been good. Bloomgren and Fichtner are intriguing, but feel like gambles.

    I love the idea of Loggains as QB coach. Side note: I also think Norm Chow would make a great QB coach if Hawaii would finally get around to firing him.

    Bruce Mattews was very good as OL Coach in Tennessee, and I think he’s the best guy on the market since we already missed out on Munchak to the Steelers.

    My top choices are:
    OC: Shanahan
    QBC: Loggains
    OLC: Matthews

    We still need to figure out RB, WR, and TE coaches. Looks like the Steelers just hired James Saxon, (Coached Adrian Peterson in Minnesota the last few years) who would have been a top choice for me. Early bird gets the coaches!

  • mgbode

    I believe the answer might be found at the bottom of a bottle of scotch. But, there is only one way to know for certain.

  • mgbode

    someone once traded for Brady Quinn. we might attempt to get something for Weeden in a similar fashion.

  • WFNY_DP

    I was speaking tongue-in-cheek out of my dislike for Elway. That said, if you go back and watch those AFC Championship Games against the Browns, he really was one of the ultimate specimens to play quarterback in the NFL. “The Fumble” game especially sticks out in my mind (saw it a few years ago on NFLN) of a guy who could just put the ball anywhere he wanted to on a rope anywhere on the field. Add in his Stanford intellect and his ability to move in the pocket and out of the pocket, and man… I hated the guy for what he did to my teams, but he was an amazing athlete.

  • maxfnmloans

    Jason LaCanfora posted this article in mid-December that was unflattering. at best

    http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/writer/jason-la-canfora/24375961/kyle-shanahan-staff-inexperience-at-core-of-redskins-dysfunction

  • Jonathan

    Aren’t the Browns already paying a guy to sit on his ass who has a little HC experience and several years at OC… why not see what he is planning to do next year…