Prepare the Revolving Door

Entering the offseason, the Browns roster is headed for another overhaul.


Another coaching change means another makeover for the Browns' roster, which in two years under Eric Mangini saw all but 11 players he inherited from Romeo Crennel in January of 2009 replaced.

The new coach is Pat Shurmur, who, though not a direct branch from the Mike Holmgren tree, is definitely in the same forest. Shurmur spent 10 years as an assistant coach in Philadelphia under Eagles coach Andy Reid. Reid coached under Holmgren for seven years in Green Bay.

Shurmur was the offensive coordinator in St. Louis the last two years.

Shurmur's background in Philly means the Browns will use a West Coast offense and use a 4-3 alignment as their base defense. The Browns were run-first on offense and they used a 3-4 defense under Mangini. They also played a 3-4 under Crennel for four seasons.

Browns general manager Tom Heckert is also part of the Holmgren forest; he was in the Eagles' front office from 2002-09, the last four as general manager, before being hired by Holmgren last year.

"I don't think you can understate that," Heckert said. "From the day (Shurmur) walked in the door, we were on the same page.

"In players, everybody says they want the character, hard-working stuff, but we've been through it together. We've done it getting those players. Unfortunately we didn't win a Super Bowl in Philadelphia, but we did win a lot of football games. I think we are on the same page when it comes to players and what we're looking for and how we're going to acquire those players.

"There's going to be turnover here. We knew that regardless of the situation. Obviously we have to get younger."

Shurmur has never been a head coach before. Neither was Holmgren before the Packers took a chance on him in 1992 and that worked out well.

Shurmur said he was preparing to "rule the world on Wall Street" until coaching football as a graduate assistant at Michigan State in 1988 opened a new world to him. Prior to that, he was a starting center for three years with the Spartans. All told he coached in college 11 years and the NFL another 12 before getting this chance.

One of Shurmur's first challenges is to convince a team that has lost at least 10 games in seven of the last eight years that it can win.

"That's built on a day to day basis," Shurmur said. "I think it goes back to the relationships. It goes back to people working hard together and then you put your systems in place.

"You put the people in place and you just trust that it's going to happen. There are people in this organization that have a pedigree in this profession that points to winning, so I think that's the key piece."

Shurmur will be a hands-on coach, particularly with quarterback Colt McCoy. He will call plays initially, as he did in St. Louis. He was the quarterback coach in Philadelphia seven years before taking the offensive coordinator job in St. Louis.

"The quarterback in this league is so, so important," Shurmur. "We had a structure I learned under (in Philadelphia) where the head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and ultimately the quarterback - there was a lot of communication. The vision of this football team will be seen through the eyes of the quarterback."

Shurmur said he is "very impressed" with McCoy. When the Rams were preparing for the draft last year, they met with McCoy. The Rams took Sam Bradford with the first pick, so they did not need another quarterback.

"I got to know Colt very well," Shurmur said. "I think he has the skill set to be a fine player. I'm really looking forward to working with him."

McCoy was 2-6 as a starter. The Browns lost the last five games he started.


--Brian Daboll, the Browns' offensive coordinator the past two seasons, was hired for the same position by the Dolphins. That might come as a surprise to some; the Browns finished 32nd in offense in 2009 and 29th in 2010.

--Rob Ryan, the Browns' defensive coordinator, landed as the defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys. He had a better resume than Daboll; the Browns finished in the top half of the league in points allowed, takeaways and red zone defense.

--One advantage of team president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert hiring head coach Pat Shurmur is the scouting department doesn't have to be blown up. The scouting department preparing for the Scouting Combine knows exactly what type players Shurmur believes can be successful.

--Cleveland Browns team president Mike Holmgren acknowledged he spoke with Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher during the Browns' coaching search.

"I did talk to Jon. I did talk to Bill Cower," Holmgren said. "I did talk to a number of people that didn't appear in stories anywhere, but as part of the process to get to who we actually were going to interview with, it was important for me to hear from those fellas how interested they were in coaching again first of all."

John Fox, who was hired by the Denver Broncos, was also part of Holmgren's initial list of candidates.

Ironically, new Browns coach Pat Shurmer is represented by Holmgren's agent, Bob LaMonte.

"I can honestly say when I first put Pat on the list, I did not know Bob represented Pat," Holmgren said. "Then I was talking to Bob about something else and he said, 'I've got Pat too.' I said, 'Well, that's great.'"

--Abe Elam has been somewhat of an ironman in his two seasons with the Browns. He started 31 of 32 games. The only start he missed was the 2010 opener, but he did play in a substitute role.

--Quarterback was arguably the Browns' most improved position in 2010 despite the constantly spinning carousel. Jake Delhomme started the opener, Seneca Wallace started the next four, Colt McCoy started games six through 10, Delhomme started the next three and McCoy started the final three.

Delhomme, Wallace and McCoy combined to complete 63 percent (271 of 430) of their passes. Last season Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson combined for 438 passes, but completed only 217, a completion percentage of 49.5 percent.

The 2010 trio of quarterbacks passed for 2,993 yards compared to 2,227 yards for Anderson and Quinn, but the one area where both groups were deficient was touchdown passes. The Browns threw 12 touchdown passes in 2010, only one more than last season.

--From the odd but true department, the Browns for the first time since 1977 got touchdown passes from four different players. McCoy threw five, Wallace four, Delhomme two and Mohamed Massaquoi one.

Thirty-three years ago, Brian Sipe threw nine TD passes, David Mays threw six, Terry Luck threw three and Greg Pruitt threw one touchdown pass.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The running game is very important. When you talk about offense, obviously it starts up front. You have to have a gritty, well-coordinated group of offensive linemen that either block for the run or protect the passer. I've learned that at a young age in this profession that without that you have no chance." -- Browns new head coach Pat Shurmur


The Browns finally have a head coach, but the status of the assistant coaches is still up in the air.

Team president Mike Holmgren met with the assistants the Monday after the season ended and then again a week later had said he would meet again. That meeting was postponed as Pat Shurmur was hired as head coach on Thursday.

Holmgren might want to keep special teams coach Brad Seely and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Ryan would likely want to keep his defensive staff of Bryan Cox on the defensive line, linebackers coach Matt Eberflus and defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson.

George McDonald, the wide receivers coach, resigned to coach the same position at the University of Miami. The remainder of the staff is under contract through 2011.

The OBR Top Stories