Mark Whipple was a first-year NFL quarterbacks coach in 2004 under Bill Cowher when Ben Roethlisberger was a Steelers rookie. Roethlisberger won his first 13 NFL starts and in 2005 won a Super Bowl in just his second season.
Whipple is the Browns' new quarterbacks coach. New head coach Pat Shurmur would be very happy if Whipple can help Colt McCoy the way he helped Roethlisberger.
Of course, there are major differences in Roethlisberger's and McCoy's histories.
Roethlisberger was the 11th draft pick in 2004. The Steelers were an uncharacteristic 6-10 in 2003, but they were 13-3 in 2001 and 10-5-1 in 2002.
McCoy was the 85th overall pick in 2010. He plays for a Browns team that lost at least 10 games seven of the last eight years. They were 14-34 the last three seasons. McCoy was 2-6 as a rookie starter in 2010.
The Browns also added three position coaches to Shurmur's staff. Dwaine Board will coach the defensive line, Billy Davis the linebackers and Mike Wilson the wide receivers.
Whipple, 53, has spent most of his coaching career in college. He was head coach at the University of Massachusetts from 1998-2003 before Cowher hired him.
Cowher retired after the 2006 season. Mike Tomlin, Cowher's replacement in Pittsburgh, did not retain Whipple.
Whipple was hired as an offensive assistant by Eagles coach Andy Reid one day after being fired by Tomlin. Shurmur was the Eagles' quarterback coach at the time. Shurmur and Whipple worked together for two years in Philadelphia.
Whipple was the offensive coordinator at the University of Miami the last two years. He was fired after the 2010 season.
The Browns are not expected to give a coach the title of offensive coordinator because Shurmur plans to call his own plays.
Going without an offensive coordinator is unusual, especially for a first-year coach, but the Browns still have enough chefs in the kitchen to cook up an offensive game plan week to week; Shurmur was offensive coordinator in St. Louis the last two seasons and Gil Haskell, Senior Advisor to Browns president Mike Holmgren, was Holmgren's offensive coordinator from 2000-08 when Holmgren coached the Seahawks. Haskell was more a coach than an administrator last year when the Browns were practicing; he was often on the field with a play chart in his hands.
Board, a 10-year NFL veteran playing on the defensive line, broke into coaching as an assistant defensive line coach in 1990. He was the defensive line coach in Seattle under Holmgren from 2003-08. He coached the Raiders' defensive line in 2009.
Davis was the defensive quality control coach for the Browns in 1999. He most recently was the Cardinals' defensive coordinator the last two years. He coached the Arizona linebackers in 2007 and '08.
Wilson played wide receiver on four Super Bowl championship teams with the 49ers during a 10-year career starting in 1981. He most recently was the wide receivers coach of the Las Vegas Locomotives in the UFL. He coached the Arizona Cardinals wide receivers in 2005 and '06.
--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."
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