OBR beat reporter Fred Greetham gives his thoughts on the recent moves by the Browns both on the field and off.
On the coaching staff…
Much has been talked about Pat Shurmur's decision to not ‘officially' hire an offensive coordinator. When Shurmur announced that he was going to call the plays it limited the field of coaches who would be interested in becoming coordinators.
I'm not concerned that Shurmur is carrying both titles. He's done the job the past two years with the Rams and he has to be an upgrade over the past two seasons of play calling in Cleveland. Quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple has been an offensive coordinator and helped Ben Roethlisberger launch his NFL career while working with the Steelers in the same position for Roethlisberger's first three seasons.
As a receivers' coach, Mike Wilson has a good reputation and Browns fans know that improving the wide receivers play is going to be very important moving forward in a West Coast offense. George Warhop is a hold over as the offensive line coach and I felt the offensive line didn't move much ahead in 2010. It is hard to tell if the decision to play John St. Clair at right tackle, when he was healthy, was Warhop's or Eric Mangini's. However, it was a bad one. The Browns have two players who played in the Pro Bowl in 2011 in Joe Thomas and Alex Mack with Eric Steinbach not far behind. The line has the potential to be very strong, but the offensive line must be able to get Shawn Lauvao up to speed quickly and find a right tackle.
I really like the idea of having two former NFL head coaches running the defense in Dick Jauron and Ray Rhodes. Although neither had great success as head coaches, they have more than 50 years of NFL experience running defenses and have been very successful as coordinators.
The secondary really likes Jerome Henderson, who was held over from Mangini's staff. The secondary played reasonably well, despite starting two up-and-coming rookies.
I'm a little concerned about special teams where Brad Seely ran one of the best in the NFL. Chris Tabor has a good resume with the Bears and that team had a fine special teams unit, but Tabor was the assistant and he has big shoes to fill with the Browns.
On the roster moves…
Most of the moves were expected. Offensively, the aforementioned St. Clair should have never been a starter the past two years. Robert Royal was a third tight end, at best.
Defensively, Kenyon Coleman was serviceable, but not suited for the 4-3. Eric Barton and David Bowens were also 3-4 guys and, like Coleman, Mangini guys. Bowens helped the Browns beat the Saints, but when a team is 5-11, you can't have a team of 33- and 34-year-old linebackers.
The most notable release was Shaun Rogers.
However, that was not expected.
Mike Holmgren was asked about Rogers during last season's bye week and he said if Rogers were to return in 2011, it would be up to (Rogers). In other words, if he'll take a pay cut, we'll consider it.
Not to pile on, but how do you give a guy close to $6 million a year and he produces 17 tackles? Sure, Rogers was banged up, but the guy rarely practiced more than once a week and he was given most of training camp off the past two years. Mangini was more than fair with Rogers, but Rogers didn't seem motivated to make much happen on game day.
Recent reports had Rogers visiting old friend Romeo Crennel in Kansas City. I would not be surprised to see Rogers pick a place of employment that will allow him to continue to play and have a comfortable work environment.
Players like Rogers, who are 6-foot-5 and 365 pounds and athletically gifted, are hard to find. I will not be surprised if Rogers resurfaces to his Pro Bowl level in the right environment, but the Browns couldn't continue to carry the dead weight (pun intended).
I expect more roster moves to be made. It is hard to believe the Browns will bring Jake Delhomme back at more than $5 million for next season. The Delhomme signing was ill-fated from the beginning. There are plenty of veteran backups out there that are much less expensive than Delhomme.