To start this off, I was behind the firing of Mangini but there was one important assumption in my mind: that the new coaching staff would be an obvious improvement over the old one. What I didn't expect to see was an untried staff or a collection of proven losers which would be more of a restart or "step back" for the team. I thought Holmgren's connections and track record would result in some experienced coaches coming out of retirement or young, experienced, promising coaches jumping to the Browns. This does not seem to be the case.
Pat Shurmur: As promising as Shurmur has looked coaching O-lines, tight ends, quarterbacks and a mediocre Rams offense, he is not a "slam dunk" to most Cleveland fans. In St. Louis he had a first-round quarterback to grow and an excellent proven running back in Stephen Jackson. In Cleveland he will be trying to develop a 3rd round QB and a running back with one decent year and a running style that invites injuries and fumbles. I'd say at least the offensive talent in St. Louis looked better in some ways but they were only able to score 6 points against the Seahawks (a team allowing a lot of points this year) thus ending their playoff run this year.
It is true that OCs take it on the chin a lot on struggling teams but shouldn't they? If not them then who? I don't think it is fair to fault Daboll for the Browns anemic, offensive showing in some of the games this year and then give Shurmur a pass for the same thing.
A lot of Shurmur fans point out his success in developing quarterbacks but should I be all that excited that he created successful quarterbacks that were taken 1st in the draft? Aren't QBs picked 1st supposed to be good? (except Couch of course) It would be a lot more encouraging had he taken a 3rd or 4th-round pick and made him a star. And ask Philly fans how much they like McNabb... a lot of them ran him out of town.
In addition, no one knows if Shurmur can succeed at the next level as a head coach. The pages of NFL history are littered with the forgotten names of coaches who, though excellent coordinators, could not make the jump to head coach--heck, a good portion of them coached the Browns!
Offensive Coordinator Candidates: Are these even coming from Shurmur? Some of them were rumored even before Shurmur was selected. Also, the fact that Shurmur has said he is going to call his own plays means that it is unlikely that the Browns will attract a proven OC. The selected will more likely look equivalent in experience to Daboll his first year. This is not as big of an issue as the defensive coordinator position as Shurmur will probably be taking responsibility for a large part of the offensive scheming and coaching.
- Mike McCoy - Several years with the Panthers in a variety of offensive roles with his main success obtained in coaching up Jake Delhomme. He is in his second year in Denver as OC. He seemed like a good candidate but probably opted to stay in Denver to be re-united with John Fox, his former head coach in Carolina.
- Bill Musgrave - 11 years of experience mostly as a QB coach. Ended up not coming to the Browns. Was the character of the position with Shurmur taking over a lot of the duties at issue here?
- Mark Whipple - QB coach of the Steelers when they drafted Rothlesberger and reportedly helped him have some of the best 2 starting years for a QB ever. Fired by Tomlin he was immediately hired by Philly where Shurmur was coaching. So is this a Shumur pick? He has been OC at Miami, FL. This seems to be the best possibility of the likely candidates that would take the job right now.
- Nolan Cromwell - He was a defensive player but has been an offensive coach. Many years coaching receivers in Seattle with Holmgren and has been an OC for Texas A&M most recently. Seems another decent candidate likely to take the job if offered.
Defensive Coordinator Candidates: Again I wonder what input Shurmur has regarding these candidates. This is a really key spot and it is probably going to be handled almost as if this were another head coach. I have to wonder why Ryan departed so quickly from Cleveland after a very promising start. Were there issues between he and Holmgren? Was he mad about the Mangini firing?
- Dick Jauron - I can't see why we are looking at this guy at all. He seems to have had little success ever as a coordinator or head coach. It has been said that at 60 he would add some maturity to the coaching staff and maybe be a good resource for Shurmur but if Shurmur needs coaching up to be a head coach, why not stick with Mangini who did not seem at all overwhelmed by the HC position?
- Dave Wannstedt - He has more of a successful history as a defensive coach and coordinator than Jauron but are Browns fans ready for someone who has this quote in their bio? "I wouldn't want to do this job anywhere else," Wannstedt said. "I love Pitt and I love the city of Pittsburgh." As a Pittsburgh native with two degrees from Pitt would his heart be there coaching the hated rival Cleveland Browns? Of course he hasn't been hired by the Steelers so maybe he has a bone to pick there and that would give him motivation. But I can't help thinking that he wouldn't be all that satisfied under a new head coach and you can just picture him patting Shurmur on the head once in a while.
- Bill Davis - Recently fired as DC from the Cardinals where he coached one of the worst defenses in the NFL. He was greatly hated by fans for this entire season after his defense allowed 90 points in consecutive playoff games in the 2009 season. Seems like a less-experienced Dick Jauron or what would be the new Browns defensive Daboll.
Could we have had John Fox, Mike McCoy and Ryan or Mangini, Whipple and Ryan? Maybe we'll end up with Shurmur, Whipple and Wannstadt or Shurmur, Cromwell and Jauron. Does that seem like an upgrade to anyone? And what if it ends up being Shurmur, Cromwell and Davis?
In the final analysis, I think Mangini was let go mostly because he doesn't think much of the west-coast offense. In fact Mangini interviewed Shurmur to be OC in New York and probably passed on him due to Shurmur's love affair with the west-coast offense. This is the kind of thing we, as fans, will probably never know--the particulars of why Mangini was fired would be interesting to know. The stated reason was that "5 wins just isn't good enough". But do you really think the team is headed for winning seasons in the next two years with Shurmur at the helm and completely new offensive and defensive schemes? Do we have the players in place right now to run a 4-3 defense and the west-coast offense or are we going to see a bunch of decent players let go because they don't fit the new schemes? Deja vu all over again in Browns town?
I didn't think I'd end up saying this but I'm starting to miss coach Mangini.