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What we learned from Kyle Shanahan and his departure from the Browns

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NFL: Super Bowl LI-Opening Night Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Leading up to the Super Bowl this week, members of the local media were able to get Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to talk about his time with the Cleveland Browns and what led to his departure. Here is what we learned:

  • He admitted that he indeed made a 32-point presentation to then-head coach Mike Pettine, although it was on paper, not a PowerPoint. “I had some specific reasons I didn’t think it was going in the right direction, why it wasn’t the best place for me and my family,” said Shanahan, who said that Pettine was “real cool about it.”

"A lot of people are going to keep you and make you stay. A lot of people aren't going to keep someone there who doesn't want to be there. And Coach Pettine was awesome. He told me he would never keep someone there who didn't want to be there. I really respected him for sticking with that. He gave me the opportunity to leave, and I couldn't be more grateful for that."

  • One of the big reasons he left was that he wasn’t on the same page with the people in Berea, presumably with the front office’s desire to see Johnny Manziel over Brian Hoyer despite the fact that the then-rookie quarterback was not ready. In Mary Kay Cabot’s article on Shanahan, she says that then-GM Ray Farmer “texted assistants during games to complain about Shanahan's playcalling and use of personnel.” We’ve heard about Farmer’s texting before, but that note seems a bit more specific, reporting it as fact versus rumor.
  • Coming out of the draft, Cabot cited a source that said Shanahan’s preference of quarterbacks in 2014 started with QB Derek Carr and was followed by QB Jimmy Garoppolo. The same report says that Shanahan did not prefer to go with QB Johnny Manziel or QB Teddy Bridgewater. Shanahan confirmed to reporters that he liked Garoppolo a lot coming out of that draft, but that the front office went a different direction:

"I think there were a lot of people who liked Garoppolo. There were other quarterbacks we liked, too. We put a board together. We rank every one. Then, the people who make the decisions, you have to wait and see what happens. As a coach, it's like that at a lot of places. You have to deal with what happens."

What’s more is that the “sources” Cabot had, coupled with what he said, match this rumor from Optimum Scouting back in 2014:

  • Despite the issues with Manziel, Shanahan had positive remarks about the working relationship they had together. Despite that relationship, though, I’m sure part of the reason that Shanahan wanted “out” of Cleveland was the fact that he thought Manziel would be forced on him in 2015, and he didn’t believe Manziel could successfully run any offense he put together for him.

"I haven't talked to Johnny for a while. I reached out to him a little bit last year when he was going through his stuff, just through texts and everything. But I really like Johnny as a guy. Even my time with him, he obviously had some issues outside of that building, but when I was with Johnny, he was great. He did what I asked, he worked. Whenever he didn't do a good job he was accountable, he would never point the finger of blame at other people. He would say, 'Coach I've got to get better.' He always said the right thing. I know he's had stuff he's been through obviously over the last couple years, but I really enjoyed my time with him and I really hope that he can get it together.''

  • Another factor in all of this, per ESPN, is that Kyle Shanahan wanted to work with Dan Quinn, the Falcons’ head coach, all along. In 2014, the Browns’ decision at head coach came down to Quinn and Mike Pettine. They chose Pettine. Quinn became the Falcons’ head coach in 2015, which is the same time Shanahan asked out of his contract with Cleveland. ESPN also says that Shanahan felt that pairing up with Quinn would help put him on a faster track to becoming a head coach, which was his ultimate goal.

"I had a commitment to Dan Quinn for a while, especially from a couple years before that when he was thinking about getting interviews and stuff and I got let go in Washington. If he had gone somewhere that first year, I was going to go with him. So when I got out of my contract in Cleveland, Dan was the guy I wanted to be with."

Shanahan will get that chance to be a head coach after the Super Bowl, when he is named the next head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.