Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cleveland Brown's coach search Part 2 of 2

I promised that I would get to my thoughts on the Cleveland Browns head coach search and here they are.

The first thing I think we needed was something that resembled a standard front office for a football team. Thankfully 10 years after the team returned, we appear to finally have a front office and some people with football knowledge (whether or not they will succeed is another discussion).

Since we have a front office, that means we don't need a football czar as a head coach. A coach that demands full authority in all football matters, including talent selection and in some cases financial decisions. This rules out someone like Bill Cowher and possibly Jon Gruden, although I think there is still some debate on whether Jon Gruden wants/needs full control of a team or is content to 'just coach'.

To me that leaves us with three other types of coaches, a former head coach, a coordinator or position coach, and a college coach. There is of course overlap in all of these, but for the most part that's how I see them breaking out.

I don't currently think there is a college coach out there that fits the Browns needs. At the point where this team and organization is, I don't think they can take the chance of hiring a college coach. There are too many question marks in the adaption process to the NFL for most college coaches and currently the Browns are exactly a position that makes head coaches at the college level want to leave their established programs for.

Former head coach: I think there are some interesting candidates out there that probably fit Mike Holmgrens philosophy. Steve Marriuci, Brian Billick, and John Fox come to mind. If they go with a former head coach, I feel like they have to go with someone that has had some success at that level and perhaps has had a number of years away from being a head coach to recharge themselves. Ego level comes heavily into play here with an established team president and a general manager that seems to be growing very well into his position.

Coordinator or position coach: I lumped these two together as within the last couple years there has been hirings from both positions. Some of the candidates from here would be Pat Shurmur, and two that fit the former head coach profile too, Mike Mularkey, and Marty Mornhinweg. In my opinion, I'd prefer the Brown's stay away from a re-tread head coach that's reestablished themselves as a coordinator. If they are going to go the coordinator route, do it with someone that they like the philosophy of and has a chance to develop into the kind of coach that can lead the franchise once Mike Holmgren or Tom Heckert move on. Head coaches that go back to being coordinators are usually not hired back right away as a head coach for a reason, if the other teams in the league aren't breaking down the doors to get to them, why should we.

I know I'm all over the place on this post, but since it appears Mike Holmgren will make a decision this week, I wanted to get something down to complete my thoughts.

If the Browns go with someone with head coaching experience, I think it's crucial they go with one that's had some success and either has had some time away to reflect on the next job, or left on their own terms. Re-treads like Mornhinweg and Mularkey are just not a good fit in my opinion. While circumstances could have made their previous engagements bad, there's a pretty solid chance they are just really good at taking direction and putting their gameplan together as a coordinator should do.

If the Browns go with a position coach or a coordinator that's never been a coach, then I think it's imperative that the organization assists them in getting some quality coordinators on this team. Not only quality experienced coordinators, but ones that are able to check their egos at the door. A coordinator with previous head coaching experience is a double edged sword here, one with the right mentality would be a boon for a new coach (see Mike Tomlin and Dick Lebeau), but if they don't have the right mentality or lose respect for the new head coach, there could be significant turmoil on the staff.

I think coordinators are the biggest need of this team, one of the issues this team has had since they have been back, is their coordinators have been less then stellar. This team desperately needs offensive and defensive philosophies and mentalities, they also need to be effectively coached, as the team has gotten younger, the need is for coaches that aren't always learning on the job and that can hold the respect of the players.

Believing that coordinators has been one of our biggest holes for years, I think the hirings come down to either a young coach with good potential that has the full backing of the organization and assistance from Mike Holmgren in finding coordinators that fit or an experienced head coach that had success in the league, that can persuade coaches they know to leave or already have an idea of position coaches they want that would make good coordinators.

I think the organization will wind up with a young coach, and my guess is it will be Pat Shurmur. He has a similar path to what Mike Holmgren and Andy Reid have gone through and similar philosophies, while Holmgren doesn't have a lot of familiarity with him, he does with Reid and Reid is a big proponent of Shurmur. I also believe Holmgren understands the need for strong coordinators here and is doing his best to assist in that area too, word is they are looking at Dave Wannstedt for the position, who is the type of coach a new head coach can rely on to assist, and Wannstedt should be removed enough from his head coaching failures to want to re-establish himself as a coordinator and build back up his resume in the meantime without getting in the way.

If things work, it winds up being a similar scenario to Mike Tomlin who relies heavily on Dick Lebeau to maintain order in his clubhouse. And in truth since someone like Jon Gruden declined to be interviewed, I'm not really sure there are any other candidates that made a lot of sense for this organization. This choice won't be received well by Brown's fans, but in my opinion is the best course of action for the team at this time, let's hope if they hire Shurmur, that he's up for the task.

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