If you’ve been following along on Twitter through the Browns’ rather exhausting coaching search, you already know that I am actually pleased that it appears that Chip Kelly is off the table as a candidate. It’s also comforting to me to know that the Bills took on the Doug Marrone experiment.
I’m calling this the football gods’ way of saying to our front office, “No matter how stupid your intentions were at the outset of this search, we’re going to make sure that you’re limited to candidates that would actually make some amount of real sense.”
I see the Chip Kelly situation like this: Kelly is a read option guru. It’s what he’s best at and what has made him the successful COLLEGE coach that he is. I realize that there are plenty of reasons to say that if any team in the NFL is in a good position to take a big risk, it’s the Browns. I don’t think anyone wants to see just how ugly it would get in the event that NFL defenses on the whole prove to be too fast and too smart for the read option. Furthermore, the Browns don’t seem to have the personnel to run his scheme right now, and this roster is not in need of a complete rebuild. Believe it or not, they were making progress (albeit slowly) under the previous regime.
Doug Marrone making a jump to the NFL from Syracuse right now (or ever, unless he got a better job first) boggles my mind. Maybe I’m grossly over-simplifying this, but the last time I checked, Syracuse plays in the Big East Conference and has never been a powerhouse. Not being a powerhouse in such a weak conference as the Big East is hardly something that jumps out to NFL employers, though he did do some good things to help build the program during his short time there.
What’s different about Marrone is that he does have NFL experience as an offensive coordinator with the Saints and an offensive line coach with the Jets. He last coached in the NFL in 2008. Marrone would have made me only slightly more comfortable than Kelly, and that isn’t saying a whole lot. I’m glad that the Bills made that decision for us.
For every Pete Carroll or John Harbaugh, there’s a Nick Saban, and a college coach just isn’t necessary for the Browns right now.
It’s hard to point the finger at the Browns new brass (which is seemingly only half-complete) for the delay in finding a new coach, even though it looked like they were all in on hiring Chip. With how confusing it has been to determine where in the world Kelly is and who he is talking to, who knows at this point if he’s even interested in coaching in the NFL? This shouldn’t come as a surprise, because a similar situation played out with him last offseason (on a smaller scale) when he interviewed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and turned the job down. It appears that he may be one who either demands too much or simply can’t make up his mind.
With Marrone and Kelly out of the picture, the Browns are now forced (thankfully) to look elsewhere for their next head coach. Keeping in mind that Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner want a young coach that hasn’t already been the head man elsewhere, here are my top two options, in no particular order:
1. Mike McCoy
McCoy is currently the Offensive Coordinator of the Denver Broncos. He’s 40 years old and has yet to be a head coach. Given the way the Broncos’ offense has operated all season, I like the possibilities of him working with Brandon Weeden and helping him to improve. Weeden is no Peyton Manning, but they are similar in the sense that they are pocket passers, and Manning is one of the best to ever play.
McCoy has likely learned things from Peyton as well, and that type of knowledge and experience could prove to be invaluable for Weeden, who has the tools to throw the ball all over the field. Given the young targets that are developing in Cleveland in Greg Little and Josh Gordon, McCoy would have some tools to work with much like the big bodies of Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. This could be a point of interest should the Browns contact him. Having a physical runner in Trent Richardson (a similar running style to current Denver starter Knowshon Moreno) probably wouldn’t hurt either.
2. Kyle Shanahan
His father aside, Kyle Shanahan could be exactly the young and exciting influence Haslam is looking for. While Mike Shanahan does likely make most of the decisions in Washington, the Redskins offense was impressive this season with Kyle as their coordinator. He’s only 33 years old, but may (should) at least get a look for his young and fired-up demeanor. He was fined earlier this year for confronting a replacement ref (can’t hold that against him, anyway). This option could have Josh McDaniels’ sequel written all over it, but since we’re apparently in the risk-taking mood, it’s a much better one in my mind.
Speaking of Josh McDaniels, I wouldn’t mind if he was the next head coach of the Browns either. Everyone knows how big of a disaster his first stint as a head coach in the league was, but he was extremely young and has to have learned something from that experience. Being a coordinator for Bill Belichick is always a perk too. Remember, Belichick wasn’t exactly a home run his first time around, either. Cleveland witnessed it.
McDaniels would bring an exuberance that would certainly be a change of pace from Pat Shurmur, something the Browns clearly covet. I believe he is one of the best options out there (if he’s interested) for that reason alone. Watching him interact with his players (Tom Brady in particular) after big plays is something I would love to watch a Browns head coach do, and with a young team, energy and excitement can go a long way.
Finally, I think the second best option (only because he’s older, something the Browns seem to want to avoid) is obviously Bruce Arians. The job that he did in Chuck Pagano’s absence this season in Indianapolis is nothing short of remarkable in my opinion, and Arians has a world of experience from his time in both Indy and Pittsburgh. Coaching-wise, he may be a far better option than McDaniels, and I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t at least get a phone call. Of all people, Haslam should realize the value Arians would have to this young roster in Cleveland.
One more thing on Arians’ time with Pittsburgh. We all hate the Steelers, but to say that their organization is not a model for the whole league to envy is just ignorant. For me, it’s part of the reason the Steelers are so annoying. Their organization just gets it from top to bottom, which is why even their down years are spent competing for playoff spots. Again, nobody knows that better than Haslam. I think it’s paramount that the next head coach has coached a playoff team in a consistent organization like Pittsburgh, New England, Indianapolis, or Denver (all strong organizations that have enjoyed plenty of recent success).
Arians, McDaniels, McCoy, and Shanahan are all better options than Kelly and Marrone ever were in my book, and it is my sincere hope that at least a couple of these guys get a serious look by Haslam and Banner.
It still sickens me that Banner is in control of football personnel, because he has never been and never will be an authority on the matter. It’s disappointing to me that Haslam either somehow didn’t know that or simply ignored it. I just hope that the next head coach is strong enough to be able to talk sense in the war room on draft days, and I believe that all of the options listed above are pretty strong individuals that are capable of just that.
Still praying every night that the raging flames that are Mike Lombardi rumors are either for kicks or just the result of horrible reporting.