Pat Shurmur is a good football coach. He has to be to get a job as a head coach in the NFL. There are great football minds across the country that can only dream of coaching the finely-tuned athletic machines that are NFL players. He was good enough for Holmgren & Heckert to hand-pick as their leader of this football team. Sam Bradford looked like the next elite quarterback in the NFL with Shurmur calling his plays last year, and seemed lost this year without him. He has over 12 years of NFL coaching experience that include playoff appearances and even taken a trip to the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately, becoming a successful head coach is a completely different animal than being a successful assistant. For one thing, assistant coaches have the luxury of focusing on the aspects of professional football that they love: the X’s and O’s, personnel decisions, scouting and game planning for opponents, etc. Head coaches must worry about all of the above, plus so much more. Time management is now your responsibility. Talking to the press, dealing with player issues, working with the GM on roster decisions; these details can make or break a team. The entire organization, including the coaching staff, looks to the head coach for leadership in crucial situations. As in every situation in life, you need to understand your responsibilities.
There were multiple situations this year where Shurmur appeared to be an assistant coach that was in over his head. He did an awful job dealing with the Hillis situation, and probably needs to take a few PR courses. In week 16 against Baltimore, Shurmur looked confused when the Browns were unable to put points on the board just before halftime, despite being deep within the red zone. You’re in charge here, Coach! You shouldn’t look confused! Ok, Maybe Seneca Wallace called the wrong play, but there needs to be a sense of urgency in crucial situations, and the Browns looked unprepared. There will obviously be growing pains with a new coach/system, and hiring an offensive coordinator will allow Shurmur to focus on head coaching decisions, and he can now watch the game clock instead of his play calling sheet. Hopefully next year Shurmur can make the correct adjustments for the sake of the Browns, and his job. If not, it might be another long, sad year in the Dawg Pound.