The Cleveland Browns brought in a lot of new coaches for the 2013 season, but who will they be coaching?
New running backs coach John Settle comes to Cleveland after two seasons as a member of the Carolina Panthers staff. He will be coaching Trent Richardson, Montario Hardesty and possibly Chris Ogbonnaya who is currently a restricted free agent. As a player, coach Settle was the first undrafted running back in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. Facts like this can help give some perspective as to what coaches will expect of their players, and Settle will demand a lot from his backfield. He works closely with his running backs in the film room, and a background in collegiate coaching at Wisconsin shows that coach Settle has experience teaching the position to his players.
Despite Johnathan Stewart missing seven games in 2012 and a reduced role for DeAngelo Williams, the Panthers still finished ninth in the league in rushing yards per game. Six of the teams above the Panthers in that category made the playoffs. Quarterback Cam Newton was the team’s leading rusher in 2012, but the Browns will rely on the running backs to gain their rushing yards. The Browns will look to add a running back if they decide not to retain Ogbonnaya.
This will be coach Settle’s second stop in Cleveland. He was also a member of the 1995 staff.
Offensive line coach George Warhop was retained by coach Rob Chudzinski and added offensive line coach Mike Sullivan from the San Diego Chargers staff. Coach Sullivan’s offensive lines helped the Chargers average 1,640 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns per season during his tenure. Coach Warhop was hired in 2009. His work in Cleveland has been solid, not only maximizing the talent of Joe Thomas and Alex Mack, but developing players around them to create a solid unit. John Greco stepped in to the lineup and played well when Jason Pinkston went down with an injury. It’s possible that Shawn Lauvao will be replaced, but he gives them valuable depth, as will Ryan Miller if he progresses. Observing Miller’s development will be an interesting story in Berea during the summer. Dominic Alford, Jarrod Shaw and Oniel Cousins are also guys that will be challenged to continue improving, and that’s where the active roster was left at the end of the 2012 season. The Browns could add a couple players along the offensive line, so coaches Sullivan and Warhop have a busy summer ahead of them. The development of the offensive line impacts Brandon Weeden, the running backs, and the stability of the offense given how many young guys are taking the field at the other positions. The offensive line has to be very good in 2013.
I will cover more position coaches during the next few months and hopefully be talking about additions to each unit made during the off-season.
Regardless of the roster changes, many starters will return from last season. Upgrades that the front office does make will be significant. The Browns did not hire first time coaches. They hired experienced leaders that they think can put it all together. It could make for good movie material.