As Browns fans, we are certainly a reactionary bunch, aren’t we? No sooner was Pat Shurmur hired that segments of the population were suspicious, irate, enraged, confused, or inconsolable. I guess I should get used to it, but I remain surprised every time the Browns do anything at the wide-ranging emotions that are unnecessarily flung about. Of course in Browns town you might as well throw in a bit of conspiracy theory to boot. That’s right, a conspiracy theory was hatched with the vigor and energy of Oliver Stone a half a bottle of vodka in at a party of 9/11 “truthers.”
Bob Lamonte runs everything in the Browns’ organization now, according to some. Instead of just a raise of the eyebrows and a couple of question marks about the connection between all these guys, a full-blown campaign against “nepotism” and “cronyism” has been hatched around the internet and on Cleveland sports talk radio.
You do all realize that this is supposed to be fun, right? It is supposed to be a wholly welcomed distraction from politics, and other real news.
First of all, nepotism is the way of the world in football. Nepotism is the reason that many of you are so beside yourselves that Clay Matthews III is playing in Green Bay. Nepotism is the reason that many of you have taken this thought and turned it into some kind of negative slam of Alex Mack, who has played great in Cleveland so far. So the Clay Matthews example should teach us that nepotism isn’t necessarily a bad thing when the candidate is qualified for the job.
Pat Shurmur is a football coach who has most recently been an offensive coordinator for two years. That makes him a reasonable candidate for an NFL head coaching job, does it not? Yet some of you act like the Browns hired a guy who wasn’t on the precipice of his promotion. As Clay Matthews teaches us, as long as a candidate is qualified for the job first, there probably isn’t any harm in some nepotism.
Obviously, you would like to think that there is more to it than that. I want to think that Shurmur had the best interview out of the three candidates that Holmgren talked to (not including Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher.)
And what of the smallish number of candidates that Holmgren interviewed? Holmgren said he was going to look high and low for the next coach of the Browns. Then he only interviewed three guys. I know why this sets off alarms for most of you. When Randy Lerner conducted his “search” that resulted in hiring Eric Mangini, none of us were satisfied with the process as Mangini was snapped up a mere week after being fired by the Jets. The reason though, is because Randy Lerner needed to do a lot more research before making a head coaching hire. In fact, I think most of you would agree that Randy Lerner wasn’t qualified to make that hire at all.
Mike Holmgren on the other hand doesn’t need to do as much legwork to narrow the candidates down. Do you think Holmgren really needs to interview John Fox? Holmgren hasn’t been off on the other side of the planet watching soccer. He was hired to be the man in Cleveland because of his tenure in the NFL and his knowledge of the landscape. Would I have maybe liked to see him interview a few more people? Sure. I just don’t understand the jump from zero to sixty that so many of you seem to do because Holmgren didn’t.
It is true that we feel like we all own the team. Without us, the Browns wouldn’t exist. I get that. Still, though, many of you treat the Browns like it is a public office that we elected. You expect transparency and try to apply the same kinds of ideals to the team that we would to a municipality. Many of you use the same language against the Browns that you would against a city that awarded a host of “no-bid” contracts.
Will Pat Shurmur be a good NFL head coach? I sure hope so, but I don’t know yet. I have concerns to, but not many conclusions yet. I am concerned about the fact that he will be calling his own plays. I am concerned at how that will limit the Browns’ ability to get a first-rate offensive coordinator on staff. I am concerned about who will eventually be the defensive coordinator, and I am concerned with the future of current special teams coach Brad Seely. So, it isn’t like I am one of those guys that says “IN HOLMGREN WE TRUST” and give them a free pass.
Let’s just all take a step back. I care about all this stuff too. I just want a bit of perspective. I don’t think the Browns are above criticism. Far from it. I just don’t know why we have to jump straight into the criticism phase even before the first question is asked.