[Ed. Note: Welcome back Peter Rogie, sometime Scene contributor and Cleveland sports fan, who has some thoughts about Brad Childress.]
January usually brings colder temperatures to Cleveland, but it’s really going to get “Chilly” in Berea now that the former Vikings’ Head Coach is on board. (Ba dum tss.)
Alright, moving on.
While many columns and blog posts have decried the hire of Brad Childress, the move ought to be seen as nothing but positive news for Cleveland Browns fans. After a season where the Browns ranked near the bottom of the NFL in nearly every offensive category, the logical answer is that there is nowhere to go but up, so anyone would be an improvement.
However, there is one singular reason why Childress is the right guy for the job: We are now one: one unit, one vision, one goal.
Whether you agree with what that means or not is moot right now. The Browns have finally established an identity.
Being the loyal Clevelanders that we are, we would never admit another team is better than our beloved Brownies. But you have to admit, we admired the “Patriot way” from afar, dreamed of outscoring our opponents like the Colts and Saints, and longed for a physical defense with the toughness of, dare I say it, Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
Do I think it’s a wise decision to run a pass-happy offense in a city that averages over 60 inches of snow a year and a higher annual wind speed than Chicago? Of course not. Then again, I also thought it was a bad idea to put a domed roof on a football stadium. I mean, why on earth would we want to make a place that can host 70,000 people truly usable only six months out of the year?
Silly Indianapolis and Detroit… just think of all the money you could have saved.
But our lot has been cast and if it can work in Green Bay, why can’t it work in Cleveland? Outside of all the curses, ghosts, and ill-fortune, there’s no reason whatsoever. But it’s going to take a full-team effort to make that happen. And now we have one in place.
Pat Shurmer and Childress spent seven years working together in Andy Reid’s offensive system in Philadelphia. Say what you want about who called the plays, but Childress has prior experience “running” the West Coast Offense as a coordinator and head coach. As long as we are becoming “East Philadelphia,” the Browns might as well bring in everyone who contributed to the Eagles’ high-flying offense.
The same situation applies here. It honestly doesn’t matter who calls the plays; the main factor is that Shurmer will no longer be completing all of the duties of Offensive Coordinator and Head Coach. For a man who had to do both his first year in charge, Shurmer will gladly welcome the chance to relieve some of those obligations.
In addition, it’s important for Shurmer to have someone he can trust beside him. Shurmer simply does not have the prior experience, so he needs that “mentor” on the sideline with him. With Dick Jauron and Ray Rhodes on staff, Shurmer has been surrounded by men who “know the system” and can bring him along. Yes, I agree, it’s a little strange to hire a head coach who needs a support system, but we can’t undo the past.
Like Mike Holmgren said, “You’re either with us or against us.” We just didn’t know the “us” meant the Professional Sports Representation Incorporated offices.
“In Holmgren We Trust” could be heard all throughout the city when we first hired him. Concussiongate and the ensuing train wreck of a press conference should not blemish our faith in the system. It takes time to grow something that has sustainable success. Unless you were a fan of the “flash in the pan” Butch Davis playoff year.
I know this isn’t going to be well-received, but look at Bill Belichick’s coaching record here in Cleveland as proof. While the media loved to hammer him for his mumbles and grumbles, over the course of four years, he steadily improved a 3-13 team into an 11-5 playoff contender. He didn’t do it overnight, but rather established a core, developed talents around his needs, and built the league’s best defensive unit.
Fast forward to today. While most of us see the Browns as going into their fourteenth year, they are barely toddlers as far as the Holmgren/Heckert/Shurmer regime go. They need time and patience to grow what they perceive as being the best possible system.
Eric Mangini brought in veteran players he was comfortable with to act as coaches on the field and teach his system to the younger drafted rookies. Holmgren and Heckert are doing the same, just going with coaches instead.
Preaching patience in this town is not an easy thing. We deserve a professional sports championship here after all these years (loved the Crunch, but not counting indoor soccer, sorry). So we can’t be concerned by the articles pronouncing the woes of Childress’ offenses or mocking the Browns reliance on Bob LaMonte clients.
Randy Lerner, aside from apparently being “the most irrelevant billionaire in the world,” does have our best intentions at heart. If you look at what he has done for Aston Villa and what he has tried to do here, you have to give him all the credit in the world for trying to figure things out. However, the National Football League isn’t the same as the Barclays Premier League.
And unlike a rookie head coach with clock management issues or a GM who tells his fan base to “root for (bleeping) Buffalo,” he can’t be fired. He just has to live with the mistakes he made and push forward. And unfortunately, we do too.
So, it’s all hands on deck on the good ship Holmgren, steered by Captain Shurmer and now complimented by a fully staffed crew of coaches dedicated to the same vision. And though this has seemed like an Odyssean adventure since 1999, we have to give the current collection of Browns brass the time to prove their plan can work.
Because if it does, if we can just hold out for a few more years to get all the pieces in place, think of all the excitement that would have been buzzing around this town for the last two weeks.
Ah, now there’s a thought to warm you up on a chilly February day in Cleveland.