Can Kyle Shanahan Be Different for the Cleveland Browns?
For the fifth time in as many years, there will be a new offensive coordinator for the orange and brown. The last few came in and gave the fan base hope, implying that the offense would be transcended under his tutelage. However, the results have been the same and Brian Daboll, Pat Shurmur, Brad Childress, and Norv Turner could not improve this unit (as a whole). Will Kyle Shanahan break this mold and finally vault the Browns’ offense into respectability? In order for that to be true, several things must occur both now and in upcoming months. I do not expect him to be brilliant in all four phases but being solid in each is a good starting point.
– Focus solely on being a coordinator:
It’s widely assumed that the pinnacle of the NFL, as far as leadership roles are concerned, is head coach. Many offensive and defensive coordinators (and even position coaches) are seeking to make the jump to be the “man” of a franchise. Understandably so, but it is unacceptable to be looking ahead while maintaining an occupation. There were rumors circulating that Rob Chudzinski favored certain plays in Carolina that showed his acumen as opposed to putting the team in the best spot to succeed. Whether that is true or not, Kyle Shanahan cannot let that occur in Cleveland. He is a young (thirty-four years old) assistant who will likely get his shot to be an NFL head coach, down the road. However, he must not permit that to become a distraction on the sidelines. Winning games and having a solid offense will do wonders for his professional career; Shanahan must remember to be an offensive coordinator and not a head coach in waiting.
– Working intensely with the guy to run the offense:
From Matt Schaub, Rex Grossman, to Sage Rosenfels, and even Robert Griffin III – Kyle Shanahan has worked with several signal callers in the past few years. Each has their strengths and weaknesses and the same will be true for the next Cleveland starting quarterback. Regardless of the different traits and qualities, what can vastly improve the guy under center is a tremendous relationship with his boss. This does not simply refer to the duo getting along during contests, but also how they interact on a daily basis. Bouncing off ideas and determining what types of plays, formations, and scenarios might be triumphant should be occurring throughout the season. Granted, these will more than likely have to be green-lighted by the head coach, but the Browns are in a scenario where the offensive coordinator may have a stronger voice than usual. A strong rapport is important, but the key is both working towards continual improvement and an opportunity at excellence – regardless of who the quarterback is.
– Tailoring the offense to its personnel:
This has been the main downfall of the predecessors to Shanahan. In interviews and press conferences, the coordinator would state how the team would uniquely get the football to their playmakers and allow the offense to thrive. This speaks to open-mindedness from the coaching staff, however that was more of a theory in the past. In multiple contests, Pat Shurmur and Brad Childress gave Colt McCoy and Brandon Weeden ample opportunities to heave the football all over the field – denying crucial avenues the offense could have implemented. Both proved to be unsuccessful quarterbacks in the league, so not putting a great deal of expectations on the athletes should have been the way to go. I will give Brian Daboll credit; his offense may not have been aesthetically pleasing, but his run/pass combinations made McCoy look half-decent in his rookie season. Kyle Shanahan came into this job stating that he would work with the players and not force the team to play a certain way because he is used to that system (i.e. west coast offense, vertical passing attack, etc.). Again it’s encouraging to hear that as a fan but I would like to see the coordinator practice what he is preaching.
– Making correct play calls (and not over-thinking things):
As far as offenses go, it’s always been the aim to mystify defenders and opposing coaches in the league, but not to the point where it’s a hindrance to its own team. Media had speculated that Shurmur’s offense (from a few years ago) was wildly complex and actually confused members on the team. NFL offenses are obviously multifaceted, but with the several months of practice, OTAs, and training camp/preseason – the role of players should be relatively known. This is not to say repetitiveness should not be utilized as well, as defenses are smart and will catch on quickly. However, the Browns must ensure that the offense is called in a excellent way – no matter if the team is down fourteen or up seventeen. Fluidity is important, but Shanahan must not let outside factors (assuming a play will work due to past history, attempting to out-coach the opposition, and an apparent, overt weakness by the opponent, etc.) negatively influence decisions on game days.