Is Pat Shurmur biting off more than he can chew by going without an offensive coordinator during his first season as an NFL head coach?
The new man in charge of the Browns doesn’t think so. In an interview with Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal, Shurmur said that he always planned to call the offensive plays this season but did intend to hire someone to help him run the offense. Flirtations with candidates came to nothing, though, and the Browns offense will be entirely in Shurmur’s hands. He says he’s “very comfortable” with the arrangement.
“I don’t think it’s gonna be a problem,” said Shurmur. ”I think I have a staff of coaches that are extremely talented, and as you prepare for a game, it’s the staff that does the preparation. You decide what plays you’re gonna call, and then you spend the time to decide how you’re gonna call them. But the preparation of what plays we’re gonna run is done on a staff basis.”
Shurmur called plays for the Rams during the last two seasons, so it isn’t like he’s going too far outside of his comfort zone. He did spend games in the booth during the 2010 season, but Shurmur told Ulrich that the first-year head coach thinks he sees the game just as well from the sideline as he does from up above the field.
There’s nothing too unusual about Shurmur’s decision to go it alone. He’s one of 10 current head coaches who will call their own offensive plays during the 2011 season, including the last two Super Bowl winners. Shurmur has something important in common with Sean Payton and Mike McCarthy. In Gregg Williams and Dom Capers, both of them had defensive coordinators capable of running things on that side of the ball without much need for the head coach to worry about their ability to keep everything under control. Dick Jauron shares a past as a head coach with Williams and Capers, which should make it easier for Shurmur to avoid being overwhelmed during his first season.
That’s not to say that there aren’t big differences, however. Payton and McCarthy have Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers executing their calls. Shurmur isn’t quite so blessed.
Then again, neither Payton nor McCarthy have a team president who won a Super Bowl as a head coach.