Just throw a dart and cross fingers
The list keeps growing and growing and growing. Somewhere on that list, maybe, is the name of Kyle Shanahan’s successor as offensive coordinator for the Browns for at least the next season.
Written that way because of the job security associated with the position the last five seasons. It is easy to see that the Browns are throwing as many names against the board in hopes one of them will be "The One."
Latest to join the list is New York Jets running backs coach Anthony Lynn, who held the same position with the Browns in 2007 and 2008. He joins, in no particular order, Marc Trestman, John DeFilippo, Bill Callahan, Scott Linehan, Matt Cavanaugh, Charlie Weis and Al Saunders as those whose talents interest the Browns. Another latecomer is Browns tight ends coach Brian Angelichio.
Most of those whose names have been hurled into the rumor mill have some connection with Cleveland coach Mike Pettine, who was pretty much forced to take on Shanahan this past season.
Trestman, Callahan, Linehan and Saunders have also been unsuccessful head coaches in the National Football League, while Lynn and DeFilippo, a native of Youngstown, have never crafted an offense in the NFL. Weis has failed twice as a college head coach and Cavanaugh is another Youngstown native. Both have OC experience in the NFL.
Now it's entirely possible the coach or coaches who wind up with either of both of the jobs is not currently on the list of candidates. What with uncertainty still attached to several vacant head coaching jobs in the NFL, assistant coaches on other teams waiting to learn their fate could have an impact on the Cleveland picture.
Trestman probably has the highest profile of all the candidates thus far. He is, or should be, no stranger to Browns fans, having served as Cleveland’s quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator in 1988 and 1989. He was Bernie Kosar’s position coach at the University of Miami and joined the Browns in Marty Schottenheimer’s last season in Cleveland.
That season, many will recall, the defensive–minded Schottenheimer took over the offense when Lindy Infante bolted for the top job in Green Bay. When Schottenheimer left for Kansas City and Bud Carson took over, Trestman was elevated to offensive coordinator.
Known for his ability to work well with quarterbacks, he was recently fired as head coach of the Chicago Bears after two seasons in large part because of his inability to elevate the game of Jay Cutler.
Why the Browns would be interested in a journeyman coach like Trestman is puzzling. His greatest success was as head coach of the Canadian Football League Montreal Alouettes from 2008 to 2012. He took his club to the Grey Cup title game three straight seasons and won two.
Other than that, Trestman, who will be 59 on Thursday, has been a coaching vagabond, making NFL stops in Minnesota, Cleveland, San Francisco, Detroit, Arizona, Oakland, Miami and Chicago with a brief stop at North Carolina State.
Callahan, Saunders and Linehan also are relatively long in the tooth. How much a difference that makes in Pettine’s decision process depends solely on what he wants his new offense to look like.
Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme worked extremely well in the early going before opposing teams started stacking the box. What was missing was a quality quarterback with a passing game effective enough to loosen those defenses.
Whoever lands the job will have a huge task to awaken a Cleveland offense that looked so good in the first half dozen games of the 2014 season only to completely fade as the calendar turned to November and December.
The hardest part for Pettine will be to convince players on that side of the ball that whoever is anointed offensive coordinator du jour, it will be in the best interests of the Cleveland Browns. That could take some convincing seeing as he will be sixth new coordinator in six seasons.
He’ll start with one hand tied figuratively behind his back. The quarterback whose attributes include loosening up opposing defenses is not on the current roster. Unless General Manager Ray Farmer strengthens the passing game through either the draft or free agency, the new coordinator will feel Shanahan’s frustration.