DeFilippo bucks the odds
And the winner is . . . John DeFilippo. Congratulations, John, you are now the sixth offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns in the last six years.
Sixth in six years? Yikes!
So much for stability. So much for job security. Keep your resume handy.
The best thing the new coordinator has going for him is his age. At 36, this is as close to being the perfect age to rise to prominence if that’s ever going to happen. This is his first shot at running an offense.
DeFilippo had nothing to lose by taking this job. He takes over a position with a team that had trouble scoring points in the last half of the 2014 season. How much worse can it get under his guidance?
He inherits a (club description) muddy quarterback situation that is not exactly the envy of other offensive coordinators around the National Football League. As it stands right now, Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw are the only quarterbacks on the roster.
Brian Hoyer is a free agent and unless the Browns can somehow come up with a compelling reason for him to stay, he is gone. Makes no difference where. His absence creates a void.
That leaves two second-year professionals, neither of whom distinguished himself in their rookie seasons. Unless General Manager Ray Farmer somehow manages to pluck a young veteran quarterback out of the air, this is what the Youngstown native faces.
In announcing DeFilippo’s appointment, Browns coach Mike Pettine put the whammy on him. From the Department of I Wish I Had Never Said That comes this dandy from the head coach in a team release: “He’s the total package.”
That one’s got a real good shot at winding up in that department’s Hall of Fame with “best pure pass rusher in the draft” (defensive end Keith Baldwin in the 1982 draft) and “mad dog in a meat market” (linebacker Mike Junkin in the 1987 draft).
DeFilippo hasn’t drawn up a play, crafted a playbook or even met with the guys he’ll be coaching and yet, he’s the total package. That’s an awful lot to live up to. He had better be good. Like yesterday.
Pettine, who rarely gushes about anything, prefaced that by suggesting that “the things John brings to the table are exactly what we are looking for. . . He’s very bright. . . has great energy about him, great passion. Loves the game. Works extremely well with other people.”
Sounds like the attributes of any good football coach. If you aren’t smart, lack energy and passion and do not love the game, don’t bother going into coaching because your chances of succeeding, let alone eventually reaching the NFL, diminish greatly.
Pettine called DeFilippo, who interviewed for the same position a year ago and lost out to Kyle Shanahan, “a good person. That, to me, is one of the biggest reasons he is here.” Yes, he really said that.
There are times where it is wise to dial it back. This is one of those times. DeFilippo will have enough pressure on the new job as it is without his new boss delivering heaping servings of praise.
His credentials include helping develop rookie Oakland quarterback Derek Carr last season. Carr won only three games for the Raiders, but threw a modest 21 touchdown passes. The Raiders also lost to the Browns in game 8 last season, a victory that launched Cleveland’s three-game winning streak.
In the same club release, DeFilippo said he was “thrilled to be working with all the quarterbacks that are here and going to be here.” He might have to change his mind a little after working with Manziel, Shaw and whomever the club brings in. It will be the ultimate challenge.
If given free rein, DeFilippo stands a good chance of becoming the first Cleveland offensive coordinator to still be standing after one season on the job since Brian Daboll put in back-to-back seasons in 2009-10. The odds are definitely in his favor.