Thursday, January 22, 2015

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.


  1. Why all the negativity? I mean we've all been through the BS around here for many many years. You're not alone. I'm sick of it too. But every damn day? Every time the Browns burp you have to bitch? Are you really Tony Grossi?

  2. I am a pessimist by nature, Tim. Always was, always will be.

    I am not saying the appointment of DeFilippo is wrong. I'm pointing out the club is already hanging a mantle of greatness on this guy.

    That's not being negative. That's pointing out a flaw in the way the Browns handle things. The newcomer has enough pressure already. Why pile on?

    If you have noticed, I have also praised the Browns over the years when they do something I deem praiseworthy. Unfortunately, they burp way more often than they don't. I react thusly.

    I write subjectively. That's the way I roll. If you want objectivity, follow most of the beat writers. It's their job to be objective. Not mine.

    If you want more subjectivity Browns style, go the club's Web site and join the sycophants.

    When I did talk radio all those years in Cleveland, it was with a decided subjective bent. And you would be surprised at how much more often I was correct about the Browns than incorrect.

    I'm not patting myself on the back. I have no use for people who do that. I just do my job to the best of my ability and be correct as often as possible.

    1. What's with the "Yikes"? Joe Flacco has had four OC's in four years and it hasn't slowed him down. Once again we beat the drum of continuity for the sake of mediocrity. Our problem is we don't have a championship caliber QB on the roster.

  3. You nailed that one obliquely. It hasn't slowed down Flacco because Flacco is actually a very good quarterback. You or any Browns fan hasn't been able to say that about a Cleveland quarterback since the original club left.

    And yikes is the near-perfect term for what is happening with regard to the merry-go-round of coaching changes since 1999.

    1. I really don't blame the QB's, I blame the way they were thrown into the fire with little or no chance of success, except of course Manziel, who is his own worst enemy.

  4. Of course you don't blame the quarterbacks, You blame the people who draft them. It's like blaming the bus driver for getting lost. You blame the people who hired him.

    As for being thrown into the fire, it seems to me guys like Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger and Andy Dalton were thrown into the fire right away and they came out all right.

    How come teams like Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati can draft quarterbacks and get them to play well right away and Cleveland drafts the likes of Charlie Frye, Colt McCoy, Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden, Luke McCoy, Spergon Wynn, Manziel and who can forget Tim Couch?

    The correct answer is the front office. Smart people reside in the front offices in Cincinnati, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Dolts take up residence in Cleveland. What has transpired in the last 16 seasons is proof of that notion.

    So who has been the best (relatively speaking) Cleveland quarterback since 1999? Derek Anderson and he was plucked off the Baltimore roster on waivers.