This is the weekly installment of Sherwin-Williams Paint Job:A Covering of Cleveland Sports by Chris McLafferty. Sherwin-Williams Paint Job covers as much Browns, Cavs and Indians in a weekend commentary that Chris feels necessary (or has the time to do). Clicking on the links will make the article more or less enjoyable (it’s difficult to read people nowadays). Someday he hopes Sherwin or Williams will read this and pay him lots of money to sponsor this article. Feel free to leave all types of comments because Chris has no shame and feels no embarrassment.
The Cleveland Browns made the huge moves to fire Joe Banner (let’s be honest here, he’s not stepping down unless you consider this stepping down) and Mike Lombardi while promoting Ray Farmer from assistant to all the way GM. It seemed out of the blue, the season ended a month and a half ago and you just hired a coach (nothing says “Welcome to Cleveland” like a good ole fashioned firing of everyone in important positions). Why not do all this before? The answer seemed to come from a Cleveland.com article in which it was reported Banner and Lombardi weren’t exactly getting along in the head coaching pursuit which is why there was a lot of conflicting reports at any given moment. It makes sense if you’re watching things play out and you realize, this just isn’t working.
I don’t think this is any indication that neither one of them could get the job done, which I still believe they could and did in many ways this past season. I think this was just a situation of too many head cooks in the kitchen. Both of these guys have had solid success in the past (read more in this past article)and seems like they were just too headstrong to go in one direction and that happens when you have two or more people who strongly believe this is the best way to help this football team, especially if they’re extremely passionate about it. It was a weird set-up from the beginning and I was willing to give it a shot (I do like Haslam’s idea of trying new things and also to surround himself with as much football knowledge talent as possible) but ultimately it failed and instead is a more traditional set-up with Farmer being the main guy in charge.
“If something happens and it’s the Cleveland Browns, I’m going to pour my heart out for the Dawg Pound and try to win a Super Bowl for Cleveland. I don’t care if they’ve had 20 starting quarterbacks since 1999. I’m going to be the 21st and the guy that brought them the Super Bowl.”
YES YES AND MORE YES! Can we draft him now? I’ve already changed my Facebook profile picture. To think this is the type of competitor this kid is, then to actually hear him say that brought goosebumps to my football spine. There was the whole Brady Quinn, I’m a hometown boy angle to try and get drafted earlier (which #1 Dublin is a Columbus city not a hometown Cleveland boy and #2 could you be any less sincere while doing that?) but this feels real and powerful. This is the guy that even though the defensive just gave up another touchdown and we’re down 7 with under a minute left, you never feel like we’re out of it, there’s always a sense of true optimism and the best part about that….you know that everyone in that Browns’ huddle is going to feel the same. They’re going to look at that opportunity as say, “This is our chance to stun the world. We’re getting this touchdown and then we’re going to win!” This team…no scratch that. This CITY needs Johnny Manziel.
Fans seem to think Kyle Shanahan was at fault with the RG3, I don’t really see that being the case. The RG3- Shanahan tiff seemed more at his dad, head coach Mike Shanahan, with the will he play, will he not play, should he play circus that went on with the injuries. All that was way more public then it should have ever been which caused a lot of headache around the organization, the locker-room and ESPN watchers who wanted to hear full coverage of sports. Chalk it up to an owner who will do anything to make his popular star happy and an old school coach who may believe no one is bigger than the team. But I don’t associate that as a Kyle Shanahan problem or see him as the catalyst. I don’t think he’s opposed to working with another high profile quarterback or star, like Manziel per say.
I’ve recently seen local writers giving credit to Kyle Shanahan for the great success of the running games that he’s been a part of. I believe that’s jumping the gun a bit. She points out that Kyle Shanahan has gotten the most out of his running backs including Alfred Morris and Steve Slaton (which really? That’s your proof) and discusses the greatness of Andre Johnson. But make no mistake about it. Majority of the greatness you’ve seen from Alfred Morris has to be credited to head coach Mike Shanahan until proven otherwise. You know the guy who reinveted and populated the zone blocking scheme leading to the Denver Running Back Train from 1995-2008. When he came in he made a star out of 6th round pick, Terrell Davis (very similar to Alfred Morris) up until injuries would get the best of him. This would continue with Mike Anderson (another 6th round pick) until injuries got the best of him but then it was Clinton Portis (2nd round). Then from 2003-2008 he had a different running back be the lead rusher. In 04 it was Ruben Droughns with 1,240 yards. In 05, Anderson and Tatum Bell (2nd round) ran for 1,950 and 20 touchdowns. In 06 Tatum Bell and Mike Bell (undrafted) combined for another monster year (you could say a real bell-ringer of a season, ha!). Tatum with over 1,000 yards and Mike over 600 with 8 TDs. In 07, Travis Henry and Selvin Young (undrafted) ran for 700 each. In 08 he used 4 different backs for 1200 yards and 12 touchdowns in Michael Pittman, Peyton Hillis (7th round), Selvin Young and Tatum Bell. Even in his worst season (his last in 2008) he would still be in the upper half in the league of rushing. Just to put it in perspective, the Browns finished last in touchdowns and 27th in yardage and 23rd per attempt. Now I know that was without Trent Richardson, but last year WITH Richardson we still finished 24th in yardage, 21st per attempt and 13th in touchdowns. (Washington was 1st in yardage, 2nd in per attempt and 2nd in touchdowns. This year 5th in yardage, 3rd in Per attempt and 13th in touchdowns ).
Kyle Shanahan was in no part of the Broncos success. He joined the Texans in 2006 as WR coach (Andre Johnson was already a stud by this point). In 2007 he was promoted to QB coach where he really helped Matt Schaub (and consequently Johnson) thrive (before he lost his Mojo). Then in 2008 he was promoted to Offensive Coordinator. In 2008 the Texans drafted Steve Slaton in the 3rd round and he went on to run for 1,282 yards and 9 touchdowns. But he was benched during the 09 season. Then after Shanahan’s departure the Arian Foster explosion happened so it’s hard to tell if Shanahan had anything to do with the Slaton sensational year. In 07 (the year prior to Shanahan’s arrival) the Texans were 22nd in yardage, 24th per attempt and 16th in touchdowns. In his first season as offensive coordinator (and the upgrade of Slaton over Ron Dayne) Houston improved to 13th in yardage, 13th in per attempt and 11th in touchdowns BUT in 2009 they regressed sharply ranking 30th in yardage, 31st in per attempt and 18th in touchdowns. So it’s hard to give Kyle Shanahan that much credit for a running game because much hasn’t been done on his own (and it exploded further after his departure).
What he has done great is mentor and work really well with quarterbacks. It doesn’t hurt that he’s probably learned a lot of the running aspect from his father and I feel confident that’ll he’ll do a great job with the offense, I just don’t want to start giving him all the running game praise quite yet. Just know I’m optimistic and the returns so far are trending upwards. It’ll also help that father Mike Shanahan is currently unemployed giving him more time to help Kyle even more. In some capacity Mike will be helping this Browns team through son Kyle Shanahan.