Cleveland fan reaction: Browns name Pat Shurmur as new head coach

Cleveland Browns fans wanted Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher, John Fox, Mike Holmgren or even Rob Ryan to be the team's new head coach. Instead, they got exactly what they should have expected all along - some guy.

Numerous sources, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer , have confirmed that Pat Shurmur will be named the team's new head coach on Friday morning. Shurmur has spent the last two seasons with the St. Louis Rams as the team's offensive coordinator and he was quarterbacks coach with the Philadelphia Eagles for a decade. While Shurmur never worked with team president Mike Holmgren, his uncle, Fritz Shurmur, was Holmgren's assistant in Green Bay.

WTAM out of Cleveland quoted Shurmur as saying "It's an honor and a privilege to join an organization with such a rich history and tradition as the Cleveland Browns…I am looking forward to this challenge and can't wait to get started in helping to build the Browns back to one of the elite teams in the NFL." Holmgren was quoted as saying "Pat is a bright, young man who grew up in football and around the coaching profession. I came away from our interview very impressed with him as a person, his extensive knowledge of the game and his track record of success as an assistant coach in this league. Most importantly, I feel as though he possesses the necessary qualities which make him the right man to lead our football team."

"Skeptical" is the word being thrown around by Cleveland fans early Thursday afternoon. The second sentence on Shurmur's Wikipedia page was immediately changed once the move was announced. "Nobody has any clue who he is, but he will lead the Browns to the Super Bowl nonetheless." It has since been edited. The selection of Shurmur, who has been the coordinator of one of the worst offenses in the NFL over the past two seasons, shouldn't shock Browns fans. He's experienced with the West Coast Offense and with grooming a young quarterback (Sam Bradford(notes)). He was also the only reasonable choice currently available.

Jon Gruden had zero interest in leaving both the Tampa Bay area and his role with ESPN in order to take over a cold-weather team years away from contending for a championship. Bill Cowher has made it clear over the past few years that he'll only return to coaching if he can join a franchise that's immediately ready to win. John Fox, Rob Ryan and Perry Fewell are all defensive minds similar to former Cleveland head coaches Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini. The current front office of the Browns wanted to go in a new direction. This fact was clear a month ago.

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer speculated on Wednesday that hiring Pat Shurmur would "get the Cleveland Browns moving in the same direction." I agree, but in a very different way. When Mike Holmgren announced that Eric Mangini was fired on January 3, Holmgren refused to say that he would never coach in the NFL again. He simply stated he wasn't coaching the team in 2011. By hiring a coordinator many Cleveland fans had never heard of until Thursday morning, Holmgren is quietly leaving the door open for his possible return to the sidelines. Even if the Browns improve to .500 over the next two seasons, Holmgren could easily assume control and move Shurmur to OC.

Every true Browns fan knows that no new head coach, not Pat Shurmur nor a man currently wearing a Super Bowl ring, is going to immediately turn this current crop of players into a team contending with the Ravens and Steelers for a division title. Cleveland needs significant help on both sides of the ball before next August comes around in order to sniff an 8-8 record. My initial reaction to this hiring can be summed up by a question popularized by the TV show The West Wing.

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Zac Wassink is a member of the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
Updated Thursday, Jan 13, 2011