So much for offensive continuity: Pat Shurmur ready to leave?

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that according to NFL executives, Rams OC Pat Shurmur is emerging as the frontrunner for the Browns top job.
Yep. BUT, 2 things on which I trust Holmgren: QB’s and coaches. RT @AaronAloysius: @FtblSickness “Meh” appears to be consensus on Shurmur.

Sam Bradford is almost a shoo-in for the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year award (vote now! vote often!), having thrown and completed the most passes in NFL rookie history, but it looks as though his success is having unexpected ripple effects. Despite fitful success in his two years here, the Rams’ offensive improvement from last year to this is undeniable. And as much scorn as Shurmur gets for the “conservatism” of the offense — blame that may be shared between the offensive coordinator and his head coach — the offense he tailored helped Sam Bradford make the most of a scrappy bunch of underdogs and unlikelies at receiver, and helped the Rams to a six-win improvement in the standings. And that improvement apparently makes Shurmur something of a hot commodity around the NFL.  

On Friday, Shurmur interviewed for the head coaching position in Cleveland, a football city absolutely defined by “scrappy bunch of underdogs and unlikelies,” and one with a bright young quarterback of its own. And from all reports, his interview was very impressive.

For Billy Devaney, hiring the combination of Spagnuolo, Shurmur and Ken Flajole as first-time head coach, offensive and defensive coordinators was a big commitment to growing together as a team. It was also, as commenter CoachConnors once put it, “a massive experiment in simultaneous learning curves.”

While Shurmur is still young as an offensive coordinator, he showed his potential with brilliant gameplans in Week 12 vs Denver and Week 16 vs San Francisco. But is he ready to be a head coach in the NFL? As the Rams showed with Spagnuolo, two years and some success as a coordinator is about all it takes these days to be a candidate, especially if you’re committed to a youth movement. And for Browns’ GM Mike Holmgren, Shurmur represents a short reach into his own coaching tree, as well as a young and presumably “moldable” guy that won’t mind Holmgren’s guiding hand.

coaching tree

Now if Shurmur gets the position, the Rams and Bradford will be facing a new experiment — a second offensive coordinator and potentially a second offensive philosophy in two years. However, Spagnuolo could reach into this same coaching tree and shake out a guy who he has a close connection with in Brad Childress. (Remember, Spagnuolo specifically sought out Chilly’s counsel when the Rams were debating the Randy Moss acquisition.)

Offensive continuity is a critical factor in the growth and development of young quarterbacks, lest we grow and develop a new Alex Smith. However, losing Shurmur might not be the biggest risk to this continuity. The biggest fear factor for the Rams has to be a lockout. If the NFL owners and players association fails to come together on a CBA this offseason, Bradford would be isolated from his new coach, from his new playbook, until the lockout ended. And Bradford would be unable to take the necessary next step of getting deeper into his offense, his reads, his progressions.