By Michael Reghi
Watching the Browns approach in their preseason debut against Green Bay, it becomes readily apparent how a head coach’s pedigree, and his body of work on a particular side of the ball becomes so influential in player development. Mike Holmgren knows that. He’s spent his entire coaching life in the NFL adhering to that belief. You have a young quarterback with skills to hone. You give him a head coach, and complimentary staff with the expertise to put him in an advantageous position. That’s why Pat Shurmur was the choice to oversee the nurturing of Colt McCoy. The last two Browns head coaches had heavy defensive backgrounds. Holmgren had to flip that switch. Shurmur, heavily attached to the Philadelphia Eagles offensive success during the Donovan McNabb ride, as the quarterbacks coach, and the first year development of St. Louis rookie qb Sam Bradford, as the offensive coordinator, now goes about crafting and devising a system that McCoy could potentially thrive in. A breath of fresh air, Browns fans!
While the science project is just stepping into the laboratory, I like the chemistry mix. Not only is Shurmur’s West Coast playbook McCoy friendly…so is his demeanor. Both are ultra competitive, achievers, used to winning. The first showing gives reason for optimism, wanting to see more from the two ‘scientists’. What I saw was this.
* A rhythm…a tempo…a pace, and you’re going to hear those words plenty from me, attached to the Shurmur creation. Go ‘no huddle’ at times, be proactive, and attacking…making a defense react to your aggressiveness.
* A system designed to create, and take advantage of mismatches in the secondary… the football out on time, and accurately to receivers. Saw just that with a pair of McCoy strikes to Ben Watson in the seam, with linebackers and a strong safety in coverage.
* Making all the throws the West Coast demands…. note the Browns first drive of the game.
-McCoy drills Josh Cribbs with a strike on a 3rd & 7, as Cribbs cleared linebackers and settled in front of a safety. First down.
-McCoy off a play fake… throwing on the move as the pocket rolled right, hitting Greg Little out of the slot for 12 yards. First down.
-McCoy from the gun.. sets up screen right to Peyton Hillis. 8 yards.
-McCoy zips a ‘deep square in’ to Brian Robiskie, who continued route after being covered initially… 27 yards. First down.
-McCoy on the sideline fade… football traveled 35 yards in the air, on the back shoulder properly, to Cribbs. Touchdown.
That’s five diverse throws, two of them not to the primary receiver, with accuracy, all staples of the West Coast.
I bring this to the forefront to further solidify the strong belief I cemented in December of 2010, after watching McCoy through 8 starts, operating an antiquated offensive system that had little creativity or vision…. he brings a presence, command, and yes, enough skills to the party to be a very good, winning NFL quarterback. How successful? That’s where the Shurmur/McCoy tandem comes into play. Mike Holmgren knows the pair is ‘philosophically aligned’. What they ultimately achieve, or don’t, is now attached to the head coach/quarterback who bring a very refreshing, NFL friendly, offensive approach to a city that’s been thirsting for more drinks from the ‘ Touchdown Browns’ glass!