When the Cleveland Browns hired Pat Shurmur as head coach last winter, fans questioned his qualifications for the gig.
Yes, he was the offensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams, guiding rookie first round pick Sam Bradford. He seemed perfect to help develop Colt McCoy into a good NFL quarterback.
He still may be able to do that, but the natives, as usual for Browns’ fans, are getting restless.
Since Shurmur’s career as an assistant was largely unheralded, meaning he wasn’t a coordinator for a team who made a deep run in the playoffs, it was thought that maybe he was a dynamic personality, along the same lines as Mike Tomlin and Mike Smith.
A leader of men, if you will.
He may be that, but that personality hasn’t been shown to the press or the public. He doesn’t seem to be a fiery guy, who can get his team to follow him.
That’s one of the problems he has, people’s perceptions of him.
It’s not fair, but that’s reality.
However, how Shurmur behaves with the press is only an issue because his football team has got off to a 3-4 start in a city that is starved for a winning team.
The latter isn’t his problem, but he has to live with it.
People see the job that Jim Harbaugh is doing in San Francisco and wonder why that can’t happen here? Of course, many of the key pieces there (Frank Gore, Patrick Willis, Mike Iupati) have been in place for a while.
Fans see the Kansas City Chiefs, a team completely annihilated in their first two games this season, win four games in a row to get to 4-3. Of course, the Chiefs made the playoffs last season.
Much like the Indians who have suffered because of poor drafting through much of the last decade, the Browns really started their building process in 2009.
And really in that draft, the only players of consequence are C Alex Mack and WR Mohammed Massaquoi. Two other second round picks, WR Brian Robiskie and LB David Veikune, are no longer in the NFL.
So, Cleveland is in its second year of the “program”, while the 49ers have been gathering talent for four years.
Because the Browns haven’t taken a giant leap record wise this year, the coach’s personality is called into question.
One thing that is disturbing is the lack of progress being shown, particularly offensively, since the beginning of the season. As a matter of fact, the offense looked better the first two weeks of the season.
Understand that Shurmur is putting his system into place, but winning is also important to a fan base that has gone far too long without it.
It also seems that more changes are needed. The coach moved rookie WR Greg Little into the starting lineup after the bye week, but why not take a look at the right side of the offensive line where T Tony Pashos and G Shawn Lauvao have struggled.
The line seemed to play better early in the year when Artis Hicks and O’Neal Cousins were playing tackle.
Sometimes a young coach is impatient and makes moves like this too early, and sometimes they wait too long.
Shurmur seems to be the latter right now.
The point is this: Shurmur is far from being a perfect coach, but you have to give him time to grow into the job. However, it is not too early to start making changes.
No one wants to stop the rebuilding process, but you can make some subtle changes in personnel and also play calling in order to win games.
Winning changes the losing atmosphere that the Cleveland Browns have become.
Until they do, every small detail of their head coach will be analyzed. That’s unfair.