BEREA — President Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert formally introduced Pat Shurmur as the 13th full-time head coach in Browns’ history. The session lasted about 45 minutes and the trio answered questions for the majority of the session.
Holmgren is staking his legacy as Browns’ president on the hiring of Shurmur. He said that he hopes this is the first and last head coach that he has to hire.
“There are no guarantees,” Holmgren said. “But you can’t keep changing coaches every two three years. The change has stopped. The growing begins.”
Holmgren said that a committee narrowed the candidates to about 10, but it was decided to formally interview just three: Shurmur, Mike Mularkey and Perry Fewell.
“We started the process a couple of weeks ago and narrowed it down to three candidates,” Holmgren said. “It is my belief that all three will be head coaches in this league, but Pat emerged as what we think is the best man to take the Cleveland Browns to where we want to go.
“My hope is, this coach will be the coach for a long time.”
Holmgren said he did talk with Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher, John Fox and others before the hiring of Shurmur. Fox was announced as the Broncos’ head coach on Thursday.
“I did talk to Jon and Bill Cowher and someone who didn’t appear in any stories,” Holmgren said. “It was important for me to hear from those fellows to see how interested they were in coaching again.”
Holmgren didn’t offer any information other than when it came to Fox, Holmgren was leaning toward an offensive-minded coach.
“I did talk to John and he was involved with some other things and in whittling down (the candidates), one of the big considerations was offense versus defense,” Holmgren said. “John’s a great coach and we’ve been friends a long time. I probably have 4,000 friends that thought I was going to hire them and they are probably all mad at me. One of the big considerations was the offensive background.”
Shurmur, 45, said all of the right things in his opening statements.
“Our goal is to win the AFC North, compete in the playoffs and get to the Super bowl,” Shurmur said. “We will make all decisions based on winning.”
Shurmur said that his final two years as offensive coordinator with the Rams prepared him for this step. The new Browns head coach intends to continue to call plays despite his new role.
“There’s a huge piece of this called trust,” Shurmur said. “We went to St. Louis and won one game and this year won seven and fought for the division title.
“It’s done on a daily basis and it goes back to relationships and you put people in place that trust it’s going to happen. There are people in this building with pedigrees for success.”
Shurmur, who was accompanied by his wife Jennifer, gives a lot of credit to Andy Reid for preparing him for the job after spending 2002-08 as the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach.
“Andy Reid and the Eagles were my introduction to pro football,” he said. “My years there were invaluable.”
Heckert said he knew Shurmur would be a head coach. The two worked closely together for 10 years. Heckert said he talked to Reid about Shurmur becoming a head coach many times.
“From the day he walked through the door, we were on the same page,” Heckert said. “We’ve been through this before and we’ve won an awful lot of football games (in Philadelphia). I think we’re on the same page on what we’re looking for and how we’re going to acquire those players.”
Shurmur said being from Detroit, he senses the importance of the Browns to Cleveland.
“I understand the area and its thirst for winning,” he said. “I cannot wait to begin the task of coaching the Cleveland Browns. “
Other questions answered:
Q: How much did agent Bob LaMonte have to do with the process since all three of you are represented by LaMonte?
Holmgren: “I wanted to get the best man for the job and it turned out his representation was the same. Bob was not part of that process. I’ve known Bob for 30 years and to think you’re going to do any hiring without his name popping up somewhere is hard. When I first had Pat on the list I didn’t know Bob represented Pat. He works very hard for them and he’s representing that person.”
Q: Who put together the list of coaches?
Holmgren: “There was a committee that included Tom, myself, Bryan (Weidemeir), Gil Haskell and we started putting together a list of college coaches, coordinators and head coaches. We met daily and some guys knew this guy or that guy and then we narrowed it down to 10 and then did more digging and narrowed it down to three. We weren’t going to formally interview 10 guys. We interviewed three and made our decision.”
Q: How important was the formal interview?
Holmgren: “Hiring a staff and assistant coaches is different than hiring a head coach. He wouldn’t be a head coaching candidate if he didn’t have expertise in certain areas. Character is very important and his presence and some of that is intuitive and a little is a gut reaction and not as scientific. That’s what the interview is about because it’s so much to me, that is a big part of the interview process. I had an advantage because Tom had worked with him for so long. This is the first head coach I’ve ever hired and hope it is the last.”
Q: Do you consider yourself an educator?
Shurmur: “It’s the foundation of what we do. We take very talented high motivated people and try to get them to do what we want them to do. The foundation of what we do is teaching.”
Q: Are you going to run a 4-3 or 3-4 defense and are you going to retain any of the current assistant coaches?
Shurmur: “I’m not trying to evade the question but that’s a process we’re going through and I think it will be very obvious soon where we’re going.”
Q: Do you feel ready to be a head coach?
Shurmur: “We talked about when you’re ready to be a head coach. I am honored to be here and do feel I’m ready to be a head coach. The relationships I have I will use.”
Q: Will you be calling plays for the offense?
Shurmur: “Initially I will start out by calling the plays. That's an important piece. I do think that is really the fun part for an offensive coach. I will say this, in terms of hiring coordinators, the staff is an ongoing process. We're actively pursuring guys we want to come to Cleveland help us get this done.”
Q: Do you feel you will have to revamp the roster?
Heckert: “We do have some core players and some of those will fit what we’re doing. If we need to find other players--that is what we will do.”
Q: Do you have a quarterback for the future in Colt McCoy?
Heckert: I think he’s on the right track. He had some good games for us, he showed some poise. He’s proved he belongs here, we’ll just have to wait and see.