It’s a conspiracy… unless that’s what they want you to think!

A few days ago, I remarked on the strangeness of Kyle Shanahan leaving Cleveland as OC. Well, now we know where he’s going: Atlanta, to be with new head coach Dan Quinn. ESPN’s Browns guy basically says that Shanahan knew Quinn was getting the Atlanta job and wanted a job with an unsucky QB. The hire can’t be official until after the Super Bowl, but even the NFL Network says it’s set in stone.

I don’t find the “Shanahan knew he had a better job lined up and started a bunch of shit to make leaving more okay” argument to be persuasive. From Shanahan’s perspective, calling this a “lateral move” is bullshit. He’s going from a team with no proven QB to one of the best young QBs in the game. He has stability and the time to install his offense exactly the way he wants it. Oh yeah, the Falcons are also in a much easier division than Cleveland.

For the Browns, I’m not sure what this means, because I’m not sure who will replace the old OC. The reasoning was that Manziel’s skill set is similar to RGIII’s, therefore Shanahan will make him into RGIII 2.0 (RGIV?). So, of course, you hand him Brian Hoyer. In retrospect, Shanahan was an odd choice if Hoyer was your Week 1 starter, but I think that the early success set the FO’s plans back a bit; I wonder if the original plan was to bring in Manziel after the bye week?

There are currently nine people being interviewed or in the mix to be interviewed for the Cleveland position. Let’s take a look at the possibilities:

Chan Gailey— Kevin can, doubtless, provide some insight here. In any case, he’s a guy who likes the spread. Manziel is not a spread QB, and more importantly, Cleveland doesn’t have the receiving talent to make a spread viable in the near future. Pass on him.

John DeFilippo — We don’t know what his scheme would be, but he did okay with Derek Carr. He’s got ties to Mike Pettine too. He’s never been a coordinator at any level before; I’d like him for a QB coach (a position which is also vacant) but a rookie OC with a rookie QB strikes me as a bad combination. Put him on the list, hire him as QB coach if he’d take it, but look elsewhere if possible.

Matt Cavanaugh — Also has ties to Pettine. According to clevelandbrowns.com, Cavanaugh favors a run-heavy west coast style offense, which I think would be perfect for Manziel. It’s been a while since he’s called plays, but that type of offense doesn’t require loads of creativity. Merits very serious consideration, perhaps the best possible choice.

Bill Callahan — Another conservative guy, but one who prefers zone blocking schemes (of the type that Shanahan and his father like). Not as good a fit as Cavanaugh simply because his greatest strength is developing the offensive line, and Cleveland’s line is already pretty awesome. Cavanaugh is considered better with QBs, Cleveland’s major area of concern. On the list.

Scott Linehan — A very intriguing possibility, with experience developing QBs and wide receivers. His scheme is considered “QB friendly.” His offenses have been all over place, however. He oversaw Daunte Culpepper and Marc Bulger in his early career; sometimes they were awesome, sometimes they weren’t. He deserves a lot of credit for developing Matt Stafford, though. A lot depends on the QB he ends up with, but his track record is all over the place. On the list.

Charlie Weis — He was the OC for the New England Patriots, loves trick plays and schemes. Undoubtedly deserves credit for developing Tom Brady, but that was a long time ago and he’s not worked with young or rookie QBs since. I’m also concerned about Manziel’s ability to learn a complex scheme. Still, he’s got to be hungry to prove that Brady isn’t a fluke. Cleveland would be the ultimate challenge. On the list.

Al Saunders — The nightmare scenario as OC. He loves a wildly complicated, very detailed offensive scheme, which is the worst possible scheme for Manziel, a guy who isn’t big into prep work to begin with. If I had a rookie QB (and the Browns essentially do) this is the last guy I’d choose. Off the list.

Marc Trestman — He knew Bernie Kosar! In all seriousness, I like him more than some others. He’s a shotgun guy — which, again, the Browns don’t have the receivers for — and is used to dealing with a mobile, highly temperamental QB. The difficulty is that his record is insanely spotty. He’s been good, but not great, and hasn’t stuck in the NFL for very long. I think there’s some potential here, but Trestman’s already an older guy and I’ve got a feeling that he won’t want the Browns job. On the list, but towards the bottom.

Anthony Lynn — He’s a running back guy, which sets him apart from all of the other guys on this list. He’s also the second youngest, but has no play calling experience. If you’re going to build a power run team, something the Browns seem intent on, he’s definitely a good candidate. He’d need a good QB coach to work with the QB, which would make a DeFilippo pairing very enticing indeed. On the list.

Here’s how I’d rank “the list.”

1. Cavanaugh
2. Callahan
3. Lynn (if paired with a quality QB coach)
4. Weis
5. Linehan
6. Trestman
7. DeFilippo

Of course, this list is predicated on one central truth: that Manziel is a significant part of the Cleveland QB future. I think he is, at least for one more season. If for some reason he isn’t, any of these guys could be in play. I will be most interested to see who gets hired.

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