- Associated Press - Thursday, January 13, 2011

CLEVELAND | Pat Shurmur quickly turned rookie quarterback Sam Bradford into a rising NFL star. Shurmur’s next project will be tougher.

The Cleveland Browns are no easy fix.

Shurmur, St. Louis’ offensive coordinator the past two years, was hired by the Browns on Thursday, ending a search for their fifth coach since 1999 that began when team president Mike Holmgren fired Eric Mangini on Jan. 3 after his second straight 11-loss season.

Shurmur isn’t a big-name hire, and his addition won’t trigger a celebration by Browns fans or a rush of season-ticket requests.

But to Holmgren, the 45-year-old’s last name means success.

Shurmur’s late uncle, Fritz, was Holmgren’s defensive coordinator in Green Bay when the Packers won the Super Bowl in 1996. And in hiring a candidate with no head coaching experience, Holmgren is following the same path he took in getting to the top of his profession.

Like Shurmur, Holmgren was a quarterbacks coach and an offensive coordinator before getting the Packers’ job in 1992. When Shurmur, who was the first of three known candidates to be interviewed, sat across the desk from Holmgren, Cleveland’s top football executive may have seen a younger version of himself.

Pat is a bright, young man who grew up in football and around the coaching profession,” Holmgren said. “I came away from our interview very impressed with him as a person, his extensive knowledge of the game and his track record of success as an assistant coach in this league.

“Most importantly, I feel as though he possesses the necessary qualities which make him the right man to lead our football team.”

The Browns have a been a mess for far too long. In a league where quick turnarounds are common, they’ve been an exception to the rule. Cleveland has made the AFC playoffs just once and had nine double-digit loss seasons in 13 years. Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, Romeo Crennel and Mangini each failed in trying to build a consistent winner in Cleveland’s expansion era.

Now, it’s Shurmur’s turn.

The Browns will introduce him as their 13th full-time coach Friday in a news conference at their Berea, Ohio, headquarters.

Shurmur’s development of Bradford, last year’s No. 1 overall draft pick, was one of the main reasons the Browns nabbed him. They’re hoping he can have similar success with Colt McCoy, who showed poise and promise after being thrown into a starting role because of injuries.

Under Shurmur, Bradford lived up to his hype and set rookie league records for completions and attempts. He also led St. Louis to a 7-9 record — the Rams were 1-15 a year earlier — while throwing for 3,512 yards, second-most ever for a rookie behind Peyton Manning’s 3,739 in 1998.

It wasn’t all rosy in St. Louis, though. Shurmur’s offense was criticized for being too conservative. Many of Bradford’s completions were short dump-offs. Shurmur was ripped following the Rams’ 16-6 season-ending loss to Seattle, which cost them a playoff spot. In that game, running back Stephen Jackson had just 11 carries — four in the second half — and Bradford couldn’t get things going.

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