Shurmur brings Browns confidence, calm

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“It was the best decision he ever made,” Jennifer said following Shurmur’s introductory news conference in Cleveland.

Longing for the sideline, he called Perles, who hired the former All-Big 10 center as a graduate assistant. He spent a decade at his alma mater before a year at Stanford as an offensive line coach. Then it was 10 more years as an assistant with Philadelphia, where he spent 10 years on Andy Reid’s staff coaching the Eagles tight ends and quarterback Donovan McNabb before he was hired as an offensive coordinator in St. Louis.

Last season, Shurmur helped mold rookie QB Sam Bradford, quickly transforming the top overall pick from prospect to star. He’s eager to do the same in Cleveland with Colt McCoy, who will run the same West Coast offense Shurmur used with the Rams.

After Eric Mangini was fired following a second 5-11 season, Holmgren put together a short list of candidates with Shurmur was at the top. Reid had assured Holmgren that Shurmur was the choice, and the pick was seconded by Browns general manager Tom Heckert, who worked with Shurmur in Philadelphia.

They believed Shurmur was ready.

“I trusted their judgment on it,” he said. “I felt like they had done their due diligence, and if they said I was the guy, well, that gives you a little more confidence.”

Not that he needed much.

Shurmur’s calm and conviction have made a strong impression on the Browns, some of whom never bought into Mangini’s plan or his attempt to be another Bill Belichick. Shurmur has a way of getting across his point without being heavy handed. He’s more teacher than taskmaster.

“He’s very honest, very open, very player friendly,” running back Peyton Hillis said. “I like that about him. He has a tremendous work ethic and he has the will to win. When you have that combination of things, I think your team can go far.”

Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown spent eight seasons with Shurmur in Philadelphia. He said while Shurmur is his own man, he detects a lot of Reid’s influence.

“Obviously, he wrote every note down out of Andy Reid’s book because even some of the verbiage is the same, the sarcasm is the same and it’s crazy for me because it’s all so familiar,” Brown said, cracking a smile. “It’s the same guy talking, just a little smaller.”

Shurmur said a conversation with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie shaped him. Reid had never been a head coach before Lurie hired him, and Shurmur wanted to know why.

“Jeffrey said Andy was comfortable in his own skin,” Shurmur recalled. “He was himself. He was very firm, very stern but he was able to laugh at himself. I think that’s a real important piece. When you are working with these guys, I think our nature as players or students is to listen and learn and but they are looking for a crack in the armor.

“And if you are not yourself, they are going to see you are less than genuine and that’s bad. You’ll struggle.”

The Browns‘ coaching carousel has to stop some time. It may have finally slowed.

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