CLEVELAND - Pat Shurmur brought in a close friend to help him fix Cleveland's broken offence.
Shurmur hired former Minnesota coach Brad Childress as his first offensive co-ordinator on Friday, reuniting two coaches who spent seven seasons together on Andy Reid's staff with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Browns confirmed Childress' hiring with a release that did not include any quotes.
Childress, who spent nearly five seasons with the Vikings before he was fired in 2010, will try to improve the Browns' dismal offence, which scored just 218 points last season, finished 29th in total yardage, 28th in rushing and 24th in passing. He'll also have input in the team's vital decision at starting quarterback. — a choice that could impact the club for years.
The 55-year-old Childress was a logical choice to join the Browns, who went 4-12 in their first season under Shurmur. In addition to being tight with Shurmur, Childress is familiar with the West Coast offence the Browns installed last year and he's represented by agent Bob Lamonte, who also has Shurmur and Browns president Mike Holmgren as clients.
Shurmur juggled both head coach and co-ordinator duties during a troublesome first season in Cleveland. It's believed Shurmur will initially call Cleveland's plays next season but he intends to turn things over to Childress, who recently interviewed for Tampa Bay's head coaching job. Childress has only one season (2006) of experience calling plays.
Childress is the third former NFL head coach on Shurmur's staff, joining defensive co-ordinator Dick Jauron and senior defensive assistant Ray Rhodes.
Childress was Philadelphia's offensive co-ordinator from 2003-05 when Shurmur coached the Eagles quarterbacks. While he was with the Eagles, Childress went to three straight NFC title games and the Super Bowl in 2004.
Shurmur was asked about Childress during his season-ending news conference on Jan. 3.
"I know Brad very well," Shurmur said. "He and I worked together for a long time. He's a terrific coach."
Childress went 39-35 in four-plus seasons with the Vikings, twice leading them to the playoffs and going 1-2. Minnesota won division titles in 2008 and 2009, when the Vikings made it to the NFC title game with quarterback Brett Favre, whom Childress had famously picked up at the airport. But after a 3-7 start in 2010, Childress was fired by owner Zygi Wilf one day after the Vikings were blown out at home by rival Green Bay.
The Browns considered hiring an offensive co-ordinator before last season but didn't find a suitable candidate. Holmgren suggested Shurmur maintain play-calling duties to control the offence and build a stronger bond with second-year quarterback Colt McCoy. Shurmur, though, seemed overwhelmed at times as the Browns had some communication breakdowns and time-management issues.
The addition of Childress should free up Shurmur during the week as he prepares for games.
"I think what it will do is allow me to just step back and look down one some things in some areas that I may be able to contribute more," Shurmur said after the season. "That's a key piece."
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