Assessing the Cleveland Browns' roster as we head to training camp, with a position-by-position rundown comparing it to when the season ended and now.
Then: Head coach Rob Chudzinski, offensive coordinator Norv Turner, defensive coordinator Ray Horton (considering coordinators only).
Now: Head coach Mike Pettine, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil.
It's tough to be critical of the past coaching staff. Their qualifications and résumés would stand up against anyone's. This offseason's situation is similar to a year ago, when folks were saying what a great step forward it was to go from Brad Childress and Dick Jauron to Turner and Horton. How did that work? Jauron, one of the classiest and better assistants in the past 20 years, wasn't a good coach? The case could even be made that Horton and Turner had more experience than Shanahan and O'Neil. This is all fluff, though, as it comes down to how the coaching staff makes things work with what it has, and whether the coaches on the field are on the same page and stride as the front office. That was not the case a year ago, when the coaches privately bristled as the season went on over the roster. By year's end, the coaching staff was trotting out guys who won't be in the league this year, much less next. Shanahan and O'Neil both bring qualifications and reason for optimism, especially because of the zone blocking scheme that should fit the offensive line and the synergy between Pettine and O'Neil from their years together. More important, the front office and staff seem to be on a much better footing than a year ago. But a year ago there was optimism and we saw how that worked out. The results will tell the tale.
The positives: Pettine bring a refreshing straightforward approach, with logical and detailed explanations to his thinking.
The negatives: Change in staff leads to change in systems which leads to adjustments that usually take time to bring successfully to the field.
Upgraded, level or downgraded: Level. The Browns jettisoned a first-year coach for another first-year coach, and jettisoned a respected offensive coordinator as well.
Previously: Quarterback, running back/fullback, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, secondary.
Coming: Front office.