The Cleveland Browns have shown since 1999 that it’s wise to expect anything and everything.
Still ... when the Browns line up to play in 2015 I expect Kyle Shanahan to be the team’s offensive coordinator.
He’s a good coach. The Browns like him. They’ve invested a year in his system. They don’t need to start over again. Barring his receiving a head-coaching job, which I don’t expect to happen this year, he’ll be back.
Not that Shanahan isn’t a realist.
He understands the Browns' quarterback position is a mess ... or "muddy," as the head coach said. He knows the schedule is tough in '15. And he knows tenures can be short in the NFL. If he gets a job elsewhere he may have more job security.
But at this point there is no reason for the Browns to allow him out of his contract, and there are many reasons for stability and continuity. The biggest question the Browns must answer is whether they can go forward with Johnny Manziel, and if they don't what do they do then?
That's part of what is being discussed now. The Browns this week are in normal end-of-the-season discussions about the state of the team. Those discussions are standard operating procedure.
Coaching changes could come out of those talks. But the reality with the Browns is this: They made a major overhaul a year ago, after making a major overhaul the year before that.
The safest bet this side of Secretariat is that Jimmy Haslam wanted no part of another overhaul after this season. Despite a stumbling finish, the Browns showed improvement in 2014. Seven wins is more than the four from 2013. Continuity matters.
Shanahan is a bright guy who knows what he’s doing. As tough as the finish was, there still were good games against Pittsburgh and New Orleans at home and Cincinnati on the road. There were also the amazing road comebacks on the road against Tennessee and Pittsburgh.
He will interview for the Bills' opening on Thursday, and he could get the job. He’s smart and will present himself well. But it’s my feeling that his candidacy is a bit of a long shot.
If Buffalo hires someone else, Shanahan is under contract with the Browns. The team would have to release him from his deal to make a lateral move.
In many ways, this possibility just does not add up.
The Browns have a logically thinking coach in place who has made logical moves. Letting the offensive coordinator go and starting over again smacks of the irrational thinking of the past. There’s no reason to expect the coach and GM will act irrationally based on what they showed all year. It’s not logical to spend a year installing a zone-blocking and play-action-pass system and then one year later install a new one.
Is Shanahan on board with Johnny Manziel? That's tough to read. He never really said anything negative about any of his players, and always -- publicly at least -- seemed to try to do the best with whoever played.
If he's not, that could be reason for a switch, especially if Shanahan feels the move was forced on him. But think logically: Would a team make a move with one of its coordinators at the expense of a quarterback who has serious questions to answer about his professionalism, both on and off the field?
Manziel is a great uncertainty. Brian Hoyer is a free agent. The options right now aren’t pretty, but who knows what happens? The Browns have an offseason to address and solve the problem. The possibilities don’t seem bright, but a lot can happen between now and July.
Whatever way it shakes out and whoever is at the quarterback position, I expect Kyle Shanahan will be his coordinator.