BEREA — New Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan started a rookie quarterback once in his six years as a play-caller. Robert Griffin III, the No. 2 pick in the 2012 draft, set numerous rookie records and was picked AP Offensive Rookie of the Year for the Washington Redskins.
Shanahan could get the chance again in his first season in Cleveland. The Browns own the fourth pick in the NFL Draft and are expected to take a quarterback, possibly former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M.
“The most important thing is asking them to do what they’re great at and then working and improving on other aspects of their game,” Shanahan said. “You don’t need a certain type of quarterback, you just want a good quarterback.”
New Browns coach Mike Pettine introduced Shanahan on Thursday along with defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor.
Pettine took different routes to land the trio.
He never worked with Shanahan but was impressed by his six years as coordinator, two with Houston and four with Washington. O’Neil played for Pettine’s father, Mike Sr., in high school in Pennsylvania and they worked together for the last five years with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. Tabor will enter his fourth year in Cleveland — with his third head coach.
“I think the guys are going to instantly respect the guys we’ve hired because its, to me, a staff of men of high character, vast football knowledge, coupled with the ability to teach it,” Pettine said.
Pettine was impressed by Shanahan’s scheme flexibility and the success of his offenses, either throwing or running. In four of Shanahan’s six years as coordinator, his offense ranked in the top 10 in yardage, and Washington in 2012 became the first team in NFL history to pass for 3,400 yards and rush for 2,700 yards in the same season.
“Kyle Shanahan is one of the best offensive minds in football,” Pettine said.
However, the 34-year-old Shanahan and father Mike Shanahan, the Redskins’ former head coach, were let go by Washington on Dec. 30 after going 3-13. Griffin’s production slipped in his return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in the playoffs in 2012, and his relationship with the Shanahans deteriorated.
Shanahan said he learned a lot from his time with Griffin.
“We did a lot of real good things together,” Shanahan said. “I’m very proud of that first year. I think he arguably had one of the best years in NFL history for a rookie quarterback, and I enjoyed coaching him.
“Anytime you go through a 3-13 season, it’s tough, it is a challenge, it’s a challenge on your relationship. You’ve got to deal with a lot of stuff, a lot of negativity, and the thing I learned going through that, especially with a high-profile guy, there’s a lot more stuff that comes out. I think Robert and I got through a very tough time, we managed to keep our relationship through the year. I’m not going to say it was easy.”
O’Neil is a coordinator for the first time. He was linebackers coach in Buffalo in 2013 and spent the previous four years working with defensive backs for the Jets.
Pettine hired 11 more assistants Thursday, nearly completing his staff: quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains, wide receivers coach Mike McDaniel, offensive line coach Andy Moeller, running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery, defensive line coach Anthony Weaver, strength and conditioning coach Paul Ricci, assistant offensive line coach George DeLeone, assistant strength and conditioning coach Chris DiSanto, offensive quality control coach Richard Hightower, assistant strength and conditioning coach Derik Keyes and defensive quality control coach Tony Tuioti.