CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 4: Head coach Pat Shurmur of the Cleveland Browns reacts to the scoreboard during the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 4, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Well this is a thing; at the suggestion of Randy Lerner, Alex McLeish will be in Cleveland for the next few days meeting with Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur. The idea (one would assume) is for the two to exchange ideas on scouting, conditioning, rehab and the like, although the possibility exists that having exhausted all traditional options Villa will be teaching Stephen Warnock a completely different method of tackling.
The Telegraph has the full scoop, and in addition to the tremendous photo caption I'd like to draw your attention to this paragraph:
In 2011, though, the Browns endured a poor campaign, winning just four matches in the regular season and losing a mighty 12, so quite what McLeish and Shurmur can learn from each other, other than how not to win, is anyone's guess.
Kind of says it all, really.
At the risk of deportation, I will admit to having fallen out of love with the NFL these past few years. I'm still a Seahawks fan, but I rarely watch neutral games and instead of watching this year's Super Bowl I went to Target to buy new towels. Still, it's impossible to be an American sports fan without having a pretty good idea about what's going on in the NFL, and with that being the case I can say with a high degree of certainty that the Cleveland Browns are awful. That's not to say this is an inherently bad idea; in general, coaches live in an echo chamber and it's always good to get a new perspective on things from someone that lives outside of your own world. And though the Browns are currently terrible, that's a condition that pre-dates Shurmur's arrival by a good 40 years or so. He is by all accounts a talented and promising young coach, he's just come in at the earliest stage of a franchise rebuild.
The bigger question to me is this; why isn't McLeish also meeting with the team's President Mike Holmgren or General Manager Tom Heckert? Unless Shay Given is going to start throwing the ball a lot more, the lessons McLeish would most likely find applicable are most likely to come on the player personnel side of things seeing as how a big part of an English football manager's job is somewhat analogous to that of a GM in American sports. Shurmur has some ideas about conditioning and personality management that could be beneficial, but when it comes to using creative techniques in order to stay within a budget, there's probably no one in the sports world that can provide more lessons than an NFL GM.
Still, it's not like it can hurt. Unless McLeish heads back to Birmingham and tells Alan Hutton about linebackers. In that case, we (or more accurately opposing attacking players) are all doomed.