Browns president Mike Holmgren promised a wide coaching search, and he’s started down that path.
The Browns will interview Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, according to reports Tuesday. The Browns submitted a request to interview Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell on Monday.
The Browns aren’t believed to have conducted any interviews yet.
Mularkey played tight end in the NFL for nine years, was coordinator for the Steelers from 2001-02 and was head coach of the Bills in 2004-05, going 14-18 before resigning in a conflict with the front office. The Broncos will interview Mularkey on Friday for their head coaching vacancy.
“I have been contacted by both teams,” he said. “The Falcons have granted permission to speak with both of them and I’ll speak with them at the end of the week. Right now my total focus is prepping for this next game, whoever it’s against. That’s where I’m at.”
The Falcons are the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs and have a bye. Mularkey must interview this week, or wait until the Falcons are out of the playoffs.
The Steelers led the league in rushing offense in 2001 and finished third and fifth in total offense in Mularkey’s first two years as coordinator. He was known for calling trick plays and using Kordell Stewart in a “Slash” role. That could be useful with Joshua Cribbs.
Mularkey, 49, could be a popular candidate across the league after having success in Atlanta with quarterback Matt Ryan, running back Michael Turner and receiver Roddy White. The Falcons ranked fifth in scoring in 2010 with 25.9 points a game and were 16th in yardage. The Falcons have finished with a winning record in three straight seasons for the first time in franchise history.
Mularkey and Fewell aren’t on agent Bob LaMonte’s client list, which is a bit unusual for the Browns’ search. LaMonte represents Holmgren, and they’ve been friends since they were high school teachers in the Bay Area in the 1970s. LaMonte represents many coaches and is one of the league’s power brokers.
Shurmur is a LaMonte client, along with Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, former Vikings coach Brad Childress and former Falcons and Seahawks coach Jim Mora — all possible Browns candidates.
The Eagles host the Packers on Sunday, so Mornhinweg in unavailable for an interview until after the wild-card round. If Philadelphia wins, the window will be next week before the second round. The Browns are expected to interview him, and Mornhinweg said “we’ll see,” when asked if he expected a meeting.
The Eagles ranked second this year in yardage and third in scoring, at 27.4 points a game. A couple of weeks ago Mornhinweg, 48, was asked about becoming a head coach again. He went 5-27 with the Lions in 2001-02.
“I do see myself as a head coach, and hopefully that will happen, and I’ve got my thoughts on what it would have to be like,” Mornhinweg said. “If an opportunity pops up and I’m interested … we’ll see. Sometimes it happens when you least expect it.”
Shurmur just completed his second season with the Rams, finishing with the 26th-ranked offense in scoring (18.1 points) and yardage. He spent seven seasons as Eagles quarterbacks coach, tutoring Donovan McNabb and working with Mornhinweg and Browns general manager Tom Heckert, who’s joining Holmgren as the point people on the search.
With the exception of Fewell, the other candidates have an offensive background, which fits with Holmgren. He was a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator before becoming head coach of the Packers in 1992. He was frustrated by watching the Browns play so many low-scoring games this year, as they ranked 31st in scoring at 16.9 a game.
“I would like to put a little bit more pizzazz, but that’s not necessarily really the head coach,” Holmgren said. “That’s the staff, that’s the players we give him and all of those things. I’m just not going to paint myself into a corner on who I want and who I look for on this list.”
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