It wasn’t exactly the upset some fans expected to see from the Cleveland Browns.
But special teams coordinator Mike Preifer lost his only assistant coach, Doug Colman, this week.
Colman had been with the Browns as a special teams assistant coach since 2019.
A change in the Browns’ assistant coaching staff, as special teams assistant coach Doug Colman is no longer on the staff. He had just completed his third season in Cleveland.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 20, 2022
Priefer and Colman were rare survivors of the Freddie Kitchens staff when Kevin Stefanski came on board in 2020.
Colman previously worked with special teams in Dallas and Houston, where he also helped out with linebackers.
Prior to becoming a coach, Colman was a center linebacker for 3 NFL teams, including the Browns.
#Brunettes finish the year ranked 18th in offensive efficiency, 12th in defense and 24th in special teams
—Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) January 10, 2022
He was drafted by the New York Giants in 1996 and played 3 seasons as a substitute.
His best season was with Tennessee in 1999, where he was on the field to attend the Music City Miracle.
Colman ended his career with a short stint in Cleveland, playing just 5 games with 2 tackles.
Colman was responsible for the Punt and Kick units
Heading into 2021, Priefer stressed the team needed to improve their kick and punt coverage.
Cleveland ended up ranked in the middle of the pack on both units.
More importantly, there were no backbreaking returns and no touchdowns surrendered by the groups.
But Colman was the guy in charge of improving kicks and kicks.
The two biggest games of the day — Pittsburgh at Buffalo and Cleveland at KC — both played on special teams. The Steelers blocked a punt and the Browns punter dropped a snap. You need to be sharp in all aspects to win big matches.
—Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) September 13, 2021
Cleveland switched punters mid-season, and Chase McLaughlin apparently remained the default kicker.
Coaches can’t do much to improve a kicker or punter.
There were no major blunders, apart from the fall of Jaime Gillan at the start of the season.
But the overall play of the kick and punt teams seemingly doomed Colman.
What this means for the Browns
Mike Priefer’s reputation as a special teams coordinator earned him another chance to improve the Browns.
But Colman’s shot can be seen as a shot through the arc for the popular coach.
Cleveland’s special teams never seemed stable in the 2021 campaign.
Throughout the season, Priefer ran a rotation of returns hoping one would click.
“At the end of the day, we have to do a great job in all six phases.”
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 14, 2021
The team cut JoJo Natson at the end of the year and put D’Ernest Johnson back in the mix.
But that didn’t provide the spark the Browns were looking for.
Cleveland’s return assortment combined for below-average return averages and overall standings in the 24-30 range.
Now Priefer and the team are heading into 2022 with the urgency to improve all aspects of their special teams.