Shawn Mennenga, pronounced MEN-in-guh, enters his fifth season as Browns special teams assistant coach after being named to the position on Feb. 14, 2011.
Since Mennenga’s and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor’s arrival in 2011, the Browns lead the league with an average of 11.3 yards per punt return and rank eighth in total kick-return yards. In addition, the team has had five players named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Last season, Mennenga assisted a special teams unit that finished second in the NFL in opposing field position on kickoffs, including 16 stops inside the 20. The Browns also turned away four kicks (two punts and two field goals) and finished eighth in the NFL in punt coverage. Cleveland’s coverage unit hasn’t allowed a kickoff or punt return touchdown in each of the past two seasons. The Browns also registered their first blocked punt since 2003, which resulted in a safety and helped lift the team to a record-setting comeback at Tennessee on Oct. 5.
In 2013, K Billy Cundiff set a franchise record with 62 touchbacks on kickoffs. In addition, Travis Benjamin set a team record with 179 punt-return yards against Buffalo on Oct. 3.
In 2012, K Phil Dawson and KR Joshua Cribbs were both selected to the Pro Bowl, marking just the second time in team history that two specialists made the annual all-star game in the same year (2008, Cribbs and LS Ryan Pontbriand). The Pro Bowl selection was the first of Dawson’s 14-year career. His 93.5 (29 of 31) field goal percentage clip led the AFC and was a career best. Dawson’s seven field goals from 50 yards or longer tied for the second-most in the NFL in 2012. Cribbs finished fourth in the NFL in kickoff return average (27.4) and sixth in punt-return average (12.0). In addition, Johnson Bademosi led all rookies and finished tied for third in the NFL with 18 special-teams tackles en route to being named the PFW/PFWA All-Rookie special teams player.
As a team, the Browns led the NFL with nine punt returns of 20 yards or longer in 2012, including rookie Travis Benjamin’s team record 93-yard return against Kansas City (12/9/12). The Browns also led the league in the league in opponents’ average starting position after kickoffs (19.9) and were second in the NFL in opponents’ kickoff return average (19.8).
Prior to joining the Browns, Mennenga spent the 2009-10 seasons as the linebackers coach at South Dakota State University. In 2009, the Jackrabbits’ defense ranked in the top 20 nationally in four categories, including pass efficiency (4th – 99.55), rushing defense (14th – 104.3 ypg), points per game allowed (16th – 17.4) and total defense (17th – 289.5 ypg).
Before joining South Dakota State’s staff, Mennenga spent four seasons (2005-08) as the defensive coordinator at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. He spent the previous four years at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri, where he served one season as the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator (2001) and the final three as the team’s head coach (2002-04).
During his collegiate coaching career, he has also held assistant positions at Hutchinson Community College (defensive coordinator – 1998-2000), Western Kentucky University (outside linebackers – 1997) and Southwest Baptist University (1995-96 – secondary; 1994 – graduate assistant).
Mennenga lettered one season as a defensive back at the University of Missouri in 1992.
A native of Melbourne, Iowa, he and his wife, Christie, have a son, Garrett, and a daughter, Ashley.
Shawn Mennenga’s Coaching Background:
1994 Southwest Baptist University, graduate assistant coach
1995-96 Southwest Baptist University, secondary coach
1997 Western Kentucky University, outside linebackers coach
1998-2000 Hutchinson Community College, defensive coordinator
2001 Culver-Stockton College, defensive coordinator
2002-04 Culver-Stockton College, head coach
2005-08 Fort Hays State University, defensive coordinator
2009-10 South Dakota State University, linebackers coach
2011- Cleveland Browns, special teams assistant coach