BEREA, Ohio—Pat Shurmur met with the media for over 40 minutes Tuesday afternoon and answered questions on his thoughts on the Browns 4-12 season. Shurmur didn’t go into many specifics, as expected, but did address the subject of Colt McCoy’s future with the Browns, as well as that of Peyton Hillis. He also said that he intends to hire an offensive coordinator, who might or might not end up calling the plays.
“This will be the last (meeting with the media) for awhile,” Shurmur said. “I look at this as day two as we go into the new year. In looking back on this season we didn’t win enough games. As we move forward what it is important to take what we did well and move forward. We’ll go through that process and I like to be able to structure things and this off season will be structured.
“I understand what we need to do to improve and have a much better understanding of our team and the players,” he said. “I feel good about making the necessary changes that need to be made.”
One of the more prevalent questions was concerning the future of McCoy, who missed the final three games after suffering a concussion against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
McCoy finished the season 265-of-463 for 2733 yards (57.2 pct.) with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and a rating of 74.6.
Shurmur said the off-season will really benefit McCoy, but didn’t declare him the starter going forward.
“As we go forward with Colt, we feel he’s done some really good things,” Shurmur said. “We need to get him back in the off season. I will say this, At all positions other than (at tackle) with Joe Thomas and (Joe) Haden, there will be some competition. That can be said for all positions. The best quarterback will play. I expect Colt will improve and Seneca (Wallace)will improve and the best quarterback will play.”
Shurmur did say he thinks it takes more than a season for a quarterback to perform at an optimum level in a new system. Mike Holmgren has said he thinks it takes up to three years to be effective in the West Coast system.
“I think it takes more than one year, for sure,” Shurmur said. “For a quarterback in any system there is a learning curve and this was a season without an off-season.”
Shurmur said he saw improvement in McCoy’s play.
“I think he improved this year and did some good things,” he said. “He’s like a lot of young players you need to do more good things as times goes on.”
Shurmur said he isn’t concerned with McCoy’s arm strength.
“I (have no problem) with the way he throws the ball,” he said. “There’s so much more than just pure arm strength. There are guys who have arm strength, who haven’t been successful and there are guys who have been very efficient without big arm strength, who have been very successful.”
Shurmur said McCoy’s accuracy improved as the season progressed. He finished at 57.2 percent.
“I think that was one of the components that improved was his accuracy,” Shurmur said. “That comes with practice and he will keep practicing.”
Shurmur was asked if there will be a quarterback competition in training camp.
“I don’t think I said competition,” he said. “What I said was I expect the quarterbacks that are here to develop and we’ll play the best one.”
Shurmur was asked if he felt the Browns have invested a season in the development of McCoy.
“We’ve invested in a lot of players and some will be here and some that won’t,” he said. “We’ve invested a lot of time in making the Cleveland Browns a winner and that’s the way I look at it.”
Shurmur sounded as though he, Holmgren and Tom Heckert haven’t finished their evaluation of McCoy. He was asked as to what specifics he’s seen in McCoy’s improvement.
“I think we see Colt as a guy who’s improved and really will benefit from an off-season,” he said. ”The game starts in the huddle with the game call he became more efficient in the progressions and made more plays in and out of the pocket. He showed leadership in getting the guys lined up and being in the right place.”
Shurmur said that McCoy is still in the development process.
“I think it’s important that the players develop and can get to the point where they can perform.”
There has been a lot of talk about the Browns taking a quarterback with their first pick. Shurmur was asked for his thoughts last week about Robert Griffin III. He was asked if he watched Stanford’s Andrew Luck in the Fiesta Bowl, but he didn’t want to go there.
“I probably should stay away about talking about future draft picks at this point.”
Shurmur said that the Browns will evaluate all of the quarterbacks, just as they did last year.
“We went through that same process last year.” He said. “We’ll finish evaluating our quarterbacks this year. We will repeat the process. Regardless, of whether you think you are going to draft a player at a particular position.”
McCoy’s father, Brad, was vocally critical of the Browns of their handling of Colt’s concussion against Pittsburgh, but Shurmur said that will have no bearing on Colt McCoy’s future with the Browns.
“(It has) absolutely none,” Shurmur said. “Absolutely none. I addressed that the first day and I’m sure Colt has talked to his Dad. That will have nothing to do with (his future).”
Shurmur was asked about his thoughts on Hillis.
“Peyton and I had a great conversation (Monday),” Shurmur said. “He’s an All-star player, who had an injury early on. I really like what he did at the end of the season.
“We had a chance to sit down and talk about what happened during the year,” he said. “We had an All star player go down and talked about how the season could be a mini journey.”
Shurmur was pressed on what he liked about Hillis.
“I thought he ran the ball hard especially at ground level,” he said. “He’s very strong physical level. It was very evident when he wasn’t in there.”
Shurmur said if the Browns can’t re-sign Hillis the Browns will look at all options.
“I think we’re going to try to look at all options at running back,” he said. “I want to see a Montario Hardesty that’s healthy. This will be the first offseason that he’s not dealing with injuries.”
Shurmur said he expected to hire an offensive coordinator, but didn’t know if it would be from within like quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple or from the outside. Brad Childress is a name that has been mentioned.
“At this point I don’t expect to make any changes (on the staff),” he said. “I expect to hire an offensive coordinator. It Might be from within the staff and might be from outside. With that said, this is the time that changes occur. I have some friends just let go in St. Louis. I don’t really plan any staff changes but this is the time when coaching staffs change.”
Shurmur was asked about Childress.
“It’s important I get the best coordinator for us,” he said. “I know Brad very well. We worked together, but I’m going to keep my list private. Information travels quickly.”
Shurmur did say that he hopes to make a decision in the near future. Another name brought up was Mike Sherman, whom Shurmur said he knew.
“We’re going to work quickly, but not going to be hasty,” he said. “By not hiring a guy this year, I wanted to make sure I got the right guy. Brad and I are very good friends and he’s a terrific coach.”
Shurmur said a coordinator would free him up to oversee the entire operation.
“I think it will,” he said. “It will allow me to step back and allow me to direct the team to winning games. I think it’s just natural that you have an offensive coordinator.”
Shurmur said he would be open to giving up play calling, if the right coach was brought on.
“The coordinator role is like adding another decision maker to your staff,” he said. “What’s important is I get the very best guy. On game day, a part of (being the offensive coordinator) is calling plays, which is fun, but I want to win games.”
Other questions asked to Shurmur:
Q: What would you say to the fans of the Browns?:
Shurmur: “I think about the fans and replay the last game against Pittsburgh. The snow was coming down and the fans were in it until the end and believed we had a chance down to the last throw. The fans should expect a team that wins and that’s what we’re trying to build ere and confident we will get than done. We’ll do what we have to do to change those outcomes.”
Q: What did you learn most from this season?:
Shurmur: “As the year went on, about midseason after watching the guys compete in real games, I got to learn about guys. I learned some things about the guys as they exited yesterday.
“Your biggest improvement comes between the first time you do something and the next time you do it. You have to do a lot of thinking on your feet and you have to go back to your principles.
Q: Are you counting on Eric Steinbach returning next year healthy?:
Shurmur: “He’s got to come back and get himself healthy. I like what I saw from him until he was hurt.”
Q: Do you sense the players are buying into the program?:
Shurmur: “There was some optimism among the players about how close we are if we all get better. I heard a lot of guys talking about looking forward to the off season that’s the challenge.”
Q: Are you satisfied with the coaching of the special teams and will you make any changes?:
Shurmur: “You’re right. We’ve had some bad performances on offense, defense and special teams. Our return average was better than it was a year ago. We need to get better in coverage. I did see improvements.”
Berea -- As he makes plans for his second season, Pat Shurmur's next decision might shape his future as Browns coach.
Shurmur said he will launch a search for an offensive coordinator, a position he chose not to fill in his first season.
Doubling as his own coordinator in his rookie season as a head coach, Shurmur's offense finished 29th in yards and 30th in scoring, and suffered some in-game brownouts that were explained as "communication" problems.
These included a fumbled handoff to tight end Alex Smith, who was rushed into the huddle as a replacement for fullback Owen Marecic at a critical point in a 6-3 loss to St. Louis, and botched clock management that cost the Browns at least a short field goal try at the end of the first half in a 20-14 loss in Baltimore.
Shurmur said he intended all along to hire a coordinator in his second season when he failed to find "the right guy" a year ago.
"We're going to work quickly, but I'm not going to be hasty," he said of the search. "I want to get the right guy. That's a relationship that's very, very important."
Shurmur seems more inclined to give the right candidate play-calling responsibilities -- something he would not do last year. He said, "That's one of the details we'll get worked out as we go through the process."
A year ago, Shurmur interviewed at least three candidates for coordinator. Two took jobs elsewhere -- Bill Musgrave with the Vikings and Mike McCoy re-signed with Denver under new coach John Fox. The third reported interviewee was Mark Whipple, who joined Shurmur's staff as quarterbacks coach.
Shurmur said Tuesday the new coordinator "may come from the staff," which points to Whipple as a contender.
Whipple was offensive coordinator at the University of Miami in 2009 and '10. He previously worked one season in Philadelphia with Shurmur on Andy Reid's staff and was quarterbacks coach for the Steelers from 2004 to '06.
Other potential candidates could include Brad Childress, who worked with Shurmur in Philadelphia for six years, the last four as Reid's offensive coordinator; and Mike Sherman, who was a Mike Holmgren assistant coach in Green Bay and his offensive coordinator one year in Seattle before returning to Green Bay as head coach. Sherman was fired as Texas A&M head coach last month and reportedly will receive NFL head coach interviews.
Shurmur said he would not identify candidates for the job. He said of Childress: "I know Brad very well. He and I worked together for a long time. I think he's a terrific coach."
Asked if the candidate has to have experience in the West Coast offense, Shurmur said: "I'm trying to find the best guy, so a guy who speaks our language . . . I think might have a little bit of a leg up.
"The coordinator role is like having another decision-maker amongst your staff that has the title of being able to say we're going to do this or do that. I think it's important that I get the right guy. His final role . . . there's a lot of different models. There's eight or nine teams where the head coach calls the plays, and they have a coordinator. And then there's other teams that have a different [setup].
"The offensive coordinator is responsible for the offensive coaches. He's mainly responsible for putting the plan together, directing the offense and doing a lot of things that I did as a head coach.
"The game-day thing, calling plays, that's a fun thing for all of us to do. I want the best guy I can get. If he's outstanding at calling plays . . . listen, I want to win games, so I'm going to get the guy that helps us win."
The hire comes at a critical time in the franchise's endless search for respectability. In their expansion era, the Browns have ranked 23rd or worst in offense in 12 of 13 seasons. They were eighth in 2007 under coordinator Rob Chudzinski, who is being mentioned as a head coach candidate in Jacksonville.
The Browns are contemplating a thorough upgrade on offense, which could include a new quarterback, new receivers and possibly a new running back.
As for any other changes to his coaching staff, Shurmur said he didn't plan any "at this point." He left open the door, pending coaches being made available by other teams.
The Browns had several breakdowns on special teams -- yielding two kick returns for touchdowns and a touchdown on a fake punt, having two field goals blocked and having two critical long snaps go awry. But Shurmur defended special teams coordinator Chris Tabor.
"I think as players and coaches, we all need to improve. And I did see some improvement in areas that make me think we're going to get better," Shurmur said of the special teams.
It's game on for Colt McCoy.
After being handed the Browns' starting quarterback job in 2011, he's going to have to win it in 2012.
"There's going to be some competition and I expect that Colt will improve just like I expect Seneca [Wallace] will improve and whoever the quarterbacks are here," said coach Pat Shurmur in his exit press conference Tuesday. "The best quarterback will play when we start the season."
Shurmur stressed that he thinks McCoy will improve in the West Coast offense with an off-season to work in it -- something the quarterback didn't have in 2011.
"As we go forward here with Colt, he's done some really good things," said Shurmur. "[We'll] get him back healthy, and get him in an off-season where he has a chance to develop. It's critical that he gets better. He'd tell you the same thing. We'll move forward with that in mind and we'll do what we have to do to put the best quarterback on the field for our franchise."
He made it clear he's not ruling out McCoy as "the guy" for the Browns.
"I'm not admitting anything yet because I want to see these guys develop," said Shurmur. "If you produce well enough, you become elite. If you don't, then you may end up being average, and then if you don't then, you move on. I'm expecting the quarterbacks that are here to develop through the off-season and we're going to play the best one."
Shurmur said the Browns' triumvirate -- himself, General Manager Tom Heckert and team President Mike Holmgren -- hasn't yet finished conversations about McCoy.
"I think we see Colt as a guy that's improved, a guy who's going to really benefit from an off-season," said Shurmur. "We're on the same page."
That doesn't mean the Browns won't use their No. 4 overall pick in April's draft on a quarterback. The top two passers are Stanford's Andrew Luck, who appears likely to go No. 1 overall to Indianapolis, and Baylor's Robert Griffin III. Another name to watch is Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill (6-4, 222 pounds).
"We evaluate all the good players because you never know how things are going to turn out," said Shurmur. "So we're ready to move regardless of what position."
As for the top quarterbacks in the draft, Shurmur said, "I probably should stay away from talking about future draft picks at this point."
Shurmur said remarks made by McCoy's father, Brad McCoy, that his son shouldn't have been sent back into the Dec. 8 game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh after the big hit by James Harrison will have no bearing on McCoy's future.
"Absolutely none," said Shurmur. "I addressed that the first day. I understand why [Brad McCoy was upset]. We had a conversation after it and I'm sure Colt's talked to his dad and that has nothing to do with Colt as we move forward."
Shurmur agreed with Holmgren's recent statement that it takes about three years to play fast in the West Coast system. The Browns were 4-9 in games started by McCoy this season and his quarterback rating of 74.6 was 27th in the NFL.
"It takes more than one [year] for sure," said Shurmur. "For a quarterback in any system, there's a learning curve. This was a year without an off-season, so you've got to speed it up."
Shurmur said he saw McCoy improve in several key areas throughout the season.
"I saw him become more efficient on some of the basic progressions," he said. "I saw him make some better plays outside the pocket later in the year. Leadership, being able to get guys lined up properly. All the real things you're looking for from a quarterback."
He also said he has no problem with McCoy's arm strength.
"I think he throws the ball well enough," said Shurmur. "There's so much more that goes into playing quarterback than just pure arm strength. I think you've seen through the years examples of guys that, No. 1, have had extremely strong arms and couldn't succeed. On the other side, guys that have been very efficient and not had very strong arms and won lots of games."
McCoy finished 27th in the league with a 57.2 completion percentage and 33rd with 5.90 average gain per pass. But Shurmur saw strides in accuracy.
"That's one of the things that improved as the year went along," he said. "There are a lot of components to accuracy, getting used to the receivers, being comfortable with the progressions and the timing of the throws. A lot of that comes with practice, so it didn't surprise me as time went along and we continued to run '72X shallow cross,' he became more and more efficient executing it. That just confirmed for me, just keep practicing."
So there you have it. Bring it on and let the best man win.
Hillis gone? Shurmur had a positive postseason meeting with running back Peyton Hillis on Monday, but declined to say if the team wants him back. Hillis will be an unrestricted free agent in March.
"We just had a chance to sit down and really talk about what happened during the year," said Shurmur. "We had an all-star player that we had high hopes for that got injured and then I watched him fight back from injury and I watched him compete well at the end of the season. And we talked about those things and how a season can be a mini-journey. As we move forward, we're just hopeful it works out for everybody. But that's one of those questions I really can't answer at this point."
He said the Browns will "look at all options at running back. And I want to see a Montario Hardesty that's healthy and I think he's hopefully finally getting back. This will be one of the first off-seasons he hasn't been dealing with an injury, so that will really help him develop."
Of what he liked about Hillis at the end of the season: "I thought he ran the ball hard, especially at ground level, when he hits it up in there, they're pretty good collisions. He's a very strong, physical runner. That was very obvious when he was in there as compared to when he wasn't."
High on Josh: Shurmur praised Josh Cribbs, who at times this season expressed his desire to contribute more.
"I really like Josh," said Shurmur. "He's tough and he's competitive and he finds a way to get things done. He tackles guys covering kicks and then he runs back kicks and a lot of times it doesn't look real flashy, but he gets things done. He finds a way to make plays in big games. So I have a strong appreciation for what he is and he'll be back next year. I think that's good."
As for Cribbs' development at receiver, Shurmur said: "His workload on special teams is large and so when he gets in there, he finds a way to get production. Like we saw the other night, he had a huge impact on the game. I think he made improvements playing receiver for sure."
Eight signed: The Browns signed eight players to future contracts. Six of them finished the season on the team's practice squad. Returning are: offensive lineman Dominic Alford, linebacker Craig Robertson, offensive lineman Jarrod Shaw, defensive back David Sims, running back Armond Smith and receiver Owen Spencer. Also signed were kicker Jeff Wolfert, who was in the Browns' 2011 training camp, and offensive lineman Stanley Daniels.
At his season-ending press conference, coach Pat Shurmur said he will hire an offensive coordinator. He said he'd consider also allowing the coordinator to call the plays, something Shurmur did last season.
It was a mistake for team President Mike Holmgren to allow Shurmur -- a rookie head coach -- to also serve as the team's offensive coordinator and play caller. Yes, Holmgren always called his own plays when he coached. Some head coaches still do it, Shurmur estimated that it's "eight or nine." But there are 32 teams, so the vast majority don't.
This season, Shurmur probably fell into the same trap that snares many who are newly promoted. He tried to do both his old job and his new job.
He had been an offensive coordinator for two years in St. Louis before being hired by the Browns. He came to a new team. A losing team thin on talent. A team with Colt McCoy, a quarterback with only eight pro starts. A team preparing to radically change its offense.
Furthermore, there were no off-season practices or chances for Shurmur to build relationships with the players because of the NFL lockout.
Shurmur explained that he "couldn't find the right guy" to be the coordinator last season, so he took the job himself. But he also said he knew that he'd hire a coordinator for 2012.
It seemed a strange approach, but that was the decision.
After a 4-12 record with an offense that ranked 29th, Shurmur and the Browns have taken the first step toward facing reality. The offense was not about to improve simply because the strategy was changed. It takes more than the West Coast approach featuring quick, short and mid-range passes to even raise the offense to mediocrity.
Shurmur likes to call the plays and indicated he still may keep that duty.
But it was encouraging to hear him say: "I want to get the best guy I can. If he's outstanding at calling plays, hey, I want to win games."
Former Minnesota head coach Brad Childress has been mentioned for the job. Shurmur praised Childress, whom he has known for years. But he declined to say if Childress (or anyone else) is a candidate.
The best approach for Shurmur would be to follow the model he used to pick a defensive coordinator. He selected Dick Jauron, who had extensive experience as both a head coach and a defensive coordinator. It paid off quickly as the defense became the strength of the team.
The Browns have experienced growing pains with so many rookie offensive coordinators: Brian Daboll, Maurice Carthon, Terry Robiskie, Rob Chudzinski, Jeff Davidson and Bruce Arians became NFL offensive coordinators for the first time with the Browns.
All six of these men have been coordinators here since 2001.
Experience isn't everything, but it does count for something.
You can expect the Browns to make significant changes to their offense in terms of new players at key positions -- anything from quarterback to running back to wide receiver. A veteran coordinator is crucial at this stage of development.
Just look at what Jauron did for the Browns defense, whose ranking improved from No. 24 to No. 10 this season.
So it's encouraging that Shurmur is serious about his search for an offensive coordinator, and he also should give the coordinator the play-calling duties.
Can we start a sports board wide transfer to another site to be named later?? I would leave if every one else did too..I'm with you Irish, until they get this mess straightened back out somewhat. I'd hate to leave for good though. Too many others I'd miss chatting with in the long-run. That and the trolls around here, hate 'em or not, are cream of the crop and so highly entertaining and amusing (and annoying).
It's laughable...I got an error trying to complain about the errors...
With a pick now in the top 5 the Browns have to consider taking a franchise QB. Griffin has the potential to be a super star, and could be a major upgrade over Colt McCoy. McCoy is a solid starter, but he’s likely not ever going to develop into a top 10 or 15 guy.
The Browns could use this pick on a number of areas, but if Jeffery is still on the board, I imagine he will be their pick. Jeffery could team up with Greg Little to give the Browns a formidable receiver corps, and add another great weapon for RGIII.
well, I'm not sold on Mike Holmgren. He should never have kept Mangini for the west coast offense. That was a whole season down the drain. Then he should have inisisted on an offensive coordinator.Just to clarify, he didn't keep Mangini for the WCO. He merely went off his "coaches code" and after a 4 win streak decided to give Mangini a 2nd year to prove to him that his(Mangini's) system works and the team could improve under THAT system. Holmgren decided after that 2nd year, he wanted to go to his proven system and yes I agree 100% there should have been an O-Coordinator from day 2...the day after Shurmur was hired!
The Colts won the ‘Suck for Luck’ sweepstakes, and will have a fairly easy decision. While having Andrew Luck next year will be redundant if Peyton comes back, I don’t see how you can pass on him. Yes, a trade back is possible, but Luck should be the pick here, as the Colts go from one Franchise QB to another.
Kalil will help Bradford stay on his feet more.
Sam Bradford and the Rams are struggling this season, but it has little to do with Sam Bradford. The Rams receivers are dropping balls left and right, while the offensive line has allowed Bradford to be the most pressured quarterback in the league. He’s taking far too many hits this year, which is just not acceptable if the Rams are ever to become a serious contender. Kalil could lineup from day one at LT shifting Roger Saffold over to the right side and Jason Smith to the interior.
The Vikings could look at one of the top offensive tackles or WR Justin Blackmon (also a possible trade back spot), but could end up selecting CB Morris Claiborne. The Vikings secondary is a complete joke so adding a big time talent here would be the smart play.They've got Justin Blackmon to the Jaguars at #7
This is the 3rd time I've tried to post thisAnd I got an "error code 100" while doing it!!!!!
4. Cleveland Browns- QB Robert Griffin, Baylor:
With a pick now in the top 5 the Browns have to consider taking a franchise QB. Griffin has the potential to be a super star, and could be a major upgrade over Colt McCoy. McCoy is a solid starter, but he’s likely not ever going to develop into a top 10 or 15 guy.
Can we start a sports board wide transfer to another site to be named later?? I would leave if every one else did too..
this is getting out of hand.