Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Shurmur needs to work on his PR skills

In light of the ongoing discussion about Colt McCoy’s concussion and whether or not he should have gone back into the game last week against Pittsburgh, we’ve discovered one more thing that team president Mike Holmgren needs to add to his off-season checklist to go over with coach Pat Shurmur.

Media relations.

Shurmur didn’t come off very well on Monday when addressing the media on the circumstances surrounding McCoy’s injury.

“Sideline procedures to determine whether the man can play. We followed them and I think that is what’s important,” Shurmur said in his Monday press conference. “Hopefully that clarifies it. Our medical staff works with the player and they determine whether he can play or not. That’s what they do. They work with them. There’s communication. They look at him. They talk to him and that’s what they do.”

Well as long as it’s clear what everyone does.

We still don’t think Shurmur is lying about what happened Thursday night, nor do we think that the Browns intentionally broke any rules or willingly put McCoy at risk.

Shurmur probably should have erred on the side of caution with McCoy, but if he kept him out and McCoy would have questioned the move afterward, it would have been more fuel for the anti-Shurmur crowd. Shurmur was focused on the game and relied on his medical staff; if he had ignored what was happening on the field and attended to McCoy instead, people would have criticized him for that as well.

But Shurmur needs to be able to explain the situation more clearly – especially if the Browns have nothing to hide. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that everyone involved made a mistake; just own it, there’s no shame in that.

Shurmur is still growing into the job as head coach, which includes dealing with the media. He doesn’t come across as someone who would outright lie about something this serious, but he has to do a better job when he’s questioned about things.

***

Peter King had some pretty strong thoughts on Colt McCoy in his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column at SI.com.

King writes that:

The Browns should build around Colt McCoy, not draft a quarterback in 2012 to replace him. I’d seen snippets of McCoy flailing around this year, but hadn’t watched every throw of a game. And so I watched Thursday night to get some sense of the near- and long-term prospects of the former University of Texas quarterback. And I came away thinking the Browns should stick with him and use a rich 2012 draft to finally build the kind of offense around McCoy that any quarterback would need to succeed.

Mike Holmgren is a disciple of Bill Walsh. I remember when Walsh was shown a few plays of Charles Haley rushing the passer at James Madison; he told his scouts he really wanted him. “If we see him make a few plays like this, we can coach him to do it all the time,” Walsh said, and he was proved a prophet — Haley became a top NFL pass-rusher for San Francisco and Dallas.

Well, on Thursday night, I saw McCoy, with limited help from grade-D skill players, make enough plays to convince me he’s not the problem. Now, I realize he made two or three idiotic throws in the second half — and you’re not going to win doing that consistently. But one of the bad throws came after he was concussed and should never have been put back in the game. And those throws have to be addressed.

But he did enough good things that I came away thinking: Use the three picks in the top 40 next April (Cleveland has its own first- and-second-round picks, plus Atlanta’s first-rounder from the Julio Jones deal last April) to help McCoy, not replace him. Three plays showed a mature quarterback making good decisions:

1. On the first series of the game, using play-action, McCoy set up, looked over his options and found tight end Evan Moore down the left side on a crossing route with a step on linebacker Lawrence Timmons. The high-arcing pass settled into Moore’s arms. Gain of 33.

2. Also on the first series, Josh Cribbs found a gap downfield in the left seam and McCoy made a great touch pass over cornerback Ike Taylor. Gain of 25.

3. In the third quarter, on third-and-eight, down 7-3, McCoy faced a five-man rush and moved up in the pocket. Feeling pressure, he threw the ball about five feet to the right of tight end Alex Smith, because that was the only window open to make the throw — Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark and William Gay converged on Smith and seemed ready to pancake him. But the throw was zipped in perfectly, Smith made a diving catch, and the Browns had a first down. Good judgment, great throw.

Of course, we wouldn’t be talking about any of this if McCoy didn’t make some brain-fart throws. But I believe he can be coached out of those — it’s what Bill Walsh would believe, watching him — and I believe some of that stems from the fact that the Browns are a poor offensive team as a whole.

McCoy has holes. He also has a coach, Pat Shurmur, who can correct those, and is in an offense he’s so well-suited to run. He’s well-liked and respected in the locker room. If I’m Browns GM Tom Heckert, I’m looking for an offseason upgrade at wide receiver (the Browns need two), guard, running back and tight end … before I even think about replacing the quarterback.

***

Finally, Brian Daboll is the NFL’s Typhoid Mary, as his crappy play calling as an offensive coordinator got his head coach fired for the second year in a row.

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

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2 thoughts on “Shurmur needs to work on his PR skills

  1. jhf44lk on said:

    Well so much for making it through the whole season with one qb! After reading how he treated McCoy, I hope Dablow never works again in NFL. But I thought that was the case after the Browns fired his tired butt…he must be a good interviewer because if you watch tape of his offensive scemes you think it is 1957 football. I love the peter King article about McCoy. He needs some time…he is very coachable and has succeeded at every level. Unless Otto G comes back, I hope they stick it out. Is this a hard process? You know it and we know why but I want and almost need for the Browns to stay the course. “This is the life we have choosen.”

  2. jhf44lk on said:

    One game is not enough. I guess the steelers have the the commish in their pocket!!

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