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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “Peter King”

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

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)

Pondering Preseason Prognostications

With training camp just around the corner, the media is starting to compile its list of preseason “favorites,” working on “power rankings” and telling us what will happen this year in the National Football League.

All without the benefit of a single practice, preseason game or training camp injury.

OK, that’s a little harsh. Just like all of us they have space that needs to be filled, and since I’m actually reading what they are writing, I’m part of the problem, not the solution.


Every year it seems as if 31 teams have a chance, have made progress in the off-season, picked up some significant players and are looking at a solid year. One team – Cleveland – is perpetually cited as the one and only team in the league that is absolutely void of all hope.

Consider ESPN’s power rankings, which put the Browns 28, which is somehow three spots lower than where they finished last year, saying “The first year of the Mike Holmgren era could be rough. This team lacks talent across the board.”

No one is realistically expecting the Browns to post an 11-5 record this year, not after what’s gone on here the past few years. But to actually drop?

The best one is SI’s Peter King, who in his Monday Morning Quarterback column writes that there are 28 teams that could make the playoffs, with the Browns, of course, one of the four that have no chance.

Somehow Detroit and Kansas City, in King’s eyes, have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs, but not Cleveland.

Let’s think about this a minute: the Lions were 2-14 last season, 26th in offense and 32nd in defense, but they can make the playoffs this year. Of course, one of their wins was against the Browns, but that was due more to coaching incompetence than the Lions having better talent.

Whatever you say Peter.

I know it doesn’t mean anything, but it’s still frustrating. The Browns can’t get this turned around over night, but with the addition of Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert to run the front office, another year in the system of Eric Mangini and Rob Ryan, and a powerhouse running attack (8th in the NFL last year!) to keep the heat off Jake Delhomme and the defense off the field, things are slowly moving in the right direction.

And no matter what happens, just by simply not having Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn around makes the team better.

I’m just glad things are about to start for real.


More good news from Brownstown, as Montario Hardesty and TJ Ward have both reportedly agreed to contracts to they will be in camp when the veterans report this weekend.

Now the team just needs to work out a deal with Joe Haden and they will be set.

Sept. 12 can’t get here soon enough.

The Curious Case of Dez Bryant

With the NFL draft only 10 days away and the Browns holding the seventh selection in the first round with numerous holes to fill on defense, the brain trust is poised to select a defensive player – such as Eric Berry, Joe Haden or Earl Thomas.

Or are they?

The speculation wheel has now landed on the Browns taking Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant in the first round. Of course, this being Cleveland and the Browns, it’s never that simple. Bryant’s suspension last season for lying to the NCAA about a meeting he had with Deion Sanders has raised concerns among some about the dreaded “character issues.”

After the purging last year of Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow and, eventually, Jamal Lewis, it would seem unlikely that the Browns would be interested in taking a chance on Bryant.

Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King had this to say in his Monday Morning Quarterback column: “I think, for those Browns fans who yearn for a franchise receiver and ask, ‘Why don’t we trade down a bit in the round and get Dez Bryant?” here’s your answer: Eric Mangini’s spent a lot of energy trying to get his locker room right, and though Bryant appears to be on the right track and could well be a terrific NFL citizen for the next 10 years, they don’t sell insurance for this kind of thing, and the Browns would rather take guys without question marks on their resumes.”

Sounds plausible, although King does come up with this nightmare scenario involving potential Browns moves on draft day: “Unless something strange happens, it’s hard to envision anything standing in the way of Sam Bradford to the Rams with the top pick on April 22. The only strange thing I see is Cleveland paying a ransom to move up to pick Bradford – like the seventh and 38th picks this year, and the Browns’ first-rounder next year, plus something else.”

Maybe it’s best if we just move on.

On the flip side, Mel Kiper has proclaimed Bryant the pick, saying “I’ve talked to people around the league about Dez Bryant, and I can tell you the notion that there are concerns about Bryant’s character is blown out of proportion. Here the Browns get the best WR in the draft, a threat they really need, and a player that, in a football environment, is a workhorse and a producer.”

With Kiper’s track record that makes it seem more likely the Browns won’t take Bryant.

While Bryant’s talent would seem to fill a need for the Browns – the team’s wide receivers are the weakest part of the team thanks to Eric Mangini’s over-rating of Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie in last year’s draft – you have to wonder. Plus, much like quarterbacks from the Big 12, you have to question if the numbers put up by the wide receivers are inflated because defenses are, to be polite, limited in their abilities.

Character matters, just like how a player performs on their Pro Day, at the combine and on the field. It’s another piece of the puzzle and another tool to help guide a team in the right direction on draft day. Even though it appears likely that the punishment did not fit the crime, I don’t see the Browns picking someone with any kind of questions about them, especially at No. 7.

Of course, Bryant will probably fall in the draft and land in Pittsburgh and torment the Browns for the next 10 years. But that’s a discussion for another day.

For a compelling argument on why the Browns should consider Bryant, check out Cleveland Frowns’ Dez Bryant’s Bad Rap.

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