Over the years watching the Cleveland Browns, I don’t think I have ever witnessed a game like today’s. With just over four minutes left in the game, Pat Shurmur made a decision that should cost him his job tomorrow. Fans all across Browns nation were left scratching their heads after witnessing Shurmur make dumb call after dumb call.
The sad thing about today’s contest is Cleveland was actually in the game and there was a sense of momentum change in the third quarter. This was despite only running seven offensive plays and gaining zero first downs in the first quarter. The Browns had battled back and scored 15 unanswered points and led 15-14 late in the third quarter. Ole’ reliable Phil Dawson knocked down five straight field goals with ease . Cleveland’s defense, who had been completely soft in the first half, made adjustments and played lights out in the second half except for one drive. So what was the problem? Coach Shurmur and his far off thinking.
On numerous drives, Brandon Weeden and the offense sputtered out due to atrocious play calling. Multiple times Shurmur called for plays on third down that were five to seven yards short of the first down marker. Why?! Some of this can go on the rookie QB as he did not have a great game going 20 for 37 with 176 yards passing and 2 costly interceptions. However, Weeden’s poor 4.8 average yards per pass can be blamed on Shurmur. It is clear that the coach has no desire to play to Weeden’s strengths by continuing to run dink and dunk awful “west coast” plays. At one point on the same drive, Shurmur called the same exact play that the Baltimore Ravens knew was coming. And, who what have thought that second string tight end Alex Smith would be Cleveland’s go to guy on third down? What a genius.
Among the many things wrong with Shurmur, the will to win has got to be among the top of the list. When Cleveland hit the red zone five times, instead of trying to put the ball in the end zone, Shurmur decided to play it safe and get the field goal. It’s decision like these that gets coaches fired period. In the NFL, if a team plays a game not to lose, nine out of ten times they are going to lose. This is the mentality Shurmur and his coaching staff display to the fans of Cleveland every week.
The Browns have shot themselves in the foot numerous times this season because of stupid penalties. In front of a fired up Dawg Pound in the red zone, Weeden hit Josh Gordon on a perfect slant route for a touchdown to take the go ahead lead. Before Gordon could finish celebrating in the arms of the fans, yellow laundry was on the field and Cleveland suffered an illegal procedure penalty. No touchdown. This comes down to coaching and mental preparation. A good NFL coach never has stuff like that happen. A coach like Shurmur is so predictable that every knowledgeable Browns fan sitting on their couch at home can call out the play before the ball is even snapped.
Today’s game was the first time Shurmur showed a hint of emotion on the sidelines. It wasn’t to praise a player for making a nice play or to possibly get excited when something big happened or get upset when something bad happened; it was to argue a penalty. What’s wrong with patting a guy on the behind after a nice play? Whats wrong with running down the sideline with a big play and cheering for your guys? What’s wrong with showing some emotion and trying to fire up your men? Week in and week out we see none of that and it’s getting old. With his poor 6-19 record, it is obvious that Shurmur is not cut out to be an NFL head coach.
Cleveland now has week to think about what just happened to them. The 2-7 Browns must figure out how to win football games. This is not going to happen with Shurmur at the helm. Watching the disgusted new owner Jimmy Haslam, it seems like he is not going to put up with much more of this unacceptable football. It may be time to cut some ties sooner rather than later.
Ryan Ruiz - Cleveland Browns Writer
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