Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur met with the media on Wednesday as the Browns are ready to roll again after their bye week. He talked about this week's fourth captain, the new-found maturity of Greg Little, what Brandon Weeden needs to improve upon, and more. Shurmur's news conference transcript is organized by topic below.
Opening Statement - Ben Watson as the Fourth Captain
(Opening statement)- "Good morning. This week’s fourth game captain is Ben Watson. As you know we started the preparation for Dallas on Monday with the extra day. The meetings and walk-through this morning were fine and we’ll get ready to put the base game plan in in a couple of minutes here."
Brandon Weeden Needing to Cut Out Interceptions, and Being Gun-Shy
(On one aspect of Brandon Weeden’s game that has to improve over the rest of the season)- "Don’t throw interceptions. Done, end of story. I want to be right to the point."
(On if he worries about Weeden being more tentative after hearing he needs to throw less interceptions)- "Nope because I think the essence of a quarterback is you have to be a good decision maker. You have to decide when it’s important to try to be aggressive with a throw and then it’s also important to then of course, be smart with the football. I’ve looked at all those interceptions and there are times where he could have made better decisions. There are of course things that happen where a ball bounces off a guy’s chest so you look at all those things. You don’t want to play anxious football, but you also have to be smart. I think that is something we all have to come to grips with."
(On what kind of quarterback he would project Weeden being as he grows)- "I think he’s got a chance to be an outstanding player. I don’t think there’s any question about it."
(On what the elements are that go into him projecting Weeden becoming an outstanding player)- "He’s going to lead us to victories and don’t throw as many interceptions."
(On if there are general rules for a quarterback on know when to be aggressive and when to be smart)- "Every situation is different. It’s who is throwing the ball, who you’re throwing to, the situation in the game and that’s what you have to work through - all those situations and then become very proficient."
(On if Weeden is seeing the field to his satisfaction)- "I think so. There are some isolated cases when you wish the outcome would be a better play. Yeah, he sees defense well. He understands our concepts and that’s really what matters."
(On if Weeden’s improved on not locking on receivers)- "I think as you get more and more comfortable with the progressions then it allows you to get beyond one to two to three."
(On where Weeden has made the most progress this season)- "I think just playing quarterback in this league. There’s a lot to it and it’s different. It’s different than anything these players are used to. You can see it, I think with all the rookie quarterbacks playing this year. You can look. There are some ups and downs with it whether you want to consider a down a bad game or an up a win, series, plays. It’s just not perfect and they are playing through it. That’s a challenge because we’re all demanded to perform at a high level and we’re all charged to win games."
(On if he’s satisfied with the way Weeden throws on the run)- "Yeah, he throws better on the run than some people might think quite frankly - better than some guys that are considered mobile quarterbacks. I have no problem with him on the run."
Greg Little's New-Found Focus and Maturity, and Overall Assessment at WR
(On if it was a sign of maturity that Greg Little addressed the team before practice on Monday)- "I knew he was going to do it. He called me late last week and asked if he could talk in the first team meeting and of course I agreed. At that time we didn’t really talk about what he intended to say, but I thought his comments were very insightful and I was glad that he did it. I’ve always appreciated Greg because he’s a competitor, he’s a tough guy and just like all players there are times where you don’t play perfect or you play less than perfect, but he’s fun to work with because he listens."
(On what he sees in the wide receivers after studying them during the bye)- "Once again, I’m hopeful that this group can develop even further. I’ve seen guys come light years - Josh Gordon. We just talked about it - Greg Little doing some things better in the last month. I’m seeing Travis Benjamin back healthy. We got some good snaps out of (Josh) Cooper. We’ll see where we’re at with Mo (Mohamed Massaquoi) as far as getting him back. I don’t know, I’m just hopeful that this improvement for the young guys will continue, and then we can get just generally healthier. Not to mention, every once in a while we get a play out of Josh Cribbs in there as well. We know what kind of an impact he has on special teams, which can’t go unnoticed. What he does on special teams, he does more than just the average punt returner and kick returner because he’s involved in all the coverage units and he’s an outstanding competitor in that phase. I really appreciate it."
(On the other position groups having a veteran presence that the wide receivers don’t have)- "I disagree a little bit. We’ve got Mo Massaquoi who has been here a few years. We’ve got Josh Cribbs of course who has played in the league a long time. Maybe we don’t have the veteran presence that you’re thinking of, but there are some guys in there that have played years in the league. That unit is what it is, and I’m hopeful that they are going to continue to improve."
(On his hopes for Jordan Cameron as a pass catcher this season and how that has played out)- "I think he’s doing a good job. We’ve had him in every game plan. He’s had some production to this point. I anticipate that he’s even going to get better. I’ve talked about it numerous times, but he’s a guy that didn’t play much football before we drafted him. We knew he had outstanding skill and ability. His blocking is improving. He knows how he fits in our offense. To this point, when we’ve thrown him the ball, he’s caught it. All good things."
Reviewing the Play of the Offensive Linemen
(On if Mitchell Schwartz has adjusted to the NFL faster than expected)- "I expected him to be a very good player from day one because he was the starter. He’s just like all guys learning how to play in this league. I think he’s getting better each week. I guess I don’t know what I was expecting. I guess I expected him to play perfect, but knew that probably wasn’t going to be the case. Everything I see about the way that he prepares and the way he competes on Sunday, I’m extremely hopeful he’s going to be a good player for a long time."
(On if Joe Thomas’ play has stabilized since the start of season when he had a couple penalties)- "Has he stabilized? Are you saying he didn’t play well early - because a guy has a penalty it doesn’t mean that he didn’t play well. I think Joe has played steadily well throughout the year."
Getting Rubin and Taylor Back, and Kitchen's Impact
(On the depth on the defensive line with Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor both being back from injury)- "Hopefully things play out like we think, we’ll have our two starting defensive tackles from last year back. When you have more healthy guys in the defensive line and guys that you feel like can play, that allows you to, obviously, get more good snaps because you can rotate them all in there."
(On how Ishmaa’ily Kitchen has done this year)- "Ishmaa’ily’s done a good job for us. He’s one of those guys that goes in there and gives us good snaps. He doesn’t get as many as some of the other guys, but I’m glad he’s here. He was a good pickup for us and he’s played some good football. He’s a young guy that I think has some upside and some development there that will maybe help him be around him longer."
Punching T-Rich in the Ribs
(On if Trent Richardson is healthier coming off the bye)- "He says he is. I haven’t like punched him in the ribs or anything (joking), but he’s going to be out there practicing. He said he feels good."
Potential Depth Chart Changes
(On if any player will be receiving more playing time as a result of bye week evaluation)- "I’ll leave that for Sunday. Maybe yes, maybe no, probably maybe yes."
Cowboys' Offense - Tony Romo, Jason Witten
(On Tony Romo and his ability to make plays outside the pocket)- "I think the game is never over when he’s got the ball in his hand and he’s got outstanding weapons to throw the football to. Jason Witten leads all tight ends with 66 receptions. He’s got explosive players on the outside, they run the ball well and he’s proven he can win games in this league. He has the ability to make big time plays and I think that’s what makes him dangerous."
(On Tony Romo being able to break the pocket and make plays)- "I think you’ll watch it around the league, any Sunday, in any game, when a quarterback breaks the pocket and extends the play, there are big plays to be made. I think that can be said of any quarterback. I know through his career, he’s made his fair share of those plays. We’re aware of that. It’s important that when you pass rush, you try to put pressure on them and keep them in there. I think that’s going to be important for us."
(On what challenge Jason Witten brings)- "He’s big. He’s got outstanding ball skills. He can get open. That’s a challenge because they create a size mismatch. He’s talented enough to catch the ball in traffic. He’s an outstanding player."
Cowboys' Defense - Cornerbacks and Rob Ryan
(On why the Cowboys’ cornerbacks have more interceptions this year)- "They’re new players right? Yeah, because the players are new and they’re good players, I’m sure that had something to do with it."
(On why the Cowboys defense has improved)- "I think they’ve got a good scheme and I think they’re talented at all levels of the defense. They’ve got an outstanding front five, the linebackers are active and the corners do a nice job of playing bump and run. They’ve got good players and the scheme’s good."
(On the Cowboys’ pass rush)- "Any 3-4 defense, the outside linebackers are the ones that create most of the havoc. Of course, (Anthony) Spencer and (DeMarcus) Ware I think are outstanding players. You find them on the outside of the defense in base and they’re the rushers in nickel. They’re guys that can create pressure with just a three or four man rush so I think that’s what starts to make this defense dangerous. Then you add all the other components and I think that’s why they’re playing well."
(On how the familiarity of some of the players and coaches with Rob Ryan can be used to an advantage)- "I think sometimes if you over figure that in it can screw you up. I think what you have to do is you know some of what the defensive coordinator is all about, but then you have to watch what they’re doing with the players that they have and how they’re playing now. It’s important to watch the tape so I think we’ll see. That’s a better question for after the game, but there is some familiarity with some of the coaches that coach for the Cowboys now with some of the players that were here before I got here."
(On if they were considering Morris Claiborne with their first pick in the draft)- "Sure, he was one of the premier players in this year’s draft. We spent a lot of time evaluating him. We had him in. He was one of the guys we talked to quite a bit. He’s an outstanding player."
(On what he’s seen out of Claiborne in the first half of the season)- "I see a guy that’s challenging. I see a guy that plays very well in bump and run, plays well within their scheme. He’s a little bit like Buster (Skrine) from that standpoint. He challenges all the time, which a guy that challenges and is very talented has a chance to be successful."
(On how you prepare a rookie quarterback for Dallas’ defense standing at the line of scrimmage and moving around pre-snap)- "They do it some. I don’t think they probably do it as much as they’ve done in past years, but you count them up. If you’ve got six man protection, you block the most dangerous six. If you’ve got seven man protection, you block seven. If it’s five man protection, you pick out five, and then you let it rip. It’s just that simple."
The Experience of Cowboys Stadium
(On if he’s coached a game at Cowboy’s stadium)- "I’ve never been to the new stadium. When I was at Philly of course I was at the old stadium multiple times, but this is one stadium I have not been to yet."
(On if he’s talked to the players about playing at Cowboy’s stadium)- "Yeah, I’ve talked to them. Every time we play an away game, I talk about not letting the venue become a distraction. Our guys are used to that. The sights and sounds of every stadium are different than what we see here in town."