Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur met with the media this week as his team prepares to head out West to take on the Oakland Raiders. Shurmur talked about LB D'Qwell Jackson being named the defensive player of the week, this week's fourth captain, the fact that QB Brandon Weeden has been cleared to practice, an update on CB Dimitri Patterson, and more. Shurmur's news conference transcript is organized by topic below.
Juqua Parker as Fourth Captain; D'Qwell Jackson as Player of the Week
(Opening Statement)- "A couple business items, you saw D’Qwell Jackson was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week. It’s a great honor for him. I’ve said all along what he means to our defense. He obviously had a great week. Our fourth captain will be Juqua Parker."
Update on Brandon Weeden's Status for This Week
(Weeden's status for Week 13)- "I’m sure you’re all interested as to what’s going on with the quarterback. He was cleared to practice. He participated in the meetings. He participated in the walk-through and he’ll do everything in practice today, and we’ll get him ready to start on Sunday. If there are some unforeseen setbacks, then of course Colt (McCoy) will start. As we’re moving forward right now, he’s cleared to practice and we’re moving ahead with Brandon (Weeden)."
(On if he will give McCoy more reps than normal just in case)- "No, not really. The process goes, you get the starter ready to go and you give him all the looks you can give him. We may give him a rep or two more, but for the most part you get the starter ready to go. At this point, this early in the week he’s healthy, so he goes."
(On how he would judge Weeden’s appetite for playing in Oakland)- "He wants to go play just like he does every week, so his appetite is good."
Critiquing Weeden's Performance
(On if Weeden is making better decisions and not forcing the football)- "You never want him to force the football. Again, I’ll just go back to part of your questioning. You want him to be aggressive. You want him to make good decisions. In the interception he threw last week, he made a very good decision. If that ball was completed, we would have had a first down. He was throwing to the right guy. The ball got tipped. You always coach against it, you want to throw in lanes and all that business, but sometimes tipped balls are like fender benders on the road. Sometimes they happen. You don’t want them to happen, but for the most part, it’s extremely important that the quarterback always makes good decisions, whether you’re being aggressive with the football or taking into account the situation in the game. You get what you emphasize and I’ve seen some improvement there."
(On Weeden getting criticism that he is missing open players down the field)- "I think his play is improving each week. Every quarterback misses throws in games. There are times when a quarterback will get a completion, and outside criticism doesn’t factor in what he was told to do on that play. You could look around and maybe see another receiver or two open. I have to look at it for what it is and what we’re asking him to do and take it from there."
(On if inconsistency is expected from a rookie quarterback)- "Once again, every once in a while, even quarterbacks that have been in the league a long time will give you a head scratcher. You want to guard against that. If it happens, you want them to get that out of their game. You trying to coach that out of their game, but also keep them aggressive and efficient. There are a handful of plays that are head scratchers – that’s a good little phrase there – for all positions. You want to coach that out of them, but yet make them still be aggressive."
(On how he would judge Brandon Weeden’s mental toughness)- "I don’t have a problem with his mental toughness to answer your question. What’s important for Brandon is to play a style of quarterback that leads us to victories. That’s what he needs to do. We could talk about yards, we could talk about all that other stuff, all the ways you want to rank certain things, but his game needs to constantly improve and he’s got to strive to get us in the end zone and help us win football games. That’s that. He’s played through the season, he’s had some good games, he’s had some games that were not so good and he’s battling through it and he’s out there practicing today."
(On what he said to Weeden during the game after his interception and if it was a good decision)- "Yeah, absolutely because I knew where he was trying to throw the football. We kind of rubbed it and Greg Little’s running and a catch and run gets you the first down. I’m aware of why tipped balls happen. So I watched (Lawrence) Timmons score, we put the kickoff return team out there and we got on to the next play. That’s what we did."
(On if he had to talk Weeden off the ledge after the interception)- "No, not that’s not the way these guys respond. Nope, they just keep playing. I think I reminded the whole team to just stay in it and keep swinging and respond. I think they did that. I don’t think they needed my reminder though. I think they were ready to go out there and play."
Judging Richardson's Decisiveness as a Runner, and Reps for Hardesty
(On if he thinks Trent Richardson ran more decisively last Sunday than in the past)- "I think he’s a decisive runner. His style sometimes makes it look like he’s working his way into the hole. That can be deceiving at times. I thought he ran with a very physical style on Sunday. He had a very productive day. I think each game he plays, each on field situation, he’ll get better and better. I think he’ll look forward to having an even better game."
(On if he wants to get Montario Hardesty involved in the offense more)- "Let me see, put Trent (Richardson) on the field or Montario, right? We’re going full circle here (joking). I am very pleased with what Montario has given us when he goes in the game. I told him, I said, ‘Don’t consider how many reps. Consider how many reps you’re in there and how they have an impact on the game.’ It’s quality, not quantity and he’s given us good quality when he’s been in there. He’s got a little bit different style than Trent I think we would all agree watching him run. When he sees daylight he slashes it up in there and that little bit different style I think has a good effect on the defense."
Rubin and Taylor Helping D'Qwell Jackson's Gameplay
(On what D’Qwell Jackson means to the defense)- "I really believe, I think I said it, like baseball you’ve got to be strong up the middle. Your middle linebacker, you’ve got to get good play from your safeties. The guys in the middle of the defense tend to do most of the communicating, and getting everybody lined up. He obviously does that extremely well for us. I just see the way he functions in the building. I see the way he functions in the locker room, and I’ve seen him be a good leader for our guys. I think that’s important as well."
(On if Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor being has helped Jackson)- "Any middle linebacker when you’ve got big guys in there taking on blockers, it allows you to be able to be more effective. Every middle linebacker in the league wants to have two All-Pro defensive tackles playing in front of you if you’re a four-man team. When you’ve got your two starters back, generally speaking, from a year ago at defensive tackle, there’s some synergy there that kind of radiates through the whole team. We talked about if it affects pass rush. We talked about if it affects defending the run. It helps everything. Of course, the middle linebacker benefits some."
Tank Carder's Troubled Tweet
(On if he spoke to Tank Carder about his tweet)- "Yes, we’ve addressed the situation. Obviously, it’s very inappropriate. Obviously, he does not speak for me or the Cleveland Browns. I’m sure you’re going to get a chance to talk to him. That’s very inappropriate and very wrong, and not something that we condone. You know my feeling on social media."
(On if it’s reached a point where he would consider banning the players from using Twitter)- "I think it’s important that because it is a part of life right now, there was a time when nobody wore hats in the building. Times change, and social media is a part of our world. I think what you have to do is be very professional if you choose to have those accounts. You have to be very professional and understand that when you hit send, if there’s something inappropriate there or is not what you think, it’s a very serious deal. I appeal to their professionalism. Case in point, Greg Little. He hasn’t twittered, he hasn’t tweeted or whatever that is. He’s never had to apologize for something he didn’t say. That’s my feeling on it."
Discussing the Progress of Tight Ends & Mitchell Schwartz
(On the production from the tight end position lately)- "I think the production has been good. I want to call them tight end/fullbacks because you have Alex Smith in there. We use him all over the place so the production’s been pretty consistent from them and we use a combination of one, two and three of them a lot which has helped us in the last six weeks or so."
(On if he wonders what kind of player he is going to get when a player of Benjamin Watson’s age shows up for training camp)- "You hope guys are going to continue to improve until they’re done playing. I’ve got a great deal of respect for Ben. In my opinion, he’s battled through this season and done a very fine job. He, behind the scenes, displays a lot of that leadership that we talk about when we talk about D’Qwell (Jackson). When you look at a group of players where some young players are starting to improve and show up then I think you also have to look within that group and see some of the leadership that you’re getting from older players in that group. I would give a little credit to Ben because of Jordan’s (Cameron) improvement and then, of course, we’ve got some other tight end type players on the roster there making improvements that aren’t so obvious."
(On Mitchell Schwartz’s progress)- "I think he’s doing an outstanding job for a guy in his first year in this league. When you don’t talk about right tackles in the NFL then there’s something good happening there. I’m pleased with where he’s going in terms of his development as right tackle in the NFL. Just like any of these young guys you want them to just continue and that’s where he’s at."
Dimitri Patterson's Return, Update on Usama Young
(On how Dimitri Patterson is recovering from his injury)- "He’ll be back practicing today. He’ll be out there, sure. I’ll give you that."
(On if Usama Young has been cleared to practice)- "He’s not as far along as Brandon coming back from this so we’ll have to see as the week goes on."
Improving on the Road
(On what the team has learned over the last 12 road games)- "Don’t lose on the road. I think what’s important is, let’s take the teams out of it for whatever its worth. Last week we won a division game at home, right? Now we have an opportunity to go on the road and play a conference opponent and win a game on the road. That’s what we need to do. That’s the way you approach it. That’s it."
(On if he sees a difference between the way they play at home vs. on the road)- "No, I don’t. You plan for being on the road. You work on silent count. You work on all the things that you need to do when you’re on the road and then you go play the game. Every time you don’t play at home the venue is different. I think you try to make it a non-issue, and you go play the game. Our most recent road game was of course in Dallas, and there was a lot of conversation of playing in this new great facility. I didn’t see that having any effect on the game. As you go to play road games, you get prepared, get on the airplane. You sleep in a hotel. You go and stay and play the game. That’s the way you have to approach it. If you develop players having highs and lows based on where they’re playing and when they’re playing, then emotionally they get all out of whack in my opinion. You talk about it. You explain to them what they can expect. You prepare them for the environment, and then you let it rip."
Banning Blocks Below the Waist
(On his thoughts on the competition committee potentially banning blocks below the waist)- "I think constantly looking for ways to make this a safer game, I’ve said all along, unfortunately this game is a very physical game. The unintended consequence of injury is always present. It’s like anything. They’ll look for the best ways to keep the game physical, to keep the game safe and I really don’t have any strong feelings one way or the other. I do know that low blocks occur. My understanding, and the way we teach it is, you can go low on a guy if he sees you. You can’t do it obviously if you’re coming outside in, or you’re way on the backside. We try to teach it, but we try to do it in a manner that’s within the rules that is still effective."
(On Max Starks saying that the Browns defensive linemen were cutting their offensive linemen)- "I had no comment for that. I don’t know. Our guys are taught to defeat blocks. If it’s a run play, address your gaps of course and then find the ball carrier. Then in terms of pass rush, you want to obviously defeat the blocker, rush the quarterback and try to sack them. Beyond that, we don’t teach any of that other stuff."
(On Carson Palmer)- "I’ve always thought Carson Palmer was one of the better quarterbacks in the league, and he’s showing that out there. He’s got outstanding numbers. He can win games. He’s developing a relationship with his receivers, and it’s obviously taking time. Even though he was there at the end of last year, it’s a new system for him, and there is a lot of new this year for him that I’m sure he’s got to work through."
(On what Darren McFadden brings to the table if he is able to play)- "We’re planning like he’ll play. He’s explosive. He’s one of those guys that can score when he has the ball in his hands. It doesn’t matter where you’re at on the field, they can be on their 1-yard line and this guy can score. When you have players on the field that can score touchdowns, that’s what you want. With him not being in there of course, that’s hurt them. With him being in there, it’s obviously going to help him."