Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur met with the media on Wednesday to talk about RB Trent Richardson being the fourth captain this week, TE Alex Smith's return from a concussion, a roster move needing to be made to open up a spot for CB Joe Haden, and more. Shurmur's news conference transcript is organized by topic below.
Trent Richardson is the Fourth Captain This Week
(Opening statement)- "Trent Richardson will be the fourth captain this week and another little piece of business, our rookie quarterback turns 29 on Sunday. That was a joke. We’re looking forward to getting the preparation going for the Bengals. Our first walk-through was good and their attention was good and we’re looking forward to getting them on the practice field. As you move through the process of correcting the mistakes of losses and wins, now we get to actually get to go on the field and get ready for the next team and I think all 32 teams do that unless you’re involved in a bye. We’re excited to get the preparation going and get after the Bengals."
Updates on the Scott Fujita Situation, and DQ's Status
(On if D’Qwell Jackson will be at practice today)- "We’ll see. He was in the building and at all the meetings today."
(On if Scott Fujita will practice today)- "Yeah, he’s out there."
(On if he knows if Scott Fujita plans to appeal his suspension)- "You’ll have to ask him what he plans to do because this is a league issue between him and the league. I haven’t been informed anything more than what the official report was yesterday and we’re proceeding as though he’ll be ready to play this week."
Roster Move Needs to be Made to Accommodate Joe Haden
(On when they has to make a roster move with Joe Haden coming back)- "Assuming that our roster is the same as last week, we will have to make a roster move there and we’ll make those moves here later in the week."
(On how sharp he anticipates Joe Haden to be Sunday given his layoff)- "I think he’ll be extremely sharp. In talking with him about how he spent his time away and knowing the kind of condition and the kind of shape he keeps himself in, I anticipate physically he’ll be sharp. It’s just a matter of going out there and practicing and getting his sea legs back this week so he’s ready to go on Sunday."
(On if the return of Joe Haden will bring a boost to the locker room)- "I think he’s back in the lineup and he’s playing and he’s one of our better defensive players. By the essence of somebody’s presence sometimes that can happen and I anticipate he’s going to go out there and battle just like all of the other guys."
(On who will play in the slot if Dimitri Patterson can’t play)- "We’ll see. We’ve got Buster (Skrine), Sheldon (Brown), Trevin (Wade) and (Johnson) Bademosi so we’ll get the right combination with Joe."
(On if all four of those players can play on the inside)- "I think so, yeah."
Talking About Brandon Weeden's Aggressiveness and Decision Making
(On if it is tough for a rookie quarterback to learn to balance being aggressive and when to be smart and fight for the next down)- "I don’t think it’s tough to balance it. I think you can continue to inspire him to do the right thing with the football. You want a guy that’s aggressive with the ball because you would like to squeeze out all of the offense you can out of every play. I think we’ve found a way to complete deeper balls this year than we did last year which is important, but then you also want to balance it with efficiency so it’s a fine line. How do you go there? You continue to practice and work and you keep going through all of the situations and all of the progressions over and over and over and then he gets a feel for the guys he’s throwing to as well. In each situation, it’s important that he does the right thing with the football. I’ve talked about his before, when a quarterback goes through a game, if he throws a ball 35 times then he’s got a decision making grade, he’s got a accuracy grade, he’s got a timing grade based on the plays and when we called them so you just try to get all pluses in all areas. I think that’s what you’re shooting for."
(On if it is better that Brandon Weeden is already more on the aggressive side of the ledger)- "I think so. That’s an important thing - where when you talk about being aggressive there’s a built in confidence there and there’s a guy that has some skill and ability and you need that. Then what you do is you just work him through the system, as I mentioned in the progressions, so that he’s constantly being reminded to also be smart with the football."
(On if Weeden’s interceptions are a matter of making bad decisions or making good decisions and just throwing an inaccurate pass)- "It could happen for all reasons. The ball could have been tipped for instance. The ball could have hit the receiver in the chest and it popped up. He could have just made a bad throw so it happens. I’ve watched all the interceptions and it’s a combination of all of those things and there are certain situations where you can’t save the play with your arm - you either run it or throw it away. It’s all of it."
(On if Weeden has an advantage now facing the Bengals for the second time)- "I think it goes both ways. They may have a feel for him. I think anytime you’re a quarterback and you’ve had a chance to play against a team, it helps you. Then you factor in the fact that you’ve improved since the last time you played them. There’re things we’ll do differently. Even though the matchups are the same, the people, the game is played a little bit different because you’ve played them once before."
(On if Weeden is where he thought he would be after five games)- "He’s improving. He’s about where I thought. He’s encountered some of the struggles that I anticipated he might, but I’m seeing him improve on his mistakes in a way that I knew he would. I think that maybe is a few sentence answer to your question."
(On if he ever worries about Weeden being gun shy)- "No. I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s the issue at all."
(On if he gets personally involved in the process of coaching Weeden)- "I’m involved. You always watch the quarterback just a little bit more than everybody else, but the way this thing works is whether he’s hearing it from me, or from Brad Childress, or Mark Whipple or Chris Beake, all the people that are talking to the quarterback, we all give him the same message. Mine is allowed to have a little more emotion to it. I think quarterbacks, you’ve got to coach them emotionally a little bit different. You don’t coach them any less hard, but you just make sure you keep working with them. That’s the message."
Increasing Trent Richardson's Touches to Help Weeden
(On if the more that Trent Richardson produces the less Brandon Weeden feels he has to do)- "I don’t know if that’s the case. I think we talked about the Bengals game and how he learned in that game to take some check downs, which he checked the ball down to Trent and then he ran it in one time. I think he was better than he was in the Philly game so it all ties together."
(On if there is a number in his head of how many touches Trent Richardson should get per game)- "He needs to be involved throughout the game start to finish and he was involved in I think close to 85% of the snaps last week which is his highest total to date. I think you guys all have that information. I’m rounding up just a little bit, but that’s about right. I think it’s safe to say when you have a guy coming back from a minor knee injury that you start to ramp it up that way, and he produced. It’s important for Trent to be involved start to finish and of course for a running back everybody looks at just the rushing yardage. Now, the way the game goes also dictates some of that and we all know that."
(On most of the criticism coming from why Trent Richardson was off the field on that third and one play)- "I would say this, again he played in almost 85 percent of the plays that game, and with Chris Ogbonnaya in the game, there was a play he caught a screen pass for 38. There’re guys in and out of the game all the time, and the defense responds to it differently. That’s just the way it goes. We could have handed Chris the ball. With Trent in there, we could have thrown the ball. I get that."
(On Richardson never being on the field on third downs)- "That’s not true. He was on the field a few snaps and they’re going up as we go."
(On if the first/second down back is a different position then the third down back)- "I think ideally you want all your best players in there all the time. Now, the reality of it is, you have role players and guys that step in on occasion, and you expect them to perform well. Every team will always be susceptible to having to talk about when a role player is in there and doesn’t do it right, how come the other guy wasn’t in there. That’s part of it. I get that, but the guys we put in the game, we expect them to perform well. That’s the important part."
Preventing a Repeat Performance from the Run Defense
(On what he will do to ensure that opposing teams do not run the ball as effectively as the Giants and if the Giants blocked well)- "I think they blocked well. I think what’s important too is there’s times when they get you blocked at the point of attack and then the rest of the defense fits it all up and you just make sure they don’t get more than their six or eight yards. We had a couple of situations in that game where they got big yards where we could have minimized the effect. It’s team defense and it sounds cliché, but you go over it and over it and over it - making sure everybody is attacking their blockers, defeating the block, addressing their gaps and making sure that where the runner tries to find a place to run, there’s somebody standing in every gap. I think that’s important."
(On if he is making any adjustments to make sure that does not happen this week)- "We’re going to sure work on it and we expect that the results will be good."
(On how Billy Winn and John Hughes have handled the run)- "Pretty good, I think they can get better and there’s a lot going on there -- getting lined up properly, defeat your block, address your gap, separate and make a play. There’s a lot going on in there and they can continue to improve just like everybody on defense."
(On how much of a challenge it is having two rookies starting at defensive tackle)- "I think if they are asked to play more than they have they’ve got five games under their belt. I think Ishma’lly Kitchen will help out in there and we’ll do what we have to do to make sure we put fresh bodies in there. I’m confident that they’ll answer the bell."
TE Alex Smith Will Play This Week; Norwood Up in the Air
(On if expects Alex Smith to play again this year)- "Yeah, I anticipate Alex will be there."
(On if Smith will be back this season)- "This season? Yeah, I’m anticipating he’ll play this week."
(On concussions being an injury that can take a player out for varying amounts of time)- "Each injury, a concussion is technically an injury, they all respond differently. Some guys come back sooner than others."
(On if Jordan Norwood will be available this week)- "We’ll see how he progresses though the week."
(On if they will have to make a roster move because of so many players being injured)- "We always look at the roster each week after the game. We make decisions based on staying pat or making changes. We’re going to have to make a roster change here that involves Joe Haden. Sometimes those involve other things that happen."
Taking Heat as a Head Coach and Handling Criticism
(On how he thinks he’s handling criticism and responding to people saying he is not able to handle being second guessed)- "Not being able to handle being second guessed? I tend to handle it fine I think. How it’s perceived, I can’t control that. I’m aware of the fact though based on some of the way the questions come out, I can tell by the question what direction it’s going to go. I do know this, anytime we do something in a game and it does not work then we’re open to it. I think all I was saying was I’m aware it happens. That’s it. I’m at peace with that. When things work very well and we win games then we’ll talk about other issues. That’s all."
(On how it’s the head coach who takes the heat and has to answer for things)- "I understand that’s the way it goes. I understand, there’re not a lot of things easy in the NFL. It’s very difficult to do all the things we want to do, so you just keep battling. We just keep trying to make, and again, I think I’ve said this before, you make all your decisions based on trying to win the game. Some of them work extremely well and there’re other ones that get done medium, and there’re some things that don’t work out so great. What happens is you continue to keep going. The pass that we talked about, on every down and distance, you can run it or you can throw it. That pass that we were talking about on third down, against the Buffalo Bills with different people on the field in the same situation, we completed that pass to Greg Little. Nothing was talked about because it was executed properly. I understand that. In the game, that same pass, was executed by the Giants against the Cowboys in their Week One game, and they got a first down on it. It’s not uncommon to throw the ball on third and one, I understand that, but anytime anything doesn’t work out great, we all know what happens."
Winning at Home, Andy Dalton, and Andrew Hawkins
(On the importance of winning at home)- "You want to win every game, certainly and you would like it to most of the time happen at home so you create that home field advantage which is tough for the opponent. We get that and this is a division game so it is kind of a double-whammy there. Winning a division game at home would be great for our young team."
(On what Andy Dalton has improved upon since his rookie season)- "You can see he’s more confident with more of the skill players he has. He’s spreading the ball around. Obviously they have A.J. Green, but also (Jermaine) Gresham and (Andrew) Hawkins. It feels to me watching the game that he’s more comfortable with more of his skill players. I think that’s a function of being able to work with them."
(On Andrew Hawkins)- "I think what he gives you is if you overcommit to A.J., then they have a guy over there that’s extremely dangerous, you can throw him the ball and he gets in the end zone. Anytime you have two players that you feel good about throwing the football to, it makes the defense play a little bit more balanced."