Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur met with the media Thursday afternoon to talk about the potential return of DT Phil Taylor, how to stop Adam Jones from having another big return, who sends the play calls in on offense, and more. Shurmur's news conference transcript is organized by topic below.
The Potential Return of DT Phil Taylor
(On if Phil Taylor is on schedule to return)- "He looks great. We’re hopeful he’ll be back soon. Let’s just say this, I think he’ll be right on schedule."
(On if Billy Winn has helped ease the loss of Phil Taylor)- "I think so. It’s safe to say that we were depending heavily on (John) Hughes and Winn to step in and give us a bunch of good snaps. We’re starting to see these guys develop pretty well. They’re playing hard and they’re giving us some good snaps. I think one way to look at it is that they’re holding down the fort until Phil gets back, I don’t think so. I think it’ll be great when we add Phil back to the mix because they are developing into good NFL players."
Whether James-Michael Johnson Will Play on Defense This Week
(On how James-Michael Johnson has looked in practice and where he can play)- "He looks good in practice. I thought he looked good last week in practice. We use him primarily on special teams, but he’s ready to play outside or inside linebacker if we need him to."
Preventing Pacman Jones From Having Another Big Punt Return
(On Adam Jones’ punt return the last time they played the Bengals and if the punt coverage unit has made strides in the past couple of weeks)- "Yeah, that wasn’t a very good play for us. I think it’s important that, number one, you improve and I think we have. I think the last two weeks our coverage units have done a fine job. I anticipate that we will not punt the ball in a way that he can return it and I anticipate that we won’t miss six tackles this time."
(On if the hang time on Reggie Hodges’ punts is improving)- "I think he’s improving. I think it’s all coordinated. You need the proper punt and then you’ve got to cover it. First of all, you’ve got to protect it. The coverage unit needs to protect, you’ve got to punt the ball properly and then you need to cover in a way where you get the returner on the ground. I think we’ve made improvements in all those areas."
Childress vs. Shurmur: Who Calls the Plays, and Shurmur's Inspiration
(On how the play calling works)- "I send the plays in, I’m responsible for what goes in and Brad (Childress) and I communicate on it. That’s how it goes."
(On how he keeps himself grounded and going when things are not going well for the team)- "I just keep moving. I try to make today, being a Thursday, be the best Thursday of the year. I try to inspire the players to do that and we just keep moving. I see progress, I see young players getting better. I’m inspired when Josh Gordon makes the catch like he did. I’m inspired when Usama Young intercepts the football and runs with it. Gamedays never get old for me. I’m inspired by it. With all of the good things in life, those are the things that inspire me – watching guys that we are coaching. I’m inspired when a screen works and it has been a point of emphasis. That’s what we work on, that’s what we focus on and I think that’s the essence of what we are, we’re teachers. You try to help guys do certain things and they’re human beings and individuals working with one another and you try to put out there a winning product and win a game. That’s what we do. We, believe it or not, don’t focus on the other stuff."
Maintaing a Good Run-Pass Ratio, Regardless of the Score
(On how important he thinks the run-pass ratio is and if it is totally dictated by score)- "I think this, you have to score points and you have to score as many points as you need to win the football game. Now, I think it’s very important that the running back is involved throughout the football game. I think that’s important and you need to be able to run the ball. I believe in running the football, but I think one has to go hand in hand with being able to throw the ball efficiently and explosively, which means you need to get completions and you need to get big plays. I think that’s the way it is and when you run the ball you want to be efficient. You want to be able to get four yards a crack and then if you put players out there that have the skill and ability to get in the end zone like we’re starting to see with some of our young guys then it all ties together."
Run Blocking vs. Pass Blocking This Year
(On if the offensive guards have to block better for Trent Richardson)- "I wouldn’t point to just the guards. The running game attacks all the holes whether you’re inside, off tackle or outside and it’s important that it’s all coordinated. The centers, guards and tackles all have to block equally well."
(On if the offensive line is sufficiently blocking or if they need to get better)- "I think we can get better, but I’m not going to point the finger at our guards. I think it’s important that our guys win their individual matchups, but it’s equally important that they work well together. I think that unit needs to work well together that’s why you’re always talking about guys that have had a chance to play together for a long time function better as a unit. There’s a lot of times when you start off with a double-team and one of them will slip off to a second level player. That’s working together."
(On if it is fair to say that the pass blocking is farther ahead than the run blocking)- "I wouldn’t say that, nope."
(On if he feels good with the offensive line being able to handle everything he wants to do with Richardson)- "I think our guys can block any type of run. As I mentioned, you run it inside, you run it off tackle and you run it on the perimeter. We felt like there were ways that we could attack the Giants perimeter s we called plays designed to do that. By the nature of how defenses line up, sometimes it’s not quite as good in other games. Just to say you’re going to do it, you can’t. But back to your question, I think our guys can zone block, they can gap block and then they can obviously run those sweeps."
Trent Richardson's Leadership Role
(On if he’s noticed Trent Richardson’s ability to speak out and lead more than other rookies)- "I don’t know if he speaks out more than a typical rookie. I think rookies come in, and they try to establish themselves as teammates with their level of play. I think he’s starting to do that. I think he has natural leadership ability. You’ve had a chance to visit with him. I think his answers are well thought out, and he understands his role on this team. All those things, I think, will make him a good leader as we go."
(On if preserving Richardson has factored into the playing time he’s getting)- "We’re doing what we have to do to win games. If he’s available, he’s healthy to play as much as we choose to play him."
(On if being a vocal leader is something that takes time)- "There’s a chemistry in the locker room. When you add yourself to a locker room, whether you’re a free agent player or a rookie, you come in with a reputation. Nobody knows you. Everybody hears that you’re all this and all that. You have to establish yourself by playing and playing well, and I think that can be said for everyone. I encourage our rookies to first, impress everyone with what they do, and then as time goes on, people will start to listen to what they say. I think that’s generally how a locker room is built. You typically find guys that are leaders once they’ve established themselves as guys that are good enough at what they do, where they can extend themselves to help others. That could be one good definition of a leader. That’s why you see, a lot of times, your best, and most dynamic players, assuming leadership roles."
(On Richardson laughing when asked about the rookie wall and if coaches still have to worry about players hitting the rookie wall)- "I worry about it a little bit. I worry about it because as we know, everything in the NFL is challenging, it’s very intense. The matchups each week are intense. I concern myself with it a little bit. I think each player is different. I do think as the head coach I need to be aware of how that rookie wall affects all our players, and how they treat their bodies. I’m glad to hear that he doesn’t think it’s an issue, so I’ll worry about somebody else (joking)."
(On if the rookie wall affects positions like running back differently)- "Running backs, those guys take a little bit of a beating, that’s for sure. You can imagine, we toss you the ball, all eyes are on you and they want to knock you out. Regardless of how well they produce, running backs take a pounding, they do. There’re a lot of other players where you’re running around on the field, and if you don’t choose to hit them, they won’t hit you. That’s not the case with the runner."
(On if it helps Richardson that he played for Nick Saban)- "I worked for Nick for three years, so I’m well aware of how he does business. Yeah, I think so. Nick’s an outstanding coach and a very demanding guy. I think having been through the Alabama program led by Nick Saban, Trent came here ready for the challenge of NFL football for sure."
Brandon Weeden's Ego
(On Brandon Weeden saying that he may have allowed his ego to get in the way and if that is a positive step)- "That’s his way of phrasing it. I want an aggressive quarterback that understands it’s important to take care of the football. I’m glad to see that he’s willing to admit mistakes, like we all should be able to do. That’s the starting point to making corrections. You’ve heard me talk about the teaching process in the past. You play fast and furious with no anxiety and if you make a mistake, you’ve got to be willing to admit it. Then you can start making corrections. Then you get with your coach, you correct the mistake, you move on fast to the next play. Somewhere in there, the teaching process does not work unless you’re man enough to admit you’ve made a mistake."
Comparing Josh Gordon to Greg Little
(On Josh Gordon’s progress and how he’s handling life in the NFL)- "We keep track of our young players until we get a feel for their personal lives, then we watch, we talk to them, we communicate with them, from that stand point on the personal side. From the football side, I think he’s learning how to be a pro. I was glad to see that he had a good week of practice, or better in my mind, then he went out in the game and had success. It kind of validates that, ‘Hey, if you do this, this will happen.’ Now once you do it once, part of being a pro now is then repeating it and being consistent. I think that’s what he’ll strive for."
(On the comparison between Greg Little last season and Josh Gordon)- "I think Greg had more opportunities. He was forced into more of a starting type role, just by the nature of the way last season developed. Josh Gordon has been able to come along a little bit slower. As I mentioned, we don’t have any rookies anymore. The pace picks up for all of them."
Scouting the Bengals' Defensive Line
(On the Bengals defensive line)- "First off, they’re a very talented group. Secondly, I talked about this last time we played the Bengals, their scheme allows them to get some one on ones. They walk the linebackers up, they’re willing to pressure. You can have a guy blocked but he gets on your edge. I think their scheme and their talent play hand in hand. It works well together."
Key for Haden to Defend Green; T.J. Ward's Effectiveness
(On what the key is for Joe Haden covering A.J. Green)- "What’s important is you cover the guys as well as you can, and when the ball goes up you make a play on it. You fight for it. The physical nature of who’s playing against who, you’ve just got to battle, that’s just the way it works. You count on a lot of other things. You count on the pass rush maybe disrupting the throw. You count on you reacting to the ball quicker than the receiver. You may have to jump a little higher than him, but it starts by making sure you’re tight to coverage."
(On if he is fully confident that T.J. Ward can be effective with his hand in a cast)- "Yeah, I am. I think he can be. I’ve seen guys in the past play with casts and I think he can be. I think what you’ll find is as time goes on the casts get a little smaller, you get more comfortable and I think that will happen, but he can function."
(On if Ward will be able to grab with a cast on)- "He can grab. Obviously, not quite as well as he would without it, but I don’t think it should a reason why he plays well or not."
(On if he expects D’Qwell Jackson and Ahtyba Rubin to be back at practice today)- "We’ll see. I think there’s a chance that one or both could be there."
(On the receiver position)- "We’ll have guys out there."