Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur met with the media on Monday to talk about Sunday's loss to the Dallas Cowboys. There was a lot of interesting stuff, and if you don't feel like reading the entire thing, then check out the video at the official team site. Shurmur's news conference transcript is organized by topic below.
Overview of Offense, Defense, and Special Teams vs. Dallas
(Opening Statement) – "Going back on yesterday, of course, a disappointing loss. There are some things in that game that we can build on, of course.
I’ll start with special teams, because I’ve talked in the last few weeks about how they’ve been a positive contribution to our efforts. They’ve taken pride in their performance. I don’t think it’s ever happened, but we had all touchbacks, Phil (Dawson) made all his kicks. You can talk about punt returns. We traded one for one with them. They had a dynamic returner and I thought our punter has been doing a good job. There’s some good stuff there. I think some of the youth, some of the young linebackers; some of the veteran players that are involved make a significant impact like Josh Cribbs, of course. They tried to on-side kick us and we defended it. They squib kicked us, we caught the ball. There were a lot of good things in there and I think we need to keep building on that.
On defense, I thought there was a whole lot of good that happened yesterday. We’re getting, as you know, more of our defensive linemen back. The run game did not make any significant impact on us. Then of course, we did a good job of putting pressure on Tony Romo. I always feel like it’s most important to get pressure on the quarterback to give yourself a chance against a team that likes to throw the football and has dynamic weapons. That was good. We did give up some plays in the passing game, but that happens against every team. I was proud of the way our guys in the secondary battled. As we move forward, when we’re in base, we’ll put two corners out there, when we’re in nickel we’ll put three, if we go to dime we’ll put four. Whoever those guys are, I trust that they’re going to go out there to do a good job. There was some good stuff there. Now we’ve got to, of course, as we go forward, make more plays than they do to win the football game.
Offensively there were some things. I felt we were better in third downs and we scored in the red zone. There were no penalties, right? In a loud environment, we didn’t really have any communication (problems). We had one where the helmet went out. At the end of the game, we had our three timeouts, which allowed us to get the football back. In fact, after that time we did not score on fourth and one, three and out with three timeouts, we got the ball back, had a punt return plus a penalty and scored. It was a team thing to get ahead. I’m proud of our guys for that. Again, we just have to find a way to finish.
That’s where we’re at. Right now, they are watching the tape or finishing watching the tape. I want them to take everything they can away from that tape that’s going to help us prepare for Pittsburgh, which is now in our vision. That’s the most important thing. That’s where we’re at."
Difficulty Finishing Games and Trying to Bounce Back
(On how he figures out how to finish a game) – "It’ll sound cliché, (but) you have to do it. I think every game is a different story. We get ahead in this one, we get behind and we get back ahead. We just have to do it."
(On finishing being the message to the players all season) – "We talk about finishing all the time. We talk about starting fast. We talk about fighting throughout. We talk about finishing. We do that all the time."
(On if it’s more difficult for the players to bounce back after another close loss) – "No. These guys love playing football. They believe in what they’re doing. I see them right now getting ready to play Pittsburgh."
(On if he agrees that the Browns don’t know how to win) – "No, I don’t agree with that. We’ve just got to find a way to finish. We have a whole locker room full of winners. This whole organization is full of winners, we’ve just got to put it all together and do it."
(On thoughts on Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson transitioning from college having barely any losses) – "Most everybody that comes to the NFL, and most anybody that gets put in NFL situations comes to this league having not lost many games. Unfortunately, dealing with adversity and developing mental toughness is part of this thing as you’re building. We know there are going to be some tough days. That’s unfortunate, but that’s where it’s at. That’s why you just stay with a nice tight focus on the next game."
(On if he experienced not finishing games while on the Eagles staff and what got them over the top) – "You just kept playing. You just kept working on the fundamentals. You develop some mental toughness, and you just go and do it. That’s just what it is. That’s what you do. You put together a locker room of guys that are willing to fight and willing to work, and then you do what you can to play the next opponent. Then you go do it."
(On if he is confident this team will continue to fight) – "Absolutely."
(On if they would have been able to close the Ravens game building confidence with two wins in a row) – "No question. I think that’s what you want. Once you start to do it, then you gain confidence that you can do it anytime you’re faced with that situation."
(On if he ever looks at the bigger picture and think how are we 2-8) – "I’m charged with taking a look at the big picture, but I’m also charged with getting the team ready to play the next opponent. It seems like we ask these types of questions every week. That’s the reality of it. I show up every Monday pretty much knowing what’s going on, Tuesday, Wednesday. We all have a routine that we go through as we prepare. That’s where we go with it. Really some of this unit, you’re not in control of, you just get your team ready to play. You go out there and you play hard. You try to play efficient and you try to make enough plays to win the football game. That’s how you get through it. That’s how you do it."
(On how the players are handling coming up short) – "I think we have a locker room full of tough guys that are just going to keep pushing. Different guys respond to it a little bit differently than others. For the most part, they just keep working and I just encourage them to do that. I think they try to respond to that."
(On if he has seen in his career teams with poor records lose a lot of energy or passion towards the end of the season) – "I’m not going to compare to what I’ve seen. I’m just worried about these guys playing hard every snap and finding a way to finish. I’ll let you guys compare and watch. You guys watch more of this other stuff than I do. I’ll let you guys decide."
Trent Richardson's Issues in Shot Yardage, and Second Half Gas
(On if he’s surprised that Richardson has had trouble with three and one situations) – "I wouldn’t over think that. I really don’t. Trent’s improving each week. We’re giving him the football and giving him lots of opportunities. No, I’m not surprised by anything."
(On if he thinks Richardson ran out of gas in the second half) – "No, I don’t think he ran out of gas. We’re going full circle now. We wanted to give it to him every play. Now we give it to him a few times, he’s getting tired. Excuse me for mentioning it."
(On Richardson’s performance second half) – "I thought he did a lot of good things in the second half. I don’t think he got tired. There were a lot of full grown men going at it last night. That was a team pretty good against the run, as we all know. Our guys stood toe to toe and we found a way to have some success."
Issues With the Officiating Crew
(On if he thought the refs had too big an impact on the game) – "I’m not going to go there. The Browns played the Cowboys and it was officiated. That’s it."
(On if he can talk about the Miles Austin fumble) – "No. A lot of thoughts, no comments."
(On if he puts a reel together to send in to get clarification on questionable calls) – "That’s not the process. When we ask for clarification, we just denote what plays they are. Then they look at them, and we communicate. That’s a behind the scenes thing."
Joe Haden's Status This Week, and Cornerback Play
(On when he was sure Joe Haden couldn’t play) – "That’s a good question. He made every effort to go out there and play. It was right up to the very end. In fact, right at the very end. He made every effort to play in the game (and) was extremely disappointed he couldn’t play. I’ve got no problems with how that process happened. He was dealing with an injury, and I knew it was going to be game time. It went right to the wire."
(On if Haden will play this week) – "We’re hopeful. We’ll just see who’s ready to go. We’ll try to get him ready. Obviously he’s got one more week to get healthy."
(On how Buster Skrine is today) – "He’s alright. We’ll just see where he’s at as we move forward through the week."
(On if Skrine was being too physical) – "I thought he battled extremely hard. We like to play bump and run coverage a good part of the time. He made an effort to do what we’re coaching."
(On if Johnson Bademosi has a future as a NFL cornerback) – "He played corner against the Dallas Cowboys yesterday so yeah, he has a future. He has really impressed me since he’s been here. He plays a lot on special teams. Like guys that initially become role players or special team’s players, we’re developing him to play in scrimmage snaps. He has done a good job of developing there and will continue to do so."
(On what he says to the secondary to correct the penalties) – "Don’t hold, then you work on it. That’s what you do and you just keep working on it. For instance, and lets knock on wood here, we talked about Greg Little not being able to catch the easy one. He made a couple heroic catches yesterday. Those were a couple of tough catches. Now I don’t think it’s any mystery that he’s been working on it, so you just work on it and you tend to get what you emphasize."
Describing the Unsuccessful Fade, Clock Management, and Weeden
(On running the play before the two minute warning giving Dallas an extra timeout) – "When you get to that point in the game, you’re doing whatever you can to score. We talked about letting it go, but we wanted to get another one in there before the two minute warning. You never know exactly when you’re going to score. You just don’t know when you get down there. It may take five or six plays. We wanted to run another play. That’s just the way we did it. I’m kind of glad we did, because then we had a chance then of course to stop them and get the ball back."
(On if the fourth and one throw to Jordan Cameron was poorly executed) – "No, he caught the ball right? We had a fade ball to Jordan there. Then we had other route combinations within it. We made the throw, we made the catch. We’ve just have to do it in a way where we get it inbounds. I don’t have a problem with it. We’ve just have to do it better."
(On if Weeden is more comfortable throwing to the right) – "The way we had that thing set up, our receiver was quicker to get on the corner in a tighter confined area. We can make a lot of out of that. That’s what happened."
(On if the play before Richardson hit the hole they wanted him to) – "We just didn’t make it there. We’ve got to do a better job of executing."
(On if the problem with the fourth and one throw was Weeden was meant to throw sooner) – "That would make sense wouldn’t it? A lot of this stuff is time and distance. We have to execute better. We didn’t get it done. I really liked when he threw the touchdown and got us ahead. That was an excellent throw to Ben (Watson) down the middle."
(On how Weeden played yesterday) – "I thought it was better than the Ravens game. He threw two touchdown passes and for the most part was pretty efficient. There were still plenty of mistakes in there, plenty of things that he can do better."
(On if he recovered for the final two plays after having a strip sack) – "After the strip sack, I think he came out and went five for five. In other words, I think he did recover from that. As I said, there were a couple plays in there that I’m sure he wants back."
Offensive Line Starting to Roll
(On if he considers the offensive line to be one of the best in the league) – "I can talk about this game specifically. That’s a pretty physical, big front. They stood toe to toe and battled pretty hard, I thought in the run and the pass. Other than inserting (John) Greco for (Jason) Pinkston, this group has been together now for a few games. I think the longer you play together, the better you get. I think we’ve added some young talented players in there that hopefully will be around for a long time."
Commenting on Cribbs' Comments Last Week
(On if he had a problem with Josh Cribbs’ comments last week) – "Josh is a very competitive guy. I said early last week how impressed I was with the impact he’s had on special teams. I’m sure he wants to touch the football every play. Most skills players feel that way about themselves. Josh is a tough guy and I appreciate what he brings to the table. We had a couple plays in there for him yesterday where he was in the game with the intention of getting him the football and they did a good job of defending him. I think I know Josh now and I think I know what’s in his heart and he’s just a competitive guy. Josh and I talk frequently."
(On if he finds Cribbs making those comments selfish at all) – "Very competitive guys, we can call it whatever we want to call it, but very competitive guys want to feel like they can make a difference in anything they do. I’m sure Josh thinks he can line the field better than they guys that do it. That’s okay, that’s okay."
(On with a young locker room full of players that Cribbs is setting a bad example with his comments) – "We all know each other and we all work together and I comment privately on things that happen publicly. I’m confident that we have an outstanding locker room."
Benefit of Having the Defensive Tackles All Back
(On how much Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin being in there together yesterday help the pass rush) – "Yeah, having Rubin back and Taylor back, that was a good combination. You saw we had a good little rotation of guys getting in and out. If coaches could have it ideal, you would have eight guys that could go in there and play and you could roll them in with no drop off. When you add two players back to the lineup that were starters for us all last year, heck yes that makes up better."
T.J. Ward's Penalized Hit
(On if T.J. Ward has to change anything in his game) – "No, we talk to him about the rules. In those situations, let me be very clear and I know the rule here, a defenseless player, you cannot hit him with your head in the head. Now, you guys decide."
(On the penalty against Ward being announced shoulder or forearm to the head) – "Right, you can’t hit them with your head or you can’t hit them in the head. Either players head cannot be involved. Now, when you watch the tape, you guys can decide if there were heads involved. I think that’s what he (Ed Hochuli) was saying based on what he was officiated. Am I saying that clear? So in other words, if I was going to tackle you Tony (Grossi), believe me I wouldn’t do that. I’ve never even thought of that quite frankly (jokingly). If you’re catching the football and I came to tackle you, I can’t hit you with my head and I can’t hit you in the head."
(On if he would like to see the challenge system done away with and have something more similar to college) – "I don’t know, I’d probably have to put more thought into that. I kind of like how turnovers are immediately challenged or looked at in case there was something in there. That takes it out of the coaches (hands) because your first reaction on one of those is to do that (reach for the red flag) which we all know we don’t do anymore. They handle those just like they do touchdowns or scoring plays. There are a lot of really smart people trying to get this thing right. I think those are offseason discussions."
Increase in Playing Time for Tashaun Gipson
(On why Tashaun Gipson received so much playing time) – "He’s getting back healthy and as you saw we didn’t have Bubba (Ray Ventrone). (He) was not in there so he was in the rotation and we liked what we saw before he got injured so we wanted to make sure he was in the game. We felt like having (Eric) Hagg in the game, his size could help with (Jason) Witten a little bit. I thought we had a good little rotation at safety there and then certain guys came in in nickel, certain guys played in base. I thought that was effective. Maybe we’ll see more of that."