Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur met with the media on Monday to talk more about the team's 17-16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The things he talked about included him saying Brandon Weeden's errors are correctable, what happened on the interceptions that were intended for Travis Benjamin, Trent Richardson being a bit off in his running, and more. The news conference transcript is organized by topic after the jump.
Opening Statement - Offense, Defense, and Special Teams
(Opening Statement) – "Let me just start by saying, it’s no more or less disappointing that we lost that first ball game. This is the day when you go back and you look at it all, you re-evaluate it, you try to make corrections and I would say from a defensive standpoint, I thought it was a great effort. (I) talked all offseason about getting turnovers, which we did, and yards aside, we eliminated scoring on a very explosive offense.
To hold that offense to 17 points in over 90 plays I think is a pretty good job. We got pressure on the quarterback. I thought there was solid play from the defensive line (and) the linebacking core, which obviously there were a lot of young players out there playing and even in the secondary. When Sheldon (Brown) got hurt, the guys in the secondary did a good job of really limiting the big plays. They got a big play in the two minute drive before the half, and they had some other things that happened, but I thought they battled. A great effort can’t be confused with a win and there are some things in there that we have to get better at.
On offense, I think it’s fair to say that every phase of the offense needs to improve. Although at times, I did think the pass protection was pretty decent. We need to run the ball better. We have to put more plays together. We have to do better on third-down. We have to do better in the red zone and you have to take care of the football. You can ask me specific questions, but it’s just got to be better.
The special teams, very solid effort. I thought they contributed significantly to what could have been a victory. I thought some of the young linebackers on the team, some of the young secondary players, show up on special teams and they did some good stuff. (Tashaun) Gipson and (Johnson) Bademosi and (Tank) Carder, who has only been here a week. (Joshua) Cribbs obviously did some great things. Alex Smith played a big role in his effort to block.
When I look back on it, we were right there. I look at some of the things that happened in the game. We had a 1:26 (remaining) and we have the football and they have three timeouts. If we execute on that third-down play, now we’re in control of, possibly stepping it up and going after a score. At 3-3 at that point, I thought that was the right way to approach it.
Then later in the game, seven minutes to go, we’re up by six, we’re in around mid field, we execute those two or three plays a little bit better, we get a few more downs. We can, at the very least, kick a field-goal, now you’re talking about a nine point game. There are things in there that we need to do better if we want to be the kind of team we want to be. Those are the things we talk about."
Brandon Weeden's Errors Are Correctable
(On the first step to Brandon Weeden improving) – "I think he’s got to look at this game and make the corrections. (I) told the team this, every error that happened yesterday is correctable and I think that’s the great news. We’re not looking at plays and situations that they can’t improve on. That’s where he’s at right now. He’s finishing that process of watching the game, which he had already watched by the time he got here today. Make the corrections, which will be very obvious to him, and of course we need to take care of the ball better."
(On if Weeden was the first guy in the building) – "I don’t know that. I was more concerned about me."
(On how does he correct the missed touchdown pass to Mohamed Massaquoi) – "Make a better throw. He took five on the hitch and he threw it."
(On how Weeden will make a better throw to Massaquoi) – "The guys wide open and you have to hit him. That’s how you make a better throw. I don’t know what to tell you. He took a five step drop, the guys running wide open, you got to keep it in bounds and make a better throw. That’s all there is to it. I wish there was some kind of formula or theorem, but that’s not the case."
(On Weeden having his shoulder up when he threw) – "I think the way you have to keep your front shoulder down of course and step in. I don’t think there’s anything other than we can work on it. I think when guys throw high, they let their front shoulder get up and the ball sails on."
(On if Weeden wasn’t stepping into his throws) – "I don’t think that’s the case. I think there are times when you do because there is pressure in your face, but you still have to make the throw. I think a lot of times, you can’t throw the ball exactly the way you draw it up because you get a little pressure and you have to move. That’s what we work on. He’s got to get it better."
(On Weeden overthrowing all game) – "I don’t know about that. I just think that generally speaking, he would tell you that he needs to throw the ball more accurately. Each pass has a reason why it’s successful or it’s not. We work on those. We know all the fundamentals of it. We can sit here and go through each one and I can tell you about it if you want. (I’m) not sure we all have time for that."
(On he attributes Weeden’s high throws to him being a baseball player) – "No, I think it’s the throwing motion. I don’t know if it relates to baseball. Those were high fast balls if we’re talking about baseball, they were not change ups."
(On what he has to do to make sure Weeden doesn’t lose any confidence) – "He won’t lose his confidence. I think it’s important we go back, just like we do each week, work on the fundamentals of playing the position, and get ready to play the next team. That’s it."
(On if it’s hard to look at the big picture of developing Weeden with the new owner coming in) – "That’s about a six-part question, I think. I think the big picture is we have to get everybody that plays, ready to play each week. I don’t think we overreact to this. I obviously didn’t get much sleep thinking about it, because you put so much into the first game. I would have liked to have seen us have a better performance in a lot of areas. The fact of the matter is we lost by a point. My only focus right now is making sure we’re ready to play the next game."
(On how a quarterback filters things out with many different coaches talking to him) – "We’re all trying to tell him the same thing. We all have the same message. I obviously weigh in quite a bit. Mark Whipple and Brad (Childress) work with him throughout the week. Then we put the plays in, there are certain progressions. All three of us are able to tell him the same thing."
Fans Calling for Colt McCoy
(On what he would say to fans that are clamoring for Colt McCoy) – "Clamoring for Colt? Brandon Weeden is our starter, and he’s going to get better, that’s what I’m going to tell them. Right? I’m looking right into that little camera thing of yours. By the way that thing creeps me out just for the record. Sorry, you’re the only one with one of those things."
Breaking Down the Interceptions to Travis Benjamin
(On if the two interceptions to Travis Benjamin were the same route) – "They were different routes, but same results, right?"
(On the reason for the interceptions to Benjamin) – "They have two pro bowl corners, so where are you going to throw it? We wanted to take a shot. Two things, the ball needs to be thrown in a position where the receiver can get it and if the ball is thrown in position where the defender’s got a good chance to get it, the ball needs to be defended by the receiver. That’s what we talk about. Of course, we’re always aware of match-ups. You got Nnamdi (Asomugha) and then of course you got (Dominique Rodgers-) Cromartie. What do you want me to do, not throw the ball? What I’m not okay with, is I didn’t like where the throw was."
Bad Football All-Around on the Owen Marecic Drop Play
(On the fullback not catching the ball before the end of the half) – "That’s the third down I was talking about in the flat. That was just poor execution all the way around. We didn’t cut the edge, Ben Watson’s running wide open on the corner route, (the) ball was thrown to the fullback, not a perfect throw but catchable. All in all that was just bad football."
(On how Owen Marecic did blocking and importance of him becoming a receiver out of the backfield) – "I think he did okay blocking yesterday. He was only in there for about a little less than a third of the snaps, because we use three receivers quite a bit or two tight ends. I felt like it was some of those other groupings were beneficial this week. He did fine. He just needs to catch that ball on third and two. I think that’s fair to say. He’s got good hands. He can catch the football and he can block, so I expect him to do his job well."
Greg Little Needs to Catch The Type of Pass He Missed
(On Greg Little’s dropped pass at the goal-line losing them a potential lead) – "You have to catch them. (You) have to catch the balls. There were a couple drops on the other side. It’s important that we catch the balls that are contested. I agree with you."
(On if Weeden’s pass to Greg Little should have been caught) – "Yeah, it hit him right in the neck. Yeah, you’ve got to catch that ball. As the field shrinks, that’s what the red zone provides, a smaller field and less area to defend. There’s lots of bang-bang plays, there just are. When the ball hits you in the neck, you’ve got to catch it, end of story. There’s really nothing more to it. There’s no formula for that."
(On if Little’s hand weren’t in the right place to make the catch and what he needs to do fundamentally) – "His eyes and fingers focus on a small point, and catch the ball. That’s what he needs to do."
(On how much it would do for the quarterback’s confidence if Little would have scored on the play) – "It’s huge. I think any success any player has early in the game, helps them move through the game smoother. I think there’s no question. I think that’s the way it is. Part of playing this game is overcoming adversity because every once in a while you’re not going to start out strong. That’s part of it."
Shurmur's Philosophy When it Comes to Challenging Plays
(On his challenge system) – "I have eyes upstairs that can help me. Then I can of course see it. Then, if we’re fortunate enough to have it on the board, we get another look at it. I have somebody that helps me see it, or people on the sideline that see it, or if the players are involved they can say ‘The ball hit me.’ We get input and then at some point there then I make a decision. In the case of the ones that I challenge, they were close in my opinion, but they involve turnovers and that’s why I did it. I felt like, on the one view that I saw on the punt, we though it hit the Eagles guys leg. That’s why we challenged that. I saw the ball fumbled in the last drive."
(On if the fumble recovery was ‘unchallengeable’) – "It was. They told me I could, so I did. Here’s what I would say. That ball was fumbled and we ended up with it. I was given no information at that time how they ruled it. When I said ‘I’d like to challenge that and every aspect of that play’, they said, ‘Sure, fine.’ They didn’t take a timeout away."
(On if they didn’t take the timeout because the call was unchallengeable) – "They initially said I could. That’s my point. I’m not going there because I know where that’s going to take me."
(On if it was ruled as a fumble, Michael Vick recovered it and a Browns player touched it) – "No, we ended up with the ball. We’ll have a little seminar on this later. In terms of, to answer your question, there are a lot of situations in the game, and I get help from upstairs on certain situations that I cannot see. Obviously, a guy in and out of bounds on the sideline, those types of things. I have coaches in the box that help me with that."
Thoughts on the Lack of Burst from Trent Richardson
(On what he saw from Trent Richardson after watching film) – "There were times when we had enough blockers and we didn’t get enough yards, in my opinion. There were a couple of times when there was an extra guy there that we have to make a guy miss. We have to get more out of the run game. I think that’s fair to say."
(On Richardson’s burst’s not being what they would normally be and if he needs a little help with that) – "He looked like a guy just back to me. He was competing out there. He probably played 10 or 12 more plays than I wanted him to, but he’s doing great today and he pulled out of it okay."
(On what he expects from Richardson going from Week One to Week Two) – "I think you will see him be a little bit fresher, a little bit sharper in everything he does. The plays that he carries the football as well as some of the things that he has to do when he doesn’t, which aren’t always so obvious. I think he’ll be sharper."
(On if he debated using Brandon Jackson and Montario Hardesty instead of Richardson) – "Brandon did play on third down. The first and second down plays, there were a couple times, when we were going to, but he’s hard to keep off the sidelines now, I’m telling you. I think that’s a great thing. He’s a competitive guy."
The Decision to Not Try for Two Points
(On the Steelers going for two last night with 14 minutes left and why he didn’t try for two) – "At that point we were up by five. Whatever you want to talk about the chart or what not, we discussed it. I felt like in that game there, to make it six. It was kind of one of those field goal kind of games. Two field goals beat you if you don’t make the two point play. I always think of it as, if there’s only a possession or two. You want to do it at the very last moment if you can. I went back and I thought about that again, I would do it the same way."
(On if they didn’t go for the two points because the offense was struggling) – "No, it has to do with possessions and how the game is going. I don’t care what your little camera thing says, I do think that I would do it again at that point."
Update on Scott Fujita and Sheldon Brown
(On why they didn’t activate Scott Fujita) – "Scott hadn’t practiced. I think that was part of it. The game plan was set up where we knew we were going to be in a lot of two linebacker sets quite a bit because of as much three wide-outs that Philadelphia played. We felt like we just wanted to go with the guys that had practiced and gotten ready to play."
(On if Fujita will practice this week) – "Yeah, he’ll be out there."
(On if he has to re-assess how he will use Fujita) – "I think it’s rare you have a game where you play over 90 snaps. I was used to seeing that. I think they threw the ball 56 times. We have to evaluate how we play all our guys, and we’ll just have to see how much Scott can handle."
(On if Sheldon Brown will be available this week) – "Yeah, I think he will be."
Impressive Play From the Young Linebackers
(On how L.J. Fort and Craig Robertson played in the game) – "I thought the young linebackers played well. They showed up both on defense as well as on special teams. L.J. did a nice job. Somebody said something about a sack and an interception, that’s the first for a rookie, help me with that, there is something about that. He contributed throughout the game. He had a lot of opportunities, there were 96 snaps on defense."
(On an undrafted rookie being ready to play and a first round quarterback who didn’t look ready to play) – "I think they were both ready to play, one played better than the other. I wouldn’t compare them that way. Quarterbacks have a lot on their plate, they do. That’s just the way it is, and you’ve got to be able to handle it. L.J. did some really good things. Brandon did some good things, but not enough, obviously. I anticipate they will both play better next week."
(On if Fort and Robertson are capable of playing conventionally in the 4-3) – "Yeah, absolutely. In a regular grouping? For sure."
Offensive Line Pass and Run Protection vs. Eagles
(On what he saw in the offensive line’s pass protection) – "I thought there were some times in there where he got hit, but especially early on not really. I thought we did some things, we chipped them. I tried to use three step drops to get the ball out quickly. They’re kind of a wide edge team, so moving the pocket doesn’t work significantly against these guys. From that standpoint, we tried to help him launch the football."
(On the run blocking) – "I think we’ve got to get better. We didn’t get to the second level in some areas that I think are important."
Adding New Information From Monday Night Game for Bengals
(On if he will watch the Ravens vs. Bengals game tonight or if they will wait for the tape) – "No, we’ll watch it. This is one Monday night game where we will watch it straight through. The other ones of course we’ll already be working. We have all the data that we can at this point in the system, and that’s what we’ll base our game plan on until tonight’s game. Then we’ll add that information in."
General Messages to Players
(On if he talks to the players about leaving the first game behind them) – "A first game loss is only fatal if we let it be. That’s it. That’s the story. There are no moral victories. It’s very simple. I wish I could give you something you write more than a couple lines, but it’s very simple. You move on, you make the corrections and you do everything you can to get better and put that into action against your next opponent. That’s just really the way it is. That’s the way our world works."
(On teams having to learn to lose close games before they can win them) – "Learning to lose? No, you’ve got to learn to win. That’s what I would say."