Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur met with the media on Friday to talk about the team's performance in Thursday night's loss to the Ravens. He also updated people on the health of Joshua Cribbs and T.J. Ward, if he would have gone for two points had the Browns gotten a touchdown on the final play, the possibility of moving Billy Winn to defensive end, the logic behind the team's run-pass distribution against the Ravens, and more. Shurmur's news conference transcript is organized by topic below.
Opening Statement - Hodges Instructed to Punt the Way he Did & General Review of the Entire Game
(Opening statement)- "How’s everybody doing? Once again, I’ll just add to what I said last night. Front to back I think our guys play hard, let’s get that once again. We can all play better and I think the results will come. As I go through it, I’ll start with special teams. I think the special teams last night had a positive contribution to our effort, I really do. They had zero return yards from the punt return standpoint. We asked Reggie (Hodges) to put the ball up, which he did. A couple of the punts were short, but we wanted the ball up in the air. We wanted to minimize the effect that a great returner had on the game. I think we did that. I was pleased with heavy balls, a wet environment and old Phil Dawson just keeps going. He’s amazing. He scores from a special team standpoint. I thought our coverage units did a nice job. I think the special teams last night was a positive contribution to our effort. They need to continue to be consistent, as well as better, so that we win our games.
"I thought defensively, when I look at it, we can talk about individual players, but I thought our run defense for the most part was much improved from the last time we played Baltimore, much improved. That’s a team concept, it’s a credit to the guys up front and of course the secondary when they fill their lanes as well. I think that’s good. Craig Robertson, the guy is finding a way to make a play. (Joshua) Cribbs gets knocked around, we lose the ball, they drive down, getting ready to score and we pick them off. It’s a big turnaround and it’s a big play. It’s a credit to him because that’s not the first time he’s done that. I though even though we tangled with Anquan Boldin, who had an outstanding night, the guys covering him challenged him. He made some great catches in contested areas. Joe Flacco made some great throws. Our guys battled and we can build on that from a defensive standpoint. Again, it’s about the score. You knock the pick six out of there, you just look at points and I think that’s what this league’s about.
"Offensively, there were flashes of good play. I do think we gave away some gimmes early in the game. When you give away gimmes early in the game where it keeps you from moving the football, then what happens is late in the game, you get a couple scores separating you from a victory, then Trent’s (Richardson) not quite as involved. There are certain things that happen. You can point to things that happened at the end of the game that were contributed to by things that happened near the beginning of the game. I think that’s the important thing of our guys putting lots of good plays together throughout. Those are the things we create. We can’t give away gimmes. We had some drops, not acceptable. There’s a zero tolerance for that. I will say this, we have some tough guys out there playing that are not catching the ball efficiently enough, and we just need to keep working with them. That’s the reality of it. In the passing game, of course, there were some inaccurate throws, there were times when he got pressured. We played an outstanding defense, and I think our guys battled. I think that’s kind of how it goes."
Update on Cribbs' Health
(On how Joshua Cribbs is doing today)- "Josh is doing well today, much better than you might expect."
(On if Cribbs came home with the team)- "[Yes], I talked to him at length on the plane last night, and he’s doing better than you might expect."
(On if he had a problem with the hit on Cribbs)- "It was a good tough hit. I’ll tell you, the officiating last night, they kept me well informed of what was going on. I thought they administered the game terrific. Really what they looked at on replay was whether the helmet popped off and all that business. It was a good hard hit. I don’t know if I have a problem with it. I didn’t like the fact that Josh got hurt, but I’ll leave it at that."
Evaluating Brandon Weeden's Progress
(On what areas Weeden is making progress)- "I think a quarterback needs to battle through the game. The quarterback needs to play his way through stretches in the game where he’s not playing at his best. The reality of it was we had shots at the end zone at the end of the game to tie it. Those are all good. Now, the challenge for him is to play consistently good throughout. I think that is the challenge. That is the efficiency, the accuracy throughout. You have to be able to throw the ball in this league. You have to do it efficiently throughout, that’s just the way it works. Rain, wind, sleet, car crashes, none of that matters, you have to be able to do it. I think we’ve got to be better throughout."
(On how Weeden is doing going through his progressions)- "He’s good at going through his progressions. I think he’ll get better as time goes on, as he plays with the supporting cast longer and he gets a chance to go through them against all the different coverages that you see."
Weeden's Final Throw of the Game & Going for Two Points
(On if he would have went for two if they scored a touchdown at the end)- "I would kick the extra point, tied it up."
(On if the defensive pressure affected Weeden’s last throw)- "Yeah, I think there was some conversation about him not giving the receiver a chance. He got tugged on and hit in the waist at the same time, which I think that affected the accuracy on that throw."
Considering Options With Billy Winn When Phil Taylor Returns
(On if Billy Winn has performed beyond what they expected)- "We liked him in college and that’s why we picked him. We felt like he could come in and do the things you have to do as a defensive tackle in this league. I think he’s performed well. He’s a starting defensive tackle in the NFL and he’s made some plays and he’s flashed. Like any young player, you want him to continue to play fast and continue to improve."
(On if Winn could play defensive end)- "I think so. I think he’s got the ability to do that."
(On if playing defensive end if a possibility for Billy Winn when Phil Taylor returns)- "Maybe. When you have a guy come back like Phil will here soon, that’s a good problem to have. How you’re going to handle keeping guys that you think are good players. That’s when you know you’re making progress with your roster. That’s when you know that you’re starting to get the right guys, when you have tough decisions on guys that have played and done good work."
The Run-Pass Distribution Against Baltimore & Playing Smart
(On what point you go away from the run when you are down by 10)- "I think you do what you have to do to score. I think we got down by two scores there in the fourth quarter. I don’t think we totally got away from it, but I did feel like we had to press a little bit throwing the football. We found our way down the field, which was important. I think each game is different. If you’re down by 10, and it’s a 70-60 game, then you’ve displayed an ability to score a lot of points. It’s a little different than 23-13."
(On if last night was the closest they’ve come to a complete game this season)- "I don’t know. I’ve thought all year long our guys have played hard. I’ve thought all year long there were patches in the game where we played well. I’ve thought all year long there are things we need to work on. That’s what I came away with."
(On if they have played smarter in the last couple weeks)- "I think I’m seeing less mistakes being repeated. That shows me that their attention to detail and what we’re trying to inspire them to do is sinking in."
Injuries at the Safety Position, Haden's 'Betrayal', and Fujita
(On T.J. Ward’s status)- "He’s got a right hand injury. He’s being evaluated. There’s a chance that we may have to do some more evaluation. I’ll even narrow it down for you, it’s a right thumb injury. It’s it."
(On if Ward can play with his injury)- "Sure, Ray Ventrone is doing it."
(On if there is anything new on Usama Young)- "We’ll see. We’ll let the dust settle. We’re doing work here today and then we’ll be back on the field practicing Monday so we’ll see where everything is at there."
(On if he feels betrayed at all by Joe Haden)- "Betrayed? No. Joe could have gone out and sprained his ankle, I’m not betrayed."
(On the fact that Haden didn’t sprain his ankle)- "I know. I think that’s where there’s a little disconnect between those asking the questions and those answering it. We deal with the cards we’re dealt, and you go play. That’s our little world here and that’s how we handle it. No, I don’t feel betrayed. I want the guys that play until he gets back to challenge their fanny off and play good football. When he gets back, we’ll play it out from there."
(On if Scott Fujita is in Berea today)- "He’s in New York."
Greg Little & Hanging Onto the Football
(On if they are doing things with Greg Little behind the scenes to work on drops)- "There’s a lot that you don’t see that we work on. Everything from philosophically how you approach catching the football to putting in the practice practicing it. There’s a lot. We go through it all the time. I’ve seen it before where young players work through this and become legitimate catchers in this league."
(On if dropping passes could get in Little’s head if it’s focused on too much)- "We just keep working every week and we talked about completing some deep balls. We completed a deep ball to him down our left sideline and he dropped an obvious one, but there was some progress I think he made as a player in areas that may not always be obvious to people watching that aren’t privy to what really happens behind scenes."
(On examples of players he’s seen overcome dropping the ball early in their career)- "We had a guy in St. Louis, Brandon Gibson, who came in and he’s doing a good job for them now. He was forced to play early and he had a little bit of a problem with it and now it’s not a problem. It happens and you hope that’s the case in Greg’s case. Here’s what happens, everybody that’s on our roster, you work with them and you inspire them to improve. That’s what we do and then you folks sit here and give praise and assign blame on Mondays. I guess it’s Friday, it feels like a Monday to me."
(On if he worries about his quarterback when the receivers drop a lot of passes)- "Nope. No, I watch it very closely and I think the way he handles adversity - and good plays and bad plays - will allow us to move forward."
(On trying to get the guys to make more good plays and hanging on to the ball)- "We’re hard on our guys when it comes to it. Quite frequently, and I’m the judge and jury on it when we write it down. There are times when you don’t complete a pass where it’s a quarterback inaccuracy, he didn’t throw it on time or it’s a flat drop. There are times when all three are involved. I think the passing game is a coordinated effort. It starts with obviously the protection, making a throw and making a catch."
Travis Benjamin's Good Punt Return, and Norwood Replacing Him
(On how fast Travis Benjamin was on his punt return)- "He’s fast-fast and he got it to the punter so I’m sure the guys in there are giving him grief about letting the punter finish it."
(On it looking like the only way Benjamin would be stopped on the return was by running down the sideline)- "Well we had a sideline return as you saw so there were three or four really good blocks there that allowed it to spring."
(On why Jordan Norwood was in on a punt return the end)- "We needed to put him in there. Travis just had a little issue, but he was in there in the end. He’s a good punt returner and we put him in there. We actually went for the block in that situation."
Overall Player Confidence With an 0-4 Record
(On the mood of the team after a negative play and how you deal with that adversity)- "You just keep playing and I felt that from our guys. I felt like we kept playing. In fact, we had an untimed down so you just keep playing. We saw a game the other night, the last play of the game was win or loss determined so you just keep playing. I think that’s the important piece and I didn’t sense any letdown. Immediately what happens when a play doesn’t get made that goes your way all of a sudden it just takes a couple of seconds and everybody is fine and you keep moving because that’s the way these guys are wired. That’s the way they approach it."
(On if he feels a positive vibe from the team about wanting to win)- "Absolutely, I’m confident our guys are going to bust their tail the whole year. All our efforts will be put into beating the Giants. That’s the little tunnel we live in and we are at peace with that."
(On what their goal is as an 0-4 team since no 0-4 team has made the playoffs)- "It’s no doom and gloom here. We’re fighting in this next 10 day stretch to do what we can to go to New York and beat the Giants. That’s what we’re doing. Then we add them up at the end and see where we are."
(On how he can keep his players confident that they can win tough road games)- "We need to win the game. That’s when you develop the level of confidence that you can win the game. I will say this, our guys went out there, we didn’t have any pre-snap penalties on offense, they handled the crowd noise fine and they battled from start to finish. Along the way we’ve all got to play and coach better."
(On how he feels about his players despite the record)- "Number one, they work extremely hard. They play extremely hard. We need to play better. This is the group of guys I want to get this thing fixed with and I told them that in the locker room last night so, no, these are my guys and I’m glad they are."