BEREA (923TheFan) – Even coaches make mistakes when they win.
While still basking in the glow of his first NFL victory as a Head Coach, Pat Shurmur admitted that he made a mistake by not playing running back Montario Hardesty sooner in the Browns’ 27-19 win over the Colts in Indianapolis.
“This is something I need to do a better job of,” Shurmur said. “I wanted to get him in the game at some point. I wish we could’ve gotten him in the game sooner.
“He needs to play.”
Hardesty’s first run of the afternoon came at the 14:13 mark of the fourth quarter and it netted one yard.
An 11-yard completion to Greg Little on the next play set up a critical first and goal at the four yard line with the Browns clinging to a 14-12 lead.
On first down, Colt McCoy handed the ball to Hardesty. He fumbled. But Joe Thomas was able to land on the loose ball and the Browns recovered.
“Nobody trains the runner to put the ball on the ground,” Shurmur said. “I feel like he’s made huge progress through training camp.”
Hardesty remained in and rushed for two yards on second down.
Following an incomplete pass on third down, the Browns settled for a Phil Dawson 20-yard field goal to extend the lead to 17-12.
Hardesty was not seen again and finished with three total carries for just one yard.
Peyton Hillis rushed for 94 yards on 27 carries including a pair of touchdown runs.
“Peyton is a bruising style runner that needs a little bit of relief at times,” Shurmur said. “I think that is what we’ll try to do a better job of next time.”
Shurmur was asked if he will make an effort to split up the carries between Hillis and Hardesty from here on out.
“Sounds like a good plan,” Shurmur joked. “I don’t know if that means that they’re going to get the same amount of carries. You always go with the runner that has the hot hand and Peyton is our number one back at this point.”
There is no denying how effective Hillis is with the ball in his hands – he is a one man wrecking crew. But it’s time for Shurmur and the Browns to find out if Hardesty is healthy and exactly what he can do.
Shurmur continues to say that Hardesty is healthy, isn’t limited in the amount of carries he can handle and is needed for the offense to be successful.
“For us to win over a consistent time frame we’re going to need him,” Shurmur said. “And so I need to play him sooner”
It starts this Sunday against the Dolphins at the stadium.
How would you like to see the Browns use Hardesty? Comment below.