Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur put a wrap Tuesday afternoon on his first season as an NFL head coach.
Shurmur lamented that the year wasn’t as structured as he would have liked going into it or as successful.
“I understand that we need to improve,” Shurmur said. “I have a much clearer picture of what this team is and of who my players are. I feel good moving forward making some of the necessary changes.”
At the top of those changes will be to hire an offensive coordinator.
“He may come from the staff, he may come from outside the building,” Shurmur said. “I want to hire the best coordinator I can and that’s the goal.
“I went into the season knowing that we were going to do it at this time.”
The primary reason why the position wasn’t filled last offseason was because the right coach wasn’t available.
Offensively the team finished near the bottom in just out every statistic. The team barely eclipsed the expansion Browns of 1999 for scoring by putting 218 points on the board this season.
Shurmur is willing to give up play calling if it means that he will land the right coordinator.
“I think it’s important that I get the best coordinator I can for us,” Shurmur said. “I think that’s one of the details that’ll get worked out as we go through the process. Calling plays, that’s a fun thing for all of us to do, and I want to get the best guy I can.
“If he’s outstanding at calling plays, listen, I want to win games, and so I’m gonna get the guys in there that are gonna help us do that.”
Shurmur would not confirm rumors that former Vikings head coach Brad Childress was a candidate. He said he will keep the list private but would like to hire one as soon as possible. Shurmur worked under Childress at Philadelphia.
Expect former Packers coach Mike Sherman’s name to be included on that list as well. Sherman worked with president Mike Holmgren in Green Bay but could have his eyes on his next head coaching job.
“I’m trying to find the best guy, so a guy who speaks our language, so to speak, might have a leg up,” Shurmur said.
Aside from hiring an offensive coordinator Shurmur said there were no plans to make any changes to his coaching staff for next season.
As for 2011, the Browns went 0-for the AFC North and finished 4-12 – the franchises’ 10th 10+ loss season in 13 years.
The final record is one of a few regrets Shurmur spoke of Tuesday.
“I wish we could win more games,” Shurmur said. “That’s what we’re in this to do. I wish as we moved through the season, you know (we would) win.”
They ended the season on a six-game losing streak but lost the final three games by a combined 13 points. The Browns lost six games by seven or fewer points and the average margin of loss within the division was eight.
But that’s no consolation to him.
“I really don’t take any consolation in any form of a loss,” Shurmur said. “We analyze everything. We analyze the wins, we analyze the losses and there’s always things that you can do better.
“The natural reaction is when you lose a game by a close margin there’s maybe one or two things that might have changed the outcome.”
Shurmur said that he is well aware of fans’ anger and frustration with the constant losing every year and he and the organization are working to change that.
“Throughout the year we’ve talked about the fans and what they expect and they should expect a team that wins,” Shurmur said. “That’s what we’re trying to build here and I’m very confident we will get that done.”
The quarterback situation is no clearer today than it was at the start of training camp.
Colt McCoy was underwhelming in his 13 starts but Shurmur said that he will get to compete next season to keep the job.
“I feel like he’s done some really good things,” Shurmur said. “Get him back healthy, get him in an offseason where he has a chance to develop. I would say this, at all positions maybe other than at left tackle with Joe Thomas and one of the corners with Joe Haden, there’s going to be some competition. I expect Colt will improve, just like I expect Seneca will improve and whoever the quarterbacks are here and I think that can be said for all positions.
“The best quarterback will play when we start the season.”
McCoy’s arm or accuracy is not an issue for Shurmur and neither is his ability to handle the offense or the huddle. He saw improvements from McCoy in those areas this past season.
“I don’t have a problem with the way Colt throws the ball,” Shurmur said. “I think he throws the ball well enough. There’s so much more that goes into playing quarterback than just pure arm strength. I think you’ve seen through the years examples of guys that Number one have had extremely strong arms and couldn’t succeed and guys who have been very efficient and had not very strong arms and have won a lot of games.”
Getting McCoy – or whoever the quarterback is some help next season has to be a priority for the organization.
The Browns are in dire need of playmakers.
They only had two 100-yard rushing performances this season and Greg Little was the only receiver to have a 100-yard receiving game. That’s a total of three games that saw the Browns have an individual player gain 100 yards in a game.
Little finished the season with the second most drops in the NFL. The Browns receiving corps finished with the most drops in the league as a unit.
Although he remained non-commital about his return, Shurmur said that he and Peyton Hillis met Monday and it was a very positive discussion.
“Peyton and I had a great conversation (Monday),” Shurmur said. “I’ll tell you what, all-star player who was dealing with injury early in the middle part of the year and then came back, and gosh, I really like what he did at the end of the season.
“But that’s one of those questions I really can’t answer at this point.”
Shurmur liked the optimism he felt from players when he met with them as well before they left for the offseason.
“There was some optimism yesterday amongst the players, and I can’t put my finger on it,” Shurmur said. “The ones I talked to (were) talking about how close we are. I heard a lot of guys walking out of the building looking forward to the offseason and improving, and I think that’s good.
“That’s the challenge.”
Actually, the challenge is that the roster gets a serious upgrade this offseason.