Browns “Endorsing” Pat Shurmur Becomes “Hot Seat” Headline

Sunday morning’s Plain Dealer ran a story by Mary Kay Cabot on first year head coach Pat Shurmur and his status in the the locker room and in Berea. As the Browns have struggled over the first half of the season, particularly on offense, much of the frustration has been directed at Shurmur. He has handled the press like a rookie coach at times but more importantly, on the field, Shurmur’s offense has been overmatched. Just last week, there were discussions in NFL circles about the offense being the “joke around the league.” Since Week 1, when the Bengals pulled the old snap the ball while the defense is in the huddle trick, Browns fans voiced concerns about Shurmur’s ability to handle head coaching duties and run the offense.

Those who would like to put these questions and concerns aside argue that he’s only coached half a season. That seems sensible, and Cabot’s article quotes both coaches and players on both sides of the ball who support Shurmur and his ability to turn the team around.

It’s a somewhat innocuous article, providing “endorsement” quotes in response to the many frustrations and questions noted above. But at 3-5, having coached only 8 games, is it anything more than frustration at this point? ESPN headline writers seem to think so, as they went with “Is Browns’ Shurmur on the hot seat?”

Cabot never mentions his job status or the hot seat in the article, but the need for such an article in the first place presumes that an undercurrent could be building there (almost every coach in the league has uncertain job security on a season-by-season basis). Cabot, however, focuses on why this season has been so underwhelming – namely, due to injuries and the late start because of the lockout. Those quoted in the article universally cited these reasons (or “excuses” for the more critical) as well, including Scott Fujita:

 “Pat’s done a great job handling everything. Obviously he’s been dealt an interesting hand, starting with the lockout. He never made any excuses for that. And he’s had some drama throughout the course of the season that most coaches — much less first-time head coaches — wouldn’t have to deal with. Things like that, he’s handled it extremely professionally. He keeps guys focused, he keeps guys with their eye on the prize — and that’s just trying to get better and win games and that’s all you can do in this situation.”

The ESPN “hot seat” headline is little more than a headline, as the below post by Jamison Hensley does little other than say the seat may be warm, but it’s too early for this article from Cabot.

The timing of this article is a little too early. The seat for Shurmur is certainly warm after a disappointing 3-5 start, which has featured a struggling offense and wins against teams with a combined 3-22 record.

The frustrations and embarrassments notwithstanding, I think most (or all) would agree that it’s still too early to discuss Shurmur’s status. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have that discussion after 16 games though, particularly if it gets worse from here. A loss to the 1-7 Rams today, however, could hasten the heating.

  • Yellow journalism tactics via using sensationalism headlines. Not a surprise anymore since there is obviously no credibility being held to editors at news sources (you know who you are) to produce headlines that are accurate and realistic. This is why more and more readers are moving to other sources like WFNY and because higher standards of content production and headlines are upheld.

  • stin4u

    *grumble grumble* something about play calling *grumble grumble* something about Shurmur being dumb *grumble grumble grumble* something witty and passive aggressive.

    Nothing to see here. He’s not being fired and you guys clearly do a better job than the four letter network.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    With decent performances the next two weeks, this team could be 5-5.

    As bad as they have looked most of this season, this is mind blowing to me.

    I have not been impressed with Shurmur at all, but I am willing to give him a mulligan if they show improvement and are competitive in the 2nd half of the season. Everyone makes mistakes when they are stating out on a new job…just prove to me that you are learning from those mistakes and not repeating them, and I can live with that.

  • Max

    @Buckeye dog- yes, you are correct. Also, if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle.

    At the very least, Shurmur will get a second year here he will have to hire an OC. Hopefully that will help speed up the improvement. On the other hand, if the team does get hot in the second half of the season, Shurmur will still be here, and may not even have to hire an OC, because hypothetically the second half of the season was successful. Either way is good news for us.

    (this is as optimistic as I can be)

  • Shamrock

    LoL Max these days thst could be more true then one would think. Shurmur doesn’t deserve all the heat H&H are the architects. My problem with Shurmur has been his coaching. It’s been pretty bad. He needs to beat his former team otherwise it should get ugly.

  • Hetz

    Personally, I thought it was red flag when Holmgren hired the nephew of his old buddy (and former defensive coordinator) Fritz Shurmur. The NFL is a tight old boy’s club, but this type of nepotism rarely works out well. I live in St. Louis now and frankly did not see much genius in last year’s Rams offense.

    That being said, the endless drama being amped by the press, particularly the Plain Dealer, and specifically Cabot, creates a highly corrosive atmosphere for a rebuilding team. I think it would certainly serve the fans and the team better to have higher qualified and more football focused journalists covering the franchise. The current situation with the Cleveland media is ridiculous.

  • Shamrock

    The media is easy on them imagine if someone who knew football covered this team, ouch. The offense is unimaginative instead of forcing This West Coast crap which requires an OL, WRs and RBs they should let McCoy go shotgun. No defense is going to respect the run so throw it.

  • There is a zero percent change that Shurmur is fired or even in trouble this year.

    Holmgren is not going to dismiss his hand-picked coach, especially after only one season. He was able to fire Mangini because he didn’t hire him (and Mangini was 10-22); that didn’t taint Holmgren.

    But to fire his coach after one year? Not going to happen short of Shurmur doing something major off the field to embarrass the organization.

  • oribiasi

    @ Titus Pullo: I’d be careful citing previous coaches’ records with Shurmur at the helm. He could easily go 10-22 in two years, maybe worse.

    And, want to talk about embarrassing? How about “beating” the Seahawks 6-3? How about seriously discussing the “left guard area?” How about the NFL’s 30th ranked offense?

  • pepe

    This post sounds a lot like the one bashing Mary Kay for reporting that Holmgren was going to let Hillis go to free agency. That was two weeks ago. Does anyone around here now want to spout off about how wrong she was? It’s a foregone conclusion that Hillis won’t be back next year.

    I’m no Cleveland press apologist, but this site lately seems obsessed with contradicting anything negative about the Browns that anyone reports anywhere. Why?

  • oribiasi

    @ pepe: Not everyone, pepe. Some of us never drank the Shurmur kool-aid and we’ve been criticizing his idiocy since game one when he didn’t play a healthy Hillis.

    Those who haven’t been in love with this regime or “just wanting to give them more time” are a plenty.

  • 5KMD

    #3 and #4,

    Seeing that the Browns play the steelers and ravens four times in the last 5 games, if they do get “hot in the second half” I think we will be celebrating in the streets and start building a statue to Shurmur.

  • pepe

    Anyone care to edit their posts now?

  • Tom

    He just needs a bleepin OC. I have no idea how anyone could have ever thought it was a good idea for a rookie head coach of one of the league’s most under-performing teams could handle not having an Offensive Coordinator. Part of me wonders if they had already decided to scratch this season for more good draft picks and the chance to give McCoy/Shurmur experience.

    Part of me wonders if that has been the strategy since ’99…

  • Wheel

    After listening to the game today, it’s obvious Shurmur is in over his head. No excuse for the Browns coaching staff not knowing TE Smith was playing fullback. The Browns coaching staff deserved the loss for that gaffe alone. I’ve been a Browns fan for more than 4 decades. The Smith fumble and bungled snap are enough to make a grown man cry.

  • James

    Heating hastened

  • dennison

    This team is worse under Shurminator than they were with Mangini. For god’s sake, bring Mangini back. At least he’d try to salvage this season.