A different Shurmur enters his second training camp

Pat Shurmur talks to media following first day of training camp

The difference in Pat Shurmur year over year is obvious. While it is far too early to see how it translates to the team on the field, there’s simply no doubting he is a different guy than the guarded, often flustered coach that talked to the media every day last year about the percentage of “installation” that had been completed. Simply put, Shurmur often looked like a guy who needed more coffee but dreaded wasting any time because he had so much to do. He wasn’t rude, but he just seemed drained more often than not in the first few days of camp a year ago.

Shurmur spoke to it directly today. A year ago when players walked by him, “I was watching numbers walk by,” he said. “Now as I watch a guy walk by, I know his wife. I’ve talked to him this morning, I know what he did last year. I know how to push his buttons. I know how he responds to adversity.”

When one phase of your job becomes more comfortable though, another phase is likely to pop up and surprise you. The pending sale of the Browns probably isn’t weighing heavier on anyone in Berea more than Pat Shurmur.

Mike Holmgren might lose his gig, but he’s in the twilight of his NFL career anyway. Tom Heckert could get lost in the transition1 but he probably wouldn’t have much trouble bragging about the roster turnover he’s enacted in his short time here. Pat Shurmur is by far the most vulnerable because he has the most to prove2 and might not get as long as he thought  to prove it. Shurmur’s future most likely hinges on the support of Mike Holmgren and if Mike Holmgren is out then Shurmur could  be out as well. Tom Heckert might have been on board with Shurmur’s hire, but if he’s also fighting for his future, it’s hard to imagine he’d go to bat for Shurmur simultaneously.

That’s life in the NFL where you’re only as good as your last season and billionaires who buy billion dollar businesses generally like to install their own people and / or make a splash upon entering the league. Today at camp, despite that, Shurmur seemed at ease and plowing through to try to take care of the things that are in his control.

The Browns are already working on their plans for the first three games without Scott Fujita. They’re working hard to get the interior of the defensive line up to speed with Phil Taylor out. Ahtyba Rubin is out too as he recovers from a small surgical procedure he had six weeks ago, but he’s expected back shortly.

That’s more than enough for a second year coach with a rookie QB,3 a brand new running back, a new offensive coordinator and the unknown expectations of a brand new boss who just paid $920 million for the right to hire and fire whoever he wants.

Sometimes life is easiest when there’s only one thing you can do to help yourself. He can’t bank on a three year plan in line with Mike Holmgren’s contract. In this case, whether Shurmur has any future with the Browns or not, the only way forward in the NFL for him is with some success to pump up his resume. As of today, Pat Shurmur seems more comfortable and more confident.


Other notes: Shurmur referred to Buster Skrine and Eric Hagg as “eventual starters.” The young DBs were looking quick and explosive on the field. There’s obviously an opportunity there and it’s up to them to grab it. No drama amongst tight ends. Ben Watson is your starter and Shurmur looks forward to using multiple tight ends in different combinations. So far so good for Mitch Schwartz. That’s about all you can say for a lineman before he puts on a full set of pads.

  1. Though I view him as most secure in his role for whatever reason. []
  2. His first season as Browns coach doesn’t light up the resume. []
  3. Thankfully Shurmur didn’t have to answer “the QB question” again today. He didn’t announce a starter. Weeden was first up in all the drills and it is clearly his job to lose. []

  • jaboodydubs

    Thanks for the info, it was more in depth and more substantial than anything the Plain Dealer has provided.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    All these Browns articles and training camp isn’t even a week old. A prospective new owner possibly but nothing official. Is there any doubt Cleveland is a football town? No wonder the Indians feel like the red headed step child.

    Oh speaking of the Indians they lost yesterday 11-0 to the Minnesota Twins in the series opener. I didn’t see a word mentioned about it so I thought I’d help out. Oh and no there hasn’t been any additional trades for them either.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    I used to get a good laugh a few years ago when people were wondering if Cleveland was becoming a “basketball town” when LeBron was here.

    Cleveland is, and always will be a football town first, and it’s not even close. If the Indians or Cavs win a title we will party…but if the Browns ever win a Super Bowl this town will spontaneously combust.

  • bossman09

    In 1948, It was purely a baseball town and had been for 50 years. Obviously it’s a browns town now, but it could be a tribe town again if the indians were anything like they were for the first 60-70 years of existance.

  • Props for the Indians/Twins mention. Not sure what happened there.

  • Harv 21

    interested to hear Eric Hagg described as “quick and explosive.” Remember his pre-draft rep as smart, productive, and a good team leader but a guy with kind of marginal physical tools for this level. To get a legit NFL starter in the 7th round = good drafting.

  • mgbode

    the Indian cannot even lay claim to the red-headed portion anymore now that the Browns have Weeden

  • i dunno craig. he still sounded painfully unsure of himself in the interviews. maybe you caught something in person that wasn’t in the interviews.

    if you noticed, he used ‘prideful’ in rambling non-answers in separate interviews. there were other examples but it sounded programmed. it was like a politician determined to get out his talking points regardless of whether if it’s responsive to the question posed. he also tends to filibuster which too is a sign of uncertainty. it’s like, the longer i can hang on to this subject the fewer hard questions i’ll be asked. (i think this trait is behind his insistence on retaining play-calling duties.)

    he can show me something if he fully uses this year’s training camp. you know i’ve harped on the inexplicable waste of last year’s last exhibition game.. now grossi is saying the same: I also would change the archaic thinking of designating the third preseason game the so-called dress rehearsal. how shurmur approaches that game will say a lot about whether he’s (a) confident/capable enough to innovate or (b) a slave to safe convention. he’s been nothing but (b) thus far.

  • Petefranklin

    I hope he starts solidly on (b) 1st preseason game and works his way to a solid (a) gameplan by week 1 vs. the Eagles.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    bossman I agree with you the Indians came first so you’d think they would have more of the heart of the city but they don’t. it really is interesting how the football team despite everything associated with it is still #1 in Cleveland. honestly though i think between these two the fandom in Cleveland is completely exhausted. I mean think about all of the heartache these two organizations have put people through in just the last 20 years. Not only that but the complete ineptness by both of them especially the football team is mind boggling. I don’t know if it’s an amazing thing that both still have a fan base or if it says something about those fan bases. Personally I’m no longer a fan of either rather I’m a fan of each sport which means I can enjoy all of the great players and winning organizations while not tying myself to the losers that represent my hometown. Sure I hope and wish the hometown teams would better represent it but I no longer will give my heart and passion to teams who frankly don’t deserve it. Now keep in mind I relocated and was blessed to see multiple championships in the greater New England area and let me tell you it was amazing. It probably saved my sports fandom career because when I came back to my hometown I was once again immersed in a completely losing culture. It really is a shame.

  • It was a smart comment by Grossi. I never said that exact thing, but it also speaks to my point that you don’t win by trying to import Belichick or trying to be the Green Bay Packers. You have to build a team in its own mold and look to innovate so others will want to chase you. Too often I think franchises fail by trying to “model” themselves after something that works for someone else. These aren’t McDonald’s franchises where you can serve up the same burger from one side of the nation to the other.

    Creating a new “standard” for how you view pre-season games would be interesting to me and I promise that I wouldn’t kill Shurmur if someone happened to get hurt in the 4th pre-season game.

  • And to your other point about Shurmur, the only time I’ve ever seen him in person was this same time last year. I can tell you it is night and day from those two points. Still, I noted when he did his media tour I thought he still sounded a bit defensive.

    From what I can rate him on, he’s acting more like a head coach now. He’s visiting with the defense more and really travelling all around the practice as the groups work in their units. He was so busy “installing” the offense a year ago, I think even if he doesn’t know, won’t admit it, or is in denial, he was overwhelmed.