Browns game wasn’t lost on Shurmur’s 3rd and 1 play call

In no way do I have the means to defend Pat Shurmur considering the collapse that took place in the Browns game today after getting off to a huge lead. Still, people who want to criticize Pat Shurmur need to do better than hanging Brandon Weeden’s awful second quarter interception on the coach as they seemed to be doing on both sports talk radio stations this evening.1 Either way, fair is fair, and the way I see it, there is plenty of blame to go around – including with Pat Shurmur whose Browns are an abysmal 0-5 – without being off base. And if you want to say the game was lost on that play, I might even agree. Even though Shurmur called the play, he isn’t responsible for all the lack of execution.

So first things first, we need to start with the prior drive. The Browns had the ball after giving up a TD and still leading 14-7, but needing to answer. The Browns drove all the way to the Giants’ 12 yard-line and had a 3rd and 1. The call was a hand-off to Trent Richardson who couldn’t beat penetration by the Giants and lost two yards. Phil Dawson kicked the field goal and the Browns went up 17-7.

The Browns’ defense bent, but didn’t break and they gave up a Giants field goal. Browns 17 –  Giants 10. And now for the third down that has Pat Shurmur under fire, at least amongst fans.

The Browns drove the ball to the Giants 25, in no small part to a 3rd and 7 conversion that saw Chris Ogbonnaya catch a pass and run for 38 yards. The next time the Browns saw third down, it was 3rd and 1 from the Giants 25.

So, they had run Richardson up the middle and failed, completed a long pass to Ogbonnaya on a 3rd and 7, and now had 3rd and 1. What’s the natural play-call?

I wouldn’t argue with any fans who would prefer Trent Richardson run the ball in that scenario. Preference is one thing. Still, to kill Pat Shurmur for calling a pass play that ended up giving the QB and his receivers plenty of time to complete for at least a yard is ludicrous. It’s a lack of execution plain and simple, and Pat Shurmur (you have to assume, even among his biggest detractors) does at least a little coaching with regard to ball security.

Brandon Weeden had plenty of time. He re-directed traffic sending Josh Gordon inside after the outside wasn’t there. Then he just threw a garbage ball over and behind Josh Gordon, which was subsequently picked off and returned to the Browns’ 40.

It may not have been your preferred play-call, but Pat Shurmur didn’t force it and throw an interception. There were two receivers on that side. I’m not sure what happened on the first routes and reads because I haven’t seen a replay yet, so I’ll let you know on that. Still, even if they were the worst routes in the history of receiving, Brandon Weeden can’t throw the INT there.

One more time. Blame Shurmur for anything you think he is responsible for, but keep it fair, at least. The Browns are 0-5 so there should be plenty of available targets. The overall team record will eventually be his blame, but I think we can raise the level of criticism inside the whistles and outside the box score.

  1. Mostly callers while I was driving so I’m not sure about the hosts. []

  • There are no playcalls that have a high success rate when you put yourself in that down and distance. Getting to 3rd and 15 is a loser more times than not, I’m quite sure.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    I can get on board with all of this. Even at 0-5, and as disappointed as I am with today’s game, there is clearly more talent and more upside on this team than there has been in the past couple seasons. Richardson is a beast, and Weeden is still making rookie mistakes, but has a lot of upside. Upgrades at WR, OL, and LB, along with the right coach (Cowher or Gruden, please) , and things could come together quickly. Next year.

  • Be civil or go somewhere else. You can disagree with me without attacking me and using foul language (even with an asterisk.) I didn’t defend Pat Shurmur. In the end, there are a million things to blame him for, but sorry if I don’t think this playcall is one of them. The first sentence of the post says I can’t defend him overall.

    Again, if you dislike it so much that you have to attack me for my opinion, don’t read this site.

  • I didn’t make that mistake. I pointed to another playcall where they ran on 3rd and 1 making it more justifiable to mix it up the next time they saw a 3rd and 1 scenario.

  • Eric D

    As far as I’m concerned you can put this game, Cincy and Baltimore on Joe.

  • Eric D

    It’s spelled Shurmur

  • Dee P

    As usual Dawg – I appreciate to co-optimism. But let’s add another shut down CB to that list to pair with Haden…..please???

  • Exactly Dan, come out in the I or at least have the tailback directly behind Weeden. Oby was 7 yards deep and offset to the right by three yards an obvious pass protection alignment. It just shows how much confidence they have in our All Pro left tackle Joe thomas. Although I did think Thomas had a pretty solid game today, no sacks allowed, but that had a lot to do with Weeden sliding in the pocket and getting rid of the ball. I don’t think he had to throw the ball away either.

  • If you play for field goals against good teams you lose. In the NFL you have to be able to throw and run the ball on third and short. If the Browns don’t think Weeden can complete a one yard pass then they need to go with someone else at QB. I just disagree with the formation, the idea of throwing the ball on third and 1 is to fool the D and you don’t fool anybody when you come out in an obvious passing formation. Earlier in the game on third and short they came out in a running formation and completed a quick out to cameron for 5 yards and a first down. If you run the ball every time on third and one as you suggest you convert very many cause any team except the browns can stop the run when they know its coming.

  • porckchopexpress

    I see 2 common responses to Craig. I’d like to say that anyone calling him some variation of a Shurmur apologist is foolish or only reads what they want to see. I sparred with Craig over the “2point vs. 1 point call earlier this year”. He was absolutley crushing Shurmur over it, I didn’t see the nee to. Just sayin, if you ask him to be fair, you should try it yourself. Now onto the 2.
    1. First response; “Even if T Rich didn’t run it he should have been on the field.” So if T Rich in the backfield, and Weeden still badly misfires and the ball is picked suddenly its an okay call? How does that make sense?
    2. If the call had been a handoff to T Rich, and he fumbled, or didn’t get the first down and the Giants still went down and scored would you think Shurmur’s call to run the ball was a terrible call? If not why? If the team failed to execute a running play and it resulted in a score how is that different than if they failed to execute the passing play?

  • porckchopexpress

    Stop it.
    Yes a bad throw and bad playcall can occur at the same time, however in this case an accurate throw and catch results in a first down, which means the playcall wasn’t at fault. Which means your argument is not merited.
    Also I wouldn’t call Richardson “feasting”, he had a very nice day, but he also was stoned several times, it was by no means a sure thing.

  • Good coaches put their players in the best possible situation on every down. Indy, Was, and Miami are all playing their QB’s with their skills and talents in mind. Shurmer deserves the blame for not setting his team up in a position to succeed. He deserves more blame for this failure of a season so far then anyone. If you look at his press conference he blamed Weeden. The guy failed to take responsibility for his job performance as a coach. I hope he goes away. I also hope we get the coach things right next time.

  • celticshel

    It’s not that he’s entirely responsible for the play going bad – it’s that he set us up for a terrible play by telegraphing a pass play against one heck of a tough team. He says we can’t afford mistakes, and he’s right. But we can’t afford his mistakes either!

  • Damage

    How is it not merited? Yours sounds awfully like RAC’s, “if it works it’s a good play, if it doesn’t it’s a bad play” logic.

    Also, when did he get stopped on the tosses? But by all means, keep defending an indefensible call.

  • Damage

    For the record, I certainly don’t think that call lost us the game. Not one playcall is going to define this hot mess

  • I think you are just a bad person.

  • saggy


    Philly ran ALL-DAY on the Giants OUTSIDE THE TACKLES last week. The Browns had success running wide. Both teams even talked about it in the papers this week. So the play call SHOULD have been a toss sweep to Trent or even Ogbo. Weeden should not have been throwing in this situation.

    You can’t play the short-game, you have to play the long one, and the long-game tells you that running wide, early, is the right play to set up misdirection or play-action later on. Plus, the Browns were having success outside. Stupid play call.

    and i agree that Trent needed to at least be on the field.

  • Fairobserver

    I totally agree with the others that criticized the move to take Richardson off he field with third and one. If you are going to pass, make it a play action pass to keep the defense off guard. Lining up for an obvious pass made it a lot easier to defense that play and force a bad pass.

  • jerry

    if we’re relying on one guy for that much, that ain’t a good situation. but yeah, will be nice to have him back

  • Pat Shurmur

    Seriously? The game was lost the moment I stepped on the field! The real question you should be asking yourselves is HOW will we lose this game?

  • Derek

    Exactly. Both of Weeden’s turnovers came in the redzone. And they both led to touchdowns if I’m not mistaken. You are looking at least a twenty point turnaround with those two throws and we lost by 21. This team is not good enough to turn the ball over, especially in the redzone.

  • Derek

    It’s the general managers job to find the head coach the right players that fit into his system. This is like blaming Manny Acta because Shelly Duncan, Casey Kotchman, Jack Hannahan and Ubaldo didn’t perform. .

  • BuckeyeDawg

    I’ll take the flip side of that: if the Browns don’t think they can get one yard behind Joe Thomas with Richardson running the ball, then why do they have either of them? You’re not playing for a field goal by running the ball there…you’re making the call that has the best chance of success by giving the ball to your best play maker and running behind your best O-lineman.

    We disagree, and that’s fine…but sometimes you have to be able to man up and get a frickin yard running the ball when you need to. We got too “cute” on this play, and it cost us big time.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    There is a much higher chance of Weeden throwing an INT on any given play than of Richardson fumbling. I don’t have stats in front of me to bear that out…just what I have seen with my own eyes this season. Weeden throwing was the higher risk…and for some reason, that’s what Shurmur chose to try to get 1 yard. The worst possible thing that could have happened there ended up happening. If TRich runs and doesn’t get it, we still kick the FG to go up 20-10. While I prefer TD’s, I would have been OK with that in that situation.

  • Leo C

    Always thought that Cribbs fumble on ensuing kickoff was the back breaker. Had he not done that, I think the Browns would have been in good shape. But the 3rd and 1 call and not having best player in game even if not using him was mind boggling. Gotta have opposing team respect the run

  • EnabledVet

    I don’t blame Shurmer for calling a pas on third and one. Hell, it’s a great way to catch the defense looking for Richardson up the middle and burn them for a decent gain. Yes, it is the professional football players job to execute that play and get the first down against professional football players who are intent on stopping them. What I DO blame Shurmer for is being a coach that consistently can not get his professional football players to execute on any given Sunday. I DO blame Shurmer for not instilling some discapline in his team to negate costly penalties that kill drives, and I DO blame Shurmer for leading (or NOT leading) his team to 0 and 5!

  • JK


  • Hopwin

    They won’t look for Richardson up the middle when Richardson is standing on the sidelines.

  • Precisely. I agree that Richardson needs to be on the field there. And I don’t like passing on third and one, period. But Shurmur didn’t make the foolish decision to try to force a pass where it had no business of going.
    I’m not one to defend Pat Shurmur, but the guy is in a no-win situation at this point in his tenure. Any successes will be attributed to the players (didn’t see anyone in the Twitter-verse giving him props for going for it on fourth down in our own end), and any failures get pinned to him. Brandon Weeden made a dumb, rookie mistake. You can say that Shurmur shouldn’t trust the rookie and should expect the worst from him, but is that really how you want your HC treating his starting QB? As though said QB is destined to fail?
    Ultimately, because of the huge swing in momentum (don’t forget Cribbs’ role in that, either–he’s my favorite guy on the team, but that was poor ball security), this one can’t help but stand out. But for all of the negative to fall squarely on the coach’s shoulders seems absurd to me. The players have to execute.

  • You mean the team with a HoF QB and a plethora of reliable weapons around him? Yeah, turns out they have different options available to them.

  • We do remember how throwing short of the sticks and having the receiver make a play was working to some extent against Cincy, right? If the timing and accuracy are there, it can work. Plenty of teams do it.

  • Brad

    I have to disagree with you on this one….You don’t pull your best RB and put in Ogbonnaya on 3rd and 1 at the 25 in field goal range and then leave it in the hands of your turnover prone QB to somehow convert it. You are up 7…a Richardson run there gives you the best opportunity and the safest option to convert the play or at worst case give Dawson a field goal opportunity.
    Sure, Shurmur didn’t throw the INT or fail to execute…but he puts his players in position to succeed. We don’t have Tom Brady and Wes Welker to convert that 3rd and 1, we have Weeden and Norwood.

  • You realize that the logistics of having the coaches also throw the passes and make the tackles are…tricky, no? What exactly are the players there to do?

  • florida guy

    Sorry Craig, I just don’t buy your analysis. I saw the play and to my recollection there was a pass rusher bearing down on Weeden as he threw the ball; it wasn’t like he was standing there with all the time in the world. With a different team it may have been the right play, but this is a young team who needs to learn to pound the ball on third and one, and get that first down. Heck, one or two quarterback sneaks probably would have done the trick.

  • Ooo that hurt random internet man/woman/thing.