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