Pat Shurmur believes Browns are playing their best football

Cleveland head coach Pat Shurmur says his team is as ready to face Robert Griffin III as they’ve been all season-

“I think we’re as good as we’ve been to this point in the season. I think that’s fair to say. We’ve got our defensive tackles back. They’ve been playing quite a while now. Dimitri Patterson is back as the nickel player. He has a game under his belt after being back from injury. We’re dealing with all the bumps and bruises that everybody deals with, but that gives us the best opportunity I think to go out and have a successful game on defense.”

Winning three in a row and four of their last six certainly helps the team feel confident as well-

“Yeah, I think there’s some confidence that you develop when you find a way to finish games. It only helps you though, if you continue to go through the process and use that confidence to remember that there were plenty of mistakes in the game and we’re all striving to play a perfect game. You’ve got to keep working at it. I hope we continue to play better each week. As a coach, that’s what you want. Yeah, I’m hopeful.”

The Browns have had all 53 players practicing this week and the end of last. They have the usual bumps and bruises of any team, but are generally healthy and playing well together. No better time to take on three tough games.

[Related: Is this Josh Cribbs’ last home game?]

  • On one hand, I look at the three wins against a depleted Steelers and the hapless Raiders and Chiefs–and it kinda loses a little luster. On the other, it’s still three wins in a row that we’ve found a way to get done (where we usually snatch defeat from the jaws of victory).

    As for Shumur, on one hand I think he should still be let go. On the other hand, he should still go and maybe get a handshake on the way out.

  • JHop

    I’d agree with you if we barely scraped by these teams, but the Browns have looked fairly dominant in each. 8 turnovers against the Steelers (albeit with Batch at QB) and a +23 point margin against the Chiefs are both pretty darn good.

  • mgbode

    we also “controlled” the game vs. Oakland even though the margin was never great. sort of felt like how the Ravens controlled the game vs. us in recent years.

    the good thing is that we end with 3 playoff contenders. we will get to see exactly how much of this is real and how much of it was just catching teams at a good time.

  • BIKI024

    probably a little bit of both, but still good for a team with the most rookie starts in the NFL by a long shot, which should bode well for next season.

    add in a few more players view draft and what is expected to be nearly $40m in cap room and we should have a legit 53. now we just have to sort out who the GM and Coach will be!

  • mgbode

    bode used in a positive way. i like it.

  • Harv 21

    my office passes around a preseason record prediction sheet with space for comments. I predicted a slow start with momentum at the end due to young players maturing and easier schedule, with a record of 7-9. They won’t get to 7 wins but the rest is pretty much happening.

    But I still have lots of doubts about Shurmur’s in-game management: ability to quickly adjust, control of the in-game chaos (as opposed to merely surviving it by burning time-outs to think things over slowly), a general sense of where the game is and what buttons to push. Other than the obvious examples – 2 time-outs in a row or difficulty coming out of time-outs, the infamous late-game 4th down punt – I’m thinking about being organized enough to step on the opposition’s throat after a big play, rather than calling your own time out, which lets the defense re-set. Things are no doubt better than last year, but Shurmur does not conduct the team with a sure hand. It’s like he’s barely hanging on during crucial parts of the game. A really good HC is uber-organized, two steps ahead, and I just don’t think that’s his thing.

    We Clevelanders like nothing better than a redemption story. Somewhere in my heart I want to see Pat survive the ownership change for another year and emerge next year like a butterfly, a 9-7 record, coaching confidently with his young team behind him. But my head hopes Banner is totally heartless, just makes the right football move and ignores the fan braying.

  • mgbode

    washington and pitt gets us to 7. gotta believe!!!

    really, as long as we get the Pitt win and are extremely competitive in the other two, i’m good on this year. i’d love to see us sneak into the playoffs and scare the beejezus out of Denver (we’d likely have them again), but i know that is an extreme long shot.

  • BIKI024

    i think the “really good HC is uber-organized” thought is way overplayed. the execution of the players masks nearly every one of the types of mistakes you’ve mentioned. i’ve watched nearly every NYG game the past 5 years and there are countless similar mistakes made by Coughlin, yet he’s got 2 Super Bowls, largely due to the players making just a few more plays than the opposition (when they win).

    it’s too bad ESPN doesn’t have a coaches rating formula to factor in all the examples you made above.

  • Agreed. We rolled over KC and controlled OAK like you said, but didn’t exactly blow the doors off PIT. Trying to look beyond W-L, I’m seeing some good development from the young guys like Gordon and Schwartz and the young DLs and LBs. Mettle will be tested in the next few–and I’d like to especially watch how Weeden & TRich respond down the stretch.

  • Jaker

    I’m in the same boat. I really want 6 or 7 wins, but more importantly, I want to be in it til the end of all of these games. Beating the Skins and knocking Pitt out of the playoffs would be a dream. I’m tempering my expectations, but I definitely will have an eye on the Dallas-Pitt game and the Eagles-Cincy tonight. We’re all thinking about it… Lets just take one game at a time, meaningful games in December are a welcome sight

  • Harv 21

    disagree both generally and specifically. Coughlin is an infamous micromanager and control freak. He’s let up recently some, but in Jacksonsville it was legendary. I’ve seen him goof, too, but not in frequency or quality of Shurmur stuff I mentioned.

    Obviously the quality of players count most. But if coaches didn’t greatly impact team performance what’s the discussion here even about? Why isn’t the Hall of Fame lousy with GMs rather than coaches?

  • BIKI024

    because there is a LOT more to coaching than clock management or even coming out flat out of a timeout. there are typically 70+ plays per game, yes it typically comes down to a few plays that make the difference in the game, and the coaches should never contribute to wasting any of those plays, but again, your complaints about Shurmur weren’t gamechanger, yet fans love to keep harping on them.

    as far as playcalling, anyone with 2 eyes can see how many wide open looks Weeds has missed time after time after time after time after time after time. hopefully with more experience he improves on that and will make Shurmur or whoever the coach is look a heckuva lot smarter than all the armchair QBs/coaches of the world.

  • BIKI024

    and yes, there have been many “Shurmur-esque” head scratchers by Coughlin over the years, but winning covers up everything. Helps to have Eli…

  • mgbode

    Cinci winning really put a damper on things. If Pitt beats Dallas, then that’s it for our playoff shot.

  • Jaker

    Yes that’s true, but Cincy losing to Pitt and Baltimore is very possible. If we beat WAS, Dallas beats Pitt, Pitt beats Cincy and we beat Denver, by its a lot but then we head into the last game of the season with a shot at January ball. For the let talked about team in the NFL, that’s not too bad

  • Jaker

    *least not let
    *yes not by

  • mgbode

    that is if the Jets or Bills don’t go 3-0 down the stretch (Jets are 6-7 and Bills are the only team we lose a tiebreaker with).

    it is alot and we need to take care of business first (beat Washington). if that happens, we are cheering for Pitt next week. weird.

    anyways, if we end up going 8-8 and finish 2nd in the division but lose out on the playoffs to the Jets/Bills, then I’m chalking this up as one really successful season (though I’m not thinking we’ll get to 8 wins anyway).