Tag:Pat Shurmur
Posted on: December 7, 2011 11:11 pm
 

Colt McCoy could really use a big-play WR

Turns out, Little might be better as a No. 2 receiver. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The Cleveland Browns are in desperate need of a big-play wide receiver. They had a chance to land such a player during the 2011 NFL Draft. Instead, they traded the sixth-overall pick to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for the Falcons' 2011 first, second and fourth-round picks, as well as a first and fourth-rounder in 2012.

Atlanta promptly selected Julio Jones, who along with A.J. Green were considered can't-miss prospects. Green has been that and then some this season -- 50 catches, 832 yards, seven touchdowns. Jones has battled hamstring issues but has started nine games, catching 34 passes for 566 yards and two touchdowns.

The Browns, meanwhile, used their first-round pick on defensive tackle Phil Taylor and took wideout Greg Little in the second round. Little has struggled with drops this season and is considered something of a project. This has to be disconcerting to Cleveland's second-year quarterback Colt McCoy.

After playing well as a rookie, the expectations were that McCoy would continue to get better in Year 2, especially if the Browns gave him a legit downfield threat to complement Peyton Hillis and Josh Cribbs. That didn't happen.

Instead, McCoy has regressed, the offense has stalled, and the Browns (4-8) are one of the worst teams in the league. On Thursday, they'll face the 9-3 Steelers on NFL Network. Draft guru and color analyst Mike Mayock, who will work the game, spoke about the Browns' offense and McCoy and Little in particular.

"I think the kid's got the deck stacked against him a little bit right now," Mayock told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot. "They don't really have anyone like a [Mike] Wallace or [A.J.] Green that can stretch the field for them vertically, and that's a difficult thing when you're a quarterback. Basically, you're kind of playing small ball. You're trying to run the football and move the chains with a lot of play-action and underneath stuff. And at some point, you've got to be more than that."

Mayock was also troubled by the Browns' unwillinginess (inability?) to throw the ball down the field.

"[McCoy's] not making the downfield throws and what's really happening is that teams are starting to squat on the wideouts, and it's difficult to watch when your offense is so compressed. It's an old-school West Coast offense -- a lot of three- and five-step drop, get the ball out of your hand. I understand it, but at some point you've got to watch this kid throw the ball. You've got to see more of the intermediate routes that demonstrate arm strength."

And that goes back to not having a premier pass catcher.

"Maybe the wide receivers aren't getting as much respect as you'd like," he said. "Greg Little is having a good year, but he's dropped four or five passes [actually six] in the two games I've watched. Mohamed Massaquoi is a pretty good receiver and Josh Cribbs obviously has the 'wow' factor, but he's certainly not a polished receiver."

It's hard to fault the Browns for making that deal with the Falcons. After all, on draft day, New England coach Bill Belichick told Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff, "Thomas, I'm just telling you as a friend. I wouldn't do it."

Belichick added that he thought Jonathan Baldwin was "just as good if not better" than Jones. Which leads us to this: the Browns weren't wrong to trade out of the No. 6 pick, but they really could've used a playmaker.

As it stands, their offense is so predictable that people half-paying attention know what's coming.

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Posted on: December 2, 2011 3:46 pm
 

Cribbs is fed up with losing, Shurmur understands

Cribbs is tired of losing but he's not tired of Cleveland.  (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

In Josh Cribbs' six NFL seasons prior to 2011, the Browns have averaged fewer than six wins. Currently, Cleveland's 4-7 and manages just 15 points a game. Next up: the Ravens, a team they haven't beaten since 2007.

So it stands to reason that Cribbs, in his words, is fed up with losing.

“I’m tired of losing," he said this week, according to the Associated Press. "Everybody in this locker room, they’ll say they’re tired and they want to win every game. I want to win this year. Everybody says we’re building, we look good. I don’t really care about the building process because I want to win now. I’ll worry about next year next year. I want to win now.”

Head coach Pat Shurmur, in his first year on the job after replacing Eric Mangini, not only understands Cribbs' frustration, he doesn't have an issue with it.

"I have an open door and I expect if they have an issue, they come see me man-to-man about it," Shurmur said, via the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "That's the way we handle things here."

Shurmur encourages players to have an open dialogue with him as well as the media, and that's the case with Cribbs.

"I talk to coach all the time," Cribbs said. "I just finished talking to him. I talk to him casually, through the hallway, at the beginning and end of practice."

Cribbs, whose 29 receptions and 358 yards (4 TDs) this season are career highs for the former Kent State quarterback who went undrafted after college. Those totals are third on the team behind rookie Greg Little and Benjamin Watson.

But Cribbs' remarks aren't about getting more involved in the offense, they're about -- stop us if you've heard this before -- winning.

"That doesn't mean that I want to leave [because] I am sick and tired of losing like everybody is," he said. "Me being sick and tired doesn't mean I want to leave. It means I want to win now. So we're going to focus all our energy in trying to win. I'm tired of losing."

Unfortunately, the Browns have played some uninspiring football this season. Whether it's the unusually predictable offense or the sudden collapse on special teams, there's little reason for optimism. Shurmur looks like he's aged 20 years in three months and second-year quarterback Colt McCoy has regressed from his rookie form. And in two days they'll face Baltimore, an outfit they haven't beaten in six tries.


After a big win over the 49ers last week, the Baltimore Ravens hope to repeat this Sunday as they take on the Cleveland Browns. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this upcoming game. Watch the game on CBS at 4:05 PM ET.

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Posted on: November 14, 2011 9:59 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 9:59 pm
 

Peyton Hillis ruled out for Jags game

It's been a long strange season for Hillis. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The season can't end soon enough for Peyton Hillis. He was one of the league's best backs a year ago, but contract squabbles, injuries and the Madden curse have all conspired against him in 2011. He hasn't seen the field since Week 6 and has only played in four games. After tweaking his hammy a week and a half ago, Hillis won't play in Week 11, either.

Browns head coach Pat Shurmur didn't need to see how the week unfolded, choosing instead to announce Monday that Hillis was ruled out for Sunday's matchup with the Jaguars.

Shurmur also said safety T.J. Ward (foot) wouldn't play against Jacksonville but hoped that both players would be back at some point this season. There are currently no plans to place either on injured reserve.

The Browns are one of the lowest-scoring offenses in the league and would clearly benefit from a healthy Hillis. So far, that hasn't happened. As a consequence, Cleveland's running game is ranked dead last in the league, according to Football Outsiders, and the passing game's biggest issue has been protecting quarterback Colt McCoy (well, that and trying not to be so predictable).

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Posted on: November 10, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 12:18 pm
 

Could Josh Cribbs see snaps at RB, QB?

Cribbs says he was joking but the Browns should be willing to try anything. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Browns offense is many things, though none are particularly laudatory. Words like predictable and inconsistent come to mind, which is exacerbated by the paucity of playmakers.

Also not helping: second-year quarterback Colt McCoy has regressed. Or more precisely: after a promising rookie season, he's failed to meet expectations through the first nine weeks of 2011. That may have more to do with the Sunday beatings he's been subjected to (and, as we previously mentioned, not much in the way of downfield threats to keep defenses honest) than his ability to consistently throw a 15-yard dig route.

It also doesn't help that running back Peyton Hillis has gone from folk hero to outcast in a few months and the Browns' running game has subsequently disappeared. Which may explain why Josh Cribbs, a Pro Bowl returner and a pretty good wideout, could be taking some reps at running back, too.

"I can't give nothing away, but they put something in that's special to me and that's all I can say about that,'' said Cribbs Wednesday, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot. "Coach is really trying to target me and the coaches are really making an opportunity for me to get the football more.''

Cribbs was asked again about the chances he could line up in the backfield. "We've got eight games left. There will be some surprises this week.''

Turns out, Josh was joshing. "I was just kidding givin'em a good story lol there is nothing big for me in the package lol," Cribbs said via Twitter Wednesday night.

We have absolutely no problem with Cribbs, whether he was joking or actually hinting that he could take some snaps at quarterback or running back. We're guessing McCoy would welcome the break from getting knocked silly, and more than that, it's not like the Browns' offense is a Rubik's cube. We've seen People magazine crossword puzzles that took less time to solve.

We mentioned it in this week's Coach Killers but just in case you missed it, here's what we're talking about:

The Browns are so married to their offensive philosophy that even the blind know what's coming (we're only half-kidding). Via the NFL Network's Mike Lombardi:

"Writing about the Browns offense leads me to a game I play every week at NFL Films. I sit in my office in Mt Laurel, N.J., put the Browns offense on my screen and call a friend who was a coach in the league, but is now in between successes. I tell my friend the personnel group, the formation, where the ball is located on the field and what hash mark and describe the motion -- if there is any -- and ask him to tell me the exact play that will be run," Lombardi writes.

"He is correct about 95 percent of the time. No lie. The Browns are so integrated into the West Coast system that their predictability is becoming legendary around the league."

So, yeah, maybe coach Pat Shurmur should let Cribbs line up wherever he wants. It's not like the Browns can get more predictable.


Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams will go up against Colt McCoy and the Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon. Which team has the advantage? NFL.com's Pat Kirwan and Jason Horowitz go inside the numbers to preview this game.

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Posted on: November 8, 2011 7:03 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2011 8:22 pm
 

Jon Sandusky hasn't left Browns job

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

With his father, former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky, in plenty of legal trouble, there were reports Monday that Jon Sandusky, the Browns director of player personnel, had taken a leave of absence. That, however, is untrue.

Penn State and Paterno
The Cleveland Plain Dealer now reports that Sandusky actually is still with the team.

The Akron Beacon Journal writes that Jon Sandusky is “just completely devastated” by the accusations levied at his father, and for now, he’s declined comment and asked for privacy.

When Browns coach Pat Shurmur was asked if he had a chance to talk to Jon Sandusky, Shurmer said, “That’s a totally personal deal. I don’t know the details of any of that. I’m going to sit that one out.”

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Posted on: November 4, 2011 4:28 pm
 

No Hillis, West Coast scheme means predictable O

A former coach can predict the Browns' offensive play call 95 percent of the time. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Browns got off to a promising start, winning two of their first three games. They've since dropped two of three and head to Houston this weekend to face the AFC South-leading Texans. And it looks like they'll do it without running back Peyton Hillis, who reinjured him hamstring at Friday's practice.

Hillis, one of the league's best backs a season ago, hasn't been a factor in 2011. Partly because he's been injured, but also because he's looking for a new contract. Things have apparently become so acrimonious that some Browns' players held an intervention of sorts for Hillis.

Details via Yahoo.com's Michael Silver.

"By Wednesday, a group of about eight Browns veterans had summoned Hillis into a meeting room for an intervention-style, air-clearing session designed to restore his focus. After a breakout season in 2010 that vaulted him to national prominence, including a spot on the Madden NFL ’12 cover, the 25-year-old back’s consuming desire for a new contract has become a locker room distraction that numerous teammates regard as an impediment to cohesion and collective success."

Hillis has played in just four games this season, rushing for 211 yards on 60 carries. According to Football Outsiders, the Browns' running ranks 30th in 2011 after finishing 15th in 2010.


Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans will host Colt McCoy and the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at Reliant Stadium. Join Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan as they take a look at this matchup. Watch the game at 1 PM ET on CBS.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” one Browns veteran told Silver. “Last year, Peyton was such a positive, inspirational force on our team – but now he’s like a different guy. It’s like he’s in a funk that he can’t get out of, and it’s killing us, because we really need him. And we’ve told him that. But we’re at the point where we just don’t know what to do.”

Also not helping the Browns: predictable play-calling. Second-year quarterback Colt McCoy has struggled after showing potential in 2010. He has a lower completion percentage than his rookie season (57.0 vs. 60.8), lower yards per attempt (5.7 vs. 7.1), and his scrambling totals are down (3.3 YPC vs. 4.9 YPC).

But that might not be all on McCoy. NFL Network's Mike Lombardi explains that the Browns are so married to their offensive philosophy that people half-paying attention can tell you what's coming. We're not joking.

"Writing about the Browns offense leads me to a game I play every week at NFL Films. I sit in my office in Mt Laurel, N.J., put the Browns offense on my screen and call a friend who was a coach in the league, but is now in between successes. I tell my friend the personnel group, the formation, where the ball is located on the field and what hash mark and describe the motion -- if there is any -- and ask him to tell me the exact play that will be run," Lombardi writes.

"He is correct about 95 percent of the time. No lie. The Browns are so integrated into the West Coast system that their predictability is becoming legendary around the league."

So Cleveland either has to score a ton of points on the five percent of plays the opponent can't readily identify what's coming, or they need to change up their offensive strategy. Given that the Browns have been outscored 140-107 seven games into the season, we're guessing the former isn't working.

Lombardi adds that Cleveland "needs more playmakers and a better quarterback," and it's hard to dispute that. You know what else might help? Peyton Hillis.

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Posted on: November 4, 2011 12:44 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 12:46 pm
 

Hillis reinjures hamstring, game status in doubt

Whether it's the Madden curse or bad luck, Hillis is injured again. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It could be nothing. Or it could be the latest in a never-ending stream of mishaps to befall Browns running back Peyton Hillis. The face of Madden 12 left Friday's practice after reinjuring his hamstring. According to CBSSport.com Rapid Reporter Marty Gitlin, "He took a handoff before pulling up lame. He tossed the ball and his helmet angrily and limped to the sideline before walking off with a trainer. He is now very unlikely to play Sunday."

Through eight weeks, Hillis has played in four games and rushed for 211 yards with a paltry 3.5 yards-per-carry average. It hardly resembles his 1,177-yard, 4.4 YPC output from a season ago.

The struggles with injuries are frustrating enough, but Hillis' off-field issues have possibly alienated him from teammates and raised doubts about his future with the team.

In the last year of a rookie contract that pays him $600,000 in this season, there were rumors that Hillis missed a late September game against the Dolphins not because of strep throat but because he wanted a new deal. A few weeks later, head coach Pat Shurmur and team president Mike Holmgren said they had no intentions of trading Hillis. Then, Hillis missed a Halloween event for the Boys and Girls Club in Cleveland, prompting former Browns center LeCharles Bentley to tweet: "Peyton Hillis looking for 10mil guaranteed from Browns and can't show up to kids charity event? #ManPlease."

Hillis later apologized.  "If I had known the full depths of it I would not have missed it," he said. "Still, I'm truly sorry and there's no excuse."

To reiterate: there is no Madden curse. Uh huh.


Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans will host Colt McCoy and the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at Reliant Stadium. Join Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan as they take a look at this matchup. Watch the game at 1 PM ET on CBS.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:42 pm
 

Browns RB corps grows even thinner

M. Hardesty will miss some time with a calf tear (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

During his Monday news conference, Browns coach Pat Shurmur said there would be no excuses why the Browns are 3-4 while scoring a combined 16 points in the past two games. But who could blame him if he started feeling sorry for himself just a little bit?

Especially after the news he brought today when he said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer, that running back Montario Hardesty will miss time with a moderate calf tear.

Though it doesn’t sound like a major injury, the loss of Hardesty leaves Cleveland with a bare cupboard at the running back spot. After rushing 33 times in Week 7 vs. the Seahawks, Hardesty missed the final three quarters of Sunday’s loss to the 49ers because of the injury.

Considering Peyton Hillis is still day to day with a bum hamstring and Brandon Jackson has been affected by a toe injury, the only healthy tailback on the roster is Chris Ogbonnaya, who was on the Texans practice squad a few weeks ago. Cleveland also has Armond Smith on the practice squad, and, if the team was desperate, the Browns could use Josh Cribbs as a running back.

Shurmur also said the team would try out free agent running backs on Tuesday (though I’m pretty sure Terrell Owens couldn’t pass as a running back).

As for how long Hardesty could be out? “It's going to take some time to heal,” Shurmur said.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com