If I told you that Peyton Hillis carried the ball 26 times for 99 yards and TD, and Greg Little recorded Cleveland’s 1st 100-yard receiving game of the year with 5 catches for 139 yards and a TD, you would probably assume that the Browns won.
Never assume, after all, this is the Browns.
The Browns held a slim 10-7 lead over the Cardinals at halftime, which could only mean one thing: Cleveland was doomed.
It was all downhill from there for Pat Shurmur and the Browns.
After Senca Wallace found rookie receiver Greg Little for a 76-yard TD, the Browns enjoyed a (somewhat) comfortable 10 point lead with just under 9:00 remaining in the 4th. With that 10 point lead, Shurmur fell into “do-not-lose” mode, which allowed the Cardinals to tie the game, and ultimately end it in OT.
The talk heading into the game was about Senca Wallace, and how well he would play in place of the injured Colt McCoy. Wallace performed about as well as we all expected him too, which was better than Colt. On the day, Wallace finished 18/31 for 231 yards and a TD. He also made numerous plays with his legs, resulting in 21 yards on the ground.
Peyton Hillis made an appearance in today’s game as well, rushing the ball for nearly 100 yards, and scoring just his 3rd TD of the season.
Defensively, the Browns played pretty well – again. Cleveland’s 31st ranked rushing defense held the Cardinals’ backfield in check, giving-up just 74 yards on the ground. For over four quarters, star receiver Larry Fitzgerald was held in check for the Cardinals. I say he was held in check for over four quarters, because Fitzgerald got loud in OT for Arizona.
Cardinals QB John Skelton found Fitzgerald in OT for a huge 32 yard gain, setting-up the game winning 22-yard FG try for kicker Jay Feeley. The Cardinals started their first possession in OT on the Browns side of the field, thanks to an excellent return by rookie return specialist, Patrick Peterson for the Cards.
So what just went so wrong for the Browns today? That’s easy. Pat Shurmur.
With 1:10 remaining in the 4th in a tied ball game, Cleveland took over possession at their own 9-yard line with two timeouts. First play of the series? Peyton Hillis up the middle for a gain of two. Timeout Arizona. Next play? Peyton Hillis up the middle for a gain of four. Timeout Arizona. On 3rd Down, Wallace steps back to throw, but it sails high and out of bounds.
If not for an excellent punt by Maynard, the Cardinals likely get the ball back with excellent field position, one timeout, and :40 seconds remaining. However, Maynard booms it deep, and rookie Buster Skrine swarmed Peterson under, leaving the Cardinals with a couple attempts to take a shot before overtime.
Cleveland’s defense holds, and forces overtime.
In overtime, the Browns win the coin-toss, and with no pressure to score right away, Shurmur comes out like his pants are on fire. Peyton Hillis touches the ball once on the drive, the Browns pick-up one first down, and Maynard punts the ball for the seventh, and final, time.
See, Shurmur’s conservative play-calling at the end of the fourth enabled the Cardinals to use two of their timeouts and get the ball back with a chance to end the game in regulation. Luckily for Shurmur, his third punter of the season bailed them out with a beautiful kick.
Maybe he forgot Arizona had all three of their timeouts?
Nonetheless, Mr. Shurmur showed why he’s in over his head at the end of the game, and ensured his team their 10th, 10 loss season since their return in ‘99.
Next week, the Browns get Baltimore, and Pittsburgh after that. What’s it all mean? A 4-12 record for the Browns, and a top five pick in the NFL Draft.
Since Tom Heckert was announced as the team’s general manager, the organization took on the less-than popular youth movement approach.
It’s really going to payoff for the Browns, at least defensively.
Rookies Jabaal Sheard, Greg Little, and Buster Skrine all made an impact in today’s game. Sheard picked-up two sacks, adding to his stellar rookie campaign. Little had a career day, becoming the Browns first 100-yard receiver of the year, and picking-up his 2nd TD catch. Skrine, who has played mostly special teams, recorded the first INT of his young, promising career.
From his defensive end position, Sheard has flourished in the NFL in his rookie season. He’s totaled 48 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles.
With his career day against the Cardinals, Little passed Eric Metcalf in catches by a Browns rookie. Including today, Little now has 57 receptions on the year, easily passing Metcalf’s 54, and 669 yards receiving.
Skrine has done it all for the Browns this year. He’s returned kicks, punts, played special teams, and played well on defense. He currently has 14 tackles on the year, and the lone INT. Mike Adams leads the team with 3 INTs.
With just two games remaining on the season (hallelujah), Hillis is running out of time to make the right impression on Holmgren and Heckert. The season long debate with Hillis has been is contract situation. Up until today’s game, Hillis’ best game came against the Colts (27 carriers 94 yards 2 TD). With his time running out in Cleveland, look for Hillis to make the most of his last two games – if Shurmur allows him.
Obama not the only President taking heat.
Dear Mike Holmgren,
I think it’s time for you to be held accountable for what’s going on in Cleveland, Mike.
A couple weeks ago, you gave first-year head coach Pat Shurmur your full endorsement, and even went as far as to say that he’d be around for a long time. Just one question – why?
I fully understand that you and Mr. Shurmur share the same agent in Bob LaMonte. I also understand that Mr. Shurmur’s late uncle, Fritz Shurmur, was your defensive coordinator in Green Bay. However, I, along with a lot of other fans, would like to know the real reason you hired Mr. Shurmur?
I suppose you’ll probably tell me that he has 23 years of coaching experience, and he was a member of seven playoff teams, five division crowns, and appeared in a Super Bowl. All that’s nice, but it was in a far less significant role than the one he currently holds in Cleveland. (All his “success”, if you will, occurred while he was in Philadelphia.)
After his incredible run as a “who-cares” coach for the Eagles, he was hired as the offensive coordinator in St. Louis. For some reason he gets a ton of credit for his time with the Rams, yet his offenses were down-right awful.
In his first year as the Rams’ offensive coordinator, the team finished with one of the worst offenses in the league; ranked 29th in total offense, 28th in passing yards a game (167.9 YPG), and the 20th ranked rushing offense (111.5 YPG) – thanks to Stephen Jackson. Oh, and the ’09 Rams averaged 10.9 points per game (worst in the NFL), and ended the year with a stellar 1-15 record. 2010 wasn’t much better for Shurmur, as his offense ranked 26th in total offense, averaged 18.1 PPG, and finished with a 7-9 record.
That was as an offensive coordinator, in arguably the worst division in football, the NFC West.
We were okay with the hire because, after all, you’re one of the “top minds” in the NFL when it comes to these things. Browns fans waited patiently for you to hire an offensive coordinator, and when you didn’t, we were nervous, but okay, because like I said, you know what you’re doing.
You do know what you’re doing, don’t you?
In short, you took a no-name offensive coordinator from one of the worst divisions in all the NFL, and made him the head guy of one of the proudest, most heartbroken, organizations in the league. Oh, and they play in the AFC North – the toughest division in football.
What has Mr. Shurmur done as the head coach of the Browns? Absolutely nothing, besides embarrass us even further.
Now, I know it seems like I’m being a tad bit cynical here, but I have proof!
Prior to the season, we heard all this talk about how 5-11 wasn’t acceptable anymore in Cleveland. The team put in a ton of effort during the lockout to get better, which was led, by the way, by Colt McCoy – Cleveland’s controversial QB of the year.
So while the players were dedicating their summer to getting better, and putting a winning season together for their heartbroken fans, what was Mr. Shurmur doing? Better yet, what were you doing?
Time after time, the Browns have gone out and competed. We see it from the players, from Dick Jauron, and just about everyone else – except Mr. Shurmur. What has he done, you ask?
He’s led the Cleveland Browns’ offense to a 29th total yardage ranking, a cool 13.7 PPG, and one of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL despite having Peyton Hillis. I know, Hillis has been a drama queen this year, but even without Hillis he has no desire to commit to the run.
So honestly, Mr. Holmgren, why the hell are you doing endorsing this clown?
There’s no passion, or intensity. His press conferences are the same each and every week; he approaches the podium, addresses injuries, talks about how they have to try harder and get better, answers a few questions, and he’s gone.
I have nearly every Pat Shurmur press conference transcript out there, and I can count on one hand how man times he’s taken responsibility for a loss. Which means for 10 weeks, we’ve heard Mr. Shurmur hold the players accountable. I, along with a lot of other Browns fans, am fully aware that it’s not the coach’s fault if the players don’t go out there and execute. At some point, however, the coaches – yourself included – need to be held accountable for the laughing-stock you put out on the field every Sunday.
What do I mean? (Since you won’t question anything, ever, I’ll do it for you.)
Well there’s today’s game, for example.
Cleveland’s opening possession on offense they couldn’t be stopped, leading to a quick 7-0 lead. The Browns held a 10-0 lead for much of the first half, before the Cardinals scored right before the half.
Halftime score: Browns 10 – Cardinals 7.
Fast forward to 9:00 to go in the game. Browns now hold a 17-7 lead, in the 4th and final quarter of the game. Unless you were asleep, which I wouldn’t blame you, you know that the Browns lost, in OT, 20-17.
It’s not so much that the Browns lost, or really, the way they lost. It was the way Mr. Shurmur called the game after that incredible opening drive.
You ever wonder why we average less than 14 points a game?
At the start of the game, Mr. Shurmur is a tad unpredictable, often leading to a rare opening drive touchdown, or a FG. From there, it going to be hand off to Hillis left, and a FB dive play with Alex Smith. That takes care of 1st and 2nd down. 3rd Down means Colt McCoy is throwing a 5-yard pass on 3rd and 12.
Next thing you know, it is 21-3 at the start of the 4th, which means Colt McCoy is going to throw 20 times in one quarter of play.
Final Score: (Not the Browns) 24 – Actual Browns 10.
The last Browns touchdown will come inside of two minutes to go, making the scoreboard seem more respectable than the actual game itself.
If I, just a regular old’ Joe that enjoys sports, can figure out what’s coming, what do you think opposing defenses are doing? I bet they’re laughing while watching film, thinking that they’ve not seen an offense like the Shurmur-led Browns since their first season in biddy league football. Do you think there’s a bunch of Pat Shurmur’s running the opposing defenses? No.
The hiring of Mr. Shurmur was okay until you decided that he could handle head coaching duties, as well as offensive coordinator duties. It just doesn’t make sense, Mike. Not at all.
Maybe you didn’t realize what you were stepping into here, Mike.
This is the city of Cleveland, and home of the Browns; a once proud, and feared, organization in the NFL. The fans are as passionate about the Browns, as they are life. Football IS life in Cleveland.
We deserve a winner on Sundays. We deserve not to have our hearts broken every single game. We deserve more from our fearless front office. Have you seen what goes on in Cincinnati when they don’t win? Is that what you’re striving for in Cleveland?
Clean it up Mike, and wise-up. While you’re evaluating the likes of Colt McCoy, Peyton Hillis, and Mohammed Massaquoi during the off-season, take a little time to evaluate Mr. Shurmur as well.
It’s time to win in Cleveland, not commit to next year’s draft after week five.
One Extremely Heartbroken Fan Base
P.S. Through 14 games this season, Pat Shurmur has done nothing to resemble a head coach in the NFL. Until he proves otherwise, I’ll just call him Mr.
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