The 2012 season ended for the Browns Sunday with yet another loss to the Steelers, but as usual, there are a lot more questions about who will be around next season to lead them.
Pat Shurmur stood on the podium and refused to be put in a position to say Sunday was his last game, but you could tell he was a man that had just given his final speech to his team following the loss.
“I’m looking forward to coaching this team next year if that’s the case,” Shurmur said. “If not, then what I’m going to do is help coach and help inspire a team to win games in some role.
“I have kids in college. I have mouths to feed, and this is my profession and this is what I choose to do. That’s it. That is how simple it is in my mind.”
The game was secondary with new owner Jimmy Halsam watching from a distance, ready with new CEO Joe Banner to make a move quickly from all reports to get a new GM and head coach in place.
Many state that Shurmur, along with GM Tom Heckert, will be fired on Monday, and with that there’s yet another change coming for the Browns.
Players in the locker room also sensed that the end is near for Shurmur, who has been the coach for the last two years, which have ended 4-12 and now 5-11.
“To me he was trying to hold back the tears,” LB D’Qwell Jackson said. “He put everything in to it, we were trying to do something that hadn’t been done since 1988, and with everything looming over his head, it’s tough. He’s in a tough spot.
“As players we appreciate him, we would run through a brick wall for him, and it’s just too bad we couldn’t get a win for him.”
They tried to get that win with former practice squad QB Thad Lewis, who had the Browns tied with the Steelers at 10 in a feisty game midway through the third quarter.
After a couple post whistle scuffles, the Steelers finally took control on a long drive that ended with QB Ben Roethlisberger hitting Antonio Brown from 9 yards out with 4:39 left in the third to make it 17-10.
They completed the effort when CB Cortez Allen recovered a disputed Travis Benjamin fumble and took it to the Browns 27 midway into the fourth quarter.
They converted the turnover into their last TD of the season, a Roethlisberger 12-yard TD pass to Plaxico Burress, who played well in what could be for the second time his last game with the Steelers.
The Browns played without QB’s Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy, as well as RB Trent Richardson, but were not doomed until they committed four turnovers.
Now the winds of change will see yet more changes for this team, and it’s anyone’s guess where Haslam and Banner will go from here.