Punt for Dead October: Shurmur, Colts ground Browns in Indy

by Cleveland Frowns on October 22, 2012

“A week ago, I was on the Packers practice squad.”Colts defensive end Lawrence Guy

“They kept us off-balance. They caught us off-guard. We didn’t make the plays we were supposed to make.”Frostee Rucker

“That’s something you will have to ask Pat.”Trent Richardson

“It’s safe to say it’s a team loss. We go back to work tomorrow, like half the teams in the league.”Pat Shurmur

—————

Misery loves company and Pat Shurmur wants to remind you that 11 other NFL teams lost yesterday, too. But only one of those teams is 1-6, only one just tied a 36-year-old franchise record with its 11th straight road loss (the longest active road losing streak in the league), and only one could have an era so effectively summarized by a line like this from yesterday’s AP game wrap:

“Punter Reggie Hodges dropped the ball on the extra point, putting the Browns in a 7-6 hole that they couldn’t overcome.”

Because when you’re talking about special teams gaffes leading to insurmountable one-point second-quarter deficits, you can only be talking about Shurmurball.

This is starting to get really boring, so let’s back up a bit to note for starters that since 2010, when Eric Mangini’s Browns were doing things like winning blowouts against Tom Brady’s Patriots and Drew Brees’s Saints and establishing a reputation as a team that nobody wanted to play, all of these things have happened:

  • A healthy D’Qwell Jackson has returned to the lineup to rejoin a veteran core of Joe Thomas, Ahtyba Rubin, Sheldon Brown and Ben Watson;
  • Young building blocks like Alex Mack, Mohammed Massaquoi, Joe Haden, T.J. Ward and Shaun Lauvao have matured for two to three seasons;
  • The Browns have added seven starters via the first and second rounds of the draft; four second-rounders and three first-rounders, including one picked third-overall who’s widely believed to be the best running back to enter the league since Adrian Peterson.

At this point, no fewer than 13 Browns starters were picked in the first or second round, 7 of which Mangini didn’t have at his disposal for even one day, and all of the above-noted roster growth has taken place in a locker room led by professionals like Josh Cribbs, Joe Thomas and Scott Fujita thanks to Mangini having cleaned up the mess that was dominated by Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow and Shaun Smith (each of whom barely registers on an NFL roster today if at all).*

Now, four years since Mangini set this overhaul under way, and two years after the Browns were doing things like crushing Tom Brady’s Patriots and Drew Brees’s Saints and establishing themselves as a team that nobody wanted to play, Shurmur’s troops, with twice as much talent, do things like go to Indianapolis and get their mouths pounded by a Colts team that was playing defensive linemen that it signed off the street mid-week. A Colts team missing three starters on defense, that couldn’t run the ball or stop the run (29th) going into yesterday, coming off a game against the Jets where they gave up 257 yards on 44 carries awhile mustering 41 yards on 17 rushes of their own, comes out against the Browns and rolls up 148 yards on 37 carries by their backup running backs while holding the Browns to 55 on just 17 attempts.

Shurmur said after the game that the Colts added an extra defender to stop the Browns rushing attack, so it’s hard to tell whether yesterday’s inability to score more than 13 points or hold the ball for more than 24 minutes was due to the predictability of the Browns offense or just a basic failure to execute run blocks. But we do know that any fourth grader should have expected the Colts defense to come in yesterday focused on stopping the run, and we also heard heard Frostee Rucker say that the Colts “kept [the Browns] off-balance” and “caught [them] off guard.”

Of course they did.

These Browns don’t lack talent, and they don’t lack veteran leadership. What they’re missing is brains. Knowing that at least one available coach would have this group competing for a playoff spot this year, it’s hard not to wonder what they’d look like with even a replacement-level-interim coach (placement of hyphens here is deliberate), however wise it might be to stick out the season with Pat.

Anyway, coaching and all, it was the best performance of Brandon Weeden’s young career, as hard as he tried to add to his league-leading interception total (now tied with Andy Dalton) with an atrocious first quarter throw that would have killed the Browns’ first touchdown drive. Not coincidentally, Josh Gordon and Greg Little each had their own best games of their respective careers. Little caught everything that was thrown his way, including a brilliant touchdown reception on a ball that was on the outer limits of his reach, and Gordon made an excellent adjustment to grab Weeden’s second touchdown pass. Both of these second-round picks are guys who are hard to guard, and Weeden mostly had plenty of time to find them yesterday (for the second time in three weeks, the quarterback wasn’t sacked once).

At this point it’s clear that Weeden has an elite NFL arm, and not just on the deep ball. Under pressure, he can close his eyes, step off his back foot and deliver a perfect strike on any given throw. That’s what he did on the 4th-quarter pass that Gordon dropped yesterday for what would have been a game changing touchdown (more on that below), and while the Little touchdown required the receiver to make an excellent play, it was thrown under pressure to a place where only Little could get it. Still, Weeden missed plenty yesterday (including on the 4th-and-6 incompletion that iced the game for the Colts), and didn’t shake his tendency to throw the kind of balls that turn into fatal interceptions.

What we might never see Weeden do is the kind of surgery that Andrew Luck** did to the Browns defense in the first half, going through his progressions and repeatedly finding receivers breaking into small windows all over the field. On the Colts’ first drive of the second half, Luck was a victim of a touchdown drop by Donnie Avery who was breaking out of the shade into the sun much like Gordon on his fourth-quarter drop in the same place.*** And while the Browns defense stiffened up in the second half by finally figuring out that the Colts were going to just keep running it (with special thanks to a fourth-quarter fumble forced by Sheldon Brown), they also benefited from mistakes by rookie receiver T.Y. Hilton, who dropped a perfect third down pass late in the third quarter, and broke the wrong way on another earlier in the same quarter.

In any event, it can’t be a coincidence that in the three games this season that the Browns have faced a quarterback known for his smarts (Luck’s Colts, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Bills and Eli Manning’s Giants), Dick Jauron’s “Think Less, Play Faster” defense has been rendered completely helpless for long stretches of each of these match-ups.

Naturally everyone wants to talk about Shurmur’s decision to punt, down by four points, on 4th-and-1 from the Colts’ 41-yard line with six-and-a-half minutes left in the game, because the only way it could be explained would be if the Browns were actually trying to lose.

“Thank you very much,” says the Indianapolis Star’s Bob Kravitz of the decision by “Cleveland’s spineless coach.”

Oh, it was nothing.

And naturally the Plain Dealer wants to make one dropped pass the story of the game.

But anyone who watched last night’s must win game for the Steelers in Cincinnati saw All-Pro receiver Mike Wallace drop four passes that hit him right between the numbers, along with Steelers running back Baron Batch dropping a wide open touchdown on a perfectly executed reverse pass. That all happened in one half, yet Somehow Pittsburgh won 24-17, and playing without Troy Polamalu, held the Bengals team that the Browns beat last week in their “Super Bowl” to a putrid 185 yards of total offense.

Next week another Super Bowl in Cleveland against the Chargers. At least the weather is supposed to be good, and whatever happens with Shurmur in the meantime, at least the season will be half over by the time it’s through.

—————

*There’s no worse nonsense expressed about the Browns these days than the popular idea that Tom Heckert overcame some kind of hurdle in “dismantling [Mangini’s] aging roster.” None of the veterans that Mangini brought to the Browns replaced anyone who was worth a hill of beans to any other team in the NFL, it cost the Browns nothing to replace those veterans when they left, and the plan all along was to replace them with draft picks and free agents in the first place.

**Pour one out for winning all four of those bumfights last season and the winning culture that’s blossomed from those victories compared to the chance to have drafted Luck. Can’t even lose right.

***The stark shade lines at Lucas Oil Stadium yesterday highlighted another among many reasons why the idea of a retractable roof in Cleveland is a terrible one.

  • ClevelandFrowns

    I understand the title reference might be somewhat vague but “Stampede Blue” is the name of a popular Colts website. http://www.stampedeblue.com

    If anyone has a better idea I’ll change it. Rough day at the mine.

    • mo_by_dick

      “Browns Caught Napping in Nap Town”
      “Hoosier Daddy?”
      “Punt For Red October”

      • ClevelandFrowns

        THANK YOU.

        #hegetsbywithalittlehelpfromhisfriends

      • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

        c.

        • ClevelandFrowns

          obv.

          • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/353RMCG4SCQSGHPMKN7TMON654 S. A

            Revised title is the best I’ve seen in the two yrs I’ve been reading this blog.

          • bupalos

            You’re not reading hard enough then. Frowns titles (and captions) like a MF all day everyday.

    • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

      Makes no difference to me, they’re still a bunch of Fat Humps.

      Just an FYI Indy fans, Steak ‘n’ Shake is not fine cuisine.

      • nj0

        Swenson’s:Steak n’ Shake::Paul Brown:Pat Shurmur

        • ClevelandFrowns

          I’m going to stand up for Steak n’ Shake here.

          Shurmurball is Hamburger Station.

          • nj0

            So SnS is who? Butch Davis?

          • NeedsFoodBadly

            Delicious, is what it is. Skinny fries, a patty melt and a malted. Haute cuisine.

          • clayII

            B-Spot > Steak n Shake > all other chains

            (never had Swensons)

        • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

          Liked for Swenson’s. I’d like it again if I could.

          • ClevelandFrowns

            #TeamSkyWay

  • ClevelandFrowns

    Also, 3-1 with the NFL picks yesterday to run to 23-19 ATS on the season (55%).

    I’ll take the Lions tonight to keep it within 6.5 of the Bears. They can save their season (at least for another week) with a win here. The return of Louis Delmas to their secondary is big (was last week against the Eagles), and the Lions d-line can give the Bears suspect o-line problems. Thinking more Cutler-type dumpster fire things than Stafford-type dumpster fire things tonight.

    FWIW, I’m 4-1 on posted MNF picks so far this season.

    Also, a good collection of Haslam owners box shots at WFNY here: http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2012/10/browns-lose-very-winnable-game-to-colts-17-13/

    • Beeej

      “Shurmurer’s Row” had me LQTM.

      • ClevelandFrowns

        Half of Pat’s wins and one of his very closest losses came against those teams.

        • Beeej

          Just think where this team would be without our offensive genius/QB guru.

          • ClevelandFrowns

            I don’t even want to, but that MNF game was beautiful.

            24-19 (55.8%), 5-1 MNF. #showsselfout

    • http://twitter.com/musicman06 Chris Music
      • Alexb

        welcome to Cleveland Jimmy H!! Pull up a chair and pour yourself a drink, and no…Lerner isn’t gonna give you your money back.

  • Cranky M

    I keep hearing people complain about not going for it on 4th-and-1. I completely agree. But i’m assuming that if they had gone for it, they would have run Ben Watson on a 1/2-yard drag route, anyways.

    • Beeej

      “I know it has never worked before, but I had a feeling he was due,” failed 4th and 1 conversion alternative universe Pat Shurmur.

  • nj0

    “Weeden missed plenty yesterday”…

    And that’s my thing with him (and all QBs, really). It’s a point I made about Colt too – if you are a perfect QB for 80% of your throws but miss horribly on the other 20%, you are not going to be in this league for long. You need to evaluate players (QBs especially) not on their highlights but their low-lights.

    • Cranky M

      I think the Colt split was the opposite: good on 20%, and horrible on the other 80%.

      That was a horrible throw by Weeden, but i also think somebody messed up a route. There shouldn’t have been two wide receivers so close together, and thus there shouldn’t have been extra defenders there. Of course, with Shurmur, it’s entirely possible that he designed the play that way.

      Doesn’t excuse the throw, of course. But i prefer to blame Shurmur for everything possible.

      • nj0

        I agree on the Colt split. Hope nobody reads my mention of him as support.

        re: blaming Shurmur – that’s a popular point of view these days. He really does call a terrible game. To completely abandon the running game in a one score game against a bad run defense just makes me shake my head, especially when I think about how we’re going to play in December – KC, Was, @Den, @Pit

        • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

          What’s even worse than that, is that I’m 99% sure that every single carry Richardson had (and at least most of Hardesty’s) was in between the tackles. I know that is normally a weak spot in a 3-4, but FFS, the Colts linebackers blow and Richardson is fast. He never really had a shot yesterday.

          Also, since no one has mentioned it yet, Marecic still sucks super hard.

  • Deputy Glitters

    I seriously think you need to organize a Mangini rally. Get him rehired. Somehow, someway. I can’t watch Shurmur’s punchable face anymore.

    • ClevelandFrowns

      Yup. I will need help to make this happen, though.

      Relatedly, did anyone hear my call to Baskin & Phelps circa 10:45ish today?

      • thebearchoo

        Ha! I was going to put in a comment asking whether that was the real Cleveland Frowns or an imposter but once the Mangini love started flowing I knew that it had to be the real deal. It was a welcome surprise to break up 8 hours of desk chair boredom.

        Btw, Phelps is such a massive tool for citing anything from the Bleacher Report like it’s a fact. He lost a bit of respect from me on that one.

        But anywho, BRING BACK THE MANGENIUS!

    • rodofdisaster

      Only the PREVIOUS owner would listen to guys with bones on their heads.

      • ClevelandFrowns

        Are french fryes still in play?

    • BIKI024

      just like his suga daddy, Mangini will most likely be a DC or maybe even a DB in his next job… but it certainly won’t be in Cleveland.. what is the statute of limitations anyway?? it’s goin on 3 years for pete’s sake.. GET OVER IT!

  • Cranky M

    I’ve never argued that Heckert was somehow cleaning up Mangini’s roster mess, but i do think he more than deserves to stay. They seem to have talent. I would like to see how his players do with semi-competent coaching.

  • ClevelandFrowns

    Will add that I liked Weeden and Gordon’s post-game comments as well. http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2012/10/browns-lose-but-weeden-improves/

    It beats the hell out of “we were having a lot of fun out there,” even if they were. Weeds is growing on me. Slowly. Subject to change at a moment’s interception.

    • Wiseoldredbeard

      Here here. As an aside, are we to be happy or frightened by Haslam’s clear disgust of Shurmurball? One the one hand: shows he’s passionate, cares about winning, understands the game, will not permit this sh*t to stand for longer than he has to. On the other: owners that clearly demonstrate their anger at coaches’ decisions (whether deserved or not) can cause more problems than they solve. Since we haven’t had an owner who even watched the game for as long as I can remember, and since I felt the same way he did, the goods are outweighing the bads. But should we be scared for the future? Food for thought…

      • GrandRapidsRustlers

        We should be thrilled.

        It can’t get any worse. No playoff wins since 94 season. I am fine with him going crazy and looking like he wants to throw a table down to the field.

        What I really want to see is him standing by the Browns tunnel on Sunday in the 4th quarter with the Chargers up 3 scores. That will be great TV.

        • Wiseoldredbeard

          My heart agrees, my brain fears Jerry Jones.

          I would bet money that he spoke with Banner after the game, asked if he could fire Shurmur, and Banner said he’d have to wait, at least, until the bye week. In that instant, I think he understood what it feels like to be a Browns fan for the first time. As much as it hurt, he needed one of those.

          • BernietoCatcherGuy

            I have to say Jerry Jones has won more games than we have, so my brain doesn’t fear

          • Wiseoldredbeard

            Guy’s only won a single playoff game since 1996. Not sure that’s what we’re looking for around here.

          • thebearchoo

            The difference between him and Jonesey is that he’s already come out and let it be known that Banner will be making all the decisions…Jones can’t let a fly into his stadium without keeping track of it.

            I hope Shat saw that reaction from Haslem after the punt, that is, if he has an hour or two open in his week from that 24/7 gameplanning that he does.

      • nj0

        I had the same thought. In the modern NFL, the level of owner involvement has a negative correlation with winning after a certain point.

        Hope Haslam is closer to the Rooneys and Krafts of the world rather than the Joneses and Davises.

        Still loved to see it though.

      • mo_by_dick

        I’ve gotta believe that part of his frustration had to do with Holmgren’s homeboys playing with his new toy. We’ll see how animated he is once he’s had a part in choosing the staff. #HolmgrensHomeboys

        • bupalos

          That’s a good thought.

          • ClevelandFrowns

            Yup.

      • Matty Light

        If I paid a billion dollars for Shurmurball, my reaction would be decidedly more enraged than Haslam’s.

      • bupalos

        That question was running through my head too. My feeling is I’m personally glad I saw that out of him, because I haven’t been convinced that this is actually and personally important to him. And I’m marginally ok seeing it with AskPat on the other end of it. But I don’t really want or need to ever see it again, after AskPat is gone, I mean. That really can be a problem.

        Here is a link for you Mr. Haslem sir:
        http://www.ebay.com/itm/One-Way-Mirror-Window-Film-30-Wide-x-1-Yard-/260806080344

      • ClevelandFrowns

        I think this is an excellent question, and one that his practice guests on his first full day as owner strongly suggest a bad answer to.

    • Cranky M

      It makes me inordinately happy when people are willing to admit that Weeden is better than they initially expected. Also glad to hear less and less about McCoy these days.

      • Jim

        Unless of course you’re unfortunate enough to listen to Chuck Booms. As recently as Sunday morning he was claiming that because Haslam likes McCoy, there will be a quarterback competition next season.

  • bupalos

    Good work here frownie.

    >>> the popular idea that Tom Heckert overcame some kind of hurdle in “dismantling [Mangini’s] aging roster.”>>

    I’m not sure anyone thinks he overcame a hurdle, as you put it. But while rooks had to rotate into these positions by design, I do think he’s put pretty good ones in there. Taking the easiest apples to apples, Heckert’s brought in Little, Gordon, and Benjamin on about the same draft value that Mangini brought in MoMass and Robiski. Overall it’s too small a sample size to hang your hat on of course, but Heckert has done at least fairly well.

    I’m fully down with the idea that Shurmur is one of the very few coaches that makes a very tangible difference. It’s really hard to explain the trench performance yesterday in terms of relative talent.

    • Wiseoldredbeard

      Simply put, the guy does not instill a winning attitude. Yes, I know that the attitude was so down that it is going to have to take someone with super human strength in that department to turn things around, but we have enough evidence to know this isn’t the guy. NEXT!

      • bupalos

        Yeah, I don’t even think the attitude was so down as all that. This is an incredibly young team, by far the youngest starters in the NFL counting Weeden as a rookie. We could easily be talking about a team that is too young to know they should be down, too young to know they should be losing. But we’re not.

        That said, I do think they’ve played pretty hard every game except the second half of the Giants game and man I have no idea what the d-line was up to most of the day yesterday. Or the O-line in run blocking.

        Since we’re to the point of babies/bathwater with Pat, it would be wrong not to note that his risk-reward offensive playcalling has started to look kind of… good-ish. The timing of the downfield shots last week and this I really liked.

        • Wiseoldredbeard

          I’m not saying that the young team has not fought — they have, and they’ve hung in there. But with a young team all the more reason to get one of those coaches who drags the best out of everyone, the kind that makes people think they can do more than they can. That’s what a whole team of rookies needs. Not a guy who’s every answer in a post game presser is the secret password to Contra. You want to know how to instill winning in your young team? Go for two or go for it on fourth an inches. It shows you believe in them. That you believe in YOUR plan. Punting is just hoping the other team f*cks up. That doesn’t instill anything in a young team.

          • actovegin1armstrong

            “m not saying that the young team has not fought”
            WORB, would you say that they have Battled?”

          • Wiseoldredbeard

            Battle, battle, flash, compete, flash, battle, complete, etc.

        • jpftribe

          With regards to your last paragraph, I would agree with your point. However, I think this is exactly what is wrong about this team.

          That is the kind of observation you would expect from a young , maybe first year OC in the NFL. The fact is, we have a very experienced OC that has been an HC in the league.

          From a head coaching standpoint, this team is awful. Special teams blunders, penalties, poor clock management, poor game situation management, bad personnel substitutions, awful media relations and the inability to game plan, or adjust game plans to opponents weaknesses is all on Shurmur.

          This guy is way out of his depth, and it is really unfortunate he was put in this position in the first place. His buddy Mike has put a stamp on his career that is going to be very difficult to overcome in the NFL. Shurmur is gone, just a question of when.

          The interesting piece of the puzzle is Heckert. Agree that Haslam shouldn’t be meddling in on the field decisions. But Banner is not a football guy either, he is a numbers guy. So who is ultimately going to be the No 1 football guy? How are they going to structure that? Judgement needs to be reserved until those questions are answered.

    • BernietoCatcherGuy

      The sample sizes are too small to compare…and I will say that if Mangini had has much experience drafting as Heckert does we would be looking at different comparisons also.

    • ClevelandFrowns

      “Heckert’s brought in Little, Gordon, and Benjamin on about the same draft value that Mangini brought in MoMass and Robiski.”

      Leaving aside that Heckert had a little less on his plate when he did this, remember that the Browns needed receivers and good character guys badly in 2009, 2009 was the worst draft of probably the last decade, and everybody thought Robiskie — a kid who grew up here with a dad who coached the Browns — was widely thought to be the most NFL ready receiver in the league that year. Of course there’s also that nobody knows what might have happened with either of these guys if the Browns would have managed to field even a D+ QB until this season.

      It’s hard to think that anyone in the league ever taken so much heat for such understandable and relatively inconsequential decisions.

      • Believelander

        That was definitely not the worst Browns draft in the last decade, but it sure wasn’t good. The good news is we got a Pro Bowl level center out of the deal, the bad news is the rest of the picks we got for the Pro Bowl center didn’t really pan out (we still have MoMass) and the one effective veteran it netted us in Abe Elam got released for the powerhouse combo of Usama Young/Eric Hagg/Ray Ventrone.

      • Beeej

        I think we can agree that Mangini was a good GM. How does that relate to his coaching abilities? Hog-ram went to the Super Bowl a few times, therefore he will make a great President.

        • bupalos

          Did you get that backwards? I’m not going to agree at all that Mangini was a good GM, I don’t think there’s practically any evidence either way. But I do think he’s a good coach.

          • Beeej

            Yes I did. Fixed. Lots of stuff on my mind today.

          • actovegin1armstrong

            Beeej, I hope that you resolve your current dilemmas, but Bikilettuce may not be the answer.
            Or perhaps it is, just a thought….

          • Beeej

            Not the lettuce. The latest lil Beeej made her appearance today.

          • ClevelandFrowns

            Hey, Congrats!

      • bupalos

        I guess I shouldn’t have pushed the M. Button. My point wasn’t meant to be about Mangini at all, but rather that Heckert has turned in what look like 3 pretty good drafts. Which isn’t anything to sneeze at anywhere… and especially not here.

        If we can him he should have another gig pronto.

        • actovegin1armstrong

          Bupa,
          Other than a good supplemental decision, how do you feel about the 2012 draft?

          • bupalos

            Despite concerns about Richardson, I’m more than OK with it. I think it’s upper third of the league. If you forget the draft slots and just say how many quality players did we get, I’d say 5-7. Weeden, Richardson, Hughes, Winn, Schwartz, Benjamin, maybe JMJ (in no particular order) is a good NFL haul, even if it’s mostly on the wrong side of the ball. Course that’s with that extra #1. But not bad at all.

  • Kicktoe2010

    Here we go with Mangini….Frownie, that guy set the franchise back five years with his personnel decisions! Good coach who had too much control. Obviously the blame goes to the top with our former owner. But enough spin on Mangini’s roster moves, they were crap!

    We are finally building the right way. We have talent. We have a quarterback with legitimate NFL skills, there’s no denying that. I’ve seen enough inept quarterback play in Cleveland to know this guy is different. The Browns are at least watchable…for the first time since the mirage 2007 season!

    The coach will be moving on soon, but let’s be honest about the improving roster. You don’t want people to start thinking you have an agenda or something!

    • Cranky M

      How exactly did he set them back? By getting rid of Edwards and Winslow, who are currently struggling to ever leave an NFL bench?

      • BIKI024

        while many will argue that the 2009 draft was one of the weakest classes in recent NFL history, we only have 3 guys on the roster from that offseason (draft, trade, FA): Mack, Kaluka and MoMass

        we can second guess the THREE 2nd round selections the Browns had in 2009 till we’re blue in the face, but the fact remains that 2 of the 3 are no longer in the NFL. as much as I like Mo, it doesn’t seem like the dude can stay healthy and I’m not sure the Browns will bring him back.

        so yes, it seems to me that an argument could be made that if you only have ONE starter from an entire draft class that you set the franchise back.

  • Bryan

    Great work here. You precisely identified the teams failings while also acknowledging the positives that are happening with the young talent. This team has some pieces if they could just get a coach.

    As one of the Presidents of the Weeden fan club, I am also glad to see you are starting to appreciate him. Your praise of the throw to Gordon (that was ultimately dropped) is dead-on. That throw t takes both elite physical gifts (i.e. a big arm) as well as great touch. He made a similar throw in Baltimore that Little dropped. That is what separates him form clowns like DA. DA has the arm strength to make that throw, but not the accuracy or touch to lay it out there so perfectly under that kind of pressure.

    One nit: I agree that he got lucky on the dropped INT, but he got equally unlucky on the batted ball last week. For the past two games, he has essentially only made one terrible throw (the one from this week). For a rookie 7-games in, that is strong stuff. And, again, it shows that he can learn.

    At this point, I think the T-Rich pick is easier to criticize than the Weeden pick. I like T-Rich, but objectively his overall performance has been rocky and has not involved the steady progression we see from Weeds. And he was a top 5 guy.

    • Cranky M

      It sincerely warms my heart to see Frownie say something remotely positive about the Browns for the first time in the post-Mangini era.

      • Matty Light

        This team seems to be the inverse of Mangini’s Browns — a talented young nucleus hindered by coaching.

        I have a dream, and that’s to see Mangini roam the Browns’ sidelines again, but it probably won’t happen.

        Anyone like McDaniels? Aside from the Xs-and-Os (w/ the Bros!), he’s a JCU product and was subject to the same smear campaign as Mangenious (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ms-thegameface052209). Not that being subject to the same smear campaign as Mangini makes him a good coach, but if you have a negative opinion of him, it could be the reason why.

        Kenny Roda (who broke the Haslam story in August, FWIW) tweeted last week that Michael Lombardi is on the short list to replace Heckert. Lombardi said recently that he thinks McDaniels, along with Chip Kelly, is one of the top head coaching candidates available. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire!

        • BIKI024

          Canton’s finest: Josh McDaniels

        • Bryan

          Lombardi and McDaniels could be interesting.

          One of the best coaching ideas I have seen lately came in the “Hey Mary!” section of the PD. Some idiotic fan asked if there was any chance Haslam would hire Holmgren as head coach! Who are these people?

          • BIKI024

            Lombardi has some ties to Banner too, worked for the Eagles in 97 and 98. Lombardi has ties to McDaniels as well as he worked with BB in Cleve for 5 years (total of 10 in Cleve).

          • rodofdisaster

            Josh McDaniels was in high school then.

          • actovegin1armstrong

            You may be on to something Biki.
            Lombardi also won two Super Bowls with the Packers.

        • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

          here’s what lombardi did with his 1st rounders:
          Tommy Vardell (9)
          Steve Everitt (14)
          Derrick Alexander (29)
          Antonio Langham (9)
          Craig Powell (30)

          we all like everitt and langham, but vardell was pretty damn inexcusable.

          here’s the rest of his picks.
          Patrick Rowe
          Dan Footman
          Gerald Dixon
          Bill E. Johnson
          Mike Caldwell
          Romeo Bandison
          Mike Frederick
          Eric Zeier
          Herman Arvie
          Issac Booth
          Mike Miller
          Tau Pupua
          George Williams
          Rico Smith
          Rich McKenzie
          Robert Strait
          Selwyn Jones
          Travis Hill
          Andre Hewitt
          A.C. Tellison
          Tim Hill
          Marcus Lowe
          Augustin Olobia
          Tim Simpson
          Keithen McCant

          30 picks, 3 (everitt, langham, footman) hits. why do we want this guy back again?

          and his work w.r.t. mangini has been documented here.

          • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/353RMCG4SCQSGHPMKN7TMON654 S. A

            Banner had several opportunities to hire Lombardi in Philly and passed. He obviously knows something we don’t.
            I wouldn’t consider Lombardi an upgrade over Heckert and I hope he’s not our next GM.
            On another note, great to see Weeden get some national TV love on Monday Night countdown.

          • BIKI024

            it seems like the only person Banner hired on the Football side of things was Andy Reid..

          • rodofdisaster

            That Lombardi hit-piece is just disasteful. Even if you don’t like Mangini, I don’t see how that comes off as anything but representative of some inner insecurity on Lombardi’s part.

            Last time I checked, Eric Mangini has three Super Bowl rings to his credit and Mike Lombardi has three fewer than that.

          • Deputy Glitters

            Completely agree here. I want no part of Mike Lombardi. When you listen to him on the BS Report and come away feeling like he knows less than Simmons, you gotta know to stay away.

          • ClevelandFrowns

            Thank you, Jim.

            I will laugh/cry so hard if Lombardi is even hired as sandwich boy for this FO.

          • ClevelandFrowns

            SELWYN JONES.

          • Believelander

            THE GUY WHO INVENTED TOTAL Q-

            nevermind.

        • bupalos

          Boy that would be interesting, and for the folks who believe in The Process and Belichick magic and all that, it’s as close to Mangini as you can get without just hiring Mangini –which just flat simply isn’t happening.

        • thatsfine

          Would completely buy into McDaniels. I think he’s got a great mind for offense. Plus, he’s already had a NFL HC stint in which he made some mistakes… a trial run or a learning experience, if you will.

          Lombardi… no way in hell, for reasons covered in remarkable depth by Kanicki below.

        • ClevelandFrowns
          • Matty Light

            I wasn’t endorsing Lombardi, just saying that he may be a GM that would hire McDaniels and that Roda was bringing his name up. As an analyst, I don’t like him. Lombardi always brings up the questionable decisions of other GMs and boasts about how he would’ve handled a situation differently without mentioning the obvious benefit of hindsight. If you only listened to Lombardi, you’d assume that his likeness was chiseled on the Mt. Rushmore of great talent evaluators.

            Jim — thanks for the list. I actually didn’t realize his record as a GM was that bad (before my time as a Browns fan). Of course, if he would’ve listened to Belichick’s d***, it would be slightly better: http://deadspin.com/5937003/jon-gruden-is-gonna-get-two-hotel-rooms-for-all-his-bitches-bill-belichicks-dick-is-hard-and-other-things-we-learned-from-warren-sapps-new-book

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            no prob and i didnt mean to come down your street on this. im sure a lot of current browns fans werent around in that time. and it was the era of the last home playoff game and the last playoff win (about 20 years now) so if you dont look deeply youll naturally associate that time with success.

            i know vardell is the name that jumps off the list, but remarkably, many people at the time thought that he was a top 10 talent. the pick that always stuck in my mind as the worst imo, was craig powell. we like youngstown/osu products as a rule, but powell only played 14 games in his nfl career. i would say powell was lombardi’s ‘robiskie.’

            i recall being amazed when he first showed up on bill simmons’ podcast. ‘talk up about failing up’ was the reaction.

            interesting story here on lombardi’s firing from the raiders. art shell “accused Lombardi of calling reporters around the country and criticizing the Raiders coach staff, particularly then-offensive coordinator Tom Walsh.” so the hatchet job on mangini has a precedent; he has a track record of back channel axe grinding.

          • Bryan

            I thought we were talking about VINCE Lombardi….

            In all seriousness, I totally forgot how annoying/poorly reasoned Mike Lombardi’s commentary is, and I didn’t realize how terrible his track record with the Browns was. Mostly I just kind of liked the idea of McDaniels – super smart young guy who has matured from past failings.

          • ClevelandFrowns

            Appreciate that, but going McDaniels is insane when you could go The Full Mangenius.

        • actovegin1armstrong

          “I have a dream, and that’s to see Mangini roam the Browns’ sidelines again, but it probably won’t happen.”

          This is the little known first draft of MLK’s famous speech.

        • Cranky M

          If either Lombardi or McDaniels is ever involved with the Browns, i will officially give up on them.

    • BernietoCatcherGuy

      T-Rich has been subjected to Shurmurball. Can you really say “…objectively his overall performance…”?

      • actovegin1armstrong

        ShurmieBall has managed to hinder every player on the team, except perhaps Phil Dawson.
        The real problem with TRich is Heckert.
        Heckert moved up one spot to draft a running back IN THE FIRST ROUND, when his team needs help in the secondary, receivers and virtually everything else.

        Heckert gets a lot of praise, when he may be part of the problem.

      • Bryan

        I made that comment to make a point: before this week, people had been really critical of Weeden yet no one seems to ever criticize T-Rich. In terms of where they were drafted and their overall performance to date, I think you could reasonably argue that T-Rich is a bigger disappointment so far.

        I like T-Rich. I just don’t understand why everyone seems to assume that he will be, or is already, a stud. He has only had two games where he averaged more than 4 ypc. Some of it may be injuries, or Defenses stacking the box, but his performance should be raising more questions than it has.

  • jpftribe

    Nice column Frownie. Best portrayal of the desperation, and measured hope of this era’s Browns fan yet.

    I’m not signing up for the Weeden fan club anytime soon, but I do want to see the guy succeed. The line between best and bust is a thin one. For every Brady and Brees, there are dozens of guys that had all the tools and couldn’t make it work. Half a rookie season is too early to set expectations for Weeden. Personally, I am hoping he turns out to be more like Matt Ryan than DA.

    Shurmur needs to go at the bye for two key reasons:
    1. You can tell by his demeanor and comments that he knows he is out of a job. Desperation is not a quality becoming an HC.
    2. There is no one to give the guy air cover and take pressure off. Watching him death spiral the rest of the year accomplishes nothing that is good. An Interim HC has little expectations and will take the pressure off the rest of the team week in, week out.

  • rodofdisaster

    Thank you for this post. I enjoyed it.

    I have a real problem with anyone pinning this loss on Josh Gordon. The guy seems to be working very hard and we see noticeable improvement in his game. He doesn’t run the crispest of routes but he’s been very hard to defend and he’s made some really great catches. His hands seem above average to me and, while I hate excuses, I do believe the sun was in his eyes but he’s learning to be a pro…so he won’t use that excuse.

    If we are blaming anyone for the loss, how about the guy who called only 16 running plays against the 29th ranked run defense? It is the same thing he did with Steven Jackson when they went into Seattle needing to win to make the playoffs.

    If we are blaming anyone for the loss, how about the guy who NOT ONLY punts on 4th and 1 in plus territory but calls a time out before doing so?

    I think Ryan in Cbus had it best when he says that Shurmur’s biggest problem is that he tries to outsmart everyone in the building only to come out looking like the idiot himself:

    http://cleveland.sbnation.com/cleveland-browns/2012/10/22/3537878/colts-vs-browns-2012-josh-gordon-pat-shurmur-brandon-weeden

    • BIKI024

      it’s not about pinning the loss on him, but it certainly was another great look that we left on the field that could’ve given us the lead. the defense certainly seemed to respond to whatever they discussed at halftime and only allowed 3 points in the 2nd half, so a 4 point lead with 4 mins to go may have been enough to win the game.

      agree with the decision to punt or not, Hodges deserves some flak as well for not only the botched hold on the XP, but a terrible punt there on that 4th and 1.. if we pinned them inside the 10, it certainly would’ve put a lot more pressure on the Colts to make plays and we may have gotten better field position if our defense held up like it did in the 2nd half.

      once again the young team falls a couple plays short from having 3 or 4 wins at this point, instead Shurmur is being called every name in the book and without a win or 2 before the bye it may be Jauron’s 2nd stint as an interim coach.

      • rodofdisaster

        Good point re: the Hodges punt.

        I have no problem calling out Shurmur for this. Yes, I do think people are generally too hard on him for the losing but that’s the NFL. If it’s a few plays that determine the outcome and you can’t pin it on a certain unit…then it’s global and that criticism falls to the head coach.

        You can’t fire all of the players (nor should you) but it’s his responsibility to put them in position to succeed.

      • Believelander

        Biki: Shurmur is getting called every name in the book because he’s a really bad coach. He’s not a really bad coach because the Browns are 1-6. The Brown were 1-6 under Mangini. They were actually 1-11 under Mangini. He’s a really bad coach because he’s really bad at doing things that head coaches are supposed to do, and his blunders making decisions in-game alone kill entire sections of your brain watching it. At this point my brain cells are chugging along on ‘E’, which we’ve known for quite a while.

    • Believelander

      Wow. The Cleveland media has pretty much turned on Shurmie outside the P ain Dealer:

      http://cleveland.cbslocal.com/2012/10/22/another-loss-and-another-monday-of-no-regrets-for-shurmur/

      • Wiseoldredbeard

        May be rough, but this is totally accurate. The guy refuses to learn from his own mistakes, or acknowledge that he made mistakes. This is not only disturbing for the reasons mentioned in the article (i.e., how can a coach who tells players to learn from their mistakes expect them to do it when the coach doesn’t do the same), but it also leads to why people in Cleveland are turning on him so swiftly. People don’t like leaders that ignore their own mistakes; it looks like hubris. The worst part is, I think he’s only doing it because he thinks it will make him look weak if he admits his faults. NEXT!

  • Dinger63

    Please write an article without naming directly Mangini or otherwise report any effigial allusion to him. BTW, what’s the temperature in Hades now?

  • TWMBrad

    Does the fact that Richardson and others on the team refer openly to the HC as “Pat” tell you something? I suppose it might be just a sign of the times and happening on other teams…but still I just don’t see Tom Landry, Paul Brown, Don Shula, etc. (or even Mangini) putting up with that.

    • Kamov

      I thought that was odd too.

    • Believelander

      I’m sure a Browns player called Mangini “Eric” at some point; both Mangini and Shurmur aren’t much older than their players, so I’m sure the familiar affectation came out at some point. But one time you’ve got a coincidence, two times you’ve got evidence, and three times you’ve got a conspiracy. So.

    • CleveLandThatILove

      That shows a lack of respect, doesn’t it? Imagine a rookie – or a vet- referring publicly to Coach Belichick as “Bill.” No way, no how.

      I thought it always was and is “Coach (last name).”

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    TUESDAY CHEDDAR
    let’s lock in tonite’s line:

    at ULL -4.5 ArkySt

  • Believelander

    Pete, you clearly aren’t understanding the depth of Weeden’s dastardly genius; that near-interception was part of a new Cleveland Browns offensive bounty program where players on the offense intentionally lead defenders out of bounds so they smash their knees on benches and flip on their necks over water cooler tables.

    He’s actually trying to knock not just one, but TWO opposing players out of the game. He discovered in earlier games that not only does using his howitzer arm not knock out opposing players due to their helmet generally being more structurally sound than a football, it actually frequently leads to him getting intercepted, which may explain why he has only had one pick in the last two games off a bizarre tip ball.

    If you zoom the camera angle that focuses on his face, you can clearly see the malice as well as satisfaction of seeing the two Colts slam headlong into each other and not move for a minute.

    Brandon Weeden: DANGEROUS.

  • Believelander

    RyInCBus killing it with one sentence:

    “Of course, not everything that happens in a game is the fault of the head coach but the Browns have a hard enough time trying to get out of their own way and overcome penalties, turnovers, and missed point-after attempts, that they shouldn’t have to worry about overcoming their Head Coach too.”

  • Bryan

    And so we have arrived. Hell hath not frozen over and pigs are yet to fly, but Sir Anthony Grossi agrees with one Cleveland Frowns, Esquire.

    http://espncleveland.com/common/more.php?m=49&action=blog&r=17&post_id=6771

    • Wiseoldredbeard

      I can’t say I’m surprised that Grossi hates Holmgren, given that he played an integral role in his being fired from the PD. And, I agree completely with Grossi’s message. However, it annoys me that his vitriol comes off as driven by his vendetta, which in the end looks more like an attack than a critique. Either way, I’m very glad the walrus is returning to the ocean.

  • Alexb

    I disagree with the assessment that this team has “twice” as much talent as Mangini’s squad. Defensively I’m sure of it, they’re equal. Offensively, well I think we had a better O line and running game under Mangini. What we had with Vickers running infront of Hillis was an AFC North power running game that made the Browns an asterick on anybodys schedule…..you definitely had to prepare yourself for Browns. If we would have kept Mangini we’d be in contention for the AFC North crown right now. Hillis would be a household name and Lawrence Vickers would be a happy well paid fullback going to bed every night dreaming of snotbubbling Pgh linebackers. The Browns would be relevant.

    Instead the only glimmer of hope now is a rookie RB who’s gonna run his heart out for us for a couple years but we’ll never put the pieces around him that he needs in order to “really” scare the shit out of the NFL. FUCING CUT OWEN MARECIC SHURMUR YOU BUM!!! gahhh

    anyway. Go browns.

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