Browns bash Chiefs for first convincing win of Shurmur Era

by Cleveland Frowns on December 10, 2012

“Pat Shurmur pulled out all the stops to shake and bake by the lake.”Mary Kay Cabot

“It’s good to win in a different way sometimes.”Pat Shurmur

“We’re putting something together here and it’s going to be beautiful.” — Trent Richardson

“Let me tell you something, Nick Saban wouldn’t work with Mike Lombardi in a thousand years.”A league source “with knowledge of both men”

—————

After 29 games, an NFL team coached by Pat Shurmur finally won one in a blowout. So what does it mean that it took so long? Or that the blowout came not only against the team with the worst record in the league, but also one quarterbacked by Brady Quinn, coached by Romeo Crennel, and reeling from the fallout of one of the worst experiences a football team or anyone could have, as well as first quarter injuries to its only explosive offensive threats?

It at least means it’s worth considering the idea that a roster that’s improved as much as the Browns’ has over the last two seasons would be expected to show some baseline level of improvement — enough to at least beat the league’s very worst teams, even in consecutive games — no matter who the head coach is. Which is either a testament to the work of Tom Heckert as the Browns GM, the efficacy of the NFL draft in ensuring league-wide parity, or both.

And another testament to the same comes from a comparison to the Browns’ current 3-game win streak to the last time they won so many in a row, Eric Mangini’s four-game win streak that closed 2009. Because if you say that Shurmur deserves no more consideration for the current win streak than Mangini did for that one, you’re really soft pedaling. It’s not just that the 2009 streak didn’t include wins over teams that were as bad as this year’s Raiders and Chiefs, but look at what Mangini was working with back then:

That’s from the box score from the fourth and last win of the 2009 streak, reflecting things like Derek Anderson as your leading passer with 84 yards, Robert Royal as your leading receiver with 2 catches for 34 yards, Jason Trusnick leading your team in tackles, a rookie Kaluka Maiava leading your team in sacks, and the likes of Mike Furrey, Hank Poteat, Nick Sorensen, and Ray Ventrone getting multiple snaps in your secondary. So when it comes to assessing what each streak says about the worth of the head coach, there’s really no comparison at all. Sometimes it’s much easier to attribute wins on the field to the coaching staff than at other times.

But when there is progress shown on the field, however small, and however low the bar has been set, is it fair to judge a head coach who isn’t to blame for the schedule having broken the way it did? Maybe not, but injuries to Ben Roethlisberger and now Robert Griffin III, are helping to make the waters as muddy as possible here. And probably muddy enough, barring a miracle extension of the current win streak through the end of the season, for Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner to conclude that they saw plenty of Shurmur before the win streak, including the circumstances by which he became head coach in the first place. Haslam and Banner shouldn’t be punished for the schedule having broken the way it did any more than Shurmur should.

It really is too bad that Griffin got hurt, but the Broncos and Steelers should each have something to play for in the season’s final weeks. Thanks however much to the schedule having broken the way it did, the work of Tom Heckert as GM, or the efficacy of the NFL draft in ensuring league-wide parity, Shurmur still has at least a surface chance to create real doubt as to his future in Cleveland.

————–

GAME NOTES:

  • Believelander

    Hey whoa, to Shurmur’s credit, Derek Anderson’s Total QBR was 53.6 so Mangini was better at at least one position

    /laughs self to death

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      Mangini was better at working with what he had at quarterback, yes. Total QBR is unmistakable on this point.

      • bossman09

        It VERY mistakable. It’s a subjective rating which is even more misleading than plain stats.

        • http://twitter.com/SadFactory Factory of Happiness

          Here’s the thing about “Total QBR”:

          Charlie Batch: 20/34 199yds 0 TDs 3 INTs = 20.8 QBR
          Brandon Weeden: 17/26 158yds 1 TD 1 INT = 13.4 QBR

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            If it hurts your brain so much to contemplate a stat that takes more into account than TDs and INTs you might want to consider being more shy about it.

          • Defenestration

            I am not defending anyone else’s reasoning behind their bashing of QBR. Nor am I arguing with any of the points Your Frowness uses Weeden’s QBR to support.

            But as I’m sure you’ve gleaned from my comments, I most certainly take issue with QBR. I would like to propose that you and I engage in some sort of blog-post debate on the QBR stat itself at some point after the Tasty Dough-based Treat Reality Football Competition and the Browns season are sewn up for the year. What say you Frowns?

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            I say that sounds like a bunch of diminishing clutter to me.

          • Defenestration

            Thanks for the reply. You’re probably correct in that assessment. That’s why you get the Troy Polamalu Head & Shoulders Ad Revenue Bucks and I do not.
            QBR is really dumb though. The things you use QBR to support are not necessarily dumb just because you use QBR to support them. I think you could be more persuasive in your arguments if you did not use QBR to prop them up. Unless/until you, at the very least, start addressing the direct questions about your understanding, interpretation, and application of QBR posed to you, I will (admittedly with the possibility of being incorrect) assume that your level of knowledge on the topic is not high enough for anyone to take much stock in your interpretation of it. If I’m wrong, I am open to being persuaded.
            All that said, I really love what you do here overall. I am impressed that you find the time and motivation to do this. Even though I realize “this” includes deleting my “diminishing clutter” from time to time.

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            What questions do you have about QBR? ESPN does a fine job explaining it.

          • http://twitter.com/SadFactory Factory of Happiness

            So you’re comfortable saying that Charlie Batch outperformed Weeden in that game?

  • BIKI024

    there was a lot of talent on that defense in 09, KillaKam, Benard was having great run there, Rubin, Wright, Elam, Roth, Pops, these guys are solid NFL players.. the defense was the main reason we had success during that run, not like our offense was lighting up the scoreboard.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      LOL.

    • bossman09

      Facts just don’t back that claim up. Rob Ryan has had nothing but average defenses… 2011 and 2012 browns have outperformed 2010 and 2009 in almost every category.

      • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

        Except shutdown performances against elite quarterbacks and wins over legitimate playoff teams.

        • bupalos

          And last second 50 yard drives given up to the worst team in the league to put them in position to beat you with an easy field goal.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    Terry Pluto is aggressively suggesting that it’s Lombardi who’s planting the Lombardi rumors. http://www.cleveland.com/pluto/blog/index.ssf/2012/12/terry_plutos_pre-game_scribble_1.html#incart_river

    Still doesn’t explain why a guy like Hub Arkush or any credible reporter wouldn’t be able to sniff such a thing out.

    • http://www.redright88.com/ Tom_RedRight88

      Because they are lazy and/or don’t care? Or because in today’s world it is more important to say it first and say it the loudest rather than be right?

      Just something to think about before giving credence to one-source stories, especially when that source is anonymous.

      • BIKI024

        these things evolve as well. there are still 22 days until the earliest the Browns can formally make an announcement. much like the debt ceiling negotiation, if there are any behind the scene, back-channel talks going on, there is still 3 weeks to go to get the best deal on someone.

  • BIKI024

    maybe Shurmur already knows he’s a goner, so he’s a little more risk averse in some of these formations and plays we haven’t really seen too much. the name of the game is to get the ball in the hands of playmakers and we def have some of those in Gordon, Little, Cribbs, and now Benjamin who all have hit homeruns in their careers..

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      If you mean the opposite of “risk averse” then maybe. Or maybe it’s that they were playing the Chiefs. Or maybe a little of both.

      • BIKI024

        yes you are correct, in my haste of posting on my phone.. but you know what i meant.. def need to keep mixing it up more like we did yesterday and leverage the talent we have. but yes, of course it will be nice to beat a team who is battling for their playoff lives and should be the hungrier team. if we do well, these next 3 weeks and we can win 1 or 2 of them, i think that speaks volumes for the character of the guys on the roster, but also for the coaching staff and it would make it very tough for Haslam to go in a different direction, unless of course they can bring in Saban or Kelly.

    • eldaveablo

      The optimist in me says Shurm is getting a little more creative with the play-calling because the Rookies are finally comfortable enough to add some wrinkles and still execute.

      The pessimist in me says he knows he has nothing to lose so he’s using everything he’s got.

      The realist in me knows there isn’t just one answer – it’s a collection of reasons.

      All I know is, I LOVED the creative play calling. I remember watching MNF last week and being so envious of the Shanahans offensive creativity and ballsy play calling. Shurm is no Shanahan, but I loved what I saw from the team on Sunday. I hope they keep up that confidence and creativity. We might just have a shot at 7-9.

  • Brian Sipe

    Always glad to see Browns win… However, we are beating the dregs of the NFL and they are beat to death with injuries. I am curious what we will do against 3 good teams coming up. Plus playing Pitt with Roth, Brown, Troy P, Woodley, etc.
    I would be fine with Heckart as GM and a new coach. Afraid to death they keep Shurmur and this time next year we are 5-8 again and stuck.

    • Kamov

      I look at it like this: the longer they keep Heckert, the better the roster gets. If Shurmur has to stay to keep the roster improving another year, then the next coach (almost by definition a better coach) will be in a great position to succeed.

    • Cranky M

      “they are beat to death with injuries.”
      What team in the league isn’t beat to death with injuries at this point in the season. That’s completely irrelevant.

      • bupalos

        >>>What team in the league isn’t beat to death with injuries at this point in the season.>>>

        The Browns?

        • Wiseoldredbeard

          Losing Haden for four weeks (I know not an injury, but same effect), Gocong for season, Taylor for eight, Rubin for several, Pinkston for season, and Young and Patterson were pretty serious hits. Yes, our D-Line didn’t get too slashed because Heckert has done a nice job (and in fact it gave them the chance to grow and we are now much better for it) and Greco has been a stud, but losing that many starters (several key) for a lot of the season is pretty bad. We just got’em on the front end, not the back end.

          • bupalos

            No quibbles there, but >>at this point in the season>>> seems to be the operative phrase. We didn’t win when we were hurt, and we’re beating opponents when they are. I think Frowns’ original point on that does stand. We’re still preying on garbage, as Hamlet’s ghost would have it. I’m kind of surprised that after calling out everyone we played as the worst team in the league for like 5 consecutive weeks, he’s softening up just a bit for what really was the worst team in the league, playing with the poor man’s Colt McCoy, with critical injuries to boot. They really did flat drop 2 interceptions. We got a kick return. They missed a chip shot FG. Sure it was fun, but let’s not kid ourselves about what that one was.

            But I am honestly excited for these next 3. Denver will be a real test. Kind of doubt our secondary will let us win, but it will be a real measuring stick and I think we’lll do well. And it’s a very good bet that the Steelers will miss the playoffs if they can’t beat us, which is incredibly wonderful to contemplate.

          • trashycamaro

            While the above is true about how Frownie has softened up after playing one of the worst teams in the league, I think the take away is that the Browns convincingly won. Been a little while since that happened, even against a bad team.

            The Browns looked pretty dominant in all the phases except when Charles was involved.

        • Cranky M

          The Browns have had injuries all season long. Maybe not quite as much right now (although let’s not forget that they’re missing their starting OLB’s and LG), but that’s still irrelevant. Injuries are as much a part of football as any other facet of the game, so it makes zero sense to discredit victories because of them. You can’t treat injuries like some separate, incidental factor that only affects certain teams. Saying “that victory wasn’t impressive because the other team had injuries” is like saying “that victory wasn’t impressive because the other team was only allowed to play 11 players at a time on defense.” It’s a constant part of the game, not some sort of random outside influence.
          And if we’re going to devalue Browns victories due to opposing injuries, then why aren’t we excusing all of the games the Browns lost without Haden, Rubin, Taylor, etc etc etc.?

          • Cranky M

            Now that i’m fully awake, let me put it this way:

            People say certain games deserve an asterisk because there was some factor or another (almost always opposing injuries) that devalue the win.
            So, if we put an asterisk next to every game that has been discredited on here by various people (and not just the victories, but the close games people shrugged off because so-and-so was injured), the following games would have asterisks:

            Cincy (injured defense)
            Baltimore (no Suggs)
            San Diego (bad weather, injuries)
            Pittsburgh (no Ben, Polamalu)
            Oakland (injured secondary)
            Chiefs (no Bowe, etc)

            That’s 6 games out of 13.
            Now in my mind, when damn near half of something would have an asterisk next to it, it’s no longer enough of an exception to warrant an asterisk. It has become the norm.
            So if nearly half of NFL games (although i would guess that it’s much more) feature at least one team with a significant injury, there is no reason whatsoever to judge a game differently due to injuries.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-White/100000446546049 Steve White

      A mediocre team (which is what the Browns at 5-8 have evolved to) is supposed to beat the dregs. How would you feel if they had lost to KC?

      The Browns may be moving up from dreg (or drug-plus) to mediocre-minus. That’s a real step up.

      • bupalos

        Pretty big jump!

  • DK45

    Has it already been discussed here that Michael Lombardi went on the record (in a conversation with Bill Simmons) that, if he had gotten the 49ers GM job, his first move would have been to acquire QB Brian Hoyer (source: http://www.metro.us/boston/sports/article/1151031–patriots-could-have-found-value-in-keeping-brian-hoyer) — who has now been cut by both the Patriots and the Steelers (source: http://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/the_steelers_cut_qb_brian_hoyer_and_sign_cb_josh_victorian_off_the_practice_squad/12396979)? What does it say when the two best-run NFL franchises aren’t interested in the player you plant your flag on? Not that we needed additional anecdotal evidence of Lombardi’s deeply underwhelming candidacy.

    Then again, with that sort of eye for QB scouting, he might be the perfect fit.

    • DK45

      And what’s more: his proposal was to send New England a FIRST ROUND DRAFT PICK for Brian Hoyer — again, the player not currently an on NFL team. No matter what coach accompanies him, a Lombardi hire would be deeply distressing.

      • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

        These are good points.

      • AlvaroEspinoza10

        brian hoyer went to ignatius and is a fine american and a good man. thats all

    • BIKI024

      well he didn’t get that job so we’ll never know. again, just because his name is being associated with banner, i don’t believe it’s for the GM position, so i think people need to take a deep breath on this.. if he comes, i doubt it’s as GM, but pro personnel director, etc

  • Brian Sipe

    Can we please stop with the Lombardi crap…. Good God guys give it a rest… It is not going to happen…

    • BIKI024

      how do you know what’s going to happen? Who knows, maybe Banner wants to bring Lombardi on as a consultant or pro personnel guy, to help out Heckert, or whoever he picks as the new GM. but enough with ripping on Lombardi, i know first hand that he does a lot of consulting on the side for Belichick for scouting reports on upcoming opponents, etc. if BB trusts him than so should we. whether he’s a great college scout, that obviously doesn’t appear to be the case, but i presume if Banner brings him on, it will be to head up pro personnel or advanced scouting, etc.

      besides if by some miracle Saban does come and Lombardi is part of the package, then so be it. we all know how the NFL is a boy’s club, and Saban and Lombardi are tight.

      • nj0

        The fact that Lombardi works as a journalist, a supposedly objective voice commenting on the league, yet also takes jobs (aka money) on the side from specific teams in the leagues makes me question his credibility and character.

        • BIKI024

          why?? i really don’t see how either have anything to do with each other. his expertise is in scouting pro players, so he does advanced scouting, which is subjective information, which could actually help in his ability to write relevant articles, etc.

          • nj0

            For that portion, yes. It definitely helps him.

            I just don’t trust somebody getting paid by the Pats (or whomever) to speak about the Pats.

  • Wiseoldredbeard

    Yesterday was fun. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Browns.

  • willy loman

    Hypothetical: If you HAD to choose Heckert/Shurmur or Lombardi/Saban, which regime would you take? I pose this because it seems unlikely that Heckert or Shurmur would come back without the other being retained too. It’s either both of them or neither of them, IMO.

    I would take Lombardi/Saban.

    • maxfnmloans

      I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think I’d take Heckert/Shurmur. I wouldn’t take Lombardi with Vince Lombardi.

    • BIKI024

      why does Lombardi coming here presume he’s GM? i know that Lombardi makes money consulting for advanced scouting, etc as well as his blogging and TV contracts, but i’m not sure that that all adds up to. maybe Banner hooks up old boy with a nice contract to work full-time again as VP of Pro Personnel.. and then he keeps on a draft expert or even Heckert..

    • Cranky M

      Heckert/Shurmur, and it’s not even remotely close. And this from a guy who has spent the past 2 years complaining about how terrible Pat Shurmur is.
      At this point, I would keep Heckert no matter what coach’s name you attached to him.
      That, and i REALLY hate Lombardi.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      I think I would take Lombardi/Saban as well.

    • bupalos

      Starting from scratch or starting from where we’re at, I have to say Heckert/Shurmur. But this is mostly premised on my theory that coaching just doesn’t matter nearly as much as good drafts and acquisitions.

  • Wiseoldredbeard

    Frownie — Please go on the record on this question: if the Browns finish 8-8 do you keep Shurmur? What if they go 7-9 with two wins over the Steelers, and three wins in the division? I’m not necessarily arguing they should, but it strikes me that it would make the decision very hard.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      If they finish 8-8 I would keep him. 7-9 and I would think about it whether they end up beating the Steelers or not. Assuming we’re talking about these opponents playing with a full deck.

      • Wiseoldredbeard

        Sure — a full enough deck. It is the end of the season, and some teams pack it in and some teams have injuries. But, yes, a team bus not showing to the game would obviously not count as a win. At 8-8, I really don’t see how you fire him. I know the odds of that happening are really, really small, but I guarantee that all of our three remaining opponents wish they didn’t have us on their schedule right now. It almost reminds me of end of season ’09 and mid-season ’10 Mangini…

        • bupalos

          I don’t know why we would do this ‘number of wins’ thing as a metric. It’s perfectly possible to win in spite of the coach, and getting baited into keeping someone who is not contributing just because good circumstances pull him along is a mistake. Sure, if we win all 3 and he doesn’t make any obvious screwups, you have to reevaluate and say it’s possible he’s getting on top of this thing and learning and is worth keeping around. But if we get +11 turnovers and he does something like getting an unsportsmanlike bitching about ball placement to set a 45yd fieldgoal attempt the opponent then misses to hand the game back, I don’t think you make yourself a prisoner to the good luck.

          • Wiseoldredbeard

            I guess my point is that winning six games in a row, including two against the Steelers (with or without Ben), is probably a good sign that it is more than luck. It is really hard to win six games in a row in the NFL. But yes, there are obviously circumstances in which it is appropraite to fire a ten win coach.

        • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

          I dunno, the way things are going this season I wouldn’t be surprised if Peyton Manning and Von Miller die in a plane crash the week before the Browns game, then who knows what next week with the Steelers.

        • Butzmark

          From the fan perspective there are only so many things that be seen as the work of Shurmer. There’s that communication breakdown stuff with the offensive playcalling; should have been fixed after the first game of the year but waited till Grossi and MaryKay passed out torches and pitchforks. Then there’s the clock management, the challenge stuff and then loosing track while arguing with officials. What else? Who can say where the credit is for the development of young players when there’s so much coaching experience backing him up. Shurmer didn’t put that staff together anyway. Shurmer claimed he wanted the QB to stay aggressive and then threw him under the bus when he did. Now the QB is tentative and aiming the ball, contrary to his QB character.
          Enough, my take is that the team is better because the roster is better..keep Heckert, fire Shurmer.

      • bupalos

        You shock me sir.

        • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

          Why?

          • bupalos

            Because as much stock as you put in coaching , as little as you care for the 4-3, as clear as it is that shurmur is substandard, as much as it is true that anything can happen on a given Sunday with the bounce of an oblong spheroid, and as much as the last 3 wins have been against incredibly bad or unlucky teams…

            I’m surprised you’d lock it in at 8-8 and shocked that all it would take to give pause would be a single game better than is currently expected.

      • http://twitter.com/JRichTCF Jeff Rich

        Do you know who beat Pittsburgh twice in four tries?

        Chris Palmer, that’s who.

        If they lose these last three to go 5-11; it’s a no-brainer, he’s out. Do you start considering it with one more win, regardless of who they beat, even if it’s Washington without RGIII? What if they win ugly the next two weeks, then Pittsburgh wipes the floor with them in a win and you’re in game (probably flexed to Sunday night)?

        Personally, backing into the playoffs would even be enough for me, provided I knew the direction of the team would involve a very specific candidate that you know you can get. Of course, if he wins a playoff game, all bets are off and you can’t dismiss him. So, the O/U should be 8.5, because the OVER is the universe telling you that Pat Shurmur needs to be the Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns.

  • fubar

    Frownie, if you are going to praise Mangini for winning games with a poor roster; are you going to hold him accountable for the wretched state of that roster? He was, after all, the de-facto GM and brought in a lot of those players.

    • maxfnmloans

      like Paul Brown once told the team bus driver (upon getting lost), “I don’t blame you, I blame the guy that hired you”

    • bupalos

      He’s talking about 09 here. He did have control of the roster, but an almost totally empty cupboard when he got here. It’s a better point for 2010.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      What Max said. The Browns needed a total housecleaning when he got here. Don’t look at who he brought in, look at who those guys replaced. The great majority of them were of no use at all to another NFL team after Mangini cut them. The limited exceptions include Brady and K2, who were never worth anything close to what the Browns were paying them anyway, to say nothing of what they did to the locker room.
      And 2010 is largely on Holmgren and Heckert.

      • fubar

        Ah, so Mangini replaced one set of useless players with another set of useless players. That’s really brilliant GM’ing, that.

        Frownie, I respect though disagree with your arguments that Mangini was a great head coach. But Mangini botched the GM job from start to finish. He brought in his buddy Kokinis, which was a disaster. As de-facto GM, Mangini turned the roster over, but didn’t improve it very much.

        Frowns, as a trial lawyer you are a highly skilled and highly paid professional at convincing people that the utterly absurd is actually the sensible and the smart. You exhibit these impressive qualities in your blog and your argumentative comments all the time.

        But just because you are far better at clever argumentation than anybody else around here, does not mean that you can change cold, hard facts. Under Mangini-The-GM, the Browns roster did not see significant improvement in the team’s overall talent. This is a fact.

        • BIKI024

          MoMass, Mack and Maiava are the only 3 players Mangini brought in who are still on the roster.

          • maxfnmloans

            just for comparisons sake, there were only 8 Patriots on the 2007 Super Bowl team that were still around in 2011.

            Point is, if the “Cadillac” franchise of the league has that much turnover, then what the Browns have done is not that much different. It is by no means an indictment of Mangini

            Patriots 2007-2011 roster similarities found at: http://www.dawgsbynature.com/2012/2/2/2767120/2007-vs-2011-nfl-season-who-remains-on-patriots-giants-and-browns

          • BIKI024

            wrong comparison my friend. it’s all about having homegrown talent. sure there may have been only 8 players left on roster in 2011 from 2007, but the Pats rebuilt their roster with mostly homegrown talent from each of those drafts in between. as of now, out of the 53 man active roster 39 were drafted by the Patriots.

            i have no doubt that Mangini wanted to have the chance to rebuild the roster this way as well, but his first year in the process was a mixed bag. he obviously did a great job in getting rid of the dirty laundry, but came up short in hitting on the draft that year, it happens.

            but what’s done is done and the Browns FINALLY have a roster that is 30+ homegrown, which is the
            magic number for the teams like the Patriots, and other winning organizations.

        • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

          The guys Mangini brought in were perfectly useful because they were better than who they replaced, and were just as easily replaceable. As they have been. There’s really no debating this and it has nothing to do with any lawyer tricks.

          Also, avoiding Sanchez and trading down for Mack and extra useful guys was genius.

        • bupalos

          I actually both agree with that and think it almost totally misses the point. Mangini is a total system guy, and he put creating the right system ahead of pursuing raw talent. That was the meaning of the raft of Jets system guys he brought in. It was “build the foundation, then evolve in talent.” I think Frowns has effectively voiced this. The theory is that the system has primacy over the talent. It’s ISO9001 for the NFL. And ultimately it’s an attempt to recreate the un-recreatable, Bellichick’s Patriots.

          Why can’t it be recreated? Because the reality is that Bellichick’s Patriots are as much Tom Brady’s Patriots as anything else. That’s aside from the point, and that said, it’s not an inherently bad approach. It’s another version of Sparta v. Athens. I happen to think it’s generally a mismatch for the modern NFL, but Sparta with Achilles will beat Athens with…mmmm…Trent Dilfer? Sorry, can’t keep this going. But the bottom line is I think it’s inherently wrong to judge Mangini in the same terms as Heckert. They are different approaches.

        • maxfnmloans

          my point was, maybe Mangini did botch the “GM’ing” but he should have never been a GM in the first place. Thats on Randy Lerner for hiring a coach (Mangini) before he had a GM, which effectively meant no other GM worth his salt was going to come here.

          Randy hired Mangini on reputation alone, and then handed him the keys to the kingdom. I don’t blame Mangini for accepting the offer, I blame Lerner for making it.

          • fubar

            max, I agree. The fundamental problem in all of this was the owner, Randy Lerner.

            And much to my distress, my doubts are growing about Haslam being a good owner. So far it looks like he has put an expert capologist in charge of everything, including football operations. I get the dreadful feeling that in Banner’s mind, building his personal Empire and the Browns winning Superbowls are one and the same thing. The horror… the horror…

            Frowns was one of the very first people to publicly express serious, thoughtful doubts about the idea that Haslam was a tremendous improvement over the incompetent and insipid Randy Lerner. I hope that Frownie was wrong, but I fear that he is right.

  • http://twitter.com/JRichTCF Jeff Rich

    As a fan, it’s a lot more inspiring to see this happening under a much worse coach than Mangini, a quarterback with a much brighter (in my opinion) than Derek Anderson, and a real formidable defense that still has blatant vacancies in key spots. I am optimistic about enjoying these final three games with a level of caution that a bubble boy would tell me is too much. Honestly, I think 0-3 is a much more real outlook than a 3-0 one, but I wouldn’t necessarily bet my life against the latter.

    Regarding Shurmur, I sure hope that his entire body of work is evaluated when contemplating his future. I’ve seen little to indicate progress or development in his skills as a Head Coach in this league. I contend that the team is winning in spite of him, and not because of him, but really it’s up to Haslam and Banner. I’d hope that they wouldn’t play this by ear, and consider that there’s more to 2013 than just the 16 games in 2013; if you aren’t certain that Shurmur is going to be coaching in 2014, don’t let him gum up the works of something that looks promising for 2013.

    In other words, nothing short of a playoff win can un-do his first 25 games, though I believe they’d 1-12 (maybe 2-11) with an interim coach after the bye week.

  • nj0

    Got 99 problems but the Browns ain’t one…

    (at least this week and it feels damn good)

  • bupalos

    As apoplectic as Shurmur can make me on Sunday, the reality is that game day coaching and scheming just isn’t what wins and loses in the NFL week in and week out. It mostly operates on the margin, and changes the outcome of a game or two per 16. I think it is vastly overrated, venerated by we the fans who, mostly on the strength of second-guessing and revisionist history, believe we could fill this role on our team better. Any role we can write ourselves into we tend to overestimate the importance of. The reality is that sometimes a coach like Cowher, who tosses off mistake after mistake, skates through a whole season without any of them meeting the conditions that end up costing the team big. And sometimes a coach like Fox (who with Jim Harbaugh is as close to unimpeachable as exists in the NFL) runs off a 1-15 season because all his good decisions don’t meet the conditions that make them pay off.

    Now I think it’s abundantly clear that Shurmur has been, to this point, about as bad as you can be in this department. And yet I doubt it’s cost us more than a game, this year. Continuing to pay this modest Shurmur tax wouldn’t be likely to sink us in the short term the same way mis-matching a “system” coach to this roster could. I think the Same Page Theory is working, we need to edit the page, not turn it. Belichick proteges need not apply.

    When I really break this down and take my dislike of Shurmur’s lazy insouciance out of it, I have to admit that keeping this whole thing intact is not the worst option. Best by far would be to fire Shurmur and keep Heckert and give him strong influence on the replacement. If that’s not in the cards, the next best thing is just hiring a competent coach/gm pair for this roster and system, with preservation of the roster and system having the most weight. A hire on the order of a McCarthy type I find preferable to Saban. Just get Shurmur without the dumb. You can win superbowls with simple competence.

    Bupalos’s hierarchy of Browns needs:

    1: System stability:

    This is a good 4-3 defense. The front rotation is good, the linebackers have been surprising, and we’re just a corner and safety from being easily top 10. The defense can evolve, but it needs to stay basically intact.

    The offense doesn’t run very well at all, but it sure fits the personnel. We may have the best blocking WR’s in the league, a good to very-good pass blocking line (and at least theoretically) a good quick-release timing QB that can stretch things, and (at least theoretically) a bruising back that can catch and keeps things honest. This is a West Coast roster. It would be very foolish to chuck the scheme.

    2: Ongoing talent infusion of players who contribute on their 1st contract. This is actually the most important overall element to a team generally I think, but for the Browns I think it moves to #2 right now because of Heckert’s success. The Browns are set to be good for at least a couple years with this crop of players.

    3. Effective development environment/ locker room. Do we have any evidence that this regime is deficient here? I have a visceral dislike for what I perceive as Shurmur’s corporate yes-man laziness, but I can’t really find any signs of trouble here outside of the bottle of adderall.

    4.(T) Effective game planning and game management.

    4.(T) Luck (I mean the universal stuff, not the wunderkind.)

    • Wiseoldredbeard

      Worth noting that there is no question that the players have been running around with reckless abandon for the last six weeks, four of which were wins. I’m not sure who they’re doing it for, but it seems like there is a good culture building in the locker room right now. I’m sure the vets who see the potential upside are contributing a lot (like DQ), but they must have a certain amount of respect for the coaching. Many teams in the throws of a losing season pack it in and start backstabbing this late in the season, or at the least start holding up a little bit to save injuries. Not even a tint of that here. That’s usually the sign of good leadership. Who knows — maybe it’s Haslam that has brought up the energy. Either way, I see good things to come.

      • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

        Mangini did a good job of getting the garbage out and the vets who remained were good guys. The rest were replaced by rookies and first year players who would naturally play hard. I don’t think it says as much about Shurmur as it does about the way this roster has been constructed.

        • Wiseoldredbeard

          Agree that getting bad guys out was a good thing to do, but it is still VERY hard to get a team that is used to losing to win. We haven’t won enough yet to say that it’s happened, but it appears like we may be on the way. In the NFL, if you’re not thoroughly convinced you can win every game you play, there’s basically no reason to show up. See Arizona Cardinals.

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            “It is still VERY hard to get a team that is used to losing to win.”

            Really? Says who? Every other team in the NFL seems to do fine at it.

            Except for the Bills and Raiders.

          • Wiseoldredbeard

            Lions, 49ers, Chiefs, and Skins have all sucked for huge portions of the last decade. Add in the Cowboys (they can have a nice record but have only one playoff win since Aikman). Bengals can’t be consistently good and have largely stunk and underperformed. It’s hard to turn it around once the ship starts sinking. Sure, the 49ers appear to have done it, and the Bengals and Skins are on the cusp, but that is probably it. It’s hard. And it usually requires an awesome QB.

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            Just because there are times that certain teams can’t (or won’t) do it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s hard.

      • bupalos

        I’m still on the side of ascribing the hard play to the fact that these are all rookies and second years. Rookies just don’t mail things in.

        That said, there is no evidence that Shurmur sucks at locker-room/development nearly as bad as he does at risk-reward and basic game management.

        • BIKI024

          i think there is more to it to coaching young guys than making sure they “just don’t mail things in”, they have to teach them on how to improve on a day by day basis. and it seems the players bought into it, even after starting 0-5. They have gone 5-3 since, but let’s see how we do against some teams who have something to play for, definitely interested in seeing how we do the next 3 weeks. but i agree with Frownie, if we win 7 or 8 he stays. give him another year to make the playoffs or he’s out.

          • bupalos

            I’m not disagreeing with that. I’m saying maybe shurmur or at least his regime is good at developmental coaching. It wouldn’t be so surprising considering his long position coaching history.

            He really is unbearably bad at game management, but by my own thesis that’s not disqualifying. Sure gets me angry though.

    • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

      yeah i think youre pretty 100% correct here. i find myself needing to re-calibrate my shurmur issues in light of some improvements in his in-game performance and the fact of winning winn-able games. i still hold apprehensions about his management capabilities but i need to weigh those negatives against the greater positive of system stability. color me undecided.

  • CleveLandThatILove

    Props to the WR coaches. All the position coaches, for that matter.

  • Cranky M

    Everybody has been talking about Gordon lately, and justifiably so. But i would like to take a moment to remind everybody that Greg Little is turning into a stud. Never would have expected him to progress so quickly. He hasn’t dropped a pass in weeks, he’s making nice catches, he’s making people miss, his downfield blocking is tremendous…
    I like Greg Little.
    The End.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      I’ve always liked Greg Little and have defended him plenty here. http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/2012/09/greg-little-is-not-the-problem-with-the-cleveland-browns/

      • Cranky M

        Yeah, i know. But the fact that he has improved so immensely has kind of been lost in the shuffle with all of the Josh Gordon love.
        At the beginning of the season, honest to god, i was hoping against hope that either Little or Gordon would show/improve enough to become a viable number 2 receiver once the Browns finally drafted/signed a number 1. That was my best-case scenario. Now, i can picture Gordon and Little being the top 2 receivers on a playoff team. The mind truly boggles.

    • nj0

      He has seemed to really dedicate himself to his art. Thank you, Alonzo Mourning.

      • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

        Someone should write a book about how Alonzo Mourning saved the Browns.

    • Bryan

      Amen. Love Little right now. Monster.

  • Bryan

    I am disappointed that no one here is talking playoffs. If the Eagles can upset the Bungles Thursday (40/60 chance), the Steelers lose on the road against Dallas (80/20), the Jets lose at Tenn (60/40), and the Browns beat an RGIII-less Skins team (60/40) at home, the Brownies will be one game back of the final playoff spot. There will be only two teams ahead of them, one of which they play.

    Can someone send me Holmgren’s cell phone? I need to call him about playoff tickets.

    • bupalos

      I think those percentages are a little off. Maybe 10 points on every one.

      But it’s nice to dream I guess.

      • nj0

        Lighten up! It’s December and we’re talking about making the playoffs. This is one of the good days. Enjoy it.

        • bupalos

          >>>Checks calendar>>> HEY!!! SWEET!!

          It really is nice. But I also really do think suggesting Dallas is a 4-1 favorite over the Siller’s is kind of bonkies. But you have inspired me to do a unified Browns’ chance of making the playoffs percentage.

          • bupalos

            OMFG! Browns are opening as a 7 point favorite over Washington? Vegas doesn’t think RGIII is playing.

          • BIKI024

            where did you see that? i don’t see anyone posting a line yet, they would be foolish too until an announcement is made. i’m sure they listened to Shanahan today who made it sound like RG3 will be fine, but we’ll see. i don’t expect a line until an official announcement is made.

          • bupalos

            Ach. That’s “vegas insider consensus” at VegasInsider.com. Not a real book number. Still.

          • nj0

            From my calculations, PIT/CIN both have to go 1-2 down the stretch and we have to go 3-0. Haven’t included the Jets in the calculation.

            But if things fall our way Sunday, there will be a lot of reason to be excited (esp. since we play PIT).

          • Bryan

            That is correct NJO. PIT/CIN both have to go 1-2 . But if they, both lose this weekend, because Cinci has Pitt and Baltimore left and we have Pitt on our schedule, it is possible.

            The more unlikely event is us going 3-0. But who knows? Our D is good enough now that I think we will at least have a chance in all 3 games.

          • nj0
          • bupalos

            Jets have to lose 1, as do the Bills generally unless SD runs out and gives us a 3 way tie that we win.

            The possibility of the Bills, Browns, and SD all winning out belongs in Aristophanes right beside Socrates and Chairophon dipping flea feet in wax.

          • bupalos

            OK basing things loosely on last weeks and this week’s moneyline odds to determine team strength, my calculated total odds of making the playoffs— which includes 1 favored and 2 underdog wins for our own sweep, 2 loses for both Pitt and Cinci (that’s just 1 “extra” loss for Pitt,) at least 1 loss for the Jets, and either 1 loss for the Bills OR 3 wins for SD—comes in right around 2.3%. But if we really did win out, the odds from there looks like it’s just south of 30% which is better than I might have supposed. If you told me week 6 that week 15 we’d have a 30% chance of “controlling our own destiny…”

            If the phrase “30% chance of “controlling our own destiny” isn’t flipping the sunny side up, I don’t know what is.

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            Nice work. I’m sure one of the books has posted playoff odds. 2.3% is about 40-1, right? And if the odds are actually 40-1, the best you’d do in Vegas would probably be around 30-1.

    • ChuckKoz

      browns are 1000:1 to win the AFC. considering the playoff path is not unreasonable (aside from the major difficulty of beating denver).

      this reminds me of the excitement back in 2009, when frowns wrote this post: http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/2010/12/heres-how-the-browns-get-to-the-super-bowl/

      the difference is, in my wishful thinking I was convinced that team could actually do something in the playoffs. now, even when i convince myself the playoffs are something okay to talk about, i dont believe they could actually win a game once they are in….mostly because they haven’t beat a real team this year (unlike 2009)….then again, beat denver and my mind may change.

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