BEREA—Sitting at 0-3, the Browns outlook in the near future is daunting, at best.
After dropping a pair of winnable games, the Browns face themselves with the task of playing the Ravens and Super Bowl champion Giants in back-to-back road contests the next two weeks.
Pat Shurmur was asked after the game how the Browns can turn things around.
“You win a game,” he said. “That’s how you turn it around, you win a game.”
The Browns and Saints are the only two NFL teams that are winless. There have been only three teams since 1990 to make the playoffs after starting 0-3. The percentage on making the playoffs after starting 0-3 is 2.8 percent.
“You’re always disappointed when you lose because a lot of effort is put into (each game),” Shurmur said. “The professional reality of it is to put that aside make your corrections and move forward. Should they be discouraged?
“No. we have 13 games left and nobody in our division has won all of their games.”
Brandon Weeden said the Browns can’t get down.
“You know you just have to keep your head down, don’t get distracted by what’s going on around this locker room, and keep grinding and doing what we’re doing,” he said. “The simple matter of fact is that we have a short week this week.
“So even though we lost and it’s a tough pill to swallow, we got to turn around and as crazy as it is we have to play on Thursday night. The locker room has got a lot of level-headed, good sound quality guys and we’re going to stick together. That’s what you’ve got to do. None of us want to lose, a lot of us have come from other places like that and haven’t lost a lot of games. We’ve got to continue to fight and stick together and stay positive. Like I said, it’s a long season. You can’t get distracted by what’s going on around you.”
Shurmur said he is more disappointed in the loss to the Bills than anything.
“I wanted to build and win a game,” he said. “We didn’t win. That’s what disappoints me. You see a lot of games where teams don’t play well, but win. That’s how you build.”
Shurmur doesn’t want to use the excuse that the team has 26 players in their first or second year.
“When you see correctable mistakes, things you’ve practiced and we’re a quarter of the way into the season, they’re not rookies anymore.”
Shurmur disputes the Browns were not ready to play against the Bills as they found themselves behind 14-0 early. He was asked if the team was flat.
“Was our team ready?” he said. “Absolutely. We need to do everything better.
“I don’t believe we came out flat,” he said. “I don’t believe in that term. We didn’t play well.”
Shurmur isn’t concerned that the players will give up and buy into the culture of losing that has plagued Browns teams for years.
“The locker room is right,” he said. “We have the right type of guys. I don’t worry about our guys getting discouraged because we have the right guys in there.”
Work in Progress: Second-year WR Greg Little dropped a big pass on a third down play against the Bills. He caught 61 passes last season as a rookie, but also led the team in dropped passes.
“He dropped a pass,” Shurmur said. “We’ll see. The false interpretation in all (these questions) is he’s not being worked with. Trust me, he’s being worked with.”
Shurmur said they didn’t see Little having a history of dropping passes in college.
“We didn’t see it,” he said. “All receivers in college, no body catches every ball. We’ve been working with him consistently with him since we got him and when he goes into the game he has to catch the football. We have a long list of things we need to do.”
Little caught just two passes for 17 yards against the Bills and has seven catches for 74 yards, including one touchdown.
Shurmur was asked if he might make some changes. Josh Cribbs was thrown one pass and it turned to be the longest play of the game, which was 24 yards. Also, Jordan Norwood has been inactive the last two games.
“I know what you’re getting at,” Shurmur said at a reporter. “Throw (Cribbs) more balls? We’ll see what we can do. He does a good job on returns and in my mind, those are offensive plays.
“(Cribbs) has had a role each week and he’s been very productive with his returns,” he said. “We’re going to try and get the best players on the field and we can’t play guys who are going to drop footballs.”
Little has also been doing celebration dances at inopportune times. Shurmur said he has spoken with Little about those.
“I’ve had my conversations with him that can be said,” he said. “People might not see me ranting and raving with players but believe me I have discussions with him.
“Are we dealing with that as we go along? Absolutely.”
Shurmur was asked what the next step would be if Little doesn’t listen.
“Greg’s working extremely hard, but if he’s not listening to coaching, we’ll see,” he said. “If there’s a misconception that he’s not being worked with. Trust me. He’s being worked with.”
Shurmur said that Little can turn things around quickly and be the player the team is counting on.
“Absolutely he can.”
Young Steps Up: Shurmur said he was pleased with the way S Usama Young stepped in and played for S Eric Hagg, who was not active for the game.
“I thought Usama Young did very well and (Tashaun) Gipson did some good things,” Shurmur said.
Young had six tackles and Gipson had four.
“We’re looking for the right combination and we haven’t found it yet, but we saw some things that were encouraging,” Shurmur said. “Usama Young is back and he wasn’t with us early and he did some good things physically. At the safety position, we learned something good there.”
Shurmur said that he’s not down on Hagg, but he needs to learn from whatever situation he is in.
“I’m not disappointed in his play but trying to find a winning combination,” Shurmur said. “(Hagg’s) a player that needs to learn by every way possible.
“Unfortunately, you have to deactivate some players and you have to consider everything.”
Injury Report: WR Mohamed Massaquoi injured his hamstring against the Bills and Shurmur didn’t know if he be available for the Ravens game. He also didn’t give any information on TE Alex Smith (concussion) or LB James-Michael Johnson (oblique/ribs).
Taylor Update: DT Phil Taylor is recovering from his torn pectoral muscle that was injured in the off-season. He is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and cannot practice until the seventh week of the season.
Shurmur said that he is getting close.
“He’s getting close,” he said. “In a couple of weeks he’ll be out there. He’s getting close and getting himself as close as he can.”
Cameron Stepping Up: One of the bright spots in the game was the emergence of TE Jordan Cameron, who had five catches for 45 yards, including an 18-yard reception. Those were the first five catches of the season for Cameron.
“Cameron did some good things,” Shurmur said. “He had an opportunity on a go ball and if he would’ve made that play, it would’ve been a great day. “
QB Brandon Weeden threw a deep ball down the side line to Cameron, but the throw was a little long.
“When you get opportunities to throw the ball down the field, you have to hit them,” Shurmur said. “It’s fair to say that we’re taking more shots (down field)than we did last year, but when we have them we have to hit on them.”
By the Numbers: The week 3 NFL rankings are about what’s expected for an 0-3 team. The highest ranking is tied for 22nd in rushing defense. Overall, they are 26th in offense (26 rushing, 23 passing) and 25th on defense (22t in rushing, 27 passing).
QB Brandon Weeden is ahead of two quarterbacks in passer rating (60.7): Jay Cutler (58.6) & Ryan Tannehill (58.3).