Pat Shurmur has taken a lot of criticism for a guy coaching a team without high expectations coming into the season.
Nobody expected the Cleveland Browns to make the playoffs this season, and most people figured the brown and orange would wind up around 7-9 or 8-8.
That they are 2-2 right now would seem to bode well for the first year head coach.
Unfortunately, one new coach has taken the NFL by storm this season. Jim Harbaugh is in his rookie year as a pro head coach and the San Francisco 49ers are off to a 4-1 start.
So, Shurmur is held to that standard by many fans.
On Shurmur’s behalf, let us point out that the team he was the offensive coordinator for last season, the St. Louis Rams, are now 0-4, and Sam Bradford, his prize pupil at QB with the Rams, is playing horribly.
Let’s give the new head coach some slack, after all, he’s had the job for all of four games, and it’s not as though his team has lost every game.
As others have speculated, the bye week came at a good time for a young team with a new head coach, because hopefully he will take a good, hard look at the first four games and determine what worked and what didn’t.
Even though Shurmur and team president Mike Holmgren are advocates of the west coast offense, the talent currently on the team isn’t suited to a total commitment to the attack.
The strength of the team still is a power running game, and that should be the basis for what the Browns are trying to do offensively.
The game plan should be to get Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty the football 25-30 times per game.
Everyone knows Colt McCoy threw over 60 times in the defeat to Tennessee, but he threw 40 times in the opener against Cincinnati too.
In Cleveland’s best performance of the year, the road victory versus the Colts, McCoy passed less than 30 times.
In his press conferences this week, Shurmur has indicated that he is making adjustments based on the first four games, and mostly that means getting the ball into his playmakers’ hands.
He has publicly stated that rookie Greg Little will start at wide receiver, and the passing game will look to utilize TE Evan Moore too.
Shurmur has also stated the need to get Hillis more involved in the running game.
It’s quite possible that the coach had some ideas about his team in training camp, and after trying some things in games, he now knows who can produce, and who cannot.
Let’s just say that it’s a departure from the previous head coach in that he’s not being stubborn. Shurmur appears to be ready to adjust.
Of course, no one will know for sure if these changes will be made until this Sunday’s game against the Raiders.
The coach could get carried away due to an early occurence in the contest, and go back to the same game plan used in the first four games.
Keep in mind that Pat Shurmur is still learning on the job. He may not be “getting it” as quickly as we, as fans, like, but the willingness to make changes is a good quality to have as a coach.
One thing is for sure. Shurmur should have learned not to lose by 18 points prior to the bye week.