The Cleveland Browns 24-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers this afternoon was a microcosm of Pat Shurmur’s tenure as head coach, a tenure that will end after this contest.
The Browns outgained the Steelers 320 yards to 212, but mistakes made by the offense, mostly turnovers killed any chance for Shurmur’s team to put up points. In the 32 games under his head coaching, Cleveland scored more that 21 points just five times. They moved the ball, but couldn’t put it in the end zone.
The average NFL team scores 22.7 points per game, so to get to that figure and above just five times speaks to the philosophy of the guy calling plays, and that would be Shurmur.
He did show a little aggressiveness today, using a fake punt, but at the end of the half, he did not use a timeout despite getting a nine yard pick up on first down with about 40 seconds remaining. In your last game as head coach, with a 5-10 record and absolutely nothing at stake, why not try to score at least a field goal.
Shurmur supporters will point out that he didn’t want to turn the ball over, but really! You are assuming your quarterback is going to make a poor play? That’s terrible coaching.
Then again, on the last drive of the game trailing by 14 points, he refused to use a timeout until QB Thaddeus Lewis was injured on the games penultimate play. The team was moving the ball, but there didn’t seem to be much of a sense of urgency from the coaching staff.
Lewis acquitted himself well, completing 22 of 32 passes for 204 yards with a touchdown pass to Greg Little and a terrible interception in the first quarter. The Browns also ran the ball fairly well, gaining 138 yards, of which 35 came on the fake field goal run by Ray Ventrone.
Still, even without that run, Cleveland still outgained Pittsburgh on the day on the ground, with Brandon Jackson (remember him?) coming out of moth balls to gaining 54 yards on eight carries. Guess the fresh legs argument would apply to him.
Lewis did run a similar offense to what was run all year, an attack made up of mostly short throws and crossing patterns. He was accurate for the most part and looked like a guy who can play in the NFL.
The defense played fairly well, holding Ben Roethlisburger to just 121 net yards in the air and sacking him twice, both by DE Jabaal Sheard.
The two fumbles, one by Josh Gordon and the other by Travis Benjamin, set up the Steelers for two touchdowns on short fields, and that was the difference in the game.
So now, everyone in the organization is on the watch for when Shurmur and probably GM Tom Heckert will be fired. The latter has brought a lot of talent in the organization and should keep his gig, but won’t because the new boss wants his own man.
We have said this before, but here goes…Fire Heckert if you want, but the next guy has to be better than him. That’s the challenge for Joe Banner, who seems like a guy who was beat up by athletes in high school and now we wants to exact revenge.
Here’s hoping the new crew will put the offensive players in a system suited to their strengths, and add a pass rusher and some secondary help to the defense. If this is done, the Cleveland Browns could be looking at a winning record and a possible playoff berth as early as next season.
This isn’t a Browns team devoid of talent like after Eric Mangini’s tenure, there are pieces in place.
Hopefully, Banner and Jimmy Haslam understand that and don’t start another total rebuilding process. The fans of the Browns are tired of waiting and for the first time there is brightness on the horizon.