The Browns are 2-6 at the mid-point of the season, but are playing much better right now.
By FRED GREETHAMFS Ohio
BEREA—Are the Browns turning the corner?
Let's face it winning two of three games for the Browns in recent history could be considered of some significance. However, Pat Shurmur said that's not how he looks at it.
"We're fighting for every inch," he said. "We're fighting to win every game. I told the players to stay in the moment."
Many would term the 7-6 win over the Chargers an ‘ugly' win.
"The fact that it wasn't perfect and (the team) fought through the elements and did enough to win the game (was big)," Shurmur said. "There are no ugly victories."
The Browns are 2-6 at the mid-point of the season and Shurmur was asked to assess the team at this point.
"Obviously, we're not record-wise where we want to be," he said. "We're battling every step of the way. The players believe in their coaches and I think we're going to continue to improve and win a bunch of games"
It could be argued the Browns might have won another game or two and could be right in the midst of the division race.
"Our young skilled players are better and we're getting production," Shurmur said. "We're getting some players back that will help us win."
Shurmur said that the wins validate what he and the other coaches are telling them.
"It's important when I keep saying we're better, that they see the results," he said. "It helps to keep them going when they can see the other side of the fence. Everybody feels better going to work when you win on Sunday."
Players Refuse Off Day: After the Browns victory, Shurmur offered the team the ‘See you Wednesday' line', but the team declined.
Shurmur was asked if he was surprised when the players turned him down.
"No, but I grabbed right onto it," Shurmur said. "The fact that they wanted to do it says a lot. I've been around a lot of teams that will do whatever needed to get a ‘See you Wednesday'.
Shurmur said having the players in Monday allowed them to get a jump on this week's game with the Ravens, who are coming off a bye week.
"We were able to get the film adjustments done in a structured setting with the coaches and that is good," Shurmur said. "It gives us a chance to get a little jump on Baltimore."
Top Pair Back?: Shurmur was asked if there was a chance that the projected starting duo of Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin will play this week against the Ravens before the bye.
"There's a good chance."
Smith the New FB: TE Alex Smith was listed as the starting fullback on the game book for the Chargers. He lined up in place of FB Owen Marecic, who was a healthy inactive.
Shurmur explained his reasoning.
"I wanted to get Alex back on the field and have a defined role for him," he said. "He brings some energy to our team. He played that position for us (in the past)."
Shurmur said he will see how things work out.
"We'll see as we progress," he said. "I basically switched Alex and Owen (on inactive list)."
Smith had one catch for one yard, but was targeted three times. Marecic has no receptions and four dropped passes on the season.
Shurmur likes Smith's versatility.
"He's a very emotional guy and helps us on special teams," he said. "He brings energy and is a tough guy."
Marecic and practice squad FB Brad Smelley are the only true listed fullbacks practicing, FB Eddie Williams is on injured reserve.
T-Rich Good to Go: Shurmur said that RB Trent Richardson looks to have come through Sunday's game with no further problems.
"He's no worse for wear," he said. "He didn't re-injure himself. You know your players and that was a game for him to keep going. When it's going right and the score is right, you feed him."
Richardson had 24 carries for a career-best 122 yards (5.1 avg.), including a 26-yard touchdown run. He also caught a pass for 12 yards to pick up a first down late in the game.
"We're going to run the ball effectively, but we have to be able to pass the ball or you're going to have a lot of 7-6 games. Let's call it the way it is."
JMJ Shines: Rookie LB James-Michael Johnson had his best game of the season with 10 tackles, a forced fumble and a tackle for a loss. Johnson has stepped in for LB Scott Fujita on the strong side and is coming on.
"I think he was the second-leading tackler, but I've seen him improve each week," Shurmur said. "I think with young players you see more improvement in their play."
Technical Difficulties: Shurmur said there were about four plays when the head sets between he and QB Brandon Weeden was out and Weeden called his own plays.