BEREA — One of the obvious silver linings in the overtime loss to the Cowboys was the pressure the Browns put on Tony Romo. The Browns had a season high seven sacks and also hit the quarterback 10 other times.
It was the first time that Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin lined up as the starting defensive tackles all season due to injury. The front four accounted for five of the seven sacks with Rubin, Frostee Rucker, Juqua Parker, John Hughes and Jabaal Sheard getting one apiece. Usama Young and Kaluka Maiava combined for one and Craig Robertson picked up the other one.
“I think it’s important to get pressure on the quarterback,” Pat Shurmur said. “Having Rubin and Taylor together was (big) we had a good rotation in there.
“Ideally, you would want eight guys to put in there, so when you add two guys that were starters last year, that makes us better.”
While the Browns seem to have a promising young defensive line, the secondary was exposed greatly as the secondary couldn’t take advantage of the pressure because when Romo did have time to throw he took advantage of the Browns loose coverage.
Cornerbacks Joe Haden (oblique) and Dimitri Patterson (ankle) missed the game and the Browns remaining cornerbacks were exposed greatly.
“I was happy the way the guys battled in the secondary,” Shurmur said.
The Browns committed 12 penalties for 129 yards, including seven by the defensive backs that accounted for 87 yards. On the drive that allowed the Cowboys to go 66 yards in the final 1:07 to tie the game and send it to overtime was two of the biggest penalties when T.J. Ward was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and 15 yards and then Sheldon Brown committed a pass interference penalty for 35 yards to the Browns’ 14.
The secondary gave the Cowboys first downs on seven penalties. Skrine had three penalties for 19 yards, Brown had two penalties for 40 yards and Ward had two penalties for 28 yards.
Ward’s second penalty came just before Brown’s pass interference penalty. Shurmur said he doesn’t want to deter Ward’s aggressiveness.
“We talked to him about the rules,” Shurmur said. “A defenseless player you cannot hit a player in the head or with your head.”
Shurmur’s answer was succinct when asked what the Browns need to do to not give the opponents first downs and big yardage on penalties
“Don’t hold and then you work on it,” Shurmur said.
Shurmur was asked about Skrine’s play.
“I thought he battled extremely hard,” he said. “We like to play bump and run coverage.”
Besides missing Haden and Patterson, the Browns were razor thin in the secondary ranks when Skrine went down with a head injury late in regulation and rookie undrafted free agent Johnson Bademosi had to play in overtime. He batted down a pass and Shurmur said he thinks he can play cornerback in the NFL.
“He played corner against the Dallas Cowboys,” Shurmur said. “He has impressed me since he got here. I think he has a future here.”
Play Calls: Just about every game there has been questions about the play calls. This week is no different. One of the questions was on the fourth-and-one in the final two minutes why the Browns chose to throw a fade to TE Jordan Cameron. The pass was caught but about five yards out of bounds.
“We had all three of our timeouts and were able to get the ball back,” Shurmur said. “We had a fade ball to Jordan there, but we have to do it in a way to get it inbounds.”
Why Can’t Finish?: Shurmur continually preaches to the team that they have to finish. The Browns lost a 13 point lead and then came back to take the lead, only to lose in overtime.
“It’s a cliché but you got to do it,” he said. “Every game is a different story. We talk about finishing all the time. We talk about starting fast and we talk about finishing.
“We just have to find a way to finish and win.”
At 2-8, Shurmur was asked if he’s worried about the Browns being ready to play the Steelers.
“These guys love playing football and I see them bouncing back to play the Steelers,” he said. “I think we have a locker room of tough guys who will keep pushing. For the most part they will keep working.”
Out of Gas?: Shurmur was asked if he thought RB Trent Richardson was tired by the end of the game when he was unable to get in the end zone on consecutive plays near the goal line.
“I wouldn’t overthink that,” he said. “Trent’s improving each week.
“I don’t think he ran out of gas,” he said. “We’re running full circle. Earlier, people thought we don’t give it to him enough.”
Richardson had 95 yards on 28 carries(3.4 avg.), but just 33 in the second half.
“I thought he did a lot of good things in the second half,” he said. “(Dallas) as a team is pretty good against the run.”
Fumble or No: Shurmur was asked to comment on whether he thought WR Miles Austin fumbled the ball late in the game that would’ve allowed the Browns to seal the victory.
“No comment. I have lots of no comments.”
Lockdown Joe: Shurmur said that CB Joe Haden did everything he could to play against the Cowboys.
“He made every effort to go out there and play, right to the end,” Shurmur said. “He was extremely disappointed he couldn’t play.”
Shurmur gave no indication if Haden, Patterson or Skrine will be ready for the Steelers game.
“We’re hopeful and we’ll see who’s ready to go.”
On Skrine, Shurmur said.
“He’s alright,” he said. “We’ll see where’s he at as we move forward.”
Cribbs Comments: Last week, KR Josh Cribbs was quoted as saying he felt ‘in a cage’ because he’s not getting the ball. Shurmur said he doesn’t have a problem with Cribbs’ comments.
“Josh is a very competitive guy and I said how impressed I was with his contributions to special teams,” he said. “Josh is a tough guy and I appreciate what he brings. He was in there and had a couple of plays for him.
“He’s just a competitive guy,” he said. “Josh and I talk frequently. Very competitive guys want to feel they can make a difference. That’s OK.”
Shurmur said he’s not concerned it will set a bad example to the young players.
“I think we all know each other and I’m confident we have a good locker room.”