BEREA — An offensive coordinator will be in, and Colt McCoy might not be out.
Those were key items Browns coach Pat Shurmur mentioned in his year-end Cleveland Browns wrapup Tuesday. That and he recognizes that the Browns need to quite simply win more games.
“You need to win and build at the same time,” Shurmur said.
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The Browns have not done that for years, and especially the last four — turning fan interest into anger by winning 18 games. Shurmur’s first season started badly and never got out of the muck. Despite that, the Browns did not quit on their coach and competed in the final month against Pittsburgh twice and Baltimore once. They didn’t win.
So Shurmur turns to the offseason, and though he candidly admitted there might be questions he could not answer, he did give some inklings to the team’s feelings in some matters:
He will hire an offensive coordinator.
Book it, Dano. In fact, Shurmur was so adamant that he said this was the plan all along. That because he could not get the “right guy” prior to 2011, he planned to hire a coordinator at this point. He even said he would surrender play-calling if that’s the best thing for the team.
Shurmur would not get into names, but clearly former Vikings coach Brad Chilress will be on the list. Childress and Shurmur were on the same staff in Philadelphia, so the two understand the offensive system. Another name to consider might be Mike Sherman, the former quarterback coach for Mike Holmgren in Green Bay and successor to Holmgren there.
“I might get some more sleep,” Shurmur quipped when asked what the hiring would do for him. “More than anything I think what it will allow me to do is step back and look down on some things and some areas where I think I will be able to contribute more.”
Other names will surface, and Shurmur admitted that if they know the West Coast offense it would give them “a leg up.” His timetable is to “work quickly but not be hasty.”
(box) Shurmur gave a solid review of McCoy, but not glowing. He emphasized: “The best quarterback will play when we start the season.”
That leaves open whether the best guy would be McCoy, a free agent (Matt Flynn?) or a rookie.
“(McCoy’s) done some really good things,” Shurmur said. “Get him back healthy, get him in an offseason where he has a chance to develop.”
Shurmur emphasized several times that giving McCoy an offseason to work in and understand the offense would help. He admitted McCoy’s 5.90 yards per attempt average was too low.
“When you see things better, you might take the downfield throw better than the checkdown,” Shurmur said. “There are reasons for that (average) beyond the system.”
He said McCoy has the arm to succeed in the NFL, and that more practice and more understanding of the system will help his accuracy. He said that Brad McCoy’s critical comments on the way the Browns handled his son’s concussion in Pittsburgh will not affect McCoy’s standing with the team.
(box) A few days after not committing to Hillis as the team’s running back for the longterm, Shurmur sounded like he hoped Hillis would choose to stay.
He said he had a “great talk” with Hillis on Monday.
“He’s an All-Star player we had high hopes for who got injured,” Shurmur said. “He fought back. As we move forward, I hope it works out for everybody.”
Shurmur tried to stress the positive from a season that didn’t have many — not visible ones at least. He said players were positive as they left on Monday, and he said he will build on the good things he saw.
Shurmur was more relaxed and confident than he’d been in a while, and that’s good. Too, he can look forward to an offseason with his team — which he missed a year ago due to the lockout.
But Tennessee had a first-year coach and won without an offseason, and teams with experienced coaches lost without one as well.
If offseason programs matter more than players, there would be revival meetings in 32 team facilities every April and May.
For the Browns, improvement comes down to players, guys who can score and catch and run. An offseason might produce some improvement, but winning while building will depend much more on the overall quality of he players on the field than it will any offseason program.
As the Browns look forward, they might be the only team in the league with question marks at quarterback, running back and receiver.
Which are merely three of the most important positions on the team.