First and Ten: Building and pain, again
NOV 06, 2012 4:58p ET
2) Yes, folks can throw in my face that I was critical of the previous coach, but at that time I had reached the point where I saw no hope. I could have been wrong. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I was too early. But I didn’t see hope. I would offer that as frustrating as the losses have been this season, there is hope with the Browns. There are some players on this team that do provide hope for the future. Call it my senior moment if you wish, but I believe that. And I believe it in part because many people around the league, people who coach and acquire players, believe it as well. Said one league guy: “The only thing that group needs is confidence.”
3) Brandon Weeden seemed genuinely angry with himself over Sunday’s game, which was not his best. He completed just four passes longer than 10 yards and averaged 4.8 yards per attempt, neither of which are good for the old quarterback rating. It’s a good thing to be angry about a tough day. The key is doing something about it. Weeden has been better than most expect, and has struggled through a miserable opener and last game before the bye, but he’s also shown he has a future and given the Browns reason to believe in him. He’s still a rookie, tough games will happen, but the Browns have to live with it and keep working with him. He’s their guy.
4) Pat Shurmur’s comment on that point: “I do believe in him and he is our guy. I know it’s not going to be perfect and it’s not going to be pretty all the time. And I know we’ve got to do what we can to win games.”
5) D’Qwell Jackson summed up these first nine games this way when asked if Sunday’s loss was a letdown: “That’s been the tale of the season so far. We get so close and we start the week off with so much confidence and for whatever reason when the games on the line, whether it’s defensively, offensively we can’t seem to make that play.” Whether they’re too young, too inexperienced, whether it’s bad calls or bad plays, those key plays are missing. Until those key plays arrive and the losses turn to wins, the frustration will continue.
6) There’s something refreshing about election day, about the simple act of walking up and casting a ballot and walking away. Not every place in the world provides that freedom, that opportunity, for everyone. It’s a privilege and an honor. And it’s baffling why anyone, anywhere, whether in position of authority or not, would impede that right. Everyone should be allowed to vote freely, and every should be counted accurately. It’s what makes this country special, and it’s a right that should be celebrated.
7) Monday I asked Shurmur his philosophy on short-yardage plays, and he answered this way: “I think you have to be able to run it effectively and then when you throw the ball you have to be able to do that effectively.” That about covers it.
8) Translation: There is no set philosophy. I still flash back to last season when the Browns beat the Colts early in the season and threw on third-and-short. Asked about it after the game, Shurmur simply said: “We’ll throw from anywhere.” And he does. Bottom line: One of the three third-and-1s on Sunday went for a first down on a throw, and on another the Browns had a touchdown to Chris Ogbonnaya, but they missed it. Coaches spend a week preparing a play like that; it was there and they missed.
9) T.J. Ward’s roughing the passer penalty was not a great call, but Ward earned the call with his approach, and maybe his reputation. There is some thinking in the Browns locker room that the Ravens are not the league’s cleanest team, and there was some stuff going on after the whistle all day long. Ward tried to strip the ball from Joe Flacco, but the way he did it might have raised the official’s antenna. Had he simply tackled Flacco, or pushed him, there would have been no flag. I can’t say for sure that Ward’s action was intentional retaliation, because I don’t know. But the impression it was might have contributed to the call. He has played far better than I expected this season, but that play and that call hurt the team.
10) Shurmur said this Monday: “Sometimes building is painful. It just is. Trust me.” Well I do trust him, and we all know that building can be painful. But the problem is contained in this list: Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, Romeo Crennel, Phil Savage, Eric Mangnini, George Kokin … OK maybe not him … but add Mike Holmgren and Dwight Clark. The common thread: Every one of those guys at one time or another made a statement similar to Shurmur’s. Building can be painful, but teams that go from worst to first don’t find it painful. The Bengals didn’t find it painful last season when they made the playoffs. Neither did Carolina or Jacksonville when they reached the Championship Game in their second season. Fans, rightfully so, are sick of hearing about how tough it can be when other teams get it done. Losing is what’s painful, not building.
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