Berea (WOIO) - Browns head coach Pat Shurmur met with the media on Monday, one day after his team beat the Chiefs 30-7. Here's what the head coach had to say.
(Opening Statement) – "Let me get started. I kind of talked a lot yesterday. I think it was an outstanding team victory for us. I'll start with special teams. Of course, Phil Dawson had a milestone game. He had his 300 and 301 field goals and he's 26 of 27 this year. It's hard to argue with that. He's been an outstanding player around here for a long time. I did tell you he was a little freaked before the game because he told me that in every milestone game that he has had, the team hadn't done so well. I assured him that it was going to be okay. I'm glad I was right. Then of course, the punt return by Travis Benjamin was an outstanding effort. Obviously, when you have a play like that, there are some terrific blocks, and then Travis had the skill and ability to make it count. Generally speaking, I thought our coverage units were really good. Our special teams, I think they've done an outstanding job this year, and we finally marked it with a big touchdown, so that was good. On defense of course we allowed seven points in 12 seconds, and then no more after that. This is about eliminating points, or keeping them from scoring and then scoring points. That was good. We had five sacks, four by defensive linemen. I think we controlled the run game for the most part. I credit the defensive coaches. I thought the coaches called an outstanding game in all three phases. It showed up and the players executed well. I think they ought to be commended. Offensively we scored 23 points and I think that's important. We didn't turn the ball over. I think we were plus eight in turnovers and that's a huge contributing factor to winning. I talk about our young football team. I think we've had 72 starts by rookies. The next highest is 44, and I'm not sure what team that is. That's good for the future because we're finally starting to find out how to win football games with these young players, and I think that's good. We had some other players that distinguished themselves in the game. Of course Josh Gordon had another productive game. I thought Greg Little played as well yesterday as he has played in all phases of playing receiver. Of course Montario Hardesty did a very nice job. I'm proud of how he's handled himself this year and I think he has made the most of his opportunities. I think he did a nice job. There's a lot going on. I'm sure you've got specific questions."
(On if they will use the wishbone this week) – "No, I don't think so. It's funny; we got credit for being tricky. That reverse we ran to Travis Benjamin, we've run that play five times this year already. If you remember, we even had bigger success with it when we started the year against Philly with it. We tossed the ball to Greg Little last year a couple of times and then of course the two wildcat plays. I was waiting to see the reaction when they came out. We got a three yard gain and we almost scored a touchdown. Quite frankly, I challenged that play because I did think, based on the replay I saw, and of course the instruction from the press box that he got in. I also wanted Josh (Cribbs) to have a touchdown. I thought that was worth it. We saw when they got the ball to the three yard line, they didn't score. It's never a guarantee. When it's that close I think it's worth it at times."
(On if trying new things is because he trusts his young players) – "Yeah I think so. I think when you're breaking in a young bunch of guys, first and foremost, they've got to learn to line up and play. Then as time goes on you can do more things. We always have those things in our plan, there's just sometimes where it's not the right time to call them. We got some situations. We had third and long in the red zone and we knew they would play it soft. Actually that pitch to Greg Little was not a red zone play, but we figured it might be worth a shot. We ended up being pretty successful with it."
(On the merits of the pistol formation and if he sees a future) – "That's a good question being that we're getting ready to play the Redskins and that's a lot of what they do. It's a two back shot gun formation where the running back stands behind the quarterback. That's the essence as opposed to being in the shot gun and if you had a single running back, he'd be on one side or the other. There's a little bit more of a play action component. There's a little bit more of a balance, am I going to run right or left component to it. You can do some of the things if you want to put another running back in there that you can do from a two back set in the shot gun. Yeah, there's merit to is, and I think that's why you see some people do it."
(On if they use that formation) – "We did one formation and we tried to throw a quick screen that was batted down."
(On if having Phil Dawson on the team influences red zone play calling) – "No, I don't think so. I do know this though; we had a situation there where we scored twice. For whatever reason, we didn't get lined up on the first one to Ben Watson, and then of course, we threw it to Trent (Richardson) where they called (offensive pass interference). You get a third and long situation where you're backed up now on third down. What you don't want is a sack. Your chances of making the third and goal from the 18 are minimized. What you want to try to do is call a play that will give you a chance to score. But if you don't score, then of course you want to advance the football. I think that's kind of how you do it regardless of who your kicker is."
(On how different the Redskins offense was when Kirk Cousins came into the game) – "They run similar plays. The one thing about the Redskins offense it's very balance. Their passing game is West Coast in principle. Of course, we've all seen what they've done, utilizing the skill and ability of RGIII (Robert Griffin III). It's multi-dimensional and we have to prepare for that regardless of who is playing quarterback. I really studied up on Cousins being a Michigan State guy. I knew a lot about him of course, and then studied him. He was one of the most outstanding people you're going to ever meet in the draft, and we liked him quite a bit. The fact that he came in and had success did not surprise me."
(On if Cousins had a good preseason) – "Yeah. He's a legitimate NFL quarterback and he went in and helped his team win a game yesterday."
(On if the thought process of the 'fun' plays being around the red zone to loosen the guys up) – "No. Like I said, the pitch to Greg Little was not necessarily a red zone play. Then of course the wildcat plays you can run anywhere. Some of those fancy runs so to speak apply in the red zone and on third down. That's kind of how we used them."
(On what he looks at when evaluating Brandon Weeden after a game) – "I double check to make sure that it says win on there first. I think that's the most important thing. I really don't spend too much time looking at them, I really don't. You may say yeah right, but that is the case. I have a pretty good feeling coming off the field how I think a player has played. I basically wait to confirm it then on tape. What's most important is of course we want to take care of the football. We want to be efficient. You want to complete 65 percent of your balls. I've got my little bench marks and guidelines. It all comes down to decision making and accuracy and doing the right thing with the football. I think on each play you can grade a quarterback that way."
(On what intangibles does he measure when looking at players) – "Decision making. Sometimes a good decision is throwing the ball away. Sometimes a good decision is scrambling like he did on the first play of the game. That was the hardest, roughest looking slide I had ever seen. He took a chunk of turf out of there. I thought they were going to stop the game and bring out a dump truck. Being a baseball player I thought it would look a little easier (jokingly). Those in my mind go in his bucket as being good decisions. Then sometimes, the bad decisions are obvious to all of us."
(On if the quarter changing made it easier to sneak Travis Benjamin onto the field for the punt return) – "No, not really. We had decided to do that based on where we were on the field. That's how we decided to do it. That was one where we schemed it up a little bit, brought Josh (Cribbs) from center field and brought him into the rush and then ran Travis back. It probably looked a little bit different to the Chiefs. We were able to make it work."
(On if he talked to Cousins at the draft) – "I know a lot about him. I talked to him numerous times as we went through last year's draft evaluation process."
(On what they liked about Cousins) – "He's a very mature guy. I liked the way he led. He was very efficient, won a lot of football games. All the things you look for in a player. I'm not surprised. Some people may say that they were surprised they drafted him along with RGII, but I thought he was a good player and I'm not surprised that he was drafted."
(On if they gave any thought to drafting Cousins) – "We liked him, yeah. We liked him quite a bit."
(On still being in playoff conversations) – "I'm not going to focus on that. I'm going to go right back to it. Our energy, our efforts are all going to be directed towards the Redskins. I think that's where we need to be. It's a little bit easier to be short-sided and narrow minded with three games to play. I think we have to make sure we stay in the moment and stay there. We all know chances and the math changes in those situations if you don't take care of business this weekend. That needs to be our focus."
(On if it's tempting to think about playoff chances) – "No. I've been in this position in Philadelphia. We danced around this all the time. I know what works, is you focus on the next game."
(On if he'll learn a lot about his team with the final three games being against teams in the playoff berth) – "Sure. I'm going to learn a lot about our team this week as we prepare. Then when we play against an outstanding Redskins team, we're going to learn more and so on and so forth. I think that's exciting for me."
(On what he's learned about this team from the start of the season until now) – "I think what I've learned from this team is that we've proven that we can finish a ball game. Now, how many in a row we can do, we'll see. We've proven that we can find a way to make more plays than the other team and win a game. We didn't prove that to ourselves early in the year when we started 0-5. I knew it was there. It was just a matter of doing it. That's what I've learned from this team. I've learned that we can have some extremely bad stuff happen early in the game and fight back from it. We had a pick six against the Steelers. We had an 80-yard run against the Chiefs and we found a way to come back from that. Those are all things that are necessary if you're going to build a consistent winner."
(On if he can point to a specific moment when he found how to win a game) – "The first victory. The first victory this year, because that's what it comes down to. All the teams in the NFL are good and all the teams battle. Our team finds a way to play hard and give ourselves a chance. Early on, we didn't do what we had to do to finish. When you start winning games that means you're finding a way to finish."
(On if Hardesty looked this explosive this season) – "No. I think he looked different to me. I think we talked about it. We can all go back to our notes. He looked different to me at the start of training camp and I think it has carried through the season."
(On if the rumors affect him about coaching/front office changes) – "Listen, I'm not worried about any of that. I don't control that. I'm worried about doing my job and that's it. I just want to do my job."
(On why he said Little had his best game in all phases) – "He caught the football well and then when you watch the game, he's a physical guy. He rattles around in there and blocks pretty well. Some of the things he did just playing the game. I think you grade players on every play. I thought he had a very good game. He had production, which allows me to say it. Then of course, he did other things when he did not have the football that I thought were good."
(On the Craig Robertson play where he stuffed the running back) – "The play you're talking about, that was a big play. They threw the ball in the flat, and we've seen numerous times where you may not miss the tackle, but he edges you and gets the first. I thought Craig did a nice job. He actually played very well. He played very well throughout the game, but that was one play of course that was obvious."
(On if he thinks about having a no huddle offense) – "I think there is a place for it. We no huddle when we go two minute. It's the same thing, you just take the time factor out of it. We feel like we have good plays. We like to move around. We like to change personnel. We feel like we can control tempo from the huddle. Again, what's most important is that you do what you're guys are good at. What happens is, you have to guard against this a little bit. We did some things that on the outside looked a little bit tricky, but you have to play fundamental football. Playing offense, just isn't a bunch of bag of tricks. We've established a little bit of a balance in the run game and the passing game because we want to put the ball in Trent's and Montario's hands. It's about being able to play fundamental football. I think you need to start there and end there, and then if there are some things in there that are exciting, you get an ooh and ah out of it, that's good too."
(On how satisfying is it to have the hard work translating into victories) – "I think what's most satisfying for me is to see these guys near the end of the game and then in the locker room truly enjoy victory. We as coaches know how much these guys put into it. I'm glad that they are able to experience that. It becomes intoxicating and they want to do it more and more and more. It's one of those things that drive you."
(On having a deep affinity for the team) – "I've always been fond of our team. I think what I like about this team is they are tough, they play hard and when we ask them to do things they respond. They are a very coachable group of guys. There's a mixture of young and older guys that have been around here for a long time. When you see it all come together and they have success, as a teacher or a coach, that's where you get your joy."
(On how much uncertainty affects goes into preparing for the Redskins with RGIII status up in the air) – "We have to prepare for their offense. They have some elements of option football. They have elements of drop back pass. They are an off tackle zone running team. They do have their wrinkles. We have to prepare for that. We cannot stop the preparation worrying about who's going to play. I'm sure there are elements of drop back football and option game that both the quarterbacks that might play can execute. We have to get ready for that."
(On if he ever thinks what if) – "Nope. I'll finish your question for you, nope. You don't do that. You cannot do that. You just keep going forward. I don't know some coaches might. I do not play the "what if" game. I don't, I just keep going that way."
(On what he has learned about himself in coaching and putting his players in position to win these games) – "I don't know. I think we all get better when we do things longer and longer. We always want to out our players in the best possible position to do their job. That's the things that we keep searching for. We try to manage the game the best we can to give them the best chance to win. I think the longer I do it, the longer this group of coaches who've done an outstanding job. I sit up here and talk about it, but these guys behind the scenes are outstanding teachers and terrific men and our players respond well to them. I guess as we all work together we operate smoother. I think that's what I'm learning."
(On if there is one thing in particular he has noticed over the past five or six weeks about him) – "These games are never over until they're over. I think that's important. I never felt at any time yesterday that thing was over until we finally took a knee."
(On the refs calling a penalty on #46 yesterday even though that number has been retired) – "It's funny you say that because I used that line yesterday. I said '46?' because I knew it was retired. I said, 'That number is retired.' Well, 'It was the receiver running in.' That's how they said it. There is really some interesting conversation that goes on as you might expect, but everybody's trying to get it right. Numbers flash and they see bodies. Officials are really trained to watch a certain position and what that position does. When they see a guy run in there and do what they think they saw him do, then they kind of look in the pile. That happens a lot where the numbers are not quite right and then we go back and look and it wasn't 76 it was 66. That happens. The fact that the number was retired was kind of a funny thing though."
(On how different the Redskins offense and is it any more difficult to prepare for) – "No, it's a little bit more difficult. It comes back to the skill and ability of the quarterback that you're playing with. You can group in a Colin Kaepernick and an RGIII, a Cam Newton. Those style of quarterbacks that are just off the charts outstanding athletes that can carry the football and so then they add these elements of the option game. They can be very effective."
(On if he thought RGIII could be as successful as he has been this season and why) – "There was no doubt in my mind he would be a success in this league. There was no doubt. It doesn't surprise me the success he's having. I credit their coaching staff because they've incorporated things in their offense that utilize his skill and ability. I think that's smart."
(On if it helps that Jabaal Sheard played against a lot of option teams in college) – "Coaches and players, you've got to go back on what you know about option football. We've got a wealth of knowledge there. Anybody that's played against it and has a feel for it, it will help them."
(On if there was any concern about Trent Richardson's average per rush yesterday) – "No, I don't worry about that. Not at all. Trent banged it up in there and I thought he had a productive game and helped us win."
(On what the reaction by fans has been towards him when he sees them out around town) – "I don't know. I guess you can say it's been varied. I would say typically though, what somebody might say without their name attached to it, is not what I hear when I see somebody in person. Most people just keep working, keep grinding. That's more or less the message I hear. But you're quite right, I don't get much. That's a good question. I'll keep a little notebook I guess."
(On if Weeden will have a little more fuel added to his fire this week going up against RGIII) – "Yeah, you know what? I think it's natural to compare the numbers of the quarterbacks that play against one another. That's natural. I'm sure we'll all do that to some degree. Unless something's goofy, they'll never be on the field together. And at the end of the day, the one that has played the best is probably the one whose team wins."