Coach Pat Shurmur said today he talked to rookie running back Trent Richardson about his criticism of the play calling after the Browns’ 38-21 loss to the Washington Redskins.
In his postgame interview Sunday evening, Richardson said the offense strayed from the game plan in the second half. Richardson had only two carries after halftime.
“I asked him what he meant by what he said,” Shurmur said. “I said it’s very important that when we’re all in a state of being disappointed that we lost that we keep our focus on, No. 1, regrouping and getting ready to play the next game."
Richardson wasn’t shy about venting his frustration in the locker room after the game.
“I think we’ve just got a game plan, and the game plan we had at the beginning of the game, I think we should’ve stuck with it,” said Richardson, who finished with 11 carries for 28 yards (2.5 average) and two touchdowns. “But we didn’t stick with the game plan, and we tried to do some other stuff, and the outcome came in a different way.
“I think in the game plan early, we were going to do a lot of inside zone game planning. And we were going to just go off a couple of the draws, and we were just going to do some play-action stuff. And when we did do it, it worked. So we got away from it, and the outcome comes as an L. … After the first four runs, I thought it was going to be a good day for the run game. Like I said, we went the other way, and that’s something I can’t control.”
Before revealing he talked to Richardson, Shurmur said he didn’t understand the comments.
“I don’t know what he meant by that, but we would like to be able to run the football consistently throughout on first, second and third down and involve him as a runner running the football,” Shurmur said. “But at some point there in the game, the score stretched out a little bit. We were having success throwing the ball a little bit and then we hurt ourselves with interceptions.”
Richardson said it was “shocking” that he had only two carries in the final two quarters. Shurmur explained his reason for Richardson’s lack of carries after halftime.
“They were doing a pretty good job of defending the run on first down, so we tried to throw the football on first down,” Shurmur said. “Now when you don’t have success throwing the ball on first down, then you get a little bit behind. And then part of the problem is we only had  plays on offense, which it doesn’t allow you to do all the things you want to do when you have that few plays.”
In the past two games, Richardson has averaged fewer than 3 yards per carry – 2.5 against the Redskins and 2.3 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Shurmur, though, said he’s not disappointed with Richardson and alluded to the rib injury he’s been playing through since he suffered it Oct. 14.
“I’m not upset with him,” Shurmur said. “Here’s a rookie grinding through and NFL season. He’s far less than 100 percent [healthy]. I think we handed him the ball twice yesterday and he scored touchdowns. He’s getting in the end zone. He’s one of our leading receivers, and he’s got a lot on his plate and he’s battling. Now would I agree that yards per rush should be better? Yeah, but I’m not disappointed. And I think as time goes on, I think you’ll see him develop a running style whatever it might be. I think there are times when just like a quarterback can have a bad decision or somebody can miss an assignment, I think there are some runs that could be better. But I just think that’s part of playing the game.”
Backup QB not considered
Shurmur said he did not consider benching rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden as he struggled against the Redskins. Weeden failed to find a rhythm for the vast majority of the game and threw two interceptions in the third quarter that led to touchdowns for the Redskins.
“I’m not saying you never go to your backup quarterback,” Shurmur said. “But I didn't consider it yesterday.”
Shurmur said he's looking forward to Weeden rebounding Sunday when the Browns (5-9) visit the Denver Broncos (11-3). He doesn’t believe Weeden, 29, is too old to develop.
“No, I don’t think that’s the case,” Shurmur said. “I think of him as a rookie, and I think he’ll be much better in his second year.”
Shurmur said he had no injury updates on strong safety T.J. Ward (knee) and defensive end Frostee Rucker (groin). … Shurmur said the Browns’ locker room is good, so he’s not worried that motivation will be a problem in the final two games for a team whose playoff hopes have been dashed and whose three-game winning streak has been snapped.