Browns coach Pat Shurmur met with reporters this afternoon to discuss the team's 27-17 season-opening loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Here are some highlights from his chat with reporters:
Shurmur recapped what he saw on film when the Bengals caught the Browns off-guard by snapping the ball before Cleveland's defense had lined up. With the defense caught off-guard, quarterback Bruce Gradkowski threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver A.J. Green, who was left uncovered on the perimeter. The touchdown gave the Bengals the lead with 4:28 left in the fourth quarter, and they never trailed again. "There was a quick huddle and they got to the line of scrimmage and then the ball got snapped," Shurmur said. "Now here's the deal: There's no excuses. If they no huddle or they quick huddle, we've gotta cover down. We've gotta get out there and cover down. If that doesn't happen properly, let's try to blow it dead, call a timeout. It got snapped so quickly that we couldn't really get it 'cause you're initially trying to get everybody where they need to be. It's something we'll work on, and we'll make sure that never happens again. We just didn't get it executed. ... They changed personnel, but like I said, there's no excuses. We've gotta make sure we match. Regardless of what happens, when they line up with two wideouts out there, we've gotta cover down. I don't care if we're all standing in the middle holding hands. Somebody's gotta go cover those guys. We practice it. They know it, and it's a hard lesson to learn."
Meanwhile, the Browns had 12 men on the field during the quick-snap play. Cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who was in and out of the game with a sprained right ankle that he suffered during training camp, re-entered the game without telling defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson. Without knowing Patterson was back on the field, Henderson told rookie cornerback Buster Skrine to enter the action. Patterson and Skrine should not have been on the field at the same time, Shurmur said. "Yeah, we were substituting because they were substituting, and it happened real quickly," Shurmur said. "So we were in the process of getting them spread out and one of the guys out (of the game)."
Of course, the Browns could have prevented this whole mess by calling a timeout, so they could gather themselves. So who is supposed to call timeout in that situation? "Me, we have defensive coaches on the field that are watching the substitutions, so we can call it from the sideline," Shurmur said. "The middle linebacker, somebody on the field, if they see it, can call timeout. So we need to emphasize the fact that if we have that happen, let's just get ourselves settled. We've talked about it. We've coached it. Like is the case with a lot of things, when you have a young team, it's gotta be re-emphasized."
Patterson said the Bengals didn't violate any rules on the quick-snap play. After all, both teams made substitutions before the play, but the Browns were unorganized while trying to make theirs. "They huddled for a quick second, got lined up (and) they just caught us sleeping," Patterson said. "That's all it was. Fair play. Fair play."
Shurmur declined to say whether he plans to ask the league to review the play.
Shurmur said it's important for the team to rebound from the gaffe and focus on their game Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. "The easiest thing to do is get discouraged," Shurmur said. "You don't do that. And it's also easy to just come in and just start hollering and screaming and throwing furniture. And you don't do that, either. That's the easy thing to do. The important thing is for the guys to understand their mistakes and then talk about specifically how you're gonna correct them, and then you go to work (on) beating the next opponent."
Offensive lineman Tony Pashos could remained sidelined with a sore left foot against the Colts. "There's a chance he may not play this week," Shurmur said.
The lackluster performance of punter Richmond McGee is being examined by the coaching staff. Shurmur said a decision will be made soon. "I wouldn't say he's lost his job right now, but we're evaluating it," Shurmur said.
Rookie Jason Pinkston started at left guard and played well, Shurmur said. Skrine, rookie defensive tackle Phil Taylor, linebacker D'Qwell Jackson and center Alex Mack also had solid performances, Shurmur said.