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Browns coach Pat Shurmur made his first public appearance in Akron on Monday night, when he spoke during the Akron Browns Backers banquet at Tangier restaurant.
Before he made his speech and took questions from the audience, Shurmur met with reporters. Here is a transcript of Shurmur's conversation with reporters:
On what coaches are doing during NFL's lockout: "I wouldn’t say it’s business as usual, but I would say we’re very busy. To be a new staff, there’s plenty to prepare for getting ready for the season. We’re working on making sure our systems are in place. We’re kind of trying to cross all the t's and dot our i's and make sure that when the players come back and we get a chance to work with them, we’re up and running at full speed."
On some of the Browns' players organizing their own workouts: "I think it’s terrific. Some of our players have obviously taken leadership roles in making sure the guys get together, some of our key players, and I think that’s a good thing. They work out a lot of times by themselves, so injury isn’t a big concern. They know how to take care of themselves. They’re all professionals. I think the type of workouts that they’re doing will be a way for them to get in shape and not get injured."
On if the workouts are about building camaraderie as much as anything else: "Well, when you talk about a quarterback working with receivers, it’s about timing and execution. So it’s getting used to one another, the depth that the routes are being run, the timing that the quarterback is throwing it with. All those things are very important, and they can do some of that stuff on their own."
On what the players can do to learn the West Coast offense without coaching: "I think they have a feel for some of the concepts that we’re gonna run, and they’ve been given some information so that they can decipher what we’re looking to teach when they get here."
On what quarterback Colt McCoy has shown as a leader during lockout: "We know what we read because we haven’t been able to communicate (with the players). From what I’ve seen, he’s really done a good job of trying to get the players together, work out and really do as much as we can do until we get them back into (the team's headquarters in) Berea."
On the lockout being frustrating: "I wouldn't say I'm tearing my hair out. I mentioned earlier there's plenty to do. When you're a new staff, when you're trying to get your systems up and running, there's plenty to do, so we're using that time to just make sure that what we're doing is right, so when the players come back to town we'll get it going.''
On if he was temped to drive by Baldwin-Wallace College when McCoy and Co. worked out there last week: "Tempted, but we made a decision we're going to follow the rules, so it was not something that we wanted to jeopardize getting ourselves in trouble.''
On tight end Jordan Cameron participating in the recent players-only workouts: "I think that's great. That tells me that Colt and some of the other guys have reached out to our new draft picks, who they really don't know yet. So I think that's a good thing.''
On plans for free agency once the lockout is lifted: "We know the players we might go after. It really wouldn't make sense for me to talk about that right now. We can't until we get the go ahead. I think you will see there are some guys we're going to target."
On his confidence that the Browns can catch up despite the labor dispute: "I'm confident, and maybe it's my young enthusiasm. But I really feel good about what we're going to teach, and I really feel great about the guys we have, the coaches that are going to teach it. And from what I've learned about the players that were on this team, there's a lot of guys willing to learn that are going to pick it up fast."
On the news that 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the lockout should remain in place at least until early June, when a full appeal is scheduled to be heard: "We learned the news before driving down here. I guess what it means is that there will be a stay at least until there is a hearing in June. We'll just deal with it. And I think when we're up and running, we'll get it done."
On how he would feel if his players met for another training session during the lockout: "I think it' great. Obviously, I can't direct them. But I think it's great that they're getting together and I'm glad that they are."
On if it's encouraging to hear report of Browns wide receiver Josh Cribbs watching film to imitate routes ran by St. Louis Rams players while Shurmur was their offensive coordinator: "I think so. The players are curious about what (our new offense is) going to look like, so they go back and look at the place you've been. The players are sports fans. They're fans of the other teams. They know a lot of the players so they communicate behind the scenes quite a bit, and I'm sure that's what's happening."
On if he thinks the Browns, who will use new systems on offense and defense, are hurt by the lockout more than other teams: "I don't. What I see is 32 teams playing on a level playing field. Every team is new every year. There’s some established teams that are teaching new systems. There’s established teams that may be breaking in new quarterbacks. Just speaking about offense, and the same thing on defense. So every team, even if you’re an established team, somewhat recreates itself each year. There’s going to be learning for everybody."
On if the lockout has given him a chance to get to know his assistant coaches better than he would have during a normal offseason: "It has. We all had a list of things as coaches that you would like to do if you had time to do them, and then you never had time in the offseason. So we’re working on those lists, and some of it has to do with getting to know each other."
On if Browns President Mike Holmgren is staying busy: "Absolutely. he’s as busy as the rest of us. There’s a lot to do to run a team, as we might all know."
On if he has heard comments from Browns fans since being hired: "It’s a fun thing for me to see such a passionate fan base. Everywhere we go, there’s such passion for the Browns, and it’s really exciting to be the new coach."
Here are some of the highlights from Shurmur's time in front of the crowd:
After being introduced by former Browns coach Sam Rutigliano, Shurmur stressed the importance of developing a quarterback. In recent months, Shurmur, Holmgren and General Manager Tom Heckert have all voiced their commitment to McCoy. "Coach (Rutigliano) mentioned it's a quarterback-driven league. It is. And the key to that is to pick one and work with him. Pick the one that you think is going to lead your team, and that's one of the key pieces to winning football in this league.
Shurmur said he views Holmgren's presence as an invaluable asset. "Whether you're young or old, whether you're experienced or not, to have the resources in the building that I do ... I'm a very lucky man. And I'm smart enough to know that I'm gonna listen. I've got some very strong ways of thinking. I've got some very firm ideas of what I want our team to look like. But to be able to walk down the hall and ask a soon-to-be Hall of Fame coach what he thinks about what I'm thinking, it's a terrific resource, and I think that's good for the Cleveland Browns."
Shurmur rattled off some fast facts about the wide reach of the Browns Backers. "The pride that's associated with being a member of the Cleveland Browns or a fan of our team, it's infectious, it's intoxicating and I'm glad to be a part of it."
Shurmur said he has been humbled by the Browns and their fan base. "We have huge responsibility to represent you well, put a great product on the field and win games. And I can guarantee you this: The people over on Lou Groza (Boulevard) get it, understand it and we realize our responsibility. So we're gonna do whatever it takes to make you very, very proud of your Cleveland Browns."
Following his monologue, Shurmur asked if anyone in the crowd had any questions. One fan asked Shurmur if he will smile on the sidelines. "When we win, I'll smile," Shurmur said.
Later during his question-and-answer session, Shurmur reiterated what he has said before about the Browns' plans for free agency once the lockout is lifted, rules are established and transactions are allowed. He said the Browns will "aggressively pursue" the free agents whom they have targeted, but he avoided specifics beyond that.