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Transcript from news conference with Browns coach Pat Shurmur

By Nate Ulrich Published: December 1, 2011

Browns coach Pat Shurmur met with reporters today. Here's a transcript from the news conference:

(Opening statement)- “In terms of practice today, Quinton Spears and T.J. Ward will be the only two players that are out.  The rest of the guys will either practice fully or be limited in some fashion so hopefully that’ll help you.  Montario (Hardesty), of course, will do more than he did yesterday since he was out.  We’ll just see how much he can do as we get ready.”

(On if he’s had a chance to talk to Joshua Cribbs)- “I do talk to him quite frequently.”

(On if Cribbs aired any frustrations to him)- “I don’t have a problem with guys feeling that way.  From what I’ve heard, Neal (Gulkis) keeps me updated on things, he was basically just talking about how he feels.  That he wants to win and that’s okay.”

(On if he felt Peyton Hillis might not have been 100% on Sunday and if Hillis had the same burst that he has seen earlier in the year)- “I’m getting use to seeing him out there playing again, but I felt like he was at full speed or game speed.  It looked like he was competing at game speed.”

(On if Hillis looked OK practicing yesterday)- “He looked great yesterday in practice. My conversations with him, he’s told me that he feels fine.”

(On if his film studies involve looking at the two Browns-Ravens games from last year)- “I’ve watched both of them, yes.”

(On why Hillis had 144 yards in the first game and 35 yards in the second)- “I  think in the first game Peyton had a couple of long runs, that kind of adds up the yardage total and he had a terrific game.  They came back the second game and he didn’t have quite as much success running the football.  There are reasons why and I’ll kind of keep those private, but it had nothing to do with how hard he was running or what the Browns were trying to do.  I thought the Ravens probably executed a little better.”

(On what he learned from the Ravens-49ers game and them stopping Frank Gore)- “It’s obvious to me, when you think about teams you try to stop what they do the best first. The San Francisco 49ers were a team that focuses around scheme runs and a lot of two tight end packed in there pretty tight type runs and different schemes and they went and tried to do that.  Then when they got them throwing the football then they had great success, of course, sacking them.  They had nine sacks.  They played a good game.  They played well and the Niners competed well and it was a tight game.  It was a very tight game and it was always within one score and that’s how the game was played out. I thought they executed well on defense, I’m sure if you ask Jim Harbaugh he would probably say that they wish they would have played a little better and then it might have been different.”

(On if he’s doing anything different with Colt McCoy knowing how good the Ravens pass rush has been)- “No, we’re going through our normal process and the way we try to throw the football.  We have a mixture of drops, we leave the quarterback in the pocket and then we also move him so we’re just going through the normal progression.  I think it’s important he understands where the pressure is coming from.  We can block them all at some point and then there’s times when we release everybody so he’s aware of that.  It’s very important for the quarterback to keep a downfield focus and trust his blockers are going to get them blocked and be very well aware of where the extra guys are coming from.”

(On facing safeties like Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu and how each team uses them)- “They’re both very instinctive.  You can see both guys are very effective either in the deep part of the field going after balls or close to the line of scrimmage in run support or down covering a tight end/back.  They use them in similar ways and they’re both terrific players that play at a high level.  If you put a ball in the wrong spot they’re going to get it and they’re very good against the run.  They use them a lot in the same way.”

(On if he has a concern when players speak out about their role in the locker room)- “I have an open door and I expect if they have an issue they come see me man-to-man about it and that’s the way we handle things here.  I don’t know who exactly you’re referring to that’s just structurally how we do it.”

(On Evan Moore speaking out earlier in the year and Cribbs saying yesterday that he didn’t want to answer questions about his role)- “I don’t know, I didn’t hear the questions so I don’t know what their response should or should not be. I know this, you have guys that want to contribute to winning and his role is heavy on special teams and in the case of Josh, who you just brought up, we use him quite a bit. I think he had the second most reps of the receivers.  I think I mentioned it yesterday, he’s got more catches and more yards at this point in the season than he had all of last year so that’s that. In terms of my process and the way we deal with it, we handle it man-to-man behind closed doors and if I see something then I’ll call him in, if they have an issue then they’ll come see me.”

(On if Cribbs has told him that he’s unhappy with his role)- “No, not at all and we talk all the time.  I don’t think the answer he gave yesterday, based on what I’ve heard from Neal, was that he was that he was unhappy with his role.”

(On Cribbs not answering the question if he was unhappy with his role)- “That’s his choice.  Then his answer or what he talked about, it sounded to me was that he just wants to win.”

(On if he would ever advise a quarterback not to make a tackle after throwing an interception, referring to Jay Cutler’s situation)- “You’re talking about Jay Cutler, that’s an unfortunate situation.  We tell all the players to play to the whistle and then I think it’s important everybody is smart. In the situation of an interception, chaos breaks out and we had a situation earlier in the year where if we would have of tackled, we needed to get him on the ground.  We’re all football players and I think it’s important that we all play to the whistle and finish plays.”

(On if Hillis is healthier than he’s been since September)- “I think he’s healthy.  You’d have to ask him how he feels compared to being in September, but he looked good player yesterday in practice and I thought he competed well in the game last Sunday so I feel like he is.”

(On how he feels about Sheldon Brown over the course of this season)- “I think Sheldon’s had a consistently good year.  He brings leadership to the group, he understands how to play the game and he’s very veteran in the way he approaches not only the preparation, but his performance on Sunday.”

(On Jabaal Sheard not being happy with his performance last week and if he likes seeing that in a player)- “Absolutely, I think that’s terrific. When I guy plays well or has production and they walk away and say I could have played better. I think that’s what you want, I really do and there are a lot of things that happened in the game.  A lot of times it’s not obvious to most and things happen in games so although everybody may say, ‘Boy, he played terrific.’ Real competitors focus on those four to five things that happened where he knows he could maybe have had more of an impact.  I think that’s when you know you’ve got a talented player that gets it and is going to move forward and continue to improve.”

(On what kind of guy John Harbaugh is)- “When I knew John, he was the special teams coach and we had great success on special teams and then for one year he was the secondary coach. That’s how I knew John. He’s very organized, I think he has a view of the big picture and I’m not surprised that he’s having success as a head coach.  I think he has the general characteristics of guys that I’ve seen been successful in this league.  He communicates well, his messages are clear and he has a good feel of what he wants from his team and I think those are three starting points.”

(On what part of Joe Flacco’s game has gotten better)- “I think he plays well.   When you talk about a quarterback in this league they’re all very talented.  I think what Joe does is he plays well within their scheme.  He executes what they do well and I think that’s an important attribute for a quarterback.  He’s tall, he’s got a very strong arm, they finds ways to throw the ball outside the numbers, now he has a speedster on the outside that they try to get over the top of the defense and then he’s got other very efficient receivers that work either underneath or part of some combination.  I think he’s doing a terrific job and I think he’s a top flight quarterback. He’s won a lot of games and that’s the mark of a quarterback, get your team in the end zone and win games.”

(On if anyone is better than Ray Rice as a running back and pass catcher)- “He’s playing at a high level. He, obviously, can run the ball extremely well and he does do a good job of catching it.  I don’t know if there’s anybody better, I really wasn’t prepared to come in and line them up for you, but I know he’s terrific.”

(On if a right end emerged yesterday at practice)- “No, because we had some guys in there limited. Jayme (Mitchell) will be out there in practice a little bit more today and then we’ll have Auston English and (Brian) Schaefering was out there playing so we’re going to try and get that sorted out before the end of the week.”

(On if his play calling changes when he knows he’s facing a great pass rush)- “You’ll go into the game knowing this is a certain guy you need to block, this is a certain guy that you don’t want to wreck the game.  The challenge for them is they’ve got about three or four of them up front and I think it’s important that we just go in and we have to do what we do and do it well.  I think our offensive line has found ways in the last three weeks to get a lot of good stuff done and then with that within the system and the scheme just go out and execute.”

(On if the Ravens’ pass rush has to do with how gifted they are athletically or if it’s more scheme)- “They’re like any team.  They have scheme, there’s things that they try to do to free up a rusher. When you have a none-on-one, when you don’t have a blocker for a guy then he should get home or he shouldn’t be playing in this league and that’s what scheme gets you.  The other part of it is and every defensive coordinator would agree with this, if I could play some form of a conservative coverage and get pressure on you with four guys then that is ideal.  Then you don’t have to use as much scheme and I think that’s what they do a good job of as well.  When they pin their ears back and come after you, they do a good job there.  That makes for a team that’s going to generate pass rush.”

(On if having Hillis back helps not only the running game, but the whole offense)- “I still think we’re getting better and becoming more efficient regardless of who the back is, but when you have a top flight running back in there and I think Obi (Chris Ogbonnaya) played in top flight way the last few weeks.  But, when you have a top flight back in there, when you hand him the ball and he’s carving out yards, your second down, third down calls tend to be a little bit easier then when they start to think you may not run it quite as much so I think that’s what he gives you.  I’ve always felt like a solid running game is the quarterback’s best friend.  I love to run the football.  If we could run it and gain yards every play and score lots of points, I’d run it every down if that were the case.  Obviously, I’m making light of it because it’s important you throw the ball efficiently as well.  I think they go hand-in-hand.”

(On if knowing he will have Hillis back helps in preparation)- “I think it gives him an edge because of his preparation.  He came into this week kind of knowing he was involved, not that he didn’t prepare last week, but there’s that getting my body right and ready phase that he’s still working on of course, but it probably helps him with the details of his preparation.  Anytime the guys can all work together for a longer period of time, which is throughout the week, I think it helps you.  It at least gives you the best chance to be efficient on Sunday.”

(On the distractions with Hillis earlier in the year)- “We’re getting ready to play the Ravens.  I hope so. Were they distractions?  I don’t know.  Again, I’m not making light of it, we just keep plowing ahead.  What is it December 1?  We’ve got about three days until we play the Ravens and that’s where we’re at and we just keep plowing ahead. Peyton Hillis will be part of the game.”

(On the reports from a while ago that the team leaders talked to Hillis and that being a distraction)- “Teams work through things.  Everybody does a very good job of finding out what happens, but there’s a lot of things that happen that nobody knows about beyond the team so that were just something that came to light.  We’re moving forward and I’m hoping all that’s behind us.  I’m hoping as we move forward that everybody that we don’t play in the game is a healthy scratch and we’re moving forward in an aggressive way to play that next opponent.”

(On if it’s too simplistic to say the offense is better now because of the running game improving recently)- “Like I mentioned, it’s all tied together.  When you’re a team that can run the football and once again, when no matter what you call your style of offense, in the years that I’ve been around good winning football in our system, you’ve been good running the football as well as throwing it and I think that’s important.  Regardless of who you’re handing the ball to, you’ve got to find a way to be good at running the football.  Whether you’re a team that’s going to line up in the ‘I’ and run power O or you’re going to be a one-back team and run off-tackle or you’re going to scheme every run against a perfect look, you’ve got find a way to carve out yardage running the football.  Some teams you play it’s tougher than others, but you’ve got to make an attempt to do it because there is just so much that comes off of that.”

(On lining Hillis up at the fullback spot)- “We’ve got that, we call it Pony, two halfbacks.  We have that in there.  That’s been a part of our plan since training camp.  Then again, you try to utilize it in a way that best suits their skill set.  We were backed up on the one yard line and we put him at fullback and handed him the ball.”

(On if he can give three examples of things that the offense can build on)- “Three examples?  I’ve got to prepare for these better (joking).  I think what you’re looking for is you’re looking for general efficiency and I’ve seen that. That comes after guys have run the same routes over and over and over and over.  Targets has become a buzz word now this week.  What happens is you run plays over and over and over and the ball could go to one, two, three or four and if it gets all the way to four well he wasn’t the guy we were initially targeting, but that’s efficiency throwing the football.  Efficiency running the football, getting a hat on a hat and if there’s an extra one the back makes him miss.  It’s about making an effort to score points and we scored more points last week, which was good.  Then all the other key factors to offense, turnovers, eliminating penalties.  Some of those things I think get lost a little bit because what you’re trying to do is score points and win.”

(On if Scott Paxson is in the mix to play defensive end)- “He plays inside primarily, but all those guys in the game when it all starts, you get a guy in and they can play out there in a limited role, all eight of those guys if they have to.  I don’t think you’ll see Phil Taylor out at defensive end, but for the most part most of them can jump out if they have to.”

(On if Emmanuel Stephens needs surgery)- “At this point, no.”

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