Browns coach Pat Shurmur met with reporters today to review the 2011 season, his first as a head coach at any level. The Browns finished with a record of 4-12 and own two first-round picks in this year’s draft, including the fourth overall selection. Here are some of the highlights from the 40-minute news conference:
• Shurmur confirmed something President Mike Holmgren suggested during a news conference in October: The Browns will hire an offensive coordinator. “He may come from the staff, he may come from outside the building,” Shurmur said. “I want to hire the best coordinator I can, and that’s the goal. I went into the season knowing that we were going to do it at this time.”
• Shurmur didn’t rule out the possibility of forfeiting his play-calling duties. “I think it’s important that I get the best coordinator I can for us,” Shurmur said. “I think that’s one of the details that’ll get worked out as we go through the process. … Calling plays, that’s a fun thing for all of us to do, and I want to get the best guy I can. And if he’s outstanding at calling plays, listen, I want to win games, and so I’m gonna get the guys in there that are gonna help us do that.”
• Shurmur said he knows former Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress very well, worked with him for a long time and thinks he’s a terrific coach. But Shurmur said he’ll keep his list of offensive coordinator candidates private.
• What’s the Browns’ timetable for hiring an offensive coordinator? “We’re gonna work quickly, but I’m not gonna be hasty,” Shurmur said. “I want to get the right guy.”
• Does the new offensive coordinator need to have experience in the West Coast offense? “I’m trying to find the best guy, so a guy that speaks our language so to speak might have a little bit of a leg up,” Shurmur said.
• Shurmur joked he might get more sleep with an offensive coordinator on his staff. “More than anything, I think what it will do is allow me to just step back and look down on some things and some areas that I may to be able to contribute more,” Shurmur said. “I think that’s a key piece. Keep in mind this: As the head coach of this team, I want to direct a team that’s winning games. Now I have a general philosophy of how that works, and you tweak it to do what fits best based on those principles to win games. I think that’s just natural that you have an offensive coordinator.”
• Shurmur said at this point he doesn’t plan to make any other changes to his coaching staff.
• When asked if Colt McCoy will enter next season as the Browns’ starting quarterback, Shurmur did not commit to McCoy. “As we go forward with Colt, I feel like he’s done some really good things,” Shurmur said. “Get him back healthy, get him in an offseason where he has a chance to develop. I would say this, at all positions maybe other than at left tackle with Joe Thomas and one of the corners with Joe Haden, I expect there’s going to be some competition. I expect Colt will improve, just as I expect (quarterback) Seneca (Wallace) will improve and whoever the quarterbacks are here. That can be said for all positions. The best quarterback will play when we start the season.”
• Shurmur said McCoy improved throughout his second NFL season. “The game starts in the huddle with the play-call, being able to direct things, get guys lined up,” Shurmur said. “I saw him become more efficient on some of the basic progressions. I saw him make some better plays outside the pocket later in the year better than he did earlier in the year. Leadership, being able to get guys lined up properly.”
• Shurmur said McCoy’s throws aren’t a problem. “I don’t have a problem with the way Colt throws the ball,” Shurmur said. “I think he throws the ball well enough. There’s so much more that goes into playing quarterback than just pure arm strength. I think you’ve seen through the years examples of guys that No. 1 have had extremely strong arms and couldn’t succeed and guys who have been very efficient and had not very strong arms and have won a lot of games.”
• Shurmur said the comments of McCoy’s father, Brad McCoy, won’t affect Colt McCoy’s future with the Browns. In an interview with Cleveland.com, Brad McCoy was critical of the Browns for allowing his son to re-enter the game Dec. 8 against the Pittsburgh Steelers after he suffered a concussion. “Absolutely none,” Shurmur said. “I addressed that the first day. I understand why. We had a conversation after it, and I’m sure Colt’s talked to his dad. That has nothing to do with Colt as we move forward.”
• Shurmur declined to discuss future draft picks.
• Shurmur declined to answer whether the Browns want to re-sign running back Peyton Hillis. “Peyton and I had a great conversation yesterday,” Shurmur said. “I’ll tell you what, all-star player who was dealing with injury early in the middle part of the year and then came back, and gosh, I really like what he did at the end of the season. But that’s one of those questions I really can’t answer at this point.”
• Shurmur said he has a strong appreciation for wide receiver and return man Josh Cribbs, and Cribbs will be back next season.
• What was different about being a head coach than what Shurmur envisioned? “I think I had a decent idea of what it was gonna be like, and I kind of knew going into it that every move you make, every word you say is pretty well scrutinized, every facial gesture at a game,” Shurmur said. “I think I was ready for that, but until you go through it, I think what I’ve learned is that you’re always out front.”
• Shurmur said he met with several of his players Monday. “There was some optimism yesterday amongst the players, and I can’t put my finger on it,” Shurmur said. “The ones I talked to (were) talking about how close we are (to succeeding). I heard a lot of guys walking out of the building looking forward to the offseason and improving, and I think that’s good. That’s the challenge, so there’s a lot gonna be going on.”
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