BEREA: Browns coach Pat Shurmur probably won’t have a panic attack and quit during the season. Been there, done that, three predecessors ago.
But it wouldn’t seem a stretch considering the way Shurmur acts on game days, on days after game days and sometimes on Fridays, when he hates talking because he has nothing left to say.
At times this season, Shurmur has been snippy, rude and has shown disdain for questions that involve second-guessing, especially follow-ups that involve second-guessing. And there’s no subject that riles him more than injuries, except perhaps Trent Richardson’s newborn son.
No Browns coach since Bill Belichick has been so adversarial with the media. Not only does it reflect poorly on Shurmur, but it opens questions on why President Mike Holmgren hasn’t pulled him aside and given him a little public relations lesson.
Of late, Shurmur has seemed hellbent on making it easy for incoming owner Jimmy Haslam III to fire him.
But those who think the second-year coach is melting down under the pressure of an 0-5 season, a franchise record-tying 11-game losing streak and the impending arrival of Haslam are missing the point.
Shurmur hasn’t changed his stripes. He’s probably worn his heart on his sleeve since he grew out of onesies.
He’s an ultra-competitive guy who is still red-faced after games and liable to say anything.
At least since January, and perhaps even last year, he’s gotten up early to read what’s being written about the Browns. He’s complained not only about blogs and newspaper stories and columns, but a few weeks ago he sent a text message to a beat writer at 7 a.m. about a web headline.
This is not a new practice in Berea. Former Browns public relations director Kevin Byrne used to print out stories and highlight the bad parts for Belichick, who often made angry phone calls to reporters. I received one in 1995 during the “Bill Must Go” furor.
The uproar over Sunday’s game-changing third-and-1 pass by Brandon Weeden that was intercepted in the 41-27 loss to the New York Giants put Shurmur in the spotlight again. It didn’t help that he seemed irritated as he fumbled to explain his logic.
That came on the heels of Friday’s Richardson debacle, when Shurmur couldn’t handle repeated questions on why the new father wasn’t at practice. As Shurmur walked away he yelled a few curse words, born out of frustration and not directed at anyone.
With the Browns preparing to host the Bengals Sunday, Shurmur’s “chippy” attitude with the media came up during a conference call Wednesday with Cincinnati reporters.
“I don’t know about ‘chippy,’ ” he said. “That may be one person’s opinion. I try to answer the questions. I try to be honest and upfront about my thoughts and opinions. At the heart of it, I’m trying to make all the decisions based on what’s best for our team. I do think it is fair to say that I’m very competitive.”
Shurmur told the Browns press corps he thinks he handles criticism “fine.”
“How it’s perceived, I can’t control that,” he said. “Based on the way some of the questions come out, I can tell what direction it’s going to go. I do know this — anytime we do something in a game and it does not work, then we’re open to it. I’m at peace with that. When things work very well and we win games, then we’ll talk about other issues.”
On Wednesday, Shurmur made overtures of appeasement. He approached one media member on the issue of his thin skin, which he stunningly doesn’t believe he has. He told another he’s doing better than people think. He offered Gatorade gummies after practice.
It was not the first time Shurmur had showed another side of himself. He has been known to stop into the media room to offer updates. Positive emails on stories he likes have been sent on his behalf.
Shurmur is an emotional man, which in most cases might not be considered a negative. But with his team poised to set a franchise record for futility, his competitive fire manifested by a hot temper only adds to an already raging conflagration.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the her blog at http://www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.