A positive attitude being spread by first-year head coach Pat Shurmur is getting a strong endorsement in the locker room from the players left over from other coaching regimes.
Third-year center Alex Mack, a first-round draft choice in 2009, says one of the biggest differences is in the meeting room. The Browns are 1-1 for the first time since 2007 heading into their game against the Dolphins on Sunday in Cleveland Browns Stadium. Mack gives his new coach the credit.
Mack says those meetings under Shurmur are much different than they were under former coach Eric Mangini.
For one thing, Shurmur has instructed his assistants to review the game with the segment of the team each coaches; George Warhop meets with the offensive linemen, Mark Whipple meets with the quarterbacks, Jerome Henderson meets with the defensive backs, etc.
Mangini preferred to gather the team as a whole for the review. It is a method that works well for Patriots coach Bill Belichick - Mangini's former mentor in Cleveland and New England.
"It's not acceptable to make mistakes (under Shurmur), but it's - tolerable is the wrong word - a learning experience more than a lynching experience," Mack said. "We had a lot of team corrections (the last two years). The theory behind it was as a team you'd see where people made mistakes and hold everyone accountable.
"On the same hand, other guys don't know what you're coached. If you keep it in your own meeting group and get it aired out, that's better. Everyone knows you. But to have a DB get beat and have the coach yell at him - I don't know how to cover anyone and I don't need to know. It's hard for him to get embarrassed in front of the whole team. If it's just your group of core guys and they know how good the receiver is, it's easier to bear."
Mack said another advantage of spending more time with position coaches as the Browns do now is the coach can be more detailed when pointing out corrections. He said more gets accomplished. It is especially important now with practice time being limited because of the new CBA.
As happy as players are to be talking about beating the Colts, those in the locker room Wednesday were quick to say no one at 76 Lou Groza Blvd. thinks the Browns are the kings of the hill just because they are 1-1. Nor are they taking the 0-2 Dolphins lightly. The Dolphins were beaten by the Patriots and Texans. Both are undefeated.
"We have plenty of room to improve," tight end Alex Smith said. "We're a young team. There's always something to be fixed. As long as we have that attitude of not being satisfied, we'll be all right. Everybody in this room thinks we should be 2-0, but we're not. We can't just count on a win; we have to go out there and get it."