BEREA, Ohio—When there's talk about the Browns, there's usually talk about the quarterback.
It's no different this season.
Colt McCoy is being scrutinized as to whether he has what it takes to be the team's franchise quarterback moving forward. Pat Shurmur said he is treating McCoy as if this is his rookie year as he plays in a new system with a new coaching staff.
"(Colt) needs to get better," Shurmur said. "It's fundamentals. It's learning to make all the throws. I don't think this young man lacks any confidence.
"Colt's doing fine," he said. "He's coping with wins and losses like I would expect a young quarterback, who is learning and developing."
Through five games, McCoy is 121-of-217 for 1199 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. His QB rating is 78.1. One of the most alarming stats is that his completion percentage is just 55.8. He came out of Texas with a career percentage of over 70 percent and his accuracy was his calling card.
"It's important we get completions whether we're throwing the ball down field or not," Shurmur said.
Shurmur admitted that the West Coast offense is predicated on the play of the quarterback. McCoy and the offense have played poorly in the first and third quarters and then picked things up in the second and fourth quarters—at last in points scored.
"I just saw a stat that we've been outscored 34-3 in the first quarter," McCoy said. "That's not the way it's supposed to work."
Besides having been outscored 34-3 in the first quarter, they have outscored their opponents 45-33 in the second quarter.
The third quarter they've been outscored 26-6 and then in the fourth quarter they've outscored their opponents, 37-24.
"For the offense to be effective, the quarterback needs to play well," Shurmur said. "We just need to start every game in the second quarter. We've talked about it and I'm aware of the numbers. We just need to start faster."
There are many variables as to the play of the quarterback. The line suffered a big blow early when left guard Eric Steinbach was lost for the season after having back surgery. The offensive line has one true rookie (left guard Todd Pinkston) starting and one who didn't play until this season in Shawn Lauvao at right guard. McCoy has only been sacked eight times, but he has been hit hard and knocked down many more times. He was knocked down six times by the Raiders.
"(The offensive line) unit is like having two rookies on the defensive line," Shurmur said. "(The guards) have to get better. I think it's fair to say that those guys have made incremental improvement. We feel the guys we have in there have a chance to be good players. It's fun to work with those guys."
Right tackle Tony Pashos has played the past two games after missing the first three games with a high ankle sprain. Shurmur said that Pashos has still been limited a bit in his work at practice.
"He's been steady," Shurmur said. "He doesn't get to have a full week of practice because of his foot."
The receivers, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends have dropped some passes and haven't been able to break big plays. Shurmur said the Browns threw deep last week and will continue to do so.
"I think it's important we get some completions," Shurmur said. "There are reasons the ball goes downfield. We took a couple of shots and that will always be a part of what we do."
All in all, Shurmur said it's more than just the quarterback, but he is the guy who becomes the lightning rod when the offense doesn't work.
"It's general efficiency," Shurmur said. "The offense is seen through the eyes of the quarterback. You can't drop passes and you need to execute. Time permitting, I could go through and show you all the mistakes we've made."
Shurmur said that teams might continue to play zone coverage against the Browns, as the Raiders did.
"This is a copy cat league and teams will continue to do things that work."
McCoy has been criticized for not picking up blitzes, but he said that's not the case.
"We've seen a lot of pressure this year," he said. "That's what happens when your offense is inconsistent. They're going to keep coming after you.
"We're seeing a lot of pressure and will continue to until we find our rhythm," he said. "We have to make plays to beat the blitz and we have to be able to run the ball."
The Browns have employed the no huddle with some success and Shurmur was asked if he would consider using it more.
"I think so," he said. "I think so. That works for teams. We did it in St. Louis and it works for some."
McCoy said the Browns have had some success in the no huddle.
"Sometimes, our best offense has been in the two minute drill," he said. "We've done a pretty good job. We just have to find a way and do what our offense needs to do to win games."
McCoy said that as a team collectively, they are working hard together as an offense to get it right.
"We're focusing collectively as a team," McCoy said. "I'm used to winning.
"We have got to figure it out."
Hillis Tests Hamstring: Shurmur said the RB Peyton Hillis will test his left hamstring. An MRI revealed the injury as a strain.
"We'll see what he can do," Shurmur said.
Shurmur didn't rule Hillis out for Sunday.
"There's a possibility he'll be active," he said. "He'll do some light running and see where he's at."
Hillis was not seen during the practice time open to the media.
Haden Update: Shurmur said DB Joe Haden is coming along with his sprained knee, but didn't say if he will or will not play against Seattle.
"He's making progress, but it's too early to tell (if he'll play Sunday)," Shurmur said. "He's steadily improving. He's going to do more than he did last week, but I can't tell you what he'll do."
Haden was not seen during the practice time open to the media.
Fujita Home: LB Scott Fujita was sent him home from Berea, most likely with symptoms from the concussion he suffered against the Raiders.
"He was not feeling well," Shurmur said. "I think he's dealing with the concussion symptoms."
Shurmur said LB Kaluka Maiava will replace Fujita in practice and if he cannot play Sunday.
"Kaluka will play in place of Scott," Shurmur said. "He actually performed pretty well (in Oakland). He had a lot of production."
Clear the Air: Shurmur said he and WR Josh Cribbs talked about the reports that said Cribbs was not satisfied with his role in the offense.
"I would say it's between me and Josh," Shurmur said. "We talked about the game and what was written and moving forward. We had a nice talk."
Shurmur was asked if Cribbs' role will change.
"We'll see," he said. "Some of that has to do with strategy."
Cribbs said he just wants to get back to hitting.
"I just want to get back to doing what I'm good at," he said. "I had so much fun (covering on special teams)."
Injury Update: DB Ray Ventrone injured his hamstring and he'll practice on a limited basis. DB Buster Skrine left practice with a trainer. OL Artis Hicks (undisclosed) was on the sideline during practice.
New Guy: The Browns signed RB Chris Ogbonnaya off of the Texans' practice squad. The 6-0, 225 pound back played with QB Colt McCoy at Texas. Ogbonnaya was drafted by the Rams in the seventh-round and spent 2010 on the Rams' practice squad, where Shurmur was the offensive coordinator. To make room for him, the Browns waived RB Armond Smith. He most likely will be re-signed to the practice squad if he clears waivers.
"He played at Texas and we had him in St. Louis," Shurmur said. "He played a lot. He's a good zone runner and good in pass protection. I had some history with him and we're unsure of Peyton's status."
"He played well for us at Texas," McCoy said.
Ogbonnaya has played in four NFL games with 14 carries and 56 yards. He also caught one pass for 19 yards. In 2011, he has carried three times for six yards. Ogbonnaya practiced for the first time Wednesday.
"He has some experience in the league and a history with Colt," Shurmur said. "It's always good to have experience."
Ogbonnaya will wear No. 25.