BEREA, Ohio — If the average Cleveland Browns fan can see that Colt McCoy and the offense has been more effective in the two-minute or no huddle offense, why not play to that strength from the get-go?
Bear in mind, the Browns have been outscored 44-3 in the first quarter. Some of McCoy's bright spots this season have been when he was in the shotgun. He led the Browns to a game-winning drive against the Dolphins in their 17-16. The Browns scored their 10 points against the 49ers in the same scenario and were moving at the end of the game when time expired.
Pat Shurmur said the Browns want to be as efficient as possible.
"We're always looking for ways to get (McCoy) going quickly," he said. "We found a way to score three points before the half in the two minute (against San Francisco). We scored a touchdown in the two-minute later in the game. We have to generally find ways to be efficient."
McCoy has played his best when he gets into a rhythm.
"I think he's progressed in a lot of areas and he has to eliminate the bad plays," Shurmur said. "Within the scheme of the offense, he has got into a rhythm. I think he's executing better, absolutely. Does he have to play better? Absolutely.
"We're looking for any way we can to move the football and score."
McCoy said he believes in the system.
"We're doing what we're coached to do, and we believe in what we do," McCoy said. "We do. In the two-minute drive, that's the situation where you've got to throw downfield, and we've made plays. So we just have to continue to work and it's an everyday thing."
McCoy played almost exclusively in the shotgun at Texas where he flourished. However, Shurmur said McCoy needs to play under center in the NFL, as well.
"In our offense, we have plays under center and then we have plays in the shotgun," Shurmur said. "He does both. I think it's important that you'd be able to execute under center as well as you do in the shotgun. I think that's important for an NFL quarterback to be able to do that. He's obviously more comfortable in the shotgun because that's what he's done his whole life."
"Yeah, absolutely," he said. "I feel like I've gotten a lot better playing underneath the center, a lot more comfortable from Week 1 to now. It's night and day. I can imagine what it's going to be from now until the end of the season. It's just experience. I agree with (Shurmur). I think you've got to play underneath the center. I think it helps in the run game, I think it helps the timing of things we're trying to do. But I think playing in the gun at times, too, is OK."
McCoy is 163-of-286 passing for 1,618 yards (57.0 completion percentage) with nine touchdowns and five interceptions. He's been sacked 16 times and has a QB rating of 76.4, good for 25th in the NFL among quarterbacks.
In the eight games he started as a rookie, he was 135-of-222 for 1,576 yards (60.8 pct.) with six touchdowns and nine interceptions. His QB rating was 74.5. McCoy led the Browns to wins over the Saints and Patriots in 2010 and overall, was 2-6 as the starter. In 15 games as the starter, he is 5-10.
McCoy has been criticized for his play thus far this year by some, saying he has regressed more than improved, despite playing in a new system with a new coaching staff.
He said it goes with the territory.
"You start listening to it and thinking about it, it's just going to bring you down," McCoy said. "My focus is doing my best for the guys in here. These guys work so hard. I work so hard. These coaches work so hard."
McCoy is confident brighter days are ahead.
"It is going to be real sweet when we turn this thing around," he said. "Right now, we're going through the growing pains. We're going to continue to improve and get better. I'm no different."
Massaquoi Back: Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi has been cleared to practice from his concussion injury. Shurmur ruled out defensive lineman Auston English (knee) and running back Montario Hardesty (calf). Defensive back Dimitri Patterson (knee)was the only other player who didn't practice.
"Mo will be out there," Shurmur said. "He's out there practicing, so he's been cleared to practice.
Massaquoi was in pads at taking part in drills during the period open to the media.
"English and Hardesty are out, but everyone else will be out there doing something."
Dick Jauron said that defensive back Buster Skrine will step in if Patterson can't go.
"Patterson has been doing a great job, but Buster will have to step up if he can't go."
Others on the injury report were: Offensive lineman Tony Pashos, who's still listed as questionable with an ankle injury that has bothered him all season.
"Tony's fighting through it," Shurmur said. "He's like everybody at this time of year."
Offensive lineman Artis Hicks took reps with the first team on Wednesday, but Shurmur said that's normal.
"We normally limit Pashos on Wednesday," he said. "I wouldn't read into that and don't have any plans to make a change."
Hillis Update: Shurmur said that running back Peyton Hillis didn't suffer a setback Wednesday, but after he did some running, he didn't practice.
"I think he'll be out there (Thursday)," Shurmur said. "He was in the walk through like Wednesday. We intended to run him but after the run, that wasn't the case."
Hillis was on the field during the part of the practice that was open to the media taking part in drills.
Shurmur was asked if Hillis has been a distraction for the team.
"That's a better question for the players," he said. "The team takes care of that. The team understands and I don't see there being any problems between the team and Peyton."
The latest episode in Hillis' saga is he missed an appearance with the Boys and Girls Club on Monday. He apologized on Wednesday.
"I just want to say I'm sorry about the charity event that happened with the Boys and Girls Club," Hillis said. "There was a lot of miscommunication between me and the management that I had, and if I knew the full depths of it, I wouldn't have missed it. I've always made community events before, but that shouldn't be an excuse now. Like I said, I'm sorry about everything and hopefully, in the near future, we can be able to make that up."
Marecic's Play: This week the Browns will face fullback Lawrence Vickers, who played with the Browns up until last season. Vickers was a free agent and the Browns chose to go with fullback Owen Marecic.
"After we drafted Owen, we decided to move on," Shurmur said.
Shurmur was asked to assess Marecic's play thus far.
"I think Owen is performing well," he said. "He gets in there anywhere from 12 to 20 snaps a game. I feel like he's doing a good job."
Marecic has three receptions for 18 yards and three carries for five yards.