Shurmur Speaks

Browns head coach Pat Shurmur discusses the 2011 season, specific players and what's in store at the offensive coordinator position.

BEREA, Ohio—Pat Shurmur met with the media for over 40 minutes Tuesday afternoon and answered questions on his thoughts on the Browns 4-12 season. Shurmur didn't go into many specifics, as expected, but did address the subject of Colt McCoy's future with the Browns, as well as that of Peyton Hillis. He also said that he intends to hire an offensive coordinator, who might or might not end up calling the plays.

"This will be the last (meeting with the media) for awhile," Shurmur said. "I look at this as day two as we go into the new year. In looking back on this season we didn't win enough games. As we move forward what it is important to take what we did well and move forward. We'll go through that process and I like to be able to structure things and this off season will be structured.

"I understand what we need to do to improve and have a much better understanding of our team and the players," he said. "I feel good about making the necessary changes that need to be made."

One of the more prevalent questions was concerning the future of McCoy, who missed the final three games after suffering a concussion against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

McCoy finished the season 265-of-463 for 2733 yards (57.2 pct.) with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and a rating of 74.6.

Shurmur said the off-season will really benefit McCoy, but didn't declare him the starter going forward.

"As we go forward with Colt, we feel he's done some really good things," Shurmur said. "We need to get him back in the off season. I will say this, At all positions other than (at tackle) with Joe Thomas and (Joe) Haden, there will be some competition. That can be said for all positions. The best quarterback will play. I expect Colt will improve and Seneca (Wallace)will improve and the best quarterback will play."

Shurmur did say he thinks it takes more than a season for a quarterback to perform at an optimum level in a new system. Mike Holmgren has said he thinks it takes up to three years to be effective in the West Coast system.

"I think it takes more than one year, for sure," Shurmur said. "For a quarterback in any system there is a learning curve and this was a season without an off-season."

Shurmur said he saw improvement in McCoy's play.

"I think he improved this year and did some good things," he said. "He's like a lot of young players you need to do more good things as times goes on."

Shurmur said he isn't concerned with McCoy's arm strength.

"I (have no problem) with the way he throws the ball," he said. "There's so much more than just pure arm strength. There are guys who have arm strength, who haven't been successful and there are guys who have been very efficient without big arm strength, who have been very successful."

Shurmur said McCoy's accuracy improved as the season progressed. He finished at 57.2 percent.

"I think that was one of the components that improved was his accuracy," Shurmur said. "That comes with practice and he will keep practicing."

Shurmur was asked if there will be a quarterback competition in training camp.

"I don't think I said competition," he said. "What I said was I expect the quarterbacks that are here to develop and we'll play the best one."

Shurmur was asked if he felt the Browns have invested a season in the development of McCoy.

"We've invested in a lot of players and some will be here and some that won't," he said. "We've invested a lot of time in making the Cleveland Browns a winner and that's the way I look at it."

Shurmur sounded as though he, Holmgren and Tom Heckert haven't finished their evaluation of McCoy. He was asked as to what specifics he's seen in McCoy's improvement.

"I think we see Colt as a guy who's improved and really will benefit from an off-season," he said. "The game starts in the huddle with the game call he became more efficient in the progressions and made more plays in and out of the pocket. He showed leadership in getting the guys lined up and being in the right place."

Shurmur said that McCoy is still in the development process.

"I think it's important that the players develop and can get to the point where they can perform."

There has been a lot of talk about the Browns taking a quarterback with their first pick. Shurmur was asked for his thoughts last week about Robert Griffin III. He was asked if he watched Stanford's Andrew Luck in the Fiesta Bowl, but he didn't want to go there.

"I probably should stay away about talking about future draft picks at this point."

Shurmur said that the Browns will evaluate all of the quarterbacks, just as they did last year.

"We went through that same process last year." He said. "We'll finish evaluating our quarterbacks this year. We will repeat the process. Regardless, of whether you think you are going to draft a player at a particular position."

McCoy's father, Brad, was vocally critical of the Browns of their handling of Colt's concussion against Pittsburgh, but Shurmur said that will have no bearing on Colt McCoy's future with the Browns.

"(It has) absolutely none," Shurmur said. "Absolutely none. I addressed that the first day and I'm sure Colt has talked to his Dad. That will have nothing to do with (his future)."

Shurmur was asked about his thoughts on Hillis.

"Peyton and I had a great conversation (Monday)," Shurmur said. "He's an All-star player, who had an injury early on. I really like what he did at the end of the season.

"We had a chance to sit down and talk about what happened during the year," he said. "We had an All star player go down and talked about how the season could be a mini journey."

Shurmur was pressed on what he liked about Hillis.

"I thought he ran the ball hard especially at ground level," he said. "He's very strong physical level. It was very evident when he wasn't in there."

Shurmur said if the Browns can't re-sign Hillis the Browns will look at all options.

"I think we're going to try to look at all options at running back," he said. "I want to see a Montario Hardesty that's healthy. This will be the first offseason that he's not dealing with injuries."

Shurmur said he expected to hire an offensive coordinator, but didn't know if it would be from within like quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple or from the outside. Brad Childress is a name that has been mentioned.

"At this point I don't expect to make any changes (on the staff)," he said. "I expect to hire an offensive coordinator. It Might be from within the staff and might be from outside. With that said, this is the time that changes occur. I have some friends just let go in St. Louis. I don't really plan any staff changes but this is the time when coaching staffs change."

Shurmur was asked about Childress.

"It's important I get the best coordinator for us," he said. "I know Brad very well. We worked together, but I'm going to keep my list private. Information travels quickly."

Shurmur did say that he hopes to make a decision in the near future. Another name brought up was Mike Sherman, whom Shurmur said he knew.

"We're going to work quickly, but not going to be hasty," he said. "By not hiring a guy this year, I wanted to make sure I got the right guy. Brad and I are very good friends and he's a terrific coach."

Shurmur said a coordinator would free him up to oversee the entire operation.

"I think it will," he said. "It will allow me to step back and allow me to direct the team to winning games. I think it's just natural that you have an offensive coordinator."

Shurmur said he would be open to giving up play calling, if the right coach was brought on.

"The coordinator role is like adding another decision maker to your staff," he said. "What's important is I get the very best guy. On game day, a part of (being the offensive coordinator) is calling plays, which is fun, but I want to win games."

Other questions asked to Shurmur:

Q: What would you say to the fans of the Browns?:

Shurmur: "I think about the fans and replay the last game against Pittsburgh. The snow was coming down and the fans were in it until the end and believed we had a chance down to the last throw. The fans should expect a team that wins and that's what we're trying to build ere and confident we will get than done. We'll do what we have to do to change those outcomes."

Q: What did you learn most from this season?:

Shurmur: "As the year went on, about midseason after watching the guys compete in real games, I got to learn about guys. I learned some things about the guys as they exited yesterday.

"Your biggest improvement comes between the first time you do something and the next time you do it. You have to do a lot of thinking on your feet and you have to go back to your principles.

Q: Are you counting on Eric Steinbach returning next year healthy?:

Shurmur: "He's got to come back and get himself healthy. I like what I saw from him until he was hurt."

Q: Do you sense the players are buying into the program?:

Shurmur: "There was some optimism among the players about how close we are if we all get better. I heard a lot of guys talking about looking forward to the off season that's the challenge."

Q: Are you satisfied with the coaching of the special teams and will you make any changes?:

Shurmur: "You're right. We've had some bad performances on offense, defense and special teams. Our return average was better than it was a year ago. We need to get better in coverage. I did see improvements."

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