The Browns dropped their Week 9 game against the Ravens in extremely frustrating fashion. At 2-7 and with the team on a bye, is it now time to say au revoir to Pat Shurmur?
The Browns have not beaten the Ravens in five years. They were competitive against Baltimore in Week 9, but consistently came away with field goals in their trips to the red zone. The Ravens...did not, and sealed up a ten-point win. Head coach Pat Shurmur has been under fire all season and that will only intensify this bye week.
The game included: curious play calling in the red zone, stupid penalties (including multiple formation problems -- Chris Ogbonnaya's obviously being the biggest), delays getting play calls into Brandon Weeden (and subsequent burned timeouts), and odd decisions/calls on back-to-back plays on third and fourth down on their penultimate possession with over three minutes to play.
This was the first game Joe Banner watched in person. Jimmy Haslam appeared frustrated in the owner's box again, but he's said he won't make personnel decisions until after the season. But with the bye week on tap, should Shurmur be fired? And will he be?
Brendan: My quick, visceral reaction is that there's nothing to be gained from keeping Pat Shurmur around. There may be an argument that's there nothing to be gained from canning him now, but he's continually failed at his job and his fate was sealed Sunday against the Ravens. There's a 95 percent chance an interim won't be retained as the head coach for 2013, but doesn't the same go for Shurmur? Let's save ourselves from two more months of surliness. I know this is reactionary after a loss in a game in which the Browns were not favored. But today was a complete catastrophe from a coaching standpoint -- red zone play calling, delays getting calls in, stupid formation penalties.
Give the reins to Dick Jauron and then let Brad Childress run the offense. They won't be the guys to lead the team in the future, but there's no sense wasting seven more games with Shurmur -- at this point, he's inhibiting young players who are attempting to get a foothold in the league from getting wins under their belt.
Scott: No and no. While there's nothing to be gained by him being here, there's even less to be gained by him being fired before season's end when the eventual replacement -- assuming they were to go this route -- is currently employed elsewhere (or suspended for the season). If the season is going to be mostly about the progress of the young core, replacing the head coach will merely hit the reset button; there's no baseline once the common denominator is removed. Do I think Shumur is going to make it to next season? I see very little that leads me to believe so. Should he be canned before the team's next game? Not if I was the one making the call.
Amin: As a general rule, it's hard for me to advocate for firing someone in sports, because I too often equate it with advocating for someone's firing in "not-sports." In this situation, however, I think the relationships between Shurmur and the fanbase, Shurmur and the new ownership, and Shurmur and the team are gradually becoming toxic. I think there's nothing to lose for the team, ownership, and fans at this point if Shurmur parts ways with the team. I agree with Brendan; let the assistants take over for the rest of the year (it's not like they don't have head coaching experience), and clean house after the season is over.
As much as stability is vital to the growth of a team, this team needs a reboot. Again. I know it sounds like a lot to reboot a team this many times in such a short span, but with a newer and more active owner and a new path to forge, this team needs it. The Browns need a clean break from the past; selling the team was the first step, and now it's time to take the next step.
Ryan: I feel the move to fire Shurmur now would be another in a long line of reactionary decisions that have come back to bite this organization, from an owner's standpoint, for far too long. While I believe that Shurmur will, and should, be let go after the season, I cannot condone an action for the sake of pacifying the fanbase or because it seems like the only logical thing to do heading into the bye week.
Not only would it prove Jimmy Haslam to be as impulsive as he comes across sitting in his owner's box visibly frustrated while watching the game, it would be a complete departure from what he supposedly learned in his time with the Steelers in regards to organizational competency and stability. Not to mention the fact that, when you fire the coach with seven games to go, you're basically throwing in the towel and surrendering the season. As overmatched as Shurmur seems in games and in postgame press conferences, his players are still fighting for him and striving to win. We don't know what really goes on in that locker room, but it doesn't sound to me like he's lost them...yet.
Martin: Normally I'd be completely on board with what Scott mentioned. I don't usually advocate replacing a head coach midseason as any good coach is currently working and trying to do his job. Quality candidates aren't on the phone looking for a new position, they're trying to make their team better, whether they're an offensive coordinator, a head coach or coaching a skill position.
But in this instance, I think keeping Shurmur at the helm is worse than hitting the reset button; it's potentially risking stunting the growth of the young players on the roster further. Shurmur has instilled a losing mentality in the players' minds. Field goals are good enough. Punting is winning. Clock management isn't important. You hear it in the press conferences with Shurmur -- it's not his decisions; it's the players' execution. This is a troublesome place to be in, whether you're a professional or not. With so many players just out of college on this roster, being told over and over again that you can't execute and you're not running the plays the way coach wants you to is dangerous. Think about how badly that messes with your psyche.
This team is better, but they're being psychologically trained to believe in the Cleveland curse. Close losses are still improvement. This could systematically damage the new regime and the stable of talented players (for once) that the Browns finally have. And I actually shudder at the thought of how much worse this can get. I fear for an all-out mutiny from the players on Shurmur if he stays in power, continuing to make the same mistakes and say the same thing. His indignation. His lack of patience with the media. His whole-hearted condescension to anyone around him. I see the same thing over and over again with Jeff Bzdelik at Wake Forest. It seems as though Shurmur and Bzdelik are cut from the same cloth. It is never their fault. It is the players' or the media's or luck's or a lack of depth or injuries or youth.
Sooner or later the excuses dry up. It's that time for the Browns.
With two other washed up bad head coaches on the roster already, give the keys to Jauron on the sidelines, let Childress wither away from his perch, then blow it all up at season's end. We'll find missing Shurmur on Sundays isn't really missing anything at all.