The Remote Report: How Fast Things Have Changed for the Browns

Things change fast, don’t they? The Cleveland Browns have (somewhat) reshaped everyone’s perception after doing the unthinkable and winning two consecutive games against teams that looked bad.

As you recall, the Pittsburgh Steelers were without a lot of players, and the Oakland Raiders were semi-healthy, but missing 35,000 fans in their stadium. While those similarly-crippled Steelers went on to beat the Baltimore Ravens, seemingly increasing the relative worth of the Browns’ victory, I’d like us to take a moment and try not to get ahead of ourselves.

I don’t want to devalue what the Browns have done. I’m very much a fan and I feel lucky to get to write about a team that I – whether justifiably or not – really do love watching. I do want to take a step back and wonder why our opinions are changing so much, though.

Suddenly, Pat Shurmur, Public Enemy No. 1, is not under half as much fire as he was just ten days ago. Winning heals all wounds, but have fans forgotten that even the most steadfast “don’t change coaches all the time” believers (me) have finally swung to the “please fire him when you have a moment” side of the argument? This is a coach who has effectively mishandled 95% of his 4th-and-short calls this year, wasting approximately 97 timeouts on those botched calls in the process. This is a guy who fans were clamoring to fire by the fourth week of the season. This is a coach who gave the most vanilla, predictable, 8th-grade-coach answers to presser questions that you’ve ever heard. Yet, after two straight wins, there is a notably different vibe around the fan base.

Don’t believe me? I had written an article late last week about how the continual failure of players can either breed competitiveness or complacency. Now? Can’t run it, because there have been a couple of wins. Believe me, it’s not going anywhere, because it’s likely that the team will falter again at some point and make fans believe that they’re roughly the Bad News Bears of professional football, but the fact that it has entered our minds that the Browns are no longer the laughingstock that they were a mere three weeks ago is…well, it’s shocking.

Winning makes a difference, I will not argue that at all. It’s a matter of one play here and one play there, and suddenly your team is in the win column. I can’t shake the feeling that the Browns have played better games than the ones of the last two weeks and lost them, yet these last two wins have rejuvenated people who have been watching. If you can honestly say you didn’t turn to a friend during one of these wins and say, “Man…we stink,” then you’re clearly watching the game alone, because those moments happened.

But most important is this: I spent months defending the “keep Shurmur around” side of the coin, and I finally bailed about a month ago. I don’t want to look stupid for doing that (although I’ll be two months less stupid than a lot of people). I am not letting the sudden “success” sway me.

Unless, you know, more wins happen. Duh.

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Tags: Cleveland Browns Pat Shurmur

  • Lorenzo Von Matterhorn

    I’m the most excited for this team than I’ve been since they re-entered the league. I think they have a real shot at making the playoffs next year. Shurmur has made mistakes but the fact remains that these guys are playing their asses off for him. That should count for something. Firing him in the off season is going to mess with the current mojo this team has.

    • Tony

      I’m of the opinion that unless we can get a top-flight, experienced NFL head coach in the off season we should keep Shurmur and crew. I don’t want to go through another “rebuilding” period for a merely promising coordinator (that hasn’t worked out well for a lot of teams, just ask Jerry Jones). Unless we can get a guy that has had some success in the NFL I think we have to let the Shurmur era play out at least another season. If you look around at some of the better teams historically and this season (Giants, Texans, Bengals, Steelers, Packers, Patriots) you see teams that have stability at the head coaching position (in some cases even after fans were ready to show them the door).

      Our defense is playing good football and our offense (particularly our receiving corps) is playing better. Weeden still tosses a few passes each game where you wonder why he chose to throw it versus tucking it and running or just throwing it away, but overall I see improvement. I’d get another cornerback (Brown and Skrine can stick around for nickle packages), some depth on the offensive line and maybe a new LB to compliment Jackson. Other than that I think we’ve got a pretty good core of young talent that’s starting to show some promise. The last thing I want is to suffer through another coaching regime or another offensive and defensive scheme if we’re not absolutely certain it’s going to be better than the current staff.