The Browns' slim playoff hopes ended in Sunday's 38-21 loss to the Redskins. Any chance of coach Pat Shurmur returning next season is likely gone, too.
A week ago, Shurmur was being praised for his creativity. On Sunday, he was being questioned by his own players for being too one-dimensional. The Browns threw 35 times and ran 15.
The final decision on Shurmur's future will be made by owner Jimmy Haslam and chief executive officer Joe Banner. But, based on what the players said Sunday, they are ready to move on from Shurmur.
Running back Trent Richardson seemed puzzled by the play calling. In the first half, Richardson scored two touchdowns, carrying nearly half of the Redskins defense in the end zone on one of them, and had 28 yards on nine carries. In the second half, he received two carries and produced zero yards.
Richardson was asked why he only had two carries in a game where the Browns didn't trail by two scores until midway through the third quarter. "It's shocking," he said. "But like I said, the game's much bigger than me. I've got to let Coach do what he does."
What Shurmur didn't do Sunday was find a way to get the ball to the team's top playmaker. Just like most teams that will face the Browns, the Redskins' game plan was to shut down Richardson. But the Browns have to figure out a way to keep Richardson involved in the game. They used the No. 3 overall pick on Richardson for a reason.
“When you get one-dimensional, it’s impossible in this league to do it for an extended amount of time,” quarterback Brandon Weeden said. “But that’s on us.”
Weeden never called out Shurmur by name but there were plenty of subtle jabs at Shurmur's offense. In praising the play of Redskins rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins, Weeden said, "Coach [Mike] Shanahan put him in a great spot. They tailored what he does well."
When asked about having four passes batted down, Weeden said those mostly occurred on the underneath throws about two or three yards beyond the line of scrimmage. “It’s been one of our better plays," he said.
Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal thinks these comments sound like veiled indictments of the Browns coaching staff, and it's tough not to see it that way. The Browns offense ranks 26th in total yards and 24th in points scored.
All of the good feelings from a three-game winning streak vanished with Sunday's dismal home finale.
"Today we let ourselves down and we let the whole city of Cleveland down -- especially, the season-ticket holders," Richardson said, via The Plain Dealer. "I feel bad for them and I want to say as a man, I just want to come to them and apologize because this was the last home game. We're supposed to go out with a blast. It was a big ballgame and we didn't do what we were supposed to do."