The Cleveland Browns got back to their losing ways on Sunday, falling to the Indianapolis Colts 17-13, and with new ownership taking over and another season rapidly swirling down the drain, the winds of change are once again swirling near the shores of Lake Erie.
Those winds have already claimed at least one victim, with team president Mike Holmgren leaving after the season in favor of new CEO Joe Banner, and according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, it's "unlikely" that general manager Tom Heckert will be back with the team in 2013.
Given all the upheaval in the front office, it's safe to say that head coach Pat Shurmur's job is far from secure, and as the losses and questionable coaching decisions continue to mount, it's not unreasonable to wonder if Shurmur will even last the season.
As a Browns fan, I certainly hope not, because, frankly, to say that Shurmur is marginally competent is giving him the benefit of the doubt.
Shurmur's latest head-scratching decision came on Sunday, when he benched rookie running back Trent Richardson in the second quarter against the Colts because, according to what Shurmur told Tom Reed of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, "He just, in my opinion, the way the game was going wasn't quite effective and maybe the injury contributed."
The injury to which Shurmur was referring was to Richardson's ribs, and I'll grant that it's possible that it affected Richardson's play. However, Shurmur made this determination after all of eight carries, and to not let a plowhorse like Richardson at least have a chance to get on track did nothing to help the Browns' odds of winning in Indy.
That wasn't Shurmur's only boneheaded move in the Colts game. With the Browns trailing 17-13 and about six and a half minutes to go in the game, Shurmur elected to punt the ball on 4th-and-1 from the Indianapolis 41-yard line.
Go ahead and explain to me how that's a good idea.
You can say that these were judgment calls, but there was another gaffe on opening day that was just plain stupidity, and it very well may have cost the Browns the game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
In the fourth quarter, with the Browns trailing 10-9, linebacker D'Qwell Jackson intercepted a Michael Vick pass and returned it for a touchdown. Common sense dictates that, in this circumstance, a team attempts a two-point conversion in an effort to go up seven.
What did Shurmur do? Kicked the extra point.
What did the Eagles do? They drove the field, scored a touchdown, kicked an extra point of their own and won by one.
It's score management 101. The fans knew it; the media knew it. Cleveland's head coach? Not so much.
Enough. Cut the cord during Cleveland's upcoming Week 10 bye and let either offensive coordinator Brad Childress or defensive coordinator Dick Jauron (both of whom not only have NFL head coaching experience but have coached in the postseason as well) run the team for the rest of the year.
Then, offer Bill Cowher the personnel control he covets if he's to be lured out of broadcasting (if you're firing the GM anyway why not?) and go from there.
It doesn't necessarily show in their record, but there has been some glimpses into the future of what could be with the Cleveland Browns this year, reasons for optimism, and dare I say it, hope from a long-suffering fanbase.
However, none of that is going to come to pass with a headscratcher of a head coach.
Just ask San Diego Chargers fans. They'll tell you all about it.
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