Browns Preview: Shurmur Preaches to Not Overreact to Week 1

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BEREA, Ohio — Don’t overreact to week one.

That was the advice of Browns Head Coach Pat Shurmur on Thursday.

The second-year head coach was talking not just about his own team, but about their next opponent, too.

The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off of an embarrassing 44-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens and quarterback Joe Flacco.

The Ravens destroyed Cincinnati with a no-huddle offense and left fans wondering if the Bengals defense even showed up.

But don’t be fooled. The Bengals pass rush is one of the best in the league and the defense recorded three sacks against Flacco.

Shurmur said the Bengals struggled on Monday night, but the first week can be deceiving.

“Baltimore was having one of those nights,” Shurmur said.

Teams make their biggest improvements from the first game to the second game. That is what Shurmur is counting on, at least.

For Cleveland, those changes must start on offense.

Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden finished week one with the worst quarterback rating for a rookie in a season opener dating as far back as 1960.

The 5.1 rating and four interceptions was unacceptable for a first-round draft pick. Yes, his wide receivers would be second-string, at best, on most winning NFL teams, but he overthrew multiple wide open passes.

“It can’t be any worse than it was the first week,” Weeden said. “Guys were wide open and I missed them. That’s not my character. I’ve got to play better, that’s all there is to it.”

Veteran linebacker D’Qwell Jackson gave him similar advice after the loss on Sunday. “We’ve all been there,” Jackson told Weeden through a text message. Weeden has the nod of approval from his coaching staff to remain the starter and the vote of confidence from his teammates to improve in week two.

“When it’s all said and done and you drop the helmet, you’ve got to play better, that’s the bottom line,” Weeden said.

Defense was solid against the Eagles explosive offense. Holding a playoff contender to just 17 points is considered a success on defense, but now the Browns will be without starting cornerback Joe Haden. Haden was suspended four weeks for testing positive for Adderall, an NFL banned substance, on Monday.

“You never want it to happen,” said Defensive Coordinator Dick Jauron. “(Cincinnati’s) skill people are very good.”

Bengals wide receiver AJ Green is difficult to defend. Joe Haden is considered one of the best defensive backs in the NFL and he broke up a season high five passes against the Bengals in last year’s season opener. But Cleveland’s defense got caught napping in a huddle and AJ Green scored on a 41-yard touchdown pass in the fourth to help clinch the win. Green is a dangerous threat, and now even more dangerous with Haden out.

Linebacker Scott Fujita is healthy and practicing, but the coaching staff says they will take it day by day and see how he holds up in practice this week.

“The young guys played well. They performed and were productive for us,” Jauron said on the young linebackers.

The bottom line, no matter who starts, is this team needs to win if anyone wants to keep their job.

Shurmur said it best on Thursday, “The goal is to win your division.” That starts with Cincinnati on Sunday. The game is set for 1:00.