BEREA - There was no Victory Monday for the Browns the day after their 17-16 win over the Miami Dolphins.
Instead of giving the players the day off, coach Pat Shurmur compromised and made it a get-in-and-get-out-as-quickly-as-possible day. The players should have known what was coming after a performance that prompted Shurmur to say "we have a freighter load of stuff to correct."
Shurmur will undoubtedly start on the offensive side, which is where he spends most of his time as the offensive coordinator. Quarterback Colt McCoy admitted that he didn't have a good day. He was 19-of-39 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. If not for a 9-of-13 showing for 75 yards and a 14-yard touchdown pass to Mohammed Massaquoi on the final drive, it would have been a long Monday for McCoy.
One of Shurmur's concerns is with how slowly the offense comes out of the starting gate. Through three games the Browns have yet to score in the first quarter.
"We have to find a way to start fast," Shurmur said. "We were just watching the tape, and we were running the same types of plays in the second half that we were running in the first half. It was clear that we were executing them better coming out after halftime.
"That's the message. Listen guys, relax. Just execute. Take the gimmes. Get yards on the runs when we're running. Get into manageable third downs. Let's move the football and find a way to stay on the field. What you'll find is all those great things you wanted to do, you don't get a chance to do if you don't get enough plays. That's at the front."
McCoy wasn't able to get into sync with the receivers until the final drive. The Dolphins didn't register a sack, but there were times when McCoy had to escape pressure and look for receivers on the run.
Still, it wasn't a good performance. McCoy was the first to admit that when he said, "We played like garbage."
Shurmur was more kind in his assessment, which is easy to do the day after a win. He saw plenty of near misses. One that stood out was an overthrow of Josh Cribbs in the second quarter on a play in which Cribbs was open beyond the safeties.
"I think we were just off a little bit, but a quarterback that's off a little bit off makes it look like he missed by a mile," Shurmur said. "It's something we'll work through. We'll try to create those situations and impress on them that you get what you emphasize and impress upon the guys that we need a little faster start."
The offense played with Montario Hardesty as the primary runner in place of Peyton Hillis, who missed the game because of an illness. Hardesty wasn't asked to do too much because he's still not 100 percent recovered from knee surgery of a year ago. He had 14 carries for 67 yards and caught three passes for another 19 yards.
Hillis was in the facility Monday and apparently was feeling better. There's no reason to think he won't be available when the Browns host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
Even with the return of Hillis, Hardesty should continue to get more reps. Shurmur was pleased with what he saw of Hardesty, including a spin move he made in shedding a defender and gaining 19 yards.
"Part of Montario's game is he's a very instinctive runner," Shurmur said. "If we can get him back to 100 percent, which he's approaching, we'll all see that. He did some good things running the football. He made some subtle cuts that turned very short gains into good gains."
Shurmur wasn't disappointed with everything he saw of the offense, which came up big at the most important time.
"Each time you play a game you see things you got better at or things you need to improve on," Shurmur said. "I think we got better at the hanging-in-there portion of things and finding a way. In the first game (against the Bengals), we were just as close to winning as the third game, and we didn't get it done. This game we did."