CLEVELAND – Coach Pat Shurmur and quarterback Colt McCoy shared a post-practice laugh Saturday afternoon in the Cleveland Browns Stadium locker room where they hope to celebrate many wins over the next decade.
While nervous fans and hyper-critical media tend to focus on every interception or incompletion, coach and quarterback chose to keep an eye on the big picture. After the lockout prevented any team-run offseason workouts or minicamps, McCoy has had seven practices in Shurmur’s West Coast Offense, including Saturday’s Family Day in front of almost 12,000 fans.
“I talked to Pat in here after the practice and kinda joked about how far we’ve made it in one week,” McCoy said. “I thought we had a really good day. How far we’ve made it in a week is crazy, my comfort level in what we’re doing.”
McCoy, given the starting job in the offseason, had an up-and-down first eight days of training camp. The pattern continued Saturday when he threw several touchdown passes in red zone drills, but also was behind a number of receivers and threw an interception in the two-minute drill. He’s averaged a couple of interceptions per practice.
“He’s made huge strides in one week,” Shurmur said. “For him to be able to come out here and execute in a lot of situations has been real good. We’ve got a lot of work to do, though, Colt knows that.”
“The first couple days conceptually you know what’s going on,” McCoy said. “But you, the receivers, the tight ends, the line, it’s all new to everybody. Little things within the concepts, you make a lot of mistakes.
“The big thing is don’t make the same mistake twice. We’re learning, we’re growing, we’re moving in the right direction.”
McCoy was in a version of the West Coast Offense at Texas and had Cleveland’s playbook over the offseason. But he has been coached in Shurmur’s version, by Shurmur, for less than two weeks. That has to have an effect on his execution.
“Those go hand-in-hand,” Shurmur said. “You learn the plays, run plays and learn how to execute them. If there’s a mistake, then go back, correct it and come out and do it again.
“There were some great throws that were made in the red zone period and then in other areas we moved the ball pretty well.”
McCoy is second in NCAA history with a .7033 completion percentage, and takes pride in his accuracy. Yet throughout the first week of training camp, his throws have been a shade off. Even many of his completions were a little behind the receiver, or required an adjustment in the pattern.
“Our timing is just a little bit off, the depth of our routes, my footwork in the pocket, they’re just not timing up like I want them to at this point,” McCoy said. “If you follow the whole transition of the whole week, we’re night and day compared to where we started, and you’ve got to look at that and be pleased with that.
“You saw a lot of things that were just really close. Just right off the hands, or somebody didn’t look as it goes by their head. Those are things you just get a feel for as you go on. Those are things that are frustrating at the time, but easily fixable once you go back and watch it on tape, you walk through it one time.”
McCoy has also had to deal with constant change at receiver. With Mohamed Massaquoi unavailable all camp with his leg in a cast and Joshua Cribbs (knee) out for a few days, everyone from Brian Robiskie to Greg Little to Jordan Norwood to Johnathan Haggerty has rotated in with the first-team offense.
His best pass Saturday might’ve been a bullet down the seam to tight end Evan Moore for a touchdown.
“We talk about everyone else learning a new offense, but Colt’s learning it too and he’s the one that’s gotta kind of command it,” Moore said. “He devoted his offseason to try to learn this thing. Because of his discipline in trying to get the details down he’s going to be fine, but I definitely think it’s a tough thing to do.”
McCoy said his interception to James Dockery on third-and-8 in the two-minute drill was just the second time the group has run that play. He said that’s true for many of the plays during practice, as the installation of the offense isn’t nearly complete.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy for him to be patient when he throws a pick, fails in the two-minute drill or misfires on consecutive passes.
“You want to go out there and complete every pass, but it’s not realistic,” he said. “We want to be good. Both sides of the ball, we’re making mistakes. We’ve got to clean those up this week and ultimately be ready Saturday.”
The Browns open the preseason at home Saturday against the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.
“We need more practice, we need this next week,” McCoy said. “That’s going to be crucial for us. If we can make the same jump we made this whole week next week, then I think we’ll be in a situation where we feel comfortable with each other, we can go out there and compete.”
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