The Cleveland Browns began their preparations for Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins not knowing for sure which quarterback they will see at Cleveland Browns Stadium: Robert Griffin III or Kirk Cousins.
Griffin has completed 233 of 351 attempts (66.4 percent) for 2,906 yards and 18 touchdowns against four interceptions. He is second on the team with 748 yards and six touchdowns on 112 carries. However, in Washington’s win over the Baltimore Ravens, Griffin suffered a knee injury that he initially tried to play through before exiting the game in the fourth quarter.
After taking over for Griffin, Cousins led the team on a touchdown drive and ran for a two-point conversion that forced overtime. The Redskins won the game, 31-28, on Kai Forbath’s 34-yard field goal in the extra session.
Browns coach Pat Shurmur knows his team has “to get ready to play (the Redskins’) offense,” led by head coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
“As we prepare to play the Redskins, who plays quarterback will not affect our preparation as we move forward,” Shurmur said Wednesday. “We have to prepare for their offense, and it’s extremely important that we try not to look at things being said.
“They’ve got two really fine quarterbacks. They’re different in styles in some ways, but their offense is very effective. They have elements of the drop-back passing game; they have elements of option football and of course, their running game resembles their off-tackle zone stuff that the Shanahans have always been known for. That’s what we have to prepare for as we move forward.”
Cousins came into last Sunday’s game and led the Redskins to their fourth consecutive victory, its first four-game streak since the early part of the 2008 regular season. He completed both of his pass attempts for 26 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown pass to veteran wide receiver Pierre Garcon with 29 seconds to play in regulation.
On the season, Cousins has completed seven of 11 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.
“You have to be able to function at a high level at the most critical point in the game,” Shurmur said of being a backup quarterback. “It’s a credit to Kirk. It’s a credit to their coaches. He was ready to play. He came in, executed a third-down throw, scrambled around, got them in the end zone and executed a quarterback draw to tie the game. That’s a credit to them and I’m assuming he has little or no reps with the first offense during the week. That’s a guy being ready and making the best of his opportunities.”
LETTING THEM PLAY
Shurmur was asked if he ever had conversations with quarterbacks about taking fewer risks when it comes to running the ball out of the backfield. He gained previous experience with mobile quarterbacks when coaching Donovan McNabb during a 10-year stint as an assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“You don’t do that with these athletes because it’s important that they play,” Shurmur said. “There’s times where it looks like they want to make every yard, want to get in the end zone.
“With Donovan, we trained him as a drop-back passer and you go through progressions. If it’s not there, you hitch twice or three times and you take off and run. We have some structured quarterback runs, but not as many as I’m seeing from teams with (Colin) Kaepernick, RG3, Cam Newton and so on. It’s just all how you decide to use the players that you have.”
The Redskins’ defense has collected 1,013 total tackles, 662 solo stops and 23.0 quarterback sacks for 152 lost yards this year. Also, they have forced 14 fumbles, recovered eight of them, collected 15 interceptions and scored four defensive touchdowns.
Despite the turnovers, the Redskins have allowed their opponents to complete 320 of 516 attempts for 3,913 yards and 27 touchdowns, including an 85-yard score from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant at Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.
“I see a defense that challenges,” Shurmur said. “I see a defense that can rush the passer and they don’t mind pressuring. I see guys on the back end that can cover, so I don’t pay much attention to that.”
Early this week, the Browns promoted tight end
Smelley was drafted by the Browns in the seventh round last April and spent the entire season on the Browns’ practice squad after getting waived following training camp with the team this summer.
“We’ve liked what we’ve seen from him throughout,” Shurmur said. “We know a lot about him from training camp and his work on the practice squad. We wanted to make him active and have him available in the event that in these next three weeks, we need him to play.”
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