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BEREA, Ohio — Browns coach Pat Shurmur still loves rookies Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden — even in defeat.
Shurmur would prefer Richardson, his starting running back, focused on regrouping rather than being critical, however. And the embattled coach also would like Weeden to be more consistent at quarterback.
All told, though, he will gladly take both of them as the Browns move past a disappointing 38-21 loss to Washington on Sunday, an effort that snapped a three-game winning streak.
"I'm not saying you never go to the backup quarterback," Shurmur said. "But I didn't consider it [Sunday]."
Shurmur has directed a young team through a rollercoaster season under the specter of new ownership. With a chance to finish strong, the Browns' flop Sunday ended their slim playoff hopes, raised more questions about Weeden, and had Richardson contemplating his coach's decisions.
Richardson had two touchdown runs, but gained only 28 yards on 11 carries and said after that he thought Shurmur abandoned the gameplan. Shurmur wasn't pleased by the comments, but said Monday he is not angry.
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"I'm not upset with him," Shurmur said. "I did talk to him. I asked what he meant by what he said. I explained to him that when we're all in a state of disappointment because we lost, it is important to keep our focus and, number one, regroup and get ready to play the next game."
Shurmur has two more chances to make a positive imprint, as new owner Jimmy Haslam III ponders offseason moves. Haslam bought the team over the summer, and together with new CEO Joe Banner, will evaluate all aspects of the organization after another largely disappointing season. Cleveland began the season 0-5, and even though Shurmur's Browns have persevered through the troubles, they are still just 5-9 with two difficult games approaching — Denver (11-3) and Pittsburgh (7-7).
Shurmur expects better play from Weeden regardless of the opponent, saying the 29-year-old is not too old to develop.
"I've never thought about his age," Shurmur said. "I think of him as a rookie, and he'll be better his second year. I'm looking forward to him having a much better game this week against Denver."
Weeden was 21-for-35 for 244 yards, one touchdown, and two costly interceptions vs. the Redskins.
"We had two turnovers turned into 14 points, and you can't do that," Shurmur said.
Shurmur said he evaluates every throw by Weeden, but would not reveal his grading scale. Weeden, a first-round pick, was outplayed by fourth-round choice Kirk Cousins on Sunday, clearly. Cousins, making his first start in place of injured Robert Griffin III, threw for 329 yards and two scores.
The Redskins picked up big chunks of yardage when Cousins rolled out and found open receivers. It appeared that the Browns simply did not adjust. Shurmur said that was not the case.
"We were prepared for their style of offense, but they did a very good job," Shurmur said.
Shurmur believes the Browns will benefit by Richardson refining his game. The former Alabama star leads the team with 897 yards on the ground, and he has 11 touchdowns.
"I don't think his style has been defined yet," Shurmur said. "He's still learning to play in the NFL."
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