Browns coach Pat Shurmur made the most baffling decision of the week in the NFL when he punted on fourth-and-1 from the Colts’ 41-yard line while trailing 17-13 with 6:38 left in the fourth quarter on Sunday. At least, it was baffling to most people watching. According to Shurmur, it was the right call.
Shurmur said on Monday that he thinks punting in that situation is the correct strategy, and he’ll do the same thing if the Browns face the same situation again this season.
“I’d do that again,” Shurmur said. “I think it worked out. I had two timeouts after we decided to punt the football. We kicked it to them and it was better than six minutes left. At the end of the day, we had a first down with over three minutes left on the other side of the field. [It was] basically in the same spot we punted from, give or take a yard, with a chance to win the game and we didn’t.”
Um, coach? Your decision didn’t “work out” just because you eventually got the ball back “basically in the same spot.” Your decision only would have worked out if you had gotten the ball back and scored a touchdown. And you didn’t do that. By the time you had the ball “basically in the same spot,” the Colts had been able to take two and a half more minutes off the clock, and you ended up having to go for it on a fourth-and-6, and your team failed to convert. In what circumstance can you say “it worked out” if you end up in a situation where you have to go for it on fourth-and-6, two and a half minutes after you didn’t think your team could convert a fourth-and-1?
The CBS broadcast of the Browns-Colts game showed new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam in his box wearing a look of disgust at the Browns’ fourth-and-1 punt, but Shurmur said he doesn’t know anything about that.
“No, I haven’t talked to him about that,” Shurmur said. “I haven’t watched the TV copy, so at this point it wouldn’t be right for me to comment on it.”
Haslam has already promised not to comment on the coaching situation until the end of the season. But if Haslam ends up firing Shurmur, decisions like this fourth-and-1 punt will be a big part of the reason.