After the Cleveland Browns lost to the Cincinnati Bengals, there were fans that wasted no time in questioning Pat Shurmur's ability to be a head coach.
A week later after a win over the Indianapolis Colts, Shurmur is off the bubble. His job is safe for another week.
This is all tongue-in-cheek, of course. Shurmur's job is as safe as it can be for any coach at this time. He's Mike Holmgren's guy, and Holmgren is on record as saying he hopes this is the only coach he hires during his stay in Cleveland.
It's natural to want to get a quick sense for how well Shurmur fits the job. There's no such thing is a patient fan, or for that matter a patient owner or team president. The season might be a marathon, but the time frame for judging coaches is more like a sprint.
Shurmur couldn't have had a worse start than what happened against the Bengals. A win at home was close at hand when the Browns were caught by surprise on a quick-snap call by the Bengals that produced the winning touchdown.
To Shurmur's credit he accepted blame, while also saying it was a team mistake. The mistake he made was to question whether or not the play was legal, saying that the officials might have mistakenly not allowed the defense time to adjust to personnel changes made by the Bengals.
Beyond that, Shurmur was appropriately contrite. He was even able to have a sense of humor about it, which is never a bad thing considering the stress level coaches deal with all the time.
It's obvious that the players will have Shurmur's back. For now they view him as a players' coach, which is a tricky connotation. That sometimes can mean that he's too easy on the players and is reluctant to be tough and critical when it's needed. A players' coach that can be necessarily demanding is probably the best of both worlds.
Shurmur is still in the feeling-out process for how to go about business. As the head coach he knows he has to impose his style and personality on the team. It's been said that teams in all sports assume the personality of the coach. It's even more pronounced in a passionate sport like football.
Shurmur's style is a stark contrast to former coach Eric Mangini. While Mangini worked at having a good rapport with the media, he had problems with some of the players, especially in his first season.
Mangini apparently made a genuine effort to change in his second season. He listened the complaints of players and made practices less strenuous in order to save their bodies for the demands of the stretch run.
The key for all players is the trust factor. Just like coaches deal with the challenge of trusting 53 players, each player needs to know that the coach will be fair and honest.
There seems to be no reason to think that Shurmur won't be both. He might not always give the media all the information it wants concerning injuries (what coach ever does that?), but in other areas he'll likely be willing to share information.
The larger issue is Shurmur's skills as a head coach. It's one thing to sit in a booth and make calls as an offensive coordinator. It's a totally different world to be on the sideline trying to make sense out of what appears to be chaos.
Just like a young quarterback, we'll know more about Shurmur's coaching capabilities as the season progresses. If he's looking for some advice, here's some don't get caught on any more quick-snap calls.