BEREA - The most demanding task that faces Browns coach Pat Shurmur these days might not be preparing a game plan for the next opponent.
With new owner James Haslam III taking more of an interest in the team every day, Shurmur has the difficult challenge of explaining losses to a man that will spend $1 billion to purchase the franchise.
Ideally Shurmur could tell Haslam that he's working with a roster that opened the season with 14 rookies and that mistakes will happen. Mistakes, however, lead to defeats and long meetings in the owner's office.
Instead of describing to Haslam all the things quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Trent Richardson did well last Sunday in Cincinnati, Shurmur has only the bad news of a 0-2 start to discuss.
"I thought for the most part we made progress without winning, which means you didn't make progress," Shurmur said. "That's number one. Beyond that we'll get ready to play Buffalo, which bounced back and beat a team I think is pretty good in Kansas City."
The performances of Weeden and Richardson in the 34-27 loss to the Bengals generated plenty of talk, almost overshadowing the poor play of the defense and penalty issues. The Browns were penalized 10 times for 103 yards. The Bengals were whistled four times for 54 yards.
"All the mistakes eat at me a little bit," Shurmur said. "I didn't see anything that was repeated from the first game. Penalties hurt and you have to overcome them. Some of them we didn't overcome. The ones I don't like are the pre-snap ones that are correctable.
"The ones involving effort and judgment or whether it was or wasn't; you have to coach against making those kinds of errors, but it's a fine line between backing your guys off where they don't play hard."
The biggest problem encountered on the defensive side was dealing with the loss of cornerback Joe Haden, who served the first game of his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. The secondary was also without cornerback Sheldon Brown, who appeared for just one play.
Haden was replaced by Dimitri Patterson, who does a solid job covering the slot receiver but was asked to do a lot covering A.J. Green on the outside. Green had seven catches for 58 yards and one touchdown.
"I think he would say that he could have played better," Shurmur said of Patterson.
Brown's absence was a mystery. He injured a shoulder a week earlier against the Eagles and was limited in practice last week, but he dressed last Sunday.
Shurmur was brief in his comments about Brown immediately after the game, leading to the belief that he preferred playing Buster Skrine instead. The plan now seems to be to go back to Brown.
"I've been with Sheldon for a long time," Shurmur said. "I'm a big Sheldon Brown fan, and I'm his coach. I think his role will change here as it goes along. There's a chance you'll see him more this week. He was banged up last week, but I don't think that will be an issue going forward."
Skrine had a rougher day than Patterson. He missed a couple of tackles and was late closing on receivers as he often lined up off the line of scrimmage.
"There were a couple of times where I thought Buster lost his footing where it would have helped him either get a little closer to the catch or make a play on it," Shurmur said.
INJURY REPORT: Shurmur didn't have any updates on the injured players. The worst of the group appeared to be defensive end Juqua Parker, tight end Alex Smith and defensive tackle Billy Winn. Parker was carted off the field with a sprained foot. Smith and Winn suffered concussions.