BEREA -- There are no more what-if scenarios left for Browns coach Pat Shurmur.
The last of those was exhausted last Sunday with the second-half collapse in a 38-21 loss to the Washington Redskins. You can no longer say that by winning out Shurmur will make it tough for owner James Haslam and president Joe Banner to cut ties with him.
Unless everyone is reading the Browns' two main power brokers incorrectly, Shurmur will be gone in about two weeks. He'll join a list of four previous coaches to fail since the expansion season of 1999.
When a list of mistakes is put together for Shurmur's failure, near the top will be inability to adequately process game-day happenings. The opposition always seems to have the coaching advantage, which played out against Redskins coach Mike Shanahan.
Shanahan was brilliant in managing the game for rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was making his first-ever NFL start. Despite throwing an early interception and not being able to generate a first down on the first four possessions, Cousins steadily improved and finished with an A-plus performance.
Cousin's 104.4 passer rating had Shanahan's hands written all over it. Cousins benefitted greatly by running what seemed to be an endless succession of successful bootleg action. The strategy put the rookie in a comfort zone by giving him the option of running or throwing safe, easy passes to receivers who were breaking open on crossing routes.
The Browns' defense was incapable of adjusting. Defenders continually bit on fakes designed to simulate off-tackle stretch runs, allowing Cousins time to roll in the opposite direction and do his damage.
"When they run naked action like they were doing, it takes one guy or two guys that are responsible for the back side of the area to contain it or defend it initially," Shurmur said. "Since he's outside the pocket, then it's important we cover well. Each play was a different scenario. It wasn't the same play all the time. We just have to do a better job of defending it."
That's where coaching comes in, and it's where the Browns seem to be missing something. To have a rookie quarterback in his debut out-perform your rookie quarterback doesn't play well in the owner's box.
Shurmur has shown a better feel for game situations this season compared to last year, when he made several glaring mistakes. While there have been no "what-was-that" moments, he still hasn't shown an ability to make proper in-game adjustments.
There are some great assistant coaches who are no more than that - assistant coaches. Put them in charge and something is lost amid all the responsibilities that consume a coach's time.
Shurmur might be one of those coaches. After his time here he might get an offensive coordinator's position with another team and excel.
Unfortunately, for Shurmur, his future has been tied this season to quarterback Brandon Weeden. If Weeden had been an instant success, Shurmur would probably be looking at a third year. Instead, Weeden has been less-than-average, resulting in a fifth straight losing season.
It's not fair, but that's the life of a head coach. General manager Tom Heckert drafted Weeden on the advice of former president Mike Holmgren. It's been Shurmur's job to make the most out of the rookie, and so far it's been a slow process.
Shurmur was asked Monday if he still thinks Weeden is the right quarterback for the long term. He didn't fully answer the question.
"Yeah, I'm looking forward to him having a much better game this week against Denver," Shurmur said. "That's the where the focus needs to be."
That's far from calling Weeden a franchise quarterback, which sums up Shurmur's dilemma.