In keeping with my promise of two weeks ago that there would be no need to write about the Browns again this season, this week the Browns tell the story of 2011 themselves:
"We want to win here in Cleveland, and we did not win enough games this year ... I think my expectations for the [2010 Browns] and for the season were higher."
— Mike Holmgren, on his decision to fire head coach Eric Mangini (January 3)
"We're all starting at the same place. We're starting with a new coach and a new quarterback, so it's a little different, but who cares? ... We're making no excuses [in 2011]. It is what it is. Let's roll up our sleeves and get going."
— Holmgren, on the impact of the off-season NFL lockout (July 25)
"Yeah, they quick-snapped us. I have to watch the tape, but it's my understanding that they changed personnel, lined up, and then quick-snapped it. There are rules that go along with that, so we'll see. That's what happened."
— Pat Shurmur, on Cincinnati's game-winning touchdown in a season-opening 27-17 loss (September 11)
"The NFL determined Monday ... that the Bengals' game-winning 41-yard touchdown pass was perfectly legal — and that the Browns were just taking a quick nap during the quick snap."
— Mary Kay Cabot, Plain Dealer (September 12)
"[Colt McCoy is] a young player and in my mind almost a rookie, and so his improvement can be great from practice to practice and game to game."
— Shurmur, evaluating a 31-13 home loss to Tennessee (October 5)
"Right, exactly, and that's how it is. You look across the receiver room, nobody has been in the West Coast in that room. You look at the tight ends, nobody's been in the West Coast except Alex Smith in Tampa Bay. In a sense, we're all learning — with a rookie quarterback."
— Second-year quarterback
Colt McCoy, on that same loss to the Titans (October 5)
"Our margin for error right now is very small. Very small. That's not an excuse, that's the reality ... Our margin for error is small."
— Shurmur, after a 20-10 loss to San Francisco (October 30)
"[Holmgren, Tom Heckert, and Shurmur] trust that [their] system works and that it will eventually work with the Browns. The bottom line is that they do not have the players to make it work ... This isn't necessarily meant to offer any sort of consolation to Browns fans, but the Texans have an excellent team ... It's fair to say that there was nothing the Browns would have been able to do from a schematic or play-calling standpoint to change things."
— clevelandbrowns.com's Vic Carucci, on the 30-13 loss to Houston (November 3)
"Vic [Carucci's] knowledge of the game and the league make him a perfect fit ... Browns fans will be able to get insights on a regular basis from Vic."
— Holmgren, announcing the franchise's hiring of Carucci (June 29)
"The biggest difference for coach Shurmur this season is that we didn't have an off-season. I would imagine that was a weird way to start your career — being locked out. When you're a rookie head coach, you need all off-season to get to know your players, and we're still all learning each other."
— Ben Watson, before a 13-12 home loss to 1-7 St. Louis (November 12)
"We tried to hand him the football and he dropped it, that's the thinking [behind the decision to hand off to tight end Alex Smith, who had never taken a direct exchange from a quarterback at any level]. There are so many things that happened in that game. Missing the kick, dropping the [ball], there were a lot of things. There was a lot of good, there was a lot of bad. I promised everybody that I would be genuine from day one till the last day, and I'm genuine right now in saying that. We can focus on what we want to focus on, but we lost the game. That's genuine."
— Shurmur, after the St. Louis loss, as genuine as it gets (November 13)