April 20, 2014

Weeden sitting is the safe play, I guess

Pat Shurmur announced today that Brandon Weeden was going to sit out the fourth pre-season game this week. It has created debate all over sports talk radio and twitter as people try to figure out what their stance is on the topic. On the one hand, Brandon Weeden and the starting offense might want to have something in their memories that’s a bit more positive than what they did last against the Eagles. On the other hand, there’s always an injury risk to NFL games and that seems to be the reason most commonly given why coaches don’t play their starters at all in the fourth pre-season game. I can honestly see both sides of the equation, but I tend to want to be more critical because it’s just a safe move more than it is a smart one.

A coach would need some serious credibility, and stones quite frankly, to risk getting his QB injured in the fourth pre-season game. As the Browns are preparing for life with a brand new owner and a new front office, Pat Shurmur might not feel like he has the safety or security in his position to take a risk and give his rookie some additional reps. Then again, that same lack of safety and security should give him all the incentive to take some risks to try and have a good enough season to make himself more difficult to remove.

Of course, I’m also projecting a bit here. Maybe Pat Shurmur is just doing exactly what he thinks is best. Maybe he thinks Weeden is as ready as he’s going to be and the marginal effect of playing in a fourth pre-season game isn’t worth the risk to him or any of his fellow starters on the offensive line. If Shurmur wants to save guys like Joe Thomas and Alex Mack, that really negatively affects the risk profile of playing his rookie quarterback. Alex Mack and Joe Thomas, despite their struggles against the Eagles, are exactly the types of players that have no reason to suit up for a fourth pre-season game and risk injury.

In the end though, I’m left a little reluctant to co-sign on this. Not that anyone was asking me to, but this one thought has been so pervasive for me the last year in sports. You can’t become the Pats or Steelers by trying to do exactly what they do. In the end, you end up hiring a member of that tree and importing a knockoff that probably won’t give you a fraction of what it is you hoped to gain.

That’s not to say that playing the fourth pre-season game is some wild innovation that will allow Shurmur and the Browns to close the gap with their competitors in the AFC North by magic. It just seems to be indicative of one of many things that could be changed up in order to differentiate from others. It is another opportunity to try and innovate, do things differently and try to gain a competitive advantage. Like so many other things it feels like the Browns just played it safe in trying to be unimpeachable.

We’ll find out this off-season just how unimpeachable they can make themselves.

  • Garry_Owen

    Or . . . they’ve been using this week to prepare the 1st team for the Eagles game, after playing them in a scrimmage the week before – sort of a pre-season BYE week. If so, then there’s no reason to put them (particularly the QB) in a game against an opponent for whom they have not at all prepared. If so, show me where to co-sign.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremy-Humbert/100001904340553 Jeremy Humbert

    That would make complete sense, seeing as how they totally blew it against the Eagles last go… here is hoping that the extra time of prep does them some good, and that TRich is ready to run by Sep. 9th..

  • mgbode

    if we are starting Oniel Cousins to block Julius Peppers, then there is no way that I would be comfortable with Weeden in the pocket.

  • mgbode

    yessir, have the starters start working on their gameplans for the Eagles and do not show that gameplan during the preseason game.

    hopefully, the backend guys on the roster make some noise and make statements as to why they deserve to be on the 53.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    Is Peppers going to be suiting up?

  • mgbode

    i wouldn’t think so, but i couldn’t find anything stating he was sitting yet despite his foot issues. he did play against the Skins and Giants, but it’s game4, so ??

  • Vindictive_Pat

    This is what I was thinking as well… no need to have the starters spend a week preparing for the Bears when they can keep reviewing game tape from their last opponent and fix problems from that game to prepare for week 1 against the same opponent. In other words, it’s like studying up for 3 weeks to take a test with a practice exam in the middle. Works for me.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I can understand the rationale given the way the OL blocked in the last game but lets not sugarcoat this there has been very little improvement the entire offseason. Now you sit your starting rookie QB who has yet to throw a professional TD and expect him to come out in two weeks and lead the team. Oh and lets not forget your starting rookie RB who has yet to take a snap in an actual professional game. I simply cannot wait until week one!

  • saggy

    first of all, i think Weeden needs to play. Kid ain’t in the pro-bowl just yet – he needs more seasoning, and he isn’t getting any younger.

    But the bigger picture here is that the players are not too silently telling the NFL that there are too many meaningless preseason games. They are sitting out, in my opinion, less to be careful of injury and more to send their message. It’s a good move.

  • cmm13

    The funny part is that people think there is a major difference between the fourth preseason game and any regular season game for this team.

  • cmm13

    Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and most likely RG3.

    Started or starting their 4th preseason games.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I smell what your cookin’ I said it the night Weeden was drafted and my feeling continues: his team isn’t doing him any favors but then again this organization hasn’t served it’s QB, regardless of who, well since it’s return to the NFL.

  • cmm13

    I’ll listen to anyone who wants to debate that they are playing smart by playing it safe….if…
    they listen to me debate that it’s also playing it scared.
    In addition to talent, coaching, general management one of the things lacking in this team since the return is confidence and swagger.
    I may be wrong but Weeden hasn’t thrown an NFL touchdown yet.
    How can you possibly be confident heading into week 1 without our first round QB tossing a TD.
    His last game he sniffed the red zone once, had 6 tries to get in which ultimately ended in a fumble.
    Like any ball player he needs to see the ball cross the goal line out of his hand.

  • mgbode

    honestly, I don’t think it will really affect much of anything this season, so I’m good either way. Allen Iverson agrees with me :)

  • Ritz

    In the long run, it simply makes no difference. It’s one preseason game, and will not make or break Weeden’s year or career by sitting out. If the Browns entire season is dependent on Brandon Weeden playing this one half of preseason football then the world is doomed.

  • MrCleaveland

    Craig, I’m also ambivalent about this. Weeden could use some more work.

    If he comes out poorly against the Eagles and is missing receivers and tossing picks in the first half, Shurmur’s decision will be savagely second-guessed.

    Protecting players by resting them has generally not worked at the end of the season. A better way to protect your QB is to block well.

  • NamedMyKidPrice

    4th Preseason game has the speed of practice. But unlike practice the QB can get hit. I know people are saying he needs the work but I think he has seen enough work though OTA’s and camp. Its time for him to see the speed of a real NFL game. No need to see him get hurt in a meaningless game. With ya Pat.

  • Big Z

    There’s something about “the Factory” that brings out the worst in the Browns. I’m sure the Bears’ second-stringers would’ve battered their starters the same way Philly did. Sit ‘em and save everyone the frustration.

  • DontbringLBJback

    Well, my take is this: confidence is everything in sports. Whether it’s striking a golf ball, throwing a baseball, or throwing a football. As much as BW says he’s confident, he has yet to lead his team down the field and score a TD.

    The other issue is that they’re still making mistakes. Lavauo and Pinkston were terrible last week. Greg Little cut short a crossing route. And what about the TE situation? Who is starting? It would be nice for BW to get some chemistry with whoever will be on the field regularly. And what about getting Benjamin some additional reps with BW? He’s going to be the 3rd or 4th WR… we need those guys to be on the same page. Game reps would be a really good thing right now.

    And people keep saying it doesn’t matter in the long run. I disagree 1000%. If BW doesn’t go into the season with confidence, it could really wreak havoc on him mentally. Especially considering he’ll be facing Philly week one, who showed they are a top defense going into this year.

  • Harv 21

    haven’t heard anyone indicate this was a player’s decision. This is a coach’s decision. And coaches aren’t at the forefront of the complaints against all the number of preseason games.

  • Clown Baby

    I think they should sit him until the playoffs.

  • buckeyesRus

    I think we have a much better chance with McCoy against Philly because he is mobile. If the OL looks like they did last week, then Weeden will not be in the game very long anyway! Shurmurmurmurmur is hoping McCoy bombs and Wallace looks good so he can name him the backup! LOL! Such a great judge of talent! McCoy should be 1, Weeden 2 and Lewis 3 and Wallace unemployed!