April 23, 2014

What do the Browns know about Brandon Weeden?

Weeden ScreamThe Cleveland Browns have been committal about being non-committal about their quarterback situation. From Rob Chudzinski to Michael Lombardi and yesterday Norv Turner the Browns have been steadfast in putting barely a single word on the record that leads anyone to believe that Weeden is first on the depth chart right this very second. Even if you’ve somehow found a way to infer that, it is only by default because that’s the way the season ended and there hasn’t been a roster move that easily leads everyone to speculation otherwise. The Browns claim to need to see more tape study, but it seems to me that a need for more tape study is all the sign of a lack of confidence that I need to see.

I am not saying anything about Brandon Weeden, personally. I think he had a pretty typical rookie year, statistically speaking. He definitely trailed many of his rookie brethren in terms of rookie performance too. I’m just characterizing the vibes I’m reading from the public comments thus far. And maybe it’s true that they need to see more tape. Maybe they will unleash those hours of footage of Shurmur-led practices and decide that Weeden is a guy they can mold and that under their new tutelage he’ll become a front line NFL starter. It just seems to me that the guy who plays the most important position on the team who also put 15 games of real NFL video into the universe this season is likely to have made enough of an impression on the team that they might be willing to say something that tips their hand that they like him. Of course that’s only true if they were given a positive impression.

To be fair, Norv Turner was somewhat complimentary of Weeden because he helped the Browns beat Turner’s Chargers this season. Then again, Weeden had a QB rating of 55.9 against the Chargers completing 11 of 27 passes for 129 yards in a 7-6 win.

Norv Turner Press Conference“Brandon’s a very, very young player in terms of his experience,” Turner said before adding “but he did good things in the game when we played and he did good things in the games that we evaluated getting ready for that game.” That’s not wholly uncomplimentary, but he polished it off by saying, “So for me to give you a big evaluation on Brandon would not be fair. I, first of all, haven’t met him and I just started looking at tape.” I’m sure his tape study is different now than it was when the Chargers were game planning, but didn’t Turner just say they reviewed his tape before going up against the Browns?

That line about tape study should sound familiar because it is almost exactly what Rob Chudzinski has said so far. To me that’s just enough of a company line about a guy who is far from being a locked in starter. Again, this isn’t to say anything about the qualifications of Colt McCoy or even down the depth chart to Thaddeus Lewis. This is just to say the old adage (that everyone’s tired of me quoting) is still true. If you don’t know if you have a quarterback, then you don’t have one. If you have a controversy, you don’t have one. When you have one you’ll know it.

The best case scenario for Brandon Weeden right now is that the Browns truly mean it when they say they don’t know yet. More likely though, I think they would know enough about what they’ve seen so far that they’d be expressing some confidence in what they might expect him to turn into with their coaching and with their systems. But they would only give us that information if they felt confident in him.

All that being the case, I’d be surprised if they didn’t at least explore options at the position this off-season including the draft. What position always rises in the NFL draft? Quarterback, of course. Could it rise all the way to number six? Would that even get the Browns the best QB prospect in the draft? Probably not. I know it might seem like I’m trolling with a question like that, but if you don’t know and it’s the most important question that any team needs to answer, you never know what depths – or draft heights – teams will go to achieve it. I still wouldn’t bet on the Browns doing anything like that because I just don’t see the QB prospects in the draft this year, but a bold move for a QB this off-season still wouldn’t shock me either by free agency or by trade.

In the end, this isn’t great news for Brandon Weeden, but it is good news for Browns fans, I think. One of the most frustrating parts of last season for me was the lack of true competition at quarterback as Shurmur and company handed Brandon Weeden the job. I think Weeden’s ceiling is higher than Colt McCoy’s, but I don’t doubt for one second that Colt McCoy gave the Browns the better chance to win in the first quarter of the season. The Browns were too ingrained in old school thinking to be bold enough to face potential controversy and try to win games at any cost. If that meant starting Colt McCoy for the first four to eight games and then giving way to Brandon Weeden, so be it.

We’ve seen it too many times now. Russell Wilson wasn’t supposed to be the starter in Seattle this year. It was supposed to be Matt Flynn. Colin Kaepernick wasn’t supposed to be the starter in San Francisco. It was supposed to be Alex Smith. Go back in time even further. Tom Brady wasn’t supposed to supplant Drew Bledsoe, especially after Bledsoe went down due to injury.

The Browns seem like they might be poised to make whatever decision they think will win them the most games right away. Never mind where anyone was drafted, or who started the most games this past season. Also maybe we can forget a lip-service sham of a quarterback competition that was allowed Brandon Weeden to sleepwalk through the pre-season as the Browns sputtered out of the gates. You’re supposed to do whatever you can to win football games. If that means Brandon Weeden starts, then fine, but I think I’m happy that they haven’t named him the starter just yet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anne.dunn.144 Anne Dunn

    Good article. I think you are right that current management is not too high on Weeden.

    But what amazes me is the Browns fans who watched Weeden be a really bad quarterback all season and make excuses for him and hope he’ll be the choice even if he is terrible.

    I guess it’s that big arm you guys have fallen in love with — sort of like Leaf, George, Losman, and Mallert. He could throw a ball through a bran door. . . if he could hit a barn door.

    I wonder what Turner will think when he finds out Weeden isn’t committed to learning the play book, has to have the offense simplified to kindergarten level for him, has to be walked through the plays for the next week in practice and he complains if even on route in the playbook he never learned is called in the game without his being preppred in practice. How’s he going to feel when Weeden makes a joke about being so bored by film study he falls asleep every time he tries to study it.

    I could go on and on. The other thing that is troubling is that you guys could watch someone like Joe Montana play and come away complaining that he was too short and lacked the arm strength to throw the ball 10 yards — or dismiss Peyton Manning for lacking arm strength and urge management to draft Ryan Leaf instead. BTW, he’s available if we can arrange for a parole. . . And dismiss Wilson at the beginning of the season, like most of you did, because he’s too short.

  • Derpus

    I agree Wilson would be a huge stretch at six but I can’t help but remember guys like Blaine gabbert and Christian ponder going top 12. Qbs will be taken way to high just like every other year I doubt he would be there for our third rounder. If he was that may be worth the risk.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    The dude has won playoff games. Not saying he’s greatest of all time, just a much better track record than anything we’ve got. Can we really sneeze at QB’s that have been to AFC/NFC title games (Sanchez/Smith)?

  • Hypno_Toad

    Sanchez?

    Dude. Have you seen the butt fumble? Quick, somebody show C-Bus the butt fumble!

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I can, but I can understand if you can’t. I think those teams won playoff games due to their defense and running games. All they asked Sanchez/Smith to do was not throw interceptions and pick up the occasional first down.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I think it goes well with your avatar.

  • mgbode

    grumble, grumble. i’m going to have to disagree here. that is what those teams asked those QBs to do the vast majority of the time throughout the regular season.

    however, both Sanchez and Alex Smith had absolutely huge games/plays when it was needed most in the playoffs.

    small sample sizes and it doesn’t change my opinion of them much, but thought it should be noted.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Word… I was too lazy to go look at the stats from the games. I still think Sanchez is a total train wreck though. As you know, I’ve got that buddy who blogs for the thejetsblog.com and so I watch Sanchez every Sunday that he has a game at the same time as the Browns (pretty frequently). It wasn’t the schemes or the coaches or anything else that caused Sanchez to give up the most turnovers over the past 2-year stretch, it was his own awful play.

    As for Smith, I don’t take as hard of a line against him. I’d be okay with bringing him in to compete, but even if Norv has helped him a bunch in the past I still don’t think his skill set is the true fit for the “vertical passing game” that Chud wants.

    Also, can you go refute Anne’s ridiculous comment from last night? I just don’t have the strength to do it right now.

  • mgbode

    I was thinking the Indy game his rookie year (that they lost) and the NE game his 2nd year (that they won). Looks like he had a pretty good game against Pitt that 2nd year too (another close loss), but I honestly don’t remember it. but, yeah, Sanchez isn’t even ON my list for QB options.

    I don’t know that Norv helped Alex Smith in the past. His numbers under Norv looked about like what we have seen from Brown’s QBs here. I agree though that based on the last 2 years, he’s worth some consideration but I’m skeptical as well.

    as for the comment. been there too many times. it doesn’t help. cannot refute made-up allegations.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I guess you didn’t listen to the press conferences. One of the things Norv and Chud praised about Weeden was his accuracy. What they still need to find out is whether they can teach him to get the ball out more quickly. I’m not sure where you get the idea that Weeden is dumb, doesn’t study his playbook, and can’t handle changes to plays… I’ve never heard anything like that. I also don’t know why you think he had such a terrible rookie season… it’s pretty comparable with most all rookie QBs. Also, if you take out his first game against the Eagles (you know, the one where the other team’s defense knows every play in our playbook because it’s basically the same as Andy Reid’s and vice-versa), and you get some solid stats for a rookie season with more TDs than INTs. I think it’s time you came to terms with the fact that he’s a better QB than Colt and deserves a shot at being the starter in the new offense.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I couldn’t help myself… got into it despite knowing better. Ugh. Colt McCoy – downfield passing offense.

  • mgbode

    yeah, he floats them. great for guys like Cribbs who can fight any DB for the ball, but bad in most situations.

    the thing is, I do like Colt, and hope he gets another chance somewhere. heck, Quinn never showed as much as Colt and he got another chance. maybe Reid would throw us a pick for Colt (looks like they are starting completely over at QB there and Colt can at least be a backup and help any new QB with the WCO).

  • http://www.facebook.com/anne.dunn.144 Anne Dunn

    I got the info about Weeden and preparation from his own comments to the press. I doubt his accuracy because he only completes 25% of his passes over 15 yards. I think he had a bad season because he made the same mistakes over and over again all year and ranked at the bottom of the league.. And I watched the games where he made mistake after mistake.

    It’s time for you to stop making non-stop excuses for poor play from Weeden. If this, if that, he’d be really good. If he didn’t play at all he’d have a perfect record.

    All Weeden deserves is a chance to compete in a real competition — not be given the job despite how badly he plays..

  • http://www.facebook.com/anne.dunn.144 Anne Dunn

    The worst thing about you Weeden supporters, Vindictive Pat and mgbode, is that you can’t defend Weeden with anything but excuses but you are convinced in your hearts that he is really good. You are aftraid of a real competition. Don’t want him to have to earn his job because you are actually afraid he can’t win on a level playing field.

    Get a grip guys and at least be honest with yourselves.

  • drputt

    QB IS NOT THE PROBLEM..WEEDEN WILL DO MORE THAN EXPECTED…..ELIMINATE SACKS….O’LINE…. & PLAY SOME AGRESSIVE DEFENSE

  • http://www.facebook.com/bryan.cauthon Bryan Cauthon

    As an OSU fan I saw what Weeden could do with decent wide receivers, the Browns receiver corps is mediocre at best. Give him someone to make plays and I think he is a decent QB. And how does the Browns o-line rate? Any QB will struggle with a poor o-line. Give him some talent around him and I think he will be OK. Draft another rookie QB and he will struggle with the same poor cast that Weeeden has.

  • Old Coach

    Here we go again. Weeden lovers always want to “take out his first game”. Sorry, guys, you can’t do that. The game was played, the stats count and that’s the way it is. Live with it. Also, if Norv and Chud praised Weeden’s accuracy, I hope it was with tongue in cheek.

  • Old Coach

    It was Shurmur who said last year that there would be a quarterback competition. He just didn’t mention that it would be a weighted competition (read that as handing the job to Weeden as McCoy never got to take a snap with the first string.)

  • Old Coach

    Sanchez? Really? You’ve got to be kidding. The only reason the Jets got him was that the Browns passed on the “opportunity” to take him, instead, opting to make a trade with the Jets.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    A little late to the party are we? Of course you can take out the first game… it perfectly fits the definition of an outlier. I simply cannot understand how Weeden haters were unable to see that he has great potential, especially in Chud’s vertical passing offense.

  • bruce1365

    I said it last year…why did the browns draft a shotgun QB for a behind the center offense? If what I’m hearing is correct the Browns plan to play from the shotgun 70% of the time this year then lets see what happens. I think Weeden will be fine with it. He was behind some of his draft QB brethren because other teams molded offenses around the QB they drafted.