Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) — It’s never as good as you think it is, and never as bad as you think it is.
That is the approach that quarterback Brandon Weeden has taken following his preseason debut last Friday in Detroit as he looks ahead to Thursday night’s game in Green Bay.
The No. 22 overall pick was just 3-for-9 for 62 yards including a fumble and an interception against the Lions which has already sent some fans to the nearest bridge.
“Numbers are deceiving,” Weeden said. “I think there’s just a couple mental things on my part. If we can get on the same page with a couple of my receivers, those numbers [would be better]. When you’re only throwing it 9 times, it doesn’t look good when you’re 33 percent. Numbers are skewed just a little bit sometimes.”
Weeden is anxious to get back out there less than a week from what many consider a disappointing debut.
“It’s a quick turnaround but it’s been good,” Weeden said. “We’ve come together, kind of learned from our mistakes, and we’ve put together a pretty good week. So yeah, I’m excited to get back out there and kind of get out and not redeem myself, but get out and correct the mistakes I made last week.”
Despite what desperate fans, who are hoping Weeden is the solution to the Browns’ quarterback troubles, may think – 15 snaps in a preseason game is hardly any type of barometer to accurately project how successful Weeden’s career in Cleveland will be.
Head coach Pat Shurmur bristled Tuesday when asked by a reporter about Weeden bouncing back from a sub-par debut.
“You guys are painting his performance as less than whatever number one,” Shurmur said. “Number two, I think he’s a very resilient guy so when he has a bad play, or two or a bad series or two, I see him bounce back extremely well.
“I notice the same Brandon, but in my opinion I think it’s very, very soon to start characterizing good and bad.”
The good news is that Weeden will get more than just 3 series Thursday night against the Packers which should help him be able to get more into the flow of the game and be smarter with the ball once they cross midfield.
“When you know you’re not going to play very much you want to be aggressive,” Weeden said. “That’s just my nature, I’m an aggressive player. In this league, 3 points are so precious, we’ve got such a good kicker, you have to be smart with it. You can’t force balls in tight windows.”
The starters will play the entire first half and depending on his evaluation at halftime, Shurmur may or may not put them on the field in the third quarter.
With that extra playing time, Shurmur would like to see the offense be more efficient – especially in the scoring department.
“You like to see completions,” Shurmur said. “You like to see if the ball is thrown down field, again you get completions. You obviously want to score points, but you want to see the quarterback manage scoring drives and do it efficiently.”
The highlight against the Lions for Weeden was a 34-yard strike to rookie Travis Benjamin, who is not expected to play against the Packers, up the far sideline.
Stretching the field has been a foreign concept to Browns quarterbacks over the years. Offensive coordinator Brad Childress expects Weeden to change that – even if it results in the occasional interception.
“You rarely want to sit on that ability,” Childress said. “A lot of times discretion is the better part of that valor of trying to stick it through the eye of a needle. But we want him to be aggressive. We want him to keep shooting.”
Weeden, who is not shy about slinging it down field, promises he’ll keep throwing.
“I am not scared to throw the ball in the end zone,” Weeden said. “There is just a fine line. You have to know the situation. Three points is not the end of the world. I want to score every time we touch the football, but sometimes the defense wins [and you settle for a field goal].
“I am not scared to throw the ball to the back of the end zone.”
He might still be scared of the length of the play calls that come from Childress in the Browns’ version of the west coast system.
As easy and elementary as calling out a play might sound, some have left Weeden tongue tied on occasion prompting Childress to encourage Weeden to talk to himself and practice calling plays out at home.
“I can’t say I’ve done it in front of a mirror, but I did talk to myself in my hotel room last week,” Weeden said. “In college, we’d signal everything because we played so fast. In OTAs, we had a new install every single day. So at night, I had my wife, I’d send her a picture of the script and she’d call the play — which she was butchering every play by the way — and so anyway I’d read them back to her.”
Much like the Lions, the Packers are expected to apply some heavy pressure to Weeden up front. As far as Childress is concerned, that’s a welcome sight.
“We had a couple of rush issues [against the Lions] but I thought he did a decent job Childress said. “Quarterbacks can tell you that they’re comfortable with the blitz but you throw that chin music at them, you always want to see how they react. [The more] the merrier I guess. He can dial it up. He did in the first game against San Diego.
“It’d be good for all of us to see how we react.”
Even with the two turnovers, Shurmur feels that Weeden handled the heat from Detroit’s front 4 well and wasn’t overwhelmed.
“I saw in the last game that this thing is not too big for him,” Shurmur said. “That’s an industry term, ‘the game is slowing down,’ but I think there wasn’t anything out there that surprised him or he didn’t see. I think generally speaking, [Weeden] included, we just need to execute better.”
Where Weeden and the Browns are concerned, that is the ultimate goal in preseason – execution.
And not of themselves.