Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) - It can only get better.
That is the thought of the Cleveland Browns’ top 2 rookies following disappointing debuts in last week’s 17-16 loss to Philadelphia.
“Can’t be any worse than the first week,” quarterback Brandon Weeden said. “I mean that jokingly but we’re all going to have rough stretches. Obviously, mine was the first week. Guys were wide open and I missed them. That’s not my character; that’s not the way I usually throw the football.”
Weeden, who was taken No. 22 overall in April, overshot receivers all afternoon including on a pair of would be touchdown throws to Mohamed Massaquoi and Alex Smith.
After 1 game, fans are already calling for a quarterback change. Weeden has tuned the negativity out.
“I’m not tone deaf, I’m deaf,” Weeden said. “I don’t listen to it. I don’t need other people telling me how bad I played. I know I played bad, so I’m not going to sit here and listen to anybody. These guys in this locker room, they’ve got my back and that’s really all I care about.”
Weeden is aware of the criticism without having to watch TV, listen to the radio, read the newspaper or check social media.
“I still to this day haven’t checked Twitter, don’t plan on checking Twitter,” Weeden said. “I don’t watch SportsCenter. It’s not my thing. If I play well, I’ll flip through and watch it, not to [watch] me, but to watch the stuff. I know I played bad. I don’t need the nation to tell me how bad I played.”
There won’t be a quarterback controversy anytime soon.
Coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert have given Weeden a pat on the back and vote of confidence.
“I talked to Coach Shurmur on Monday and then again yesterday and he told me the same thing,” Weeden said. “[General Manager Tom] Heckert said the same thing. It’s 1 bad game. You put it all in perspective. If I continue to do bad things, that’s on me. But I got to continue to build. I think they have a lot of confidence in me and my abilities, and they wouldn’t have named me the starter if they didn’t.”
After completing just 12 of 35 passes for 118 yards and 4 interceptions, Weeden couldn’t remember a worse afternoon.
“It was tough,” Weeden said. “I’ve scuffled, definitely scuffled in some games, but I don’t think I’ve had a four-quarter stretch like that where I’ve scuffled for an entire 4 quarters.”
The other first round pick – No. 3 overall, Trent Richardson, was also less than spectacular.
Richardson missed the entire preseason following a second arthroscopic surgery in 6 months on his left knee and struggled to find holes or rhythm against the Eagles.
He rushed for just 39 yards on 19 carries.
The knee wasn’t the issue.
“I’ve had no problem with it,” Richardson said. “If you want to go outside, I’ll race you now.”
After an offseason of hope concerning improvement within the Browns’ offense, it was a familiar, yet unpleasant flashback to the storyline for most of the past 13 years – field goals, punts or bust.
“I’m not worried about it and we’re not worried about it,” Richardson said. “We know that we’re going come together as a team, and we’re going do what we’ve got to do. We’re going to get our timing down. We’re going to get the right play calling down. We’re going come together as a unit.”
Richardson missed his opportunity to have an impact by dropping a pass inside the 10 that could’ve turned into 6.
“I was kicking myself, but at the same time, I’ve got to get up and wipe it off,” Richardson said. “I can’t look backward but I looked at that play probably 2 or 3 times, and I just knew I had a touchdown or I knew I was gonna get positive yards on that play.
“That’s not me. I got too happy. I smelled the end zone. If I could have just reached my hand out, I felt like I was touching it. So I got too excited. It won’t happen again.”
Regardless of the missteps and miscues, the focus is on the Bengals and playing better over the next 15 games.
“I just got to prove to them that I’m the guy,” Weeden said. “Continue to prove I can get better, not make the same mistake twice — I tell you guys that all the time — and go forward. I appreciate all the confidence they have in me, and I have the same confidence in myself. I just got to play better.”
Despite the confidence in both to be cornerstones of the offense going forward for years to come, it doesn’t make what happened Sunday any easier for either of them.
“I’m always my biggest critic,” Richardson said. “That’s just me. I’ll always criticize myself and want to get better.”
For both Weeden and Richardson, a short memory is best because the Bengals await them Sunday in Cincinnati.