Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) - Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden is learning first hand how difficult it is to win in the NFL.
He’s also finding out that he could use a little help along the way.
Weeden stressed on Monday that they must get the football into the hands of rookie running back Trent Richardson as much as possible.
“We’ve got to find a way to get 33 the ball,” Weeden said. “Whether it’s [throwing] out of the backfield or handing it to him.”
Richardson, who is averaging 3.5 yards per carry, has run for a touchdown in each of the last 3 games but is averaging just 16 carries per contest.
“When you have a guy there like Trent, he’s there to take a lot of pressure off of us,” Weeden said. “If we keep ourselves out of 2nd and 10 and 3rd and 10, you’re able to run the football.
“When you’re forced to throw the football, it’s tough to win being so one-dimensional.”
Weeden is being asked to throw an awful lot as a rookie. He’s averaging 41.75 attempts per game and has thrown it 92 more times then the Browns have tried to run.
“That’s not anybody’s fault but our own,” Weeden said. “We’re putting ourselves in those situations where we’re having to throw the football. That’s tough no matter what defense you’re playing.”
Much like last year, the Browns are slow to get out of the gate in the first half. They have been outscored 21-6 in the first quarter and 29-21 in the second.
“I think that’s focus,” Weeden said. “You look at penalties there, there’s bad throws, there’s missed assignments or whatever it may be. I think it’s just coming out of the locker room ready to go. I don’t know really and truly what it is, but it’s got to be between the ears.”
In the second half they pick it up a bit. They are outscored 20-24 in the third but take the fourth quarter 26-24.
“We’ve talked about it,” Weeden said. “We know we have to start faster. You can’t spot a team 14 like we did Buffalo, you can’t start behind and try to work your way back. It’s too tough”
The Browns are also struggling to catch the football.
According to STATS LLC, the Browns lead the NFL in dropped passes with 11. Receiver Greg Little is tied for 2nd in the NFL with 4 other players with 4 drops.
“As a quarterback I understand there’s going to be drops,” Weeden said. “If it’s a mental thing, if it’s a focus thing then I’ll address it but with these guys I don’t think it is. I can be a little more accurate, make it a little bit easier on them and they just need to find a way to get it done.”
Even as a rookie, Weeden is looked at as a leader within the locker room but getting in the face of teammates just isn’t his style.
“We’re pros,” Weeden said. “You can’t go in and jump a guy and do that. That’s not the way it works. You just have to just talk to them and tell them what you expect. They know the issue, coach Shurmur has addressed it. We’ll grow from that.”
Compounding the problem is that injuries have made the Browns shorthanded at receiver very quickly entering the new work week.
Weeden had just 4 wide-outs to practice with on Monday. Mohamed Massaquoi (concussion), Josh Cribbs (concussion) and Travis Benjamin (undisclosed) were not on the field.
“That’s just the nature of this business,” Weeden said. “The guys that are here have to step up. We’re hoping good news on Mo. We’re hoping good news on Josh [Cribbs] and Travis as well. We’re hoping for the best, but if they’re not able to go, which we won’t know for several days, those other guys gotta step up.”
Through 4 games – once again – the top two leading receivers don’t play the position. Richardson leads the team with 15 receptions and Ben Watson has 12.
Weeden has completed 53.9 percent of his passes and is 3 yards shy of 1,000 for the season. The touchdown to interception ratio is not where he wants it – 7 picks to just 3 TDs.
Weeden is starting to feel more comfortable under center, but he is still anxiously awaiting his first NFL victory.
“I think it’s just confidence,” Weeden said. “Confidence in the guys around me, confidence in my ability, making good throws and building off of those. It’s getting better but I’m not even close to satisfied. We haven’t won a game yet and that’s my main goal.
“Until we start winning games it’s tough to be satisfied whether you played good or not.”