By Bruce Hooley
Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden stopped by the ESPN Cleveland stage at the Cleveland Auto Show on Monday and expressed confidence in his ability to hang onto the starting job he filled for all but one game as a rookie.
Weeden stepped carefully around whether former head coach Pat Shurmur allowed him to audible last season and hinted the abundance of short throws in the West Coast Offense led to the high number of passes he had knocked down at the line of scrimmage.
As for the tepid endorsement of his abilities from the Browns’ new regime, Weeden said he understands that approach in light of the Browns’ 5-11 record.
Q: What’s it been like hearing very little complimentary about your abilities in media interviews when Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi, Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner discusses your performance?
A: “I know what’s going on with the organization. Everything I hear is from buddies. I don’t watch SportsCenter. I don’t watch that stuff. I’m busy. I have a lot going on. I don’t want other people telling me about myself. I kind of stay out of the loop.
“All the moves that have been made so far have been very positive for the organization. Bringing in Chud and Norv and all these other great coaches with a ton of experience is going to be great for this organization.
Q: Grade your performance from last season. What did you learn, and is there anything you would do differently?
A: “Average. I know I am a better player than what I played all year. I’m not satisfied with how I played all year. Being the competitor that I am, I see a lot of areas of improvement. I know I have to get better for us to win games…and reach our ultimate goal of getting to the playoffs and winning the Super Bowl. I feel like, personally, it starts with me. I have to get better.
“I would not change anything. I think I prepared well week in and week out. I felt I put myself in position…but I didn’t play as well as I was used to. I have to get better.”
Q: There was a lot of speculation last year about whether you had the freedom to audible at the line of scrimmage. Did you have that freedom?
A: “Our goal last year was to play fast and not let the defense dictate what we did, so we tried to get to the line of scrimmage and get the plays in and out as fast as possible. I can’t speak for the system we’re about to learn, because I’ve never been in it one day yet. I’m anxious to learn it. I can tell from San Diego, seeing Phillip (Rivers) do what he’s done, it looks like they give the quarterback free dome to put that team and that offense in the best position, whether it’s audibling at the line of scrimmage or getting into the two-minute offense and playing fast, whatever it may be, it looks like they put a lot on the quarterback….I hope I get that freedom.”
Q: Can you explain the high number of passes you had batted down at the line of scrimmage?
A: “I’ve watched several games from last year so far this off season. Looking back, it may be two things. Number one, I need to speed up my drops. I need to get to the top of my drop faster. That’s one thing I’ve already stressed a lot.
“We threw a lot of those shallow crossing routs. They develop pretty fast. Those defensive tackles knew they weren’t going to get home. They knew they weren’t going to get to the quarterback, so they just threw their hands up. These guys were 6-4 or 6-5. I could be 6-11 and it still would be hard for me to get ball over those guys. You’re throwing balls at the line of scrimmage or just beyond it. Regardless, there’s no excuse for it. I have to find a way to find throwing lanes to complete balls.
Q: How do you feel about your treatment in the media from the Browns’ new management structure?
A: “I get it, because they haven’t been here the last year. These aren’t the guys who set their draft room and drafted me. They did their scouring report on me a year ago at this time, but they didn’t actually draft me. I get it.
“If I had played better, we would have won more games. If I would have done more to help the team win games, it might be a different case. But I’m confident in my abilities. I’m very confident in my ability to get better in Year 2.
“I kind of know how it works on a daily basis and a weekly basis. It’s a totally different league than playing college football. We’re going to be a better team this year. We have guys with more experience. We have guys who have a year under their belt. They’re key guys like Trent and Josh and other guys, so it’s an exciting time. I’m not discouraged by it.”
Bruce Hooley hosts The Hooligans from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on ESPN 850 WKNR. He is the author of, “That’s Why I’m Here: The Chris and Stefanie Spielman Story.”
Email Bruce firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Bruce on Twitter @bhoolz
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