Back to square one: Weeden trying to impress new staff
BEREA – There’s a number from last season that gets under the skin of Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden long after the final snap was taken.
It almost seems to embarrass Weeden when he brings up the topic of his 57.4 percent completion percentage. That coming from a quarterback that completed 69.5 percent of his passes in college.
A thorough analysis of the 15 games in which Weeden played led to several conclusions. He already knew that he had a tendency to pat the ball too much from the reminders of everyone from former president Mike Holmgren down the line, but the film backed up their concerns. There’s a need to develop better footwork, which could come with more time in the shotgun.
Bottom line? Weeden has to improve his overall skills to gain the confidence of the new coaching regime.
“They’re not going to stick me out there if they don’t think I’m the guy that can win games,” Weeden said Tuesday after a minicamp practice. “That’s the way this position works. You also have to do it in those meeting rooms. You have to retain information.
“They’re throwing a bunch of information at us. You have to impress them in there as well, but when it’s all said and done, you have to do it in here. You have to do in on the practice field.”
Weeden will enter training camp as the starter, but there are no assurances that he will be the number-one guy when the season begins. Jason Campbell was signed recently to add a veteran presence and perhaps challenge for the job. There’s also the possibility of adding a rookie to the mix in the draft.
“Again, that’s the nature of this business,” Weeden said. “I’m worried about me. I’m not worried about what’s going on outside of what I can control. There’s always speculation at this time of the year.”
There’s no question that Weeden is looking forward to spending more time in the shotgun this season under new coordinator Norv Turner. In the west-coast offense run by ex-coach Pat Shurmur last season, Weeden was under center more than any other starting quarterback in the NFL.
Weeden grew up in the shotgun, dating back to his high school career. It puts him in a comfort zone that he didn’t enjoy as much in 2012.
Weeden would never say anything bad about the former coaching regime, but he has to feel like he’s getting a fresh start in Turner’s offense.
“This offense possesses a lot of the strengths that I have,” he said. “We’re throwing the ball down the field. We’re throwing deeper routes. I’m going to be in the shotgun a little bit more. You look at Phil Rivers; he was in the shotgun over 70 percent of the time.”
Turner coached Rivers during his tenure as coach of the San Diego Chargers. The hope is that Turner’s expertise will help Weeden take a big stride forward.
“You see a young guy that has some tools,” Chudzinski said. “He has the ability to get the ball down the field. We project the things we’re going to try to do with him. You’re looking for progress from a guy who was a rookie who showed progress. You want to see him take the next step, and we have to teach him a new offense in the meantime.”
The good thing is that Weeden admits to his mistakes.
“I never had a completion percentage as low as I did last year,” he said. “That’s one thing I’m going to stress on.”