Give Weeden a chance
If he’s smart – and the jury is still out on that – Pat Shurmur will give Brandon Weeden plenty of reps in Thursday night’s exhibition finale against the Chicago Bears.
Yes, I know the final exhibition means play your starters for a series, maybe two, then allow them to watch the rest of the game from the sidelines. Something about saving them for the regular season and not leaving them open to injuries.
That, of course, is negative thinking, something with which I am somewhat familiar. But I’m not a football coach. And I don’t play one on the Internet.
But if Weeden does not play at least one half of the Bears exhibition, he will be woefully unprepared for the regular-season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles Sept. 9 at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Unless Shurmur and offensive coordinator Brad Childress have been keeping their money-counts offense under wraps for strategic reasons, their rookie quarterback will unfairly get the rudest of welcomes to the National Football League.
Weeden, who has yet to take a snap in the second half of a game, has learned next to nothing during the exhibition season other than realizing ball security is paramount if you have the remotest chance of winning a game.
He needs as much work as he can get before the games become meaningful. And his exhibition statistics back up that notion. Let’s take a look.
In the first three exhibitions, Weeden has thrown 49 passes and completed 24 for 297 yards, one interception and no touchdowns. In 17 series (one of them just one play), he has produced just one touchdown (on the ground) and five field goals. He has been sacked four times in six quarters and fumbled three times, losing two.
Not exactly the kind of stats you’d want your quarterback to have entering the regular season. If he was a veteran with those numbers, no problem. But he’s a wet-behind-the-ears rookie who has no idea what awaits beginning with the Eagles.
He might think he’s ready. And Shurmur might think he’s ready. He’s not even close, and failing to give him significant reps against the Bears will be more detrimental than helpful.
With few exceptions, the coaching staff has tied Weeden’s hands. Rarely does he throw the long ball. What’s wrong with stretching the field to loosen up opposing defenses? Could it be the coaches have deemed the offensive starters not ready, thus dumbing down the attack?
Right now, those starters are playing embarrassingly bad football. Sort of like what we’ve witnessed the last four years of Browns football on that side of the ball during the regular season. Very offensive.
Perhaps Shurmur and Childress are being extra cautious because Weeden is a rookie. If that’s the case, then sit him down and let Colt McCoy start. Handling Weeden with kid gloves is not the right way.
He needs to be thrown into the fire with as much ammunition as the coaches can provide. Let him make mistakes. As long as they are mistakes of aggression, that’s OK. But mistakes due to timid coaching are inexcusable.
Not to worry, though. Shurmur and Childress can be counted on play it vest-close against the Bears. Same old, same old.
Only the faces change.