Another stinging defeat. Another damaged quarterback.
The Browns are losing games and key players at an alarming rate.
With Brandon Weeden sustaining a concussion in Sunday’s troubling 32-28 loss against Jacksonville, and Jason Campbell still not medically cleared to practice after suffering a head injury last week against Pittsburgh, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski began preparing for this week’s game at New England not knowing who he will start at quarterback against the powerful Patriots.
Gee, how comforting. Bill Belichick must be panicked.
Weeden played all four quarters – 75 snaps – against the Jaguars, and didn’t complain about any symptoms until afterward, when he was diagnosed with the concussion. Weeden was sent home Monday after reporting to the Browns’ training facility and is following the league’s protocol on head injuries. Chudzinski did not know ”exactly” when Weeden got hurt, but said it’s not unusual for players to not feel well until after the game.
Campbell has been cleared to resume football activities, but still can’t practice. If he’s not on the field Wednesday, the Browns (4-8) may have to start Alex Tanney, who was signed last week off Dallas’ practice squad. He’s best known for a YouTube trick-shot video he made at Division III Monmouth (Ill.) College and has not played a single down in a regular-season NFL game.
Chudzinski said it’s also possible the Browns will sign a free-agent quarterback.
”These next 24 to 48 hours will be key,” Chudzinski said. ”We have a number of contingency plans. All the possibilities are open right now.”
Tanney was given a small package of plays last week so he would be ready in case he had to play against the Jaguars. Ideally for the Browns, Campbell will be ready, but the way their luck has gone lately, they’re preparing for the worst.
”We can wait,” Chudzinski said. ”We have a few days to let it sort it out and we’ll have to know something by the time that we get into practice. If Alex is the guy, then we’ll have him ready and have him working and he’ll have a package where he can be successful.”
Chudzinski said it’s possible the Browns’ coaching staff may have to prepare several game plans for Sunday, one tailored to the strengths of whoever is behind center.
”We’ll have different possibilities and we’ll have to see how it plays out during the course of the week, when guys can practice or be cleared to practice or be cleared to play and how much practice time they would need,” Chudzinski said. ”It may be different for each guy.”
Their quarterback conundrum comes at sensitive time for the Browns (4-8), who are reeling after blowing a lead in the final four minutes and losing to the Jaguars. Once at 3-2, Cleveland has dropped six of seven and had a season filled with optimism slide toward another filled with failure.
Still, Chudzinski tried to spin some optimism into an otherwise dreary situation.
”I see good signs in the direction and the progress and the improvement,” he said. ”Those things get overshadowed by the end results. Obviously, that’s the tough thing, especially in the last few weeks. But this is what I came here for. We have a plan. I believe in that plan and I’ll navigate us through this to the better days that lay ahead for us. I’m fully committed and undaunted in doing that.”
Chudzinski defended his decision to stay aggressive late in the first half, when Weeden threw two interceptions and fumbled in the final 2:35 as the Jaguars scored 13 quick points to turn a 14-7 deficit into a 20-14 halftime lead.
”It’s a philosophical thing,” Chudzinski said. ”We’re going to continue that type of aggressive mentality. We’re going to play to win and expect good things to happen and make good things happen as opposed to being concerned the bad things that might happen. There’s going to be times where it works out and there’s going to be times where it doesn’t work out
”Obviously, hindsight is 20/20.”
Looking back was again tough for star cornerback Joe Haden, who bit on a move by Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts and gave up the game-winning TD pass with 40 seconds left. Following Sunday’s loss, an emotional Haden choked back tears and his voice quivered while discussing the pain of losing.
Haden said Monday that he didn’t regret his comments and won’t tolerate losing.
”I want us to be successful, because I’m just used to success,” he said. ”That’s just the way I play, that’s the way I put myself out there. I know we got a lot of dudes in the locker room that do the same thing and it just hurts when you don’t come in with a W.”
NOTES: WR Josh Gordon’s record-setting day was still a major topic of conversation. Gordon had 10 catches for 261 yards and became the first player in league history to record consecutive 200-yard games. ”You’re seeing the product of his hard work and his commitment to what he’s been doing,” Chudzinski said. ”It’s no surprise to me.”