BEREA — There is no question that the future of who will be the Browns starting quarterback moving forward is being evaluated. There are many decisions expected to be made within the next couple of weeks regarding the direction of the Browns front office. However, none might be as big as who the quarterback will be as the team looks to 2013.
“I can’t worry about that,” Brandon Weeden said. “I need to play well for myself and the guys in the locker room.”
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With two games to play, Weeden hasn’t shown the progress many expected him to make by now. Amidst speculation of a possible new coach/general manager combination, all bets might be off, even though Weeden was selected with the 22nd overall pick in April.
“I can’t say I’m completely happy with my season,” Weeden said. “There are times I played well and times that I didn’t play well.
“I’m not going to blame that on being a rookie because that is long gone,” he said. “I have to be more consistent and that is on me.”
New CEO Joe Banner recently said that all aspects of the team were being evaluated, including the quarterback.
Pat Shurmur was asked what he expects to see out of Weeden in the final two games.
“I want him to play consistent winning football,” Shurmur said.
When pressed further, Shurmur explained a little bit more in detail.
“You need to get completions and you need to execute well,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we do everything in the run game right. We’ve got to get the team in the end zone. You want to be efficient, explosive and play good quarterback.”
Currently, Weeden is ahead of just Mark Sanchez (67.9), Matt Cassel (66.7) and John Skelton (55.4) with a rating of 72.4. The other three quarterbacks have all been benched.
However, Shurmur said he didn’t think about replacing Weeden against the Redskins.
“I’ve been at places where it has happened,” Shurmur said. “I did not think about it (against the Redskins).”
Colt McCoy, who has yet to throw a pass in 2012 had better statistics in 2011 than Weeden has thus far in 2012. Even though it wasn’t by much, in 2011,McCoy was 265-of-463 for 2,733 yards (57.2 pct.) with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His rating was 74.6. In 13 games, McCoy was 4-9 as the starter. For his career, he has a 6-15 record and is 400-of-685 (58.4 pct.) for 4,309 yards with 20 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. Overall, his rating is 74.5. He also has rushed 91 times for 346 yards.
Through 14 games, Weeden is 285-of-498 for (57.2 pct.) for 3,281 yards with 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions for a rating of 72.4.
Another big area of struggle for Weeden is the fact that he throws a lot of interceptions. Drew Brees and rookie Andrew Luck lead the NFL with 18 interceptions each and Weeden is right behind, as he’s tied with Mark Sanchez with 17 interceptions. Brees and Luck have thrown 76 and 66 passes more, respectively, than Weeden has.
“You have to be smart,” Weeden said. “If you get too cautious, you make mistakes. At this point (of the season) I have to let it fly.
“If you look at my track record and you look at guys that are aggressive, they are m ore susceptible to interceptions.”
Another dubious category that Weeden leads the NFL is in batted down passes. Despite being 6-3, he has had 21 passes batted down.
“What’s important is we just keep looking to throw the ball in lanes,” Shurmur said. “It’s very hard to throw over guys. It happens at times, but we just try to keep working on it and try to eliminate them.”
Weeden seemed to be turning the corner after the bye week when he posted four- straight games with a passing rating above 78 with three interceptions and three wins.
“I want to go back and play like I did the previous weeks before (the Redskins game),” Weeden said. “Not turn the ball over and going out and playing well. I need to get better and finish strong.”
Shurmur said he grades Weeden constantly, but wouldn’t divulge his findings.
“I evaluate him based on every throw,” Shurmur said. “I’ve said it all along, when he has the opportunity to throw the football, it comes down to decision-making, timing, accuracy and all those things. You grade him plus or minus in all that. Just like my conversations with the player remain private, my grades of the player remain private. I think what’s important is we all try to do what we can to play winning football and we didn’t. I think the same can be said for a lot of the team.”
Shurmur was asked if he thought Weeden was still the answer at quarterback for the Browns.
“I’m looking forward to him having a better game (each) week,” he said. “I think that’s where the focus needs to be.
“I think of him as a rookie. I think he’ll be much better in his second year.”
There was a report out of Denver Wednesday that the Broncos were interested in possibly drafting Weeden in April. Shurmur said that didn’t influence the Browns to draft Weeden in the first round.
“We were aware of the fact that the Broncos liked Weeden and had a decent idea on who liked him,” Shurmur said. “We had a draft strategy and that’s how it worked out.”
Weeden confirmed the Broncos showed interest in him.
“There was interest, but it is what it is,” he said. “I’m a Cleveland Brown and that’s where I want to be.”
There’s no question in today’s NFL that teams have to have the quarterback situation right and it Cleveland, it’s no different.
The Browns placed DB T.J. Ward and LB James-Michael Johnson on injured reserve with knee injuries. Neither player is expected to need surgery according to the Browns.
Ward finished the season with 68 tackles, one sack, one interception, four passes broken up and three forced fumbles. It is the second-straight season Ward finished the season on injured reserve. He missed the final eight games of the 2011 season with a sprained foot. Most likely, Ward will be replaced by rookie Tashaun Gipson.
“T.J.’s done a nice job and it is unfortunate he has to go on IR,” Shurmur said. “Fortunatley, he didn’t require surgery. It’s just going to take a little bit of time. He was doing a nice job. He had an interception in the last game. We’ll move on and play other guys.”
Shurmur said that DB Usama Young will move to strong safety and Gipson will play free safety.
“(Gipson’s) going to get his chance,” Shurmur said. “We feel good about it. He’s a good athlete. He’s been very productive. He’s one of a large number of rookies that’s gone in and played. His role each week has been a little bit different, some weeks larger than others. He’s going to get a real good look this week of course.”
Johnson finished his rookie season with 32 tackles in eight starts. He missed the first four games with a rib/oblique injury. LB L.J. Fort and LB Craig Robetson are expected to replace Johnson.
“We’ll play a lot of nickel and move the guys around,” Shurmur said.
Shurmur Mum on Patterson
Shurmur refused to answer why the Browns released DB Dimitri Patterson. All he would say is that he was happy that he caught on with the Dolphins. By Patterson signing with the Dolphins it saved the Browns $3 million that was guaranteed to Patterson next year as Miami will take over that payment.
“No, I’m not going to talk about the whys or what-fors there,” Shurmur said. “I will say this though, I’m happy for him that he’s going to be able to finish out the year in Miami. That will be great for him.”
DB Buster Skrine is expected to replace Patterson as the nickel cornerback.
The only comment made by the Browns was in a three sentence press release on Dec. 17.
“The Cleveland Browns (today) waived defensive back Dimitri Patterson. Patterson, who joined the club as an unrestricted free agent in 2011, appeared in seven contests this season with four starts. He totaled 28 tackles and broke up five passes.”
No Sitting T-Rich
Shurmur was asked since it’s common knowledge that RB Trent Richardson is less than 100 percent with a rib injury if he thought about sitting him down for the final two games.
“No, no thoughts (of shutting down Richardson),” Shurmur said. “He’ll play. None of us are 100 percent right now. When you get to the point where you can’t play like T.J. or JMJ, then you shut them down, but if you’re nicked, you play.”
LB Kaluka Maiava is the fourth captain for this week’s game. Maiava is known mostly as a special team player, but has been forced into a starter’s role with the season-ending injuries to LB Chris Gocong and LB Scott Fujita.
Maiava has started 12 games with 48 tackles, three passes broken up, two sacks and two forced fumbles. He also has five special team tackles.
No Frostee or Cameron
DE Frostee Rucker (groin) was not at practice after getting injured against the Redskins. Also, TE Jordan Cameron (undisclosed) was also not at practice. All other players were accounted for. WR Jordan Norwood, who was placed on injured reserve early in the season with an ankle injury was practicing. Norwood was designated as a player that could return.
The new players added to the roster are LB Adrian Moten, DB Prince Miller and DL Hall Davis to the active roster. Davis was on the Browns practice squad.
The three players take the roster spots of T.J. Ward, Dimitri Patterson and James-Michael Johnson.
The Browns added TE George Bryan to the practice squad to replace Davis. Bryan was an undrafted free agent signed by the Cowboys after playing at North Carolina State.
Being eliminated officially from the playoffs, Shurmur said he is confident that the players won’t give up in the final two games.
“I reminded the players this is what we do,” Shurmur said. “At some point, somebody is going to tell you can’t play anymore and you’re going to miss it.”
Shurmur still refused to talk about anything more than this week’s game.
“My focus is on winning in Denver,” he said. “We owe it to ourselves to play well.”
The Browns introduced Alec Scheiner as the team’s new president on Tuesday and Shurmur was asked what he knew of the former Cowboys’ executive.
“I know little about him,” he said. “It’s more of a business move and I’m focused on the football side. We’re excited to have him.”