Chudzinski holds off on naming Browns starting QB
BEREA, Ohio -- Although head coach Rob Chudzinski has not said it, it would be a surprise not to see quarterback Brian Hoyer at the helm when the Browns take on the Bengals this Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
"I'm going to wait to make any determination on (Hoyer starting) until I have all the information," Chudzinski said when talking about Hoyer's performance. "I thought it was a gutsy performance. He had some turnovers in the second half, I know a couple of throws he would have liked to have back, but that didn't faze him and when we needed him to rise up to the occasion on that last drive, he was able to do that and make the plays, ultimately that helped us win the game."
When asked to clarify what he meant about having all the information, Chudzinski responded, "Just find out (Brandon) Weeden's status, really from a process standpoint. What we do today is just evaluate the previous day's game, coach our guys, go through the corrections and those types of things. Then we'll sit down later today and talk moving forward, in terms of this next week’s game. We'll find out from a health standpoint of what guy's status are coming up in the next day or two. From a game plan standpoint, on what we think we need to do and make those plans going forward."
Last week, Weeden saw a hand specialist for his thumb injury and the prognosis was positive. Reports said there was a chance Weeden would be able to play this week.
"He's made improvement with it," Chudzinski said "Again, we'll see in the next day or two where that's at and see where he is going forward.
"Again, I just want to have all the information. That's how we did it last week and we'll look at it every week and make the best determination of who it is that is going to play at that position as well as any position."
Weeden has not thrown a pass since spraining his right thumb Sept. 15 against the Ravens.
Hoyer responded in his first start of the season with 30-of-54 passing performance for 321 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. His rating was 68.5, and he helped the Browns put 31 points on the board.
If the Browns deem Weeden can use another week of rest, that will defer Chudzinski's decision.
"That's ultimately my responsibility," Chudzinski said. "To make the decisions that give our team the best chance and the best opportunity to win as I perceive that and that's what we'll do in this case and in all cases."
Hoyer led the Browns to 24 first half points, but then threw three interceptions before rallying the Browns to a game-winning drive in the waning moments. Chudzinski said that the ability to bounce back is big.
"It's huge," he said. "You have to be able to do that at that position in this league, no matter what type of game you're having because so many of these games come down to the end, and you have to be able to do that and perform at the end and have a short memory of what has happened."
Chudzinski was asked about the interceptions and if they are correctable.
"They're gong to happen," Chudzinski said. "It's football. You want to eliminate the ones you can do something about. The decisions that maybe you're forcing something or maybe somebody's not there or you misread the coverage. Those are the ones that you want to try and eliminate as much as you can, but if you're going to attack and play the way we're talking about playing there are bad things that occasionally are going to happen in building the mentality that we just move on and keep playing."
Chudzinski said he was confident in Hoyer and the offense on the final drive.
"That was the belief I had in (Hoyer) and we saw it in the preseason," Chudzinski said. "I know it was the fourth preseason game, but he was able to something very similar in that game. Just looking at the guy’s eyes on the sideline, the offense, all of them as a group, they believed. When I saw them and talked to them, how much we'd enjoy this after the series was over and we scored the touchdown and the looks I got back from them, I knew we had a great shot (at scoring)."
The game-winning drive resulted in Hoyer hitting Jordan Cameron in the corner of the end zone. Cameron was asked what Hoyer was like in the huddle on the final drive.
"He was confident," Cameron said. "He was awesome. Very poised. "
Cameron was impressed the way Hoyer came back after having a rough third quarter.
"That's football. There are peaks and valleys," he said. "He had a rough third quarter, but he bounced back."
On the game-winning touchdown pass, Hoyer put the ball where only Cameron could get to it according to Chudzinski.
"Guys being accurate is one thing but putting the ball where he receivers can catch it and do things with it after the catch is another."
-- Chudzinski was asked more than once if the Browns plan on trading WR Josh Gordon.
"We have no plan on (trading Gordon)."
When pressed again if that included WR Greg Little, he responded, "We have no plans on any of those trades, I think (team president) Joe (Banner) addressed that the other day."
Chudzinski was asked if he talked to Gordon or Little amidst reports on ESPN that the pair were on the trading block.
"I have not," he said. "I don't really need to because there are no plans. If there was I would talk to (them).
"Otherwise, I've talked to these guys, in general. The things that are out there, that people say, the rumors, the things that swirl around are all just noise. The reality is what's in that team meeting."
Gordon played his first game of the season and had a career-best 10 receptions for 146 yards, including a touchdown. He also ran a reverse for 22 yards. He played 70 of 73 offensive snaps or 96 percent of the plays.
Chudzinski was asked how much difference was the offense with Gordon playing.
"It's tough to determine the percentage, but there are things we did better as an offense that helped," he said. "Overall, we protected better but as the game went on I think Josh Gordon being back, there were a number of factors that factored into our offense improving. We're getting better."
-- Cameron caught six passes for 66 yards, including three touchdowns.
"I'm just trying to be a playmaker," he said. "I'm just happy we won."
One of his catches for a touchdown was from punter Spencer Lanning, who threw to him on a fake field goal.
"It seemed like the ball was in the air for 30 seconds," Cameron said.
-- Chudzinski said he was told that the last time someone punted a ball, kicked an extra point and threw a touchdown pass was in 1968, but that's what Lanning accomplished against the Vikings.
"Maybe he was a Punt, Pass & Kick Champion as a kid," Chudzinski said.
"I put a picture up in a team meeting room of the last extra point," he said. "(After the touchdown), it took me a second or two to realize we have to kick an extra point with Brian (Hoyer) holding and Spencer kicking.
"I told the team our slogan all week was to do a little bit more and that's what it ended up being (with Lanning)."
-- Chudzinski was asked if he gave the Browns Monday off, which some teams do after wins.
"Right now, we have too much work to do to have a victory Monday."
-- The Browns defense came through when it needed to get off the field. With 3:32 left in the game and the Browns were down to their last timeout, they forced quarterback Christian Ponder to throw an incomplete pass to Greg Jennings, forcing a punt.
But by forcing the punt, the Browns set the stage for Hoyer to lead the Browns down the field for the game-winning touchdown.
"We did a much better job on third down," Chudzinski said.
-- Rookie LB Barkevious Mingo saw his playing time increase to 54 defensive plays, which was 68 percent of the plays. He was in on only two special teams plays against the Vikings and picked up his second sack of the season.
"It was a great win and a challenge for us," Mingo said.
-- With K Billy Cundiff (quad) injured, Chudzinski was asked if they need to bring in another kicker.
"We'll see how Billy does."
Cundiff was in the locker room and was upbeat about his chances.