September 2, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
74°F

Petrak’s Browns commentary: Not time to lose interest

Everyone’s always in a hurry to move the story forward.

I completely understand, but on this topic I’m going to stay stuck in the present, at least for a while.

After the Browns’ predictable yet nonetheless exasperating 0-2 start, plenty of people want to jump too far ahead. They already have quarterback Brandon Weeden’s Cleveland career over, and are asking if Jason Campbell could do better or if Brian Hoyer should play so the front office can better evaluate him.

There’s even been discussion of specific college quarterbacks who may enter the NFL Draft in May but will remain nameless in this space.

Has everyone forgotten it’s Week 3?

Yes, the Browns are 0-2 and history shows the playoffs are a long shot. Yes, Weeden could miss significant time with a sprained thumb (we don’t know this yet). Yes, the first two games were painful to watch and incapable of generating excitement.

But fans wait all year for Browns season, so it’s too early to give up or lose interest. And draft talk isn’t allowed in September.

I’m well aware the chances of Weeden remaining the starting quarterback beyond this year are remote. But if the plan was to give him the season to prove his worth — or lack of thereof — one poor game and one average one aren’t enough to scrap it.

If and when the thumb is healthy, he should be the man taking the snaps. He was better in Week 2 than Week 1, despite again getting little help, and has the greatest potential of the quarterbacks on the roster. He also gives the Browns the best chance to win.

There will be plenty of time to analyze the pro prospects of college quarterbacks with initials like J.M. from A&M, T.B. from the ’Ville, T.B. from Death Valley and B.H. from L.A.

For now, I prefer to focus on the trip to Minnesota on Sunday and the 14 games left in a long season we couldn’t wait to arrive. And the hoped-for improvement that would make the early misery seem worthwhile.

But the practice week begins today, so I will look ahead just a bit. If Weeden can’t play this week, coach Rob Chudzinski should start Campbell. He was No. 2 for a reason, and his 71 career starts give him the edge over Hoyer to beat the Vikings.

After all, that should be the focus. It’s only Week 3.

Observations

A few things I noticed after watching the game a second time.

• Offensive coordinator Norv Turner is trying to protect Weeden, but he can’t do it alone. On multiple occasions in the two games Turner called for extra protection — five linemen, a running back and a tight end — only to see Weeden sacked anyway.

• Right guard Oniel Cousins, forced into the lineup by injuries, continued to get driven backward. He’s normally a tackle and can’t handle the bigger bodies on the inside.

• Turner still wasn’t ready to trust running back Trent Richardson to pick up the blitz on third down. He went with fullback Chris Ogbonnaya again vs. the Ravens.

• Weeden completed nine straight passes in the first half before a throwaway to set up a late field goal.

• Linebacker Quentin Groves’ ankle was sprained when the pile fell into the back of his left leg on the kickoff return to start the second half. His leg was trapped underneath the bodies, and the sprain looked serious.

• Tank Carder caused a touchback when he was lying in the end zone on a punt and reached back to stop the ball. Instead of the ball at the 1-yard line, the Ravens started at the 20 and drove for their first touchdown.

• Ogbonnaya hesitated as he turned upfield on the pivotal missed connection down the left sideline in the third quarter. He also wasn’t running at full speed. Weeden played his part in the incompletion by throwing a dart to a spot, rather than lofting the pass to ensure a completion.

• Defensive coordinator Ray Horton went back to a traditional nickel package against three-receiver sets. He used five defensive backs, with cornerback Chris Owens coming off the bench and playing on the outside and starter Buster Skrine moving inside to the slot.

On the spot

The CBS broadcast didn’t show a straight-down-the-line camera shot of the too-close-to-call fourth-down measurement. Their slightly off angle appeared to show tight end Jordan Cameron’s stretch came up less than an inch short. The ball must reach the metal pole of the first-down marker and didn’t.

Viewers who had never seen a referee pull a piece of paper from his pocket to aid the measurement weren’t alone. Browns coaches and players had never seen it, and referee Bill Vinovich told Cameron he had never done it before. The procedure isn’t prohibited by the NFL, but it’s not encouraged.

Roster move

The Browns waived receiver Tori Gurley on Tuesday, clearing a spot for receiver Josh Gordon, who came off suspension.

Gurley had been cut seven times by six teams and had never appeared in a regular-season game until Week 1. He was activated from the practice squad the day before the opener and made a catch for 15 yards. He played again Sunday but didn’t make a catch.

Gurley could return to the practice squad, as receiver Arceto Clark was released.

Contact Scott Petrak at (440) 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.