April 24, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
48°F

Browns commentary: Starting Weeden is the correct call

Coach Rob Chudzinski made the right decision. It was an easy one.

Quarterback Brandon Weeden should be the starter Sunday at Green Bay. He should be the starter the following week in Kansas City and the week after at home against Baltimore.

Then comes the bye. Unless something disastrous has happened, Weeden should start the seven games remaining after that.

In a league, and town, that thrives on overreaction, Chudzinski stayed the course. That deserves to be applauded.

The most important reason Weeden kept his job is because he gives the Browns the best chance to win.

Jason Campbell is a viable backup with starting experience, but there’s a reason he’s No. 2 and Brian Hoyer jumped him on the depth chart. Campbell even admitted last week the time comes in a career when a player’s role changes.

I’ve heard people, even some I respect, suggest bringing in someone off the street. Like who?

Matt Flynn? Vince Young? Tim Tebow?

Give me a break. There’s a reason — make that a ton of reasons — they are unemployed.

Flynn signed with Buffalo on Monday, but in the previous months he was cut by the Seahawks and Raiders, despite them owing him millions of dollars.

Young and Tebow were in training camps, then cut. They’ve failed elsewhere before. They don’t know coordinator Norv Turner’s offense.

Enough with that nonsense.

Yes, Weeden threw an incomprehensible interception at a crucial moment Sunday in the loss to the Lions. Yes, he has too many moments where the game appears too fast for him. Yes, he has to be better in the fourth quarter and on third down.

But Chudzinski was correct when he said Weeden plays well in spurts. And I don’t understand why everyone is so quick to dismiss that reality. Or the fact he won the game against the Bills — less than two weeks ago — with a solid second half that featured several clutch throws.

Weeden has significant flaws and isn’t likely to evolve into the championship-caliber quarterback the franchise seeks. But this season was supposed to be about making a thorough and accurate judgment of Weeden. Three starts — even if they’re all losses — don’t qualify.

Weeden played better in Week 2 than the opener. He played better still in relief against the Bills. He had a superb second quarter Sunday, before the entire offense stalled in the third quarter and he was unable to rally it in the fourth.

That’s not enough to bench him. Chudzinski was right again when he said one play and one person didn’t cost the Browns the game.

Weeden isn’t perfect and never will be. And the Browns will likely draft a quarterback in the first round in May. But the right move is to see if he can turn the glimpses of good play into sustained stretches.

Random thoughts

The Browns were understandably upset over the roughing the passer penalty on linebacker Quentin Groves. Instead of facing fourth down, the Lions got a first down and scored the clinching touchdown.

Groves aimed for Matthew Stafford’s chest and tried to let up as he took him to the ground.

“The only thing he can do is not hit him, but that’s not how you play football,” Paul Kruger said.

The reality is quarterbacks are protected, and referees are told to err on the side of overprotection. Defensive players must adjust, which means aiming lower and not driving them to the ground.

Groves wasn’t careful enough. He led with his helmet, may have made contact with Stafford’s and drove him into the turf.

He left it up to the referee’s discretion, which is never a good idea.

• Referee Walt Coleman couldn’t get a decent replay of receiver Greg Little’s 25-yard non-catch along the sideline in the fourth quarter. The initial call was incomplete, and Coleman was probably right to let it stand.

My problem is that FOX couldn’t produce the proper replay. Each NFL game should be treated equally, yet Browns-Lions might have half the cameras of Patriots-Saints.

• Team runs ball effectively in first half, team doesn’t run ball as much in second half, fans and media complain about abandoning the run. The story has repeated itself for years.

Whether it’s Turner, Pat Shurmur, Brian Daboll, Chudzinski or Maurice Carthon, it’s tough for the play caller to keep dialing up runs when they’re not working. The Browns rushed for 2, 0 and 2 yards to open the second half, and I can’t fault Turner for choosing not to bang his head against the wall any longer.

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