“We’re playing well at times and at times we’re not playing so well. When you look at it, Brandon’s doing some good things. It’s really just a matter of cutting out the critical mistakes.”
“It really just boils down to those critical decisions and mistakes that he made yesterday.”
“I thought Brandon played well and did a lot of things to make plays to beat Buffalo in that game. This was one game and, again, we have to just work on those critical errors.”
Four inquiries, one response. Call it canned, call it redundant, or call it honest. When Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski addressed the local media on Monday afternoon in what was his starting quarterback’s 30th birthday, he gave him the best gift he could by sugar-coating the dreadful second-half performance from the previous Sunday. Chud (rightfully) pointed out defensive shortcomings and said that there were “a lot” of things which needed to be fixed—the loss could not be pegged to one man, even if that man did start the third quarter with three consecutive three-and-outs; even if that one man did throw (throw?) one of the worst passes of the season, if not recent NFL history.
Leading up to the game which would ultimately be an embarrassing home loss to the Detroit Lions, Dustin Fox of 92.3 The Fan hinted that even if Brian Hoyer had not sustained a knee injury during the team’s Week 5 contest against the Buffalo Bills, Weeden would have been back under center once his thumb had fully healed. If Chudzinski has a silver lining to his six-game tenure in Cleveland, it’s that he has yet to have to make a decision regarding his starting quarterback for injuries have made those moves for him. No coin flips. No open competitions. No decisions.
Come this Sunday, Rob Chudzinski will have made a move to not make one at all—with a fully-healthy headset-wearing Jason Campbell waiting in the wings, the Browns will roll on with Weeden at the helm, regardless of how deflating his actions are to the skill players around him. Maybe the red-headed second-year hurler can catch lightning in a bottle against the Super Bowl contending Green Bay Packers, on the road no less. Even if he does, he has the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs dwelling in the on-deck circle, the Arrowhead faithful champing at the bit. Maybe it is a matter of Chud simply thinking that there is no answer; let’s let the man who should have been NFL-ready, at least from a maturation and decision-making standpoint, see if he can get the job done. Why subject Campbell, he of a handful of first-team snaps, to this mess?
“Anytime you talk about offense there’s a lot of different people and moving parts involved,” said Chudzinski prior to unleashing one of the four quotes above. “ It takes 11 guys to be successful.”
The Browns have carried the lead into halftime in every one of their six contests thus far. While Chud has made the decision to stick with Brandon Weeden to this point, it remains to see how many more starts he is willing to see dissipate throughout the second half.
If Chudzinski were to pull the plug on a healthy Weeden with 10 games to go, it could be seen as a reactive measure. It could send negative signals into the locker room of a first-year quarterback, ones that oozed a lack of loyalty and conviction. Trading a first-round draft pick midway through the season is one thing. Benching a player for a poor game (regardless of how disastrous) is completely different. Jason Campbell may make fewer boneheaded decisions, but Weeden arguably provides more upside.
To the contrary, there’s a very good chance that the 3-3 Browns are staring at 3-6 heading into the bye week. At this point, the entire coaching staff and front office will get to two full weeks to ponder if they were the ones who ultimately made the critical mistake.