CLEVELAND — It was anything but the type of debut either first-round pick wanted.
[Trent Richardson], the 3<sup>rd</sup> overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, carried the ball 19 times with just 39 yards (2.1 avg.) and a long run of just 9 yards. He also caught one pass for five yards.
Meanwhile Weeden, the 22<sup>nd</sup> overall pick in the first-round was just 12-of-35 for 118 yards including no touchdowns and four interceptions. He finished with a rating of just 5.1. He also was sacked twice and fumbled twice, but he recovered one and the other was recovered by [Joe Thomas].
“You have to take care of the football,” Weeden said.
Weeden was the 17<sup>th</sup> different Browns quarterback to start a game since 1999 and the first rookie to start on opening day.
Richardson missed the entire preseason after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Aug. 9. However, Richardson expected to play.
“I expected to play a lot,” Richardson said. “It felt good out there (playing). For the first game, I did okay, but it could’ve been better.
“We kept fighting the whole game,” he said. “It got frustrating at times, but every play is not going to be perfect.”
Richardson vowed to make strides by next week.
“The O-line played hard,” he said. “I have to make people miss like I usually do.”
Pat Shurmur felt Richardson played pretty well and said he had to hold him back. Neither [Brandon Jackson] or [Montario Hardesty] carried the ball from scrimmage, but Jackson caught two passes for 20 yards.
“(The Eagles) are an outstanding defense,” Shurmur said. “We tried to run Trent and I thought he held up pretty well.
Richardson’s highlight play was when he burst up the middle for nine yards and delivered a crushing blow to safety [Kurt Coleman], whose helmet flew off.
“Now, that’s a competitor,” Shurmur said. “We had to put a leash on him to (give him a break). He’s going to play some good football around here for a long time.”
“It was just a simple run for them, but I got cracked by the wide receiver and when (Richardson) hit me, my helmet chinstrap popped off and then I couldn’t even see and the rest is history,” Coleman said. “He ran right into me and my helmet id some work on my face as you can see, but I’m feeling good even though I’m in pain. I feel good.”
Weeden said there was some positives in the game, but not many. His longest completion was to Massaquoi on his first NFL pass for 24 yards. He connected with [Josh Gordon] on a 20-yard play and had a 14-yard pass to Jackson and a 12-yard throw to [Travis Benjamin].
“Overall, there was some good, but it’s hard to tell.”
Shurmur didn’t place the blame at the feet of his rookie quarterback.
“He’s going to be like everyone in the (locker room),” Shurmur said. “He will shake his head and say he can do better.
“I think we saw a rookie quarterback playing.”
After the Eagles scored with 1:18 to play to take a 17-16 lead the Browns started at their 30 with one timeout needing about 35 yards to get in range for [Phil Dawson] to attempt a game-winning field goal. However, Weeden threw his fourth interception as he sailed the pass over [Mohamed Massaquoi] and it was intercepted by Coleman sealing the win for the Eagles.
“They played man-to-man,” Weeden said. “We had practiced the two minute a lot. Phil (Dawson)is good and Mo ran a good route and the ball slipped and it took off. When that happens, bad things happen.”
[Greg Little], who was held without a reception, said it isn’t all Weeden’s fault.
“I wouldn’t say it’s on Brandon,” Little said. “(The Eagles) lined up in man-to-man press coverage a lot we have to help him.”
Weeden feels bad that the Browns wasted a great effort by the defense when even a little bit of offense would’ve won the game.
“My hats off to our defense” Weeden said. “I expect more of myself.
Early in the game, Weeden missed a wide open Massaquoi and then [Alex Smith] in the end zone.
“I was so jacked up,” Weeden said. “I had a little adrenaline and missed Mo.”
Weeden said he didn’t feel he wasn’t overly excited for his first game.
“Anybody that’s a competitor is going to be amped up,” Weeden said. “Every game in college I was (amped up). It was a lot of fun to be out there.
“As an athlete you wish it was all up, but guys have downs,” he said. “I really take a lot of pride in giving our team a chance to win.”
Weeden said he will have no problem being able to shake off his first game.
“I don’t want to be remembered for my first game,” he said. “It stings.
One positive is that both rookies are ready to put this game behind them and are already looking forward to next week’s game with the Bengals.
“I expect more from myself every week,” Richardson said. “I’m going to do more studying, more mental reps and be ready next week.”
As is Weeden.
“In my makeup, I have a pretty short memory,” Weeden said. “I’m going to work hard and give us a chance to win.”
-- PRE-GAME ANALYSIS: I haven't had such a combined sense of excitement and imminent doom since 1999. The excitement comes from finally seeing [Trent Richardson] on the field, and seeing if the Browns have a game-changing running back for the first time since their return. The imminent doom is due to the youth on offense and injuries on defense - particularly our thin LB corps. It's an hour before game time, and I'm predicting 34-13 Eagles.
-- POST-GAME ANALYSIS: I've concluded that my pre-game analysis was largely idiotic. For the rest of this article, remember that I proved in the first paragraph that I'm an beer-soaked idiot who underestimates Dick Jauron and expects bad linebacker play just because our starting linebacking corps is made up of UDFAs and waiver wire pick-ups.
-- Of all the [Cleveland Browns] opening losses, this was the Cleveland Brownsiest. Make that second Brownsiest, after the Dwayne Rudd helmet toss. But the last-minute loss and the sub-mediocre performances by our four top offensive draft picks put it right up there with [the great opening day losses.]
-- When the Eagles got a first and goal at the four yard line, how many Browns fans didn't know EXACTLY what was coming next? Regardless of how well the defense had played, we've been through too much to have any confidence in a positive outcome.
-- In this and 2012 Cleveland Browns losses-to-come, the operative question will be this: Did the team give fans any reason to continue watching? In my case, I'd answer that with a definitive "yes". Just seeing Trent Richardson remove the helmet (and mouth-guard, and chinstrap) of Eagles defensive back [Kurt Coleman] game me a reason to come back next week. Richardson was showing obvious signs of rust in week one, and will face stacked lines the entire season unless the Browns passing game somehow comes together. I'm still anxious to see more of him. Plus, a ferocious pass rush is always entertaining to watch. I'll be back here next week.
-- You can't fuss at me for jumping off the [Brandon Weeden] bandwagon because I was never there in the first place. I still regard him as a strong-armed quarterback who struggles a bit with pressure, and was blessed in college with stellar receivers in a conference with weak secondaries. I never saw the huge upside seen by the knowledgeable men in the Browns font office.
-- I didn't agree with the pick when it was made, and don't agree with it now. That being said, today's performance was even worse than I expected, but I'll wait patiently to be proven wrong. Clearly, Weeden still has a very inexperienced WR corps, was in his first game, and was facing one of the league's better secondaries. He also looked good on a couple of slants. But I wasn't sold before, and am less sold now.
-- First-round pick Brandon Weeden finishes 12 of 35 for 118 yards. No touchdowns. Four interceptions. 5.1 quarterback rating.
-- Spergon Wynn completed his Cleveland Browns career with a quarterback rating of 41.2.
-- Ken Dorsey finished his career with a quarterback rating of 55.2.
-- Brandon Weeden was a first-round pick.
-- This is why I drink.
-- If Jimmy Haslem cleans house at the end of the year (and he undoubtedly will), I hope that Dick Jauron isn't tossed out into the street. By any standard of measure, his coaching was masterful today, wildly rotating players in and out on defense, dialing up blitzes at key points, and generally making the Browns defense look faster than they've looked in a long, long time. Team speed on defense just looks better than it has in a while, which can partially be explained by breakdowns in the Eagles offensive line. But still, the defense just SEEMED faster Sunday.
-- Basic math says that you go for the two-point conversion when up by five in the second half. Basic. Freaking. Math. The only explanation for avoiding it is that you don't think your offense can get 2.5 yards on one play. Still, you go for it just in case. I can't wait to hear the explanation for that one.
-- Consider me stunned by the performance by the Browns linebackers today. [L.J. Fort], [Craig Robertson] and Kaluka Maiava exceeded expectations by a wide margin. There were failures in gap integrity, particularly in the fourth quarter, but the Browns linebackers were in the right spots at key times. I was expecting a disaster in the back seven, and was pleasantly surprised, even though it's obvious that the up-front push from Rubin, Sheard, and the rest of the line was critical in keeping the Eagles off-balance.
-- As for the Eagles, they looked disorganized and out-of-control both on the field and on the sidelines. [Andy Reid] may have simply hit the point where players aren't listening to him, because my sense is that the talented Eagles were undisciplined in the extreme today. With a Browns team historically challenged in stopping the run, and missing their top run stopper, it makes little sense that the Eagles didn't start relying more on [LeSean McCoy] until the fourth quarter. The Eagles simply have too much talent to eke out of a win over a poor Cleveland team sporting a record-setting horrific performance from their quarterback. Andy Reid may be available for the 2013 season unless there's a quick turnaround.
-- Cut Lawrence Vickers for Owen Marecic? Really? What are the advantages of this transaction am I failing to grasp?
-- And why does a Browns offensive line with two first-round picks and a second-round pick put up such a horrible display of run blocking?
-- Pat Shurmur needs to have a talk with whoever is counseling him on which plays to challenge. It was obvious even from TV coverage that his challenges were doomed to fail. One would hope that they have better video available upstairs than one sees on TV, but that doesn't appear to be the case. RAC would never pull the red flag from his pocket, but Shurmur seems to need a shock collar installed for when he reaches for it. Here's hoping got there's better challenge success in the weeks ahead. Because it can't get much worse.
-- What's the over/under on games it takes for the Browns to successfully execute a screen pass? I say "five", but I can be a naive optimist at times.
-- Paragraph two makes an important point about paragraph one. Which makes an important point about this entire article. I just wish I could just flat-out rant about how horrible the day was, but the excellent defensive performance and that one run by Richardson give me naive hope once more. Curse you, Cleveland Browns!
-- At least the Bengals will have one less day to prepare for the Browns onslaught, since they play the Ravens on Monday night. Here's hoping we can catch them napping, because I think we'll need to. Onward to the Bengals!