|All signs point to Weeden as the starter. (AP)|
That response is largely due to Cleveland taking Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden with the 22nd pick in April's NFL Draft, and the thinking is that the starting gig is the 28-year-old's to lose.
A day later, team president Mike Holmgren politely asked Wallace to slow his roll (our words, not his) in regards to personnel matters. Sort of.
"Right now the plan is not to" trade or release either Wallace or McCoy, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot. Holmgren hedged, however, with this: "That's not to say we might not change something.'' He also echoed the same sentiments we've heard from coach Pat Shurmur: namely: Weeden's the guy "but nothing gets handed to anybody -- he's going to have to show us.''
So far, so good on that front. Weeden has been impressive in the shorts-and-t-shirts portion of workout schedule, although we'll have a better idea of exactly how ready he is to be an NFL quarterback once training camp and preseason games begin. Still, Holmgren's optimistic.
“His skill level is excellent,” he said via the Canton Repository. “He passes the ball very well, does it easily ... good velocity. The most important thing is being able to pass and pass accurately. “He has a maturity about him ... if you've talked to him you get a sense for that. He is as prepared to come in and start as a rookie as any quarterback I've seen in a long time."
That's not so much an indictment of McCoy as it is an acknowledgement that Weeden is pretty far along just five weeks into his NFL journey. (Remember: the original plan was to have McCoy sit as a rookie, but injuries to Jake Delhomme and Wallace forced him onto the field.) Plus, Holmgren has to say this; you don't use a first-rounder on rookie QB who will turn 30 during the 2013 season unless the plan is to install him as the starter from Day 1. The Browns have way too many needs to treat any pick as a luxury.
Holmgren concedes that there's still work to do. “His big adjustment is taking the snap from center. But he seems to be doing fine with that. In our offense, it's absolutely necessary you do that because of the timing factor. He seems to be a fast learner. He has absorbed the playbook very, very well,” he said.
Coming out of college, one of the knocks against Weeden (other than his age), was that he played in a spread offense. In May, shortly after he was drafted, one Big 12 coach who faced Weeden in suggested that he was easy to rattle with blitz pressure.
"We didn't fear his running like we did RG III or even (Ryan) Tannehill," Iowa State defensive coordinator Wally Burnham told the Plain Dealer. "He got quick feet. He got nervous. He really threw the ball away in a hurry. I'm not saying he was scared, he just wanted to get the ball out to his hot receiver."
And Burnham's account matches up with the pre-draft scouting report of NFL Films' Greg Cosell, who watches more game film than anybody not employed by an NFL team.
"In the NFL, the ideal scenario of a comfortable, secure pocket does not happen quite as often as quarterbacks would like," Cosell wrote on April 18. "You must be able to function effectively in the eye of the storm or you won't play on Sundays. That's where Weeden had some problems. The sample was small, given how well he was protected, but it was there nonetheless. When blitzed, Weeden struggled with both recognition and execution. Mentally, there were times he panicked, and physically, he did not exhibit the kind of subtle pocket movement that must be part of a pocket passer's game in the NFL."
All legitimate concerns but with this caveat: the Browns need a quarterback in the worst way. It's fair to argue that they reached for Weeden, who would've likely been on the board when Cleveland selected in Round 2, but that doesn't change the fact that in today's NFL, if you don't have a franchise QB, you're not a playoff team. So what are the expectations? Holmgren won't get into specifics but he anticipates something more than last year's four-win effort.
“I will not give you a win-lost record. I expect us to take a good healthy jump this year, and I'm talking of course about the record. What that is ... I'm not going to make the same mistake as last year. We're a better team. I know we're a more talented football team. We've added some things. We're coming together nicely.”
As Bill Parcells famously once said: "You are what your record says you are." Until the regular season begins in 12 weeks or so, the Browns still have a lot of work to do.
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