When the Cleveland Browns traveled to Detroit for their preseason opener against the Lions last Friday night, it was an evening of firsts for quarterback
It was the rookie’s first NFL preseason game, first time running the Browns’ West Coast offense in a game situation and first time playing with his teammates in a competitive environment against another team.
Following Monday’s walk-through, Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress talked with the Cleveland media about his first-year quarterback, who completed three of nine attempts for 62 yards with an interception.
“I thought he gave a good accounting of himself,” Childress said of Weeden. “He made a couple of nice throws. I think it was important for him to complete that first pass and he threw a couple different kinds of passes. We had a couple rush issues, but I thought he did a decent job.”
Childress said Weeden will get another opportunity to work on the communication with his teammates this Thursday night at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers’ 3-4 defensive front led by Ohio native Dom Capers. The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, who are in the AFC North Division with the Browns, utilize a defensive front similar to the Packers.
“That’s why we go through those blitz drills every day,” Childress said. “Quarterbacks can tell you they’re comfortable with the blitz, but when you throw that chin music at them, you always want to see how they react. I just have to see where (Capers) is in his installation calendar and what he’s trying not to show and that type of thing. He can dial it up.
“It’d be good to see how we react, all 11 on offense.”
During his time as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings earlier in his career, Childress worked with former NFL quarterback Brett Favre. Known as a “gunslinger” who would take chances and try to make a big play, Favre went to two Super Bowls and three NFC Championship games between his time in Minnesota and Green Bay.
Childress was asked if he has to harness any type of “gunslinger” mentality with Weeden.
“You rarely want to sit on that ability,” Childress said. “A lot of times, discretion is the better part of valor when you’re trying to stick it through the eye of a needle, but we want him to be aggressive. We want him to keep shooting and whether it was the fumble or interception, we want him to keep shooting where he was shooting and not dissuade him from that.”
LEWIS LEADS BROWNS
While Weeden started the game, veteran
For the game, Lewis completed five of eight attempts for 90 yards and avoided being sacked by Detroit.
“For a guy that has limited, limited turns, he did an exceptional job,” Childress said of Lewis. “I think he’s grown out here. When you see (quarterbacks coach) Mark Whipple take those guys on the side in some of our special teams periods, it’s typically Thad that’s getting those reps. If you’re a backup quarterback, whether you’re second or third, you’re not going to get a lot of reps and you’ve got to put some game plans into play without taking a lot of turns. I think that’s what you saw from him. He had a great presence about him.”
Benjamin caught two passes for 46 yards, including a 32-yarder, in the Lions game. Gordon was targeted three times but did not have a reception against Detroit.
“You see different things from both of those guys,” Childress said. “Somebody mentioned that Josh decided he was going to declare two days before the draft, so it takes a while for that mindset to hit and then, all of a sudden, you’re running, going to minicamp and that kind of thing. Travis had the benefit of being here all spring. We’ll continue to get those guys up to speed.”
LOOKING FOR A JUMP
In addition to helping the Browns’ rookies at the skill positions, Childress is also breaking in a host of first-year offensive linemen.
“You always make a jump from game one to game two, whether it’s to start the season or your first time in a professional football game,” Childress said. “He’ll make adjustments. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that, and he’s got a pretty good challenge with a guy by the name of Clay Matthews. I played against his dad in high school.”
DOWN A MAN
Childress acknowledged that not having Richardson on the field is a challenge.
“It’ll probably be more of a challenge for him with the time missed because it’s never easy, and it’s particularly not easy when it’s a rookie,” Childress said. “There are still processes he’s got to go through and he’s got time, but you want everybody to take every turn.”