INDIANAPOLIS -- Since taking over as coach of the Cleveland Browns in January, Rob Chudzinski has watched and evaluated the 15 starts
“I’ve looked at Brandon, and I’m excited about getting Brandon out on the field and in the meetings and around the building,” Chudzinski said. “It’s tough when you’re just looking at tape on guys. That’s one piece of it. Certainly, he has some good tools to work with. He had some success. You saw progress as the season went on last year. I’m excited with all of our guys, just getting them around and being around them a little bit more. Once we get them in the meetings and get them on the field and start working with them, we’ll go from there.
“As coaches, a lot of times, you look at tape, and it tells a very small part of the story. Until you get out there, get in the meetings with the guys, get a sense for them, start teaching the things you want done and how you want them, and see those guys react on the field and put them in those situations that are important, the two-minute drills that you do in practice, third down, red zone, that’s where you really get a chance to evaluate them.”
During his rookie season in the NFL in 2012, Weeden completed 297 of 517 attempts for a team rookie record of 3,385 yards and 14 touchdowns against 17 interceptions. He also had the most wins ever by a Browns rookie quarterback (five) and yards in a game (364 in a 20-17 win at Oakland on Dec. 2).
Chudzinski outlined Weeden’s “good arm” and “ability to make the throws” as some of those “good tools to work with.”
“He has a good, calm poise and demeanor in the pocket,” Chudzinski said. “He was up and down a little bit during the season, as any rookie quarterback is. You see some things that are there that get you excited about him.”
In addition to being excited about Weeden’s skills, the first-year coach is looking forward to a competition among the quarterbacks.
“We’re going to look at every possibility to try and make the team better, but I’m excited about Brandon,” Chudzinski said. “Colt (McCoy) has been here and has won games. He has some unique abilities himself that I’m excited about. You can look at tape and evaluate tape, but until you’re around guys, until you understand when you ask them to do certain things and see how they react to that, and how they react on the field and how they play, that decides how far they can go.
“Competition makes people better. Whatever, however that competition ends up coming about, I’m satisfied that we’ll be pushing and creating an environment for competition and that’s really, ultimately, what you want. Guys are going to have opportunities and when guys have opportunities, they have to make good on those and deliver.”
In addition to Weeden, Chudzinski inherits another offensive player heading into his second year with the Browns: running back
Richardson battled through rib, knee and ankle injuries throughout the season, but still managed to break the team’s rookie records for rushing yards (950), scrimmage yards (1,317), rushing touchdowns (11), total touchdowns (12), and points scored (72) and tied another with three 100-yard rushing games.
“I’m excited about him as well,” Chudzinski said. “He had some injuries early, but you can see he really developed as the season went on. He’s a young guy. I think there’s still a lot he can improve on in his game and I’m excited to get him out there and get started with that process.”
WORKING WITH THE FRONT OFFICE
When Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s agreement to purchase the team was unanimously approved on Oct. 16 at the NFL’s Fall Owners’ Meetings in Chicago, he announced that Joe Banner would be the team’s CEO. Shortly after Chudzinski was brought on to coach the Browns, Haslam and Banner introduced Michael Lombardi at the vice president of player personnel.
Chudzinski has worked with Banner and Lombardi for the last month on the team’s plans moving forward.
“I am really excited about -- just in a short amount of time -- working with Joe and Mike and just seeing those guys work together,” Chudzinski said. “The experience they have in football, they understand the football side of it, the business side of it, are extremely intelligent guys. They know the game and we work so well together. It’s really a collaborative effort. You look at Mike and the scouting staff and what they’ve done in a short amount of time. I’ve been extremely impressed with them.”