Down by seven points with six minutes to play in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions at FirstEnergy Stadium, the Cleveland Browns moved the ball from their own 16-yard line to Detroit’s 44.
On first-and-10 in Lions territory, quarterback
Despite the miscue late, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said he has not even thought about making a quarterback change, and that Weeden will start against the Green Bay Packers next Sunday.
“I don’t see that at all,” Chudzinski said of a loss of confidence in Weeden. “He was trying to get rid of the ball as best he could, and at that position, guys make mistakes. They’re going to throw interceptions and things like that. It’s a matter of being smart with the football, and we have to take care of the football.
“We don’t ever want to flip a ball like that. When you do that, and you’re pitching something underhand, it has a tendency of going up on you and rising on you. You don’t want to do it in that manner. You want to throw it out of bounds or take the sack if you have to.”
“It really just boils down to those critical decisions and the mistakes that he made yesterday,” Chudzinski said. “I know he wants them back and would like to have them back, but there were also mistakes from other guys too.
“At times, we didn’t have anybody open and he’s trying to find somebody. At times, we made some mental mistakes, whether it was in the run game with protections or running routes. The quarterback is the guy that everybody sees, and that’s part of the job, but we all have to get better and play more consistently overall.”
In his third start of the season, and first since suffering a sprained right thumb in a 14-6 loss at Baltimore on Sept. 15, Weeden completed 26 of 43 attempts for 292 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.
On the season, Weeden has completed 86 of his 153 pass attempts for 1,005 yards and four touchdowns against five interceptions.
“Looking all the way back, there has been improvement and growth in his game,” Chudzinski said. “I go back to the Buffalo game where he made plays and was a big part of us winning that game. And this game, you look at the first half, he played well and made some key plays to help us and had no turnovers.
“What we need to do is really stay the course, and from a philosophy, strategic standpoint, the run and the pass really go hand-in-hand. I think we’re improving in the running game. Just to ditch the passing game and go 100 percent run, I don’t think will be in our best interest. I think we need to continue to get better in both. Whether it’s Brandon, whether it’s the offensive line, which I thought our offensive line really responded and played their best game yesterday, we’ll improve in running. You just can’t do one thing in this league.”
Although the Browns committed two turnovers, the offensive line was able to provide Weeden with a pocket pass from against the Lions. Weeden was sacked only twice by a destructive and disruptive Detroit defensive line, after being sacked 16 times in his first three games of the season.
“I just thought our offensive line played their most physical game with the big challenge that they had going into the game,” Chudzinski said. “They came up and responded in that way. It wasn’t perfect, and there’s definitely some things we have to improve and fix from that game, but it’s not just the offensive line.
“It’s everybody working together, and you see it, at times, happening the way you’d like it to happen. Other times, not so much, and we just have to keep working to improve.”
ANSWERING THE CHALLENGE
The Browns faced a second-and-25 from their own 19-yard line with 9:49 to play in the fourth quarter, but despite the down-and-distance, Weeden threw a pass down the right sideline for
Little leapt to make the catch and landed near the sideline, but was ruled to have been out of bounds before catching the football. Chudzinski challenged the play, but the replays proved inconclusive for the referee to overturn the call.
“I think it’s a call, I would guess, that if it was called the other way, it probably would’ve stayed and wouldn’t have been overturned,” Chudzinski said. “I can only go by what I saw at that particular time on the field. I had a pretty good look at it and thought it was. They didn’t have enough evidence to overturn it.”