Originally written December 18, 2012 on Waiting For Next Year:
Jacob: (to Craig) Rescind all of my comments about Weeden from last week’s podcast. He was miserable yesterday. Ugh. Bring on the Alex Smith rumors! Andrew: After both Jacob and Brendan’s comments on the pod, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. If Heckert goes and Shurmur is fired, there will be nobody in the front office or coaching staff with any allegiance to Weeden. Banner wouldn’t necessarily feel any obligation to stick with Weeden. If he feels Weeden isn’t good enough to be the future of the Browns, he might bring in a veteran like (Alex) Smith as a bridge to the next would-be savior of the Browns. Craig: That’s what I’ve been feeling too Andrew. Plus, I truly think Weeden has Holmgren’s fingerprints all over him all “media spin” aside. The problem for Weeden is that he has a couple signature drives on the season and maybe a few signature plays, but he’s not put anywhere close to an entire game together I don’t think. Correct me if I’m wrong, of course. So if you have to play a 29-year-old rookie to see what you have, when he doesn’t show you anything, you’ve got a 30-year-old sophomore who has a short and dim looking future. BTW, there’s still much discussion in the wake of Alex Smith / Colin Kaepernick about all these fake rules regarding NFL rosters and starting spots. This isn’t aimed at other WFNY writers mind you, but the Cleveland fan collective… “You can’t let Colt McCoy play because it will start a QB controversy!” “You can’t sit a first rounder behind Colt McCoy at age 29!” I’m tired of all these pretend rules when you see anyone with fortitude breaking them on their way to success. This is not to say that the Browns are capable of coaching up anyone to the Alex Smith / Kaepernick level, but just that we need to stop pretending like common NFL conventions have gotten us a damn thing as Browns fans. There are no rules except the real rules. And boxing yourself in otherwise, is what lets you sit your 29-year-old rookie in the fourth pre-season game and then have him come out with an historically horrendous opening game against Philadelphia. That’s water under the bridge, but for goodness sake, please STOP talking to me about things you can and can’t do. Brendan: (Tweet link below) Fwiw, this seems to be a pretty popular notion – wonder what some of your thoughts are? thing is, if Cle had cousins and Wash had Weeden, results may have been similar. Coaching — plan, play design — made huge diff in this win — John Keim (@john_keim) December 17, 2012 Scott: Completely agree. Said as much in our podcast. Shurmur was glaringly out coached yesterday. Jacob: Agreed entirely. I was sitting fourth row behind the Redskins bench yesterday — was with a family friend who was great seats. I could go on and on about how many Washington fans there were and how confident the Redskins team was from the start, etc. But you could clearly tell in all of those play-actions/bootlegs that Shanahan had designed plays to make Cousins feel comfortable and also to limit his possible mistakes. That was never the case for Weeden yesterday. So many tips at the line of scrimmage again. Over half of Weeden’s yards and nearly half of the team’s total yards of offense were on three plays (69 to Benjamin, 30 to Little, 28 to Cameron). Browns had just 13 first downs and only had the ball for 23 minutes. They were never in control, except for that early pick and 6-yard TD by Trent. TD: About to lock into your podcast on my flight. All I will say is what I tweeted yesterday: Kyle Shanahan played to Cousins’ strengths yesterday and schooled Shurmur. Cousins’ success made Weeden look extremely bad. And that’s not a good look or timing for Shurmur, Heckert, and Weeden. Andrew: “Yesterday”. As opposed to every other week…… But yeah, I mean, here’s the thing. When you watch Washington with RGIII, it’s striking how far they’ve gone to make him feel comfortable in the offense. They tailored the offense for him. Read options, quick bubble screens, short throws, designed runs, plenty of shotgun, etc, etc, etc. The Browns took Weeden and demanded he fit into their West Coast system. They’ve done nothing to make him comfortable and have hurt his development from day 1, IMO. I don’t think Weeden is great or anything, but I promise you he’d be more comfortable with coaches who were willing to call plays and design an offense to his strengths. Jacob: Not to go all large-scale on y’all, but isn’t tailoring an offense to an individual QB a relatively new NFL phenomenon? Historically it seems, and that certainly was the mindset of Holmgren initially, offenses seemed to run per a team’s philosophy. Vick, Tebow, Newton, RG3, et al seem to have changed the mold in the last few years. So while the blame certainly is on the Browns for not making Weeden comfortable in whatever way possible, I don’t think it’s necessarily just them doing this. Andrew: Well, I feel like Shannahan was particularly successful at tailoring the Broncos offense to fit Elway and Davis in a way nobody was able to previously. Certainly the Colts offense was morphed to fit Peyton Manning. I don’t know enough about Xs and Os of 90s offenses to project any further back. I just think the best coaches are the ones who can adjust their system to fit the skills of their players. Jacob: It just seems that no one in the NFL level was talking about these things 5/10 years ago. Like Andrew wrote in his email about the items Washington does for RG3: “Read options, quick bubble screens, short throws, designed runs, plenty of shotgun, etc, etc, etc.” Historically, those seem to be college offense topics. Correct me if I’m wrong since I’m the youngin’ of course, but I want to really say that we’re witnessing a new NFL and the Browns just seem to be slow to adjust to that trend, not necessarily just bad at making Weeden comfortable. I think it’s a bigger conversation. Craig: I think it has changed a bit Jacob, but only due to the recent phenomenon of drafted QBs not sitting and learning. With guys on the clock immediately to start playing, it has become more important for these coaches to cater their systems to what the guys show up carrying and slowly work them toward the more core of the coach’s philosophy. But in two straight years with really inexperienced guys, Shurmur and company have desperately pushed the square peg into the round hole instead of taking the square peg and slowly whittling the corners off over the course of a season or over multiple seasons. This was my whole point about Colt McCoy too, BTW. After going through all the pains of Colt McCoy trying to learn the system and not putting him in shotgun, instead of giving Colt the first half of this season to build off of what he spent an entire season learning first-hand, they decided to push Weeden straight into the first chapter of the book. And yet again, they didn’t add even 10% extra plays out of the shotgun to make him feel at home at least part of the time. Shurmur is going to pay with his job, but that hasn’t been Shurmur’s only problem. He’s piled other major flaws on top of his unwillingness to bend on his philosophy. Ultimately though, the shorthand for Shurmur’s time in Cleveland will probably be his inability to get anything out of the QB position even if they turn out to be mediocre-ish QBs in their entire careers. Andrew: I guess my response to Jacob would be to say that I think that’s more of a testament to the evolution of the QB than the evolution of coaching to your players’ strengths. I think coaches have adapted to their players in the past, it’s just that we’ve never seen players with this kind of specific tool set in the NFL before. At least not this many of them all at once. I don’t think the Browns should have let Colt start Game 1 at all. I think with Weeden’s age, you had to let him start right away and work through the growing pains. But as Craig has said countless times, it’s insane that Weeden didn’t start Preseason Game 4 or get more snaps in the previous 3 games. And it’s ridiculous that Shurmur wouldn’t budge an inch on his offense to help Weeden develop.
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