Brandon Weeden struggled mightily in the Cleveland Browns' season-opening loss to the Miami Dolphins, but that doesn't mean he's in danger of losing his position as the team's starting quarterback. Instead, Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski simply believes that he needs more help around him.
Chudzinski held his weekly press conference on Tuesday and, unsurprisingly, a majority of the questions focused on the former Oklahoma State quarterback. Weeden completed just 26 of his 53 passing attempts for 289 yards on Sunday and his lone touchdown toss wasn't nearly enough to make up for three first-half interceptions.
Regardless of Sunday's issues, though, Chudzinski told Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot that his quarterback isn't on a short leash.
"I don't look at it as a leash,'' said the Browns' head coach. "These guys are developing players and they're learning how to play in this system and I expect us to keep getting better and improving.''
Weeden's probably helped by the fact that journeymen Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer back him up on the depth chart. That doesn't mean that the fans are in agreement with Chudzinski that Weeden shouldn't be on a short leash, but Zach J. Miller of SB Nation's Dawgs By Nature understands that Weeden will likely be the starter for the rest of the season anyway.
Despite all the deficiencies in blocking, missed assignments, receiver drops, etc. Weeden still looked suspect in the pocket. He looked timid under pressure. Weeden showed us no reason to have faith in him long term. Two of his three interceptions were off deflected passes. You could make the case for the receivers to hang on to those balls, but both were very poorly thrown balls. I've been a supporter of Weeden, and I still think he remains the starter for the foreseeable future, but I wouldn't be surprised if his leash was starting to shorten.
The Weeden situation has to be a difficult thing for Browns fans to endure, but one they've essentially had to come to grips with after Cleveland selected the then-28-year-old quarterback in the first round of last year's draft. It's unlikely anyone assumed a player of Weeden's age would undergo such growing pains upon getting to the NFL, however.
The former minor league pitcher started 15 games as a rookie in the Browns' system last year, but failed to find much success en route to leading his team to a 5-10 record with him under center. Weeden completed just 57 percent of his passes and had more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (14) while posting a 72.6 quarterback rating -- the fourth-worst among starting quarterbacks last year.
It's difficult to surmise exactly how long Weeden's going to be given the chance at being the Browns' starting quarterback, especially if the beginning of this season goes as poorly as last season did. It seems clear from Chudzinki's comments, however, that Weeden's not going to be blamed until the issues around him are shored up.
"Yeah, I think he's improved and he's shown that to this point and ultimately it has to happen out on the field in the performance and us as a whole,'' said Chudzinski. "We all have to be good around the quarterback. That's the key to success as well."
With the offensive line and receiving corps struggling throughout the first game of the season, it might take a little while until the Browns are all-around "good around the quarterback."