The Browns' new regime wants Brandon Weeden to compete for the starting quarterback job, and he has accepted the challenge.
Weeden, the team’s incumbent starting quarterback, said he’s “absolutely” confident he can beat out any competition the organization acquires at the position this offseason.
“I completely expect to be the starter,” Weeden said tonight before signing autographs during the Cleveland Auto Show at the I-X Center. “That’s my mindset going in. I’m confident in my ability to be the guy, to lead this football team.”
CEO Joe Banner and coach Rob Chudzinski recently said at the NFL Scouting Combine that Weeden has potential, but his ability to prove himself as the team’s long-term answer at quarterback depends on how much he wants it. Weeden defended his work ethic last season and said he’ll continue to keep pushing himself.
“I worked tirelessly every single night, late throughout the night, week in and week out, so I can’t really, I’m not sure really where they’re going,” said Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft. “I don’t know the context of the question. If they said there was something there, but I worked my tail off last year. I busted my butt every single night and tried to get ready to play on Sundays.”
Weeden, 29, believes he’ll benefit from competition.
“That’s the way it should be,” Weeden said. “I think that’s the way I’m going to approach it anyway. I’m going to challenge myself. I know what to expect. I’m not going to my first camp anymore. I kind of know how it all works as far as just the daily schedule, how everything works. So know it’s all ball. I can dial it in and really get focused on what we’re trying to do. I’m going to have to learn a whole new offense. There’s no time to sit back and relax. It’s full steam ahead once I get my hands on a playbook. I’m ready to get challenged. They’ve already said they’re going to challenge me, and as a player, that’s what I want.”
Weeden said he has yet to receive a playbook because of rules in the new collective bargaining agreement, but he plans on reporting to the Browns’ headquarters April 1 for the start of the team’s offseason training program.
Here is the full transcript from Weeden’s interview with reporters:
Are you hearing the speculation? Does it bother you at all?: “No, it’s just part of the offseason. Nobody’s playing any games and it’s all rumors and it’s just the way it is every year. But I don’t listen to it. Guys, one I haven’t had time to sit on the couch and watch it or listen to it. The only thing I really ever hear is my buddy asked me if something’s going on. But I don’t pay attention to it, not worried about it, I’m excited to be here this year and compete. That’s kind of been my message all along. And I stand with it. This game, it’s all about competing and [Chudzinski will] tell me the same thing. We’re going to put the best players on the field and that goes for the quarterback position. I’ve got to show that I’ve improved to year two and that’s why I’ve been working my tail off these last few months.”
You’ve only been here a year, and you’re a first-round round pick. Are you surprised the Browns haven’t endorsed you as their guy?: “I think it goes back to a couple of things. We’ve got a new regime, you got different guys, so they’re going to have to re-evaluate all the players in the building. I think it goes with everybody on the roster. And I also think, we only won five games last year. If we had won more games and had a lot more success offensively, we might not be in this situation. But that’s not the case. and again, I’m not discouraged by it, and you can probably tell by the tone my voice, of course, I don’t have a voice, but you can tell I’m excited about the future.
Banner was more complimentary Saturday at the combine. Have they told you anything?: “No, our interaction’s been minimal just because of all the league policies and there’s so many rules that are out there. So, no, we haven’t sat down and had any talks.”
Chudzinski and Banner seemed to question your work ethic. Why would they make remarks like that?: “I have no idea. No, I don’t have any idea. I worked tirelessly every single night, late throughout the night, week in and week out, so I can’t really, I’m not sure really where they’re going. I don’t know the context of the question. If they said there was something there, but I worked my tail off last year. I busted my butt every single night and tried to get ready to play on Sundays.”
Chudzinski and Banner said they see potential in you but he must earn job. It seemed like they wanted to put the pressure on and challenge you. How do you react?: “That’s the way it should be. I think that’s the way I’m going to approach it anyway. I’m going to challenge myself. I know what to expect. I’m not going to my first camp anymore. I kind of know how it all works as far as just the daily schedule, how everything works. So know it’s all ball. I can dial it in and really get focused on what we’re trying to do. I’m going to have to learn a whole new offense. There’s no time to sit back and relax. It’s full steam ahead once I get my hands on a playbook. I’m ready to get challenged. They’ve already said they’re going to challenge me, and as a player, that’s what I want.”
Do you think a true quarterback competition bring out the best in you? Do you think you can benefit from it?: “Absolutely. As a competitor, you want compete. Whether I was a quarterback, a receiver, a safety, whatever, you want competition there ‘cause one it makes you a better player. It also makes the team better. So I’m welcome to it. If we had won 10 or 11 games, it probably wouldn’t be the case. But we didn’t. We won five, and it’s my job to get better in year two. It’s my job to make this football team a better football team starting Week 1.”
You haven’t had a chance to obtain the new playbook yet?: “Yeah, there’s too many rules. There’s limitations. I’m not sure when exactly they can send them out, so it’ll be a little while.”
How excited are you to be in a vertical offense, which maybe is better suited to how you play?: “Yeah, that’s what we did at Oklahoma State. We threw the ball down the field. Just playing against [San Diego Chargers quarterback] Philip Rivers last year, they were in the shotgun a lot. They do five-step drops under center. They do a lot of stuff to fit the skill sets of the guys they have around them, and I think my skill set is throwing the football down the field, throwing the ball and giving our receivers a chance to make plays vertically. So I’m excited about that. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Do you expect to be the starter next season?: “I completely expect to be the starter. That’s my mindset going in. I’m confident in my ability to be the guy, to lead this football team. I think everybody I’ve talked to that’s a veteran in this league, they say your biggest jump is from year one to year two. One, you know what to expect. But also, this is a tough league and you face so much adversity in year because everybody you’re playing against is so good. So I know what to expect now. I know everybody’s going to be good. I kind of have an idea of the teams in our division what they do defensively and stuff like that. I expect completely to be better this year than I was last year.”
Was former Browns coach Pat Shurmur’s West Coast offense a bad fit for you? Is new Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s vertical, downfield passing game a better fit?: “No, I can't say that because that was my first year to play in that offense so I can't really say that it didn't fit me well. But I don't have the answer one way or the other. We tried to dial up plays that fit me well, fit receivers well and tried to do what we could to score points and we just didn't get completely there as an offense. We never really felt like we were rolling for four quarters. I told you guys that a lot last year. But what do I know about this offense? The people I've talked to, I've talked to Troy Aikman, and Bernie [Kosar has] played in it, and guys like that have had a lot of success in it. It's not only quarterback friendly, but they put a lot on the quarterback. They expect a lot out of the quarterback and they want you to be in full. As a quarterback, that's what you want. You want to be decisive, and feel like when you're making a throw, you're confident in everything you're doing.”
Were you able to audible last year?: “It just depended on the situation. We tried to get to a position where we played so fast but we didn't really have to. We tried to play at a tempo and a speed that enabled us to not have to think at the line of scrimmage, just go play. So they didn't really ask me to do it all that much.”
Are you confident you can beat out anybody they bring in?: “Absolutely.”
Is playing out of the shotgun formation ideal for you?: “Well, I mean, that's what I've done my entire career. In college, I was primarily a shotgun quarterback, and last year I saw someone tweeted me that I was below the average but I think whatever. If I'm under center every snap, I've got to find a way to get it done. Regardless of whether I'm under center or behind center in the shotgun, I've got to find a way to get it done regardless. But yeah, I do feel extremely in the shotgun.”
Will you be here April 1?: “Yeah, I'll be here.”