Well, Mr. Weeden, that was a stellar debut.
I've seen many many awful performances from Cleveland QB's over the years, but it's hard to remember any that were worse.
By the 2nd Half of that game, I was reminded of the halcyon days of DA and Brady Quinn yore, where every time they dropped back to pass you knew something bad was going to happen.
When the Eagles got the ball on their final drive, I told my wife "You know what's coming." But even that was less predictable than when the Browns got the ball back down 1 point and one of the announcers mentioned Weeden's 3 picks and I told my wife "Make that four."
So when it happened, I just held up 4 fingers and changed the channel.
Weeden had his moments. Several passes were zinged right on the WR, including a pass to Greg Little at the PHI 2 early in the 2nd Quarter. The score was tied 3-3, and Travis Benjamin had taken a reverse 35 yards to the Eagle 13 on what was easily the best play and drive of the day. If Little makes that catch and the Browns punch it in for a 10-3 lead, who knows? Maybe Weeden settles down and gets some confidence.
Instead, Little punched it up in the air, leading to an easy pick, which was the beginning of the turnover onslaught.
The Browns offense did nothing for the rest of the half, but the D did it's part against Mike Vick all day, essentially pitching a shutout - if you take away the last 2 minutes of each Half. One small breakdown on a deep ball was all it took for Philly to finally get out of their own end of the field, and an easy 18 yard strike from Vick to Jeremy Maclin (Joe Haden totally butchered the coverage) sent the Eagles to the locker room with a 10-3 lead.
As the 2nd Half wore on, it started to become apparent that Weeden was getting even worse. The running game with Trent Richardson didn't help out much, but a lot of that was due to the Eagles' D crowding the line after they decided Weeden couldn't hurt them and Pat Shurmur's horrifically predictable run calls.
The Defense made a valiant attempt to win the game on their own, harassing and hitting Vick time and again and forcing him to throw 4 picks, including one that D'Qwell Jackson returned for a TD and a 16-10 lead early in the 4th. Also, the 2 FG's that the Offense did manage to score were the result of taking over the ball in Philly territory after turnovers.
But the Eagles finally remembered that the Browns do not have a good Run Defense, and started to get the ball out of Vick's hands. So with 6 1/2 left, the Eagles went on 91 yard 16 play drive which pretty much every fan who has ever watched the Browns knew was coming. On 2nd and Goal with about a minute left, LJ Fort dropped a fairly routine interception in the end zone, and the Eagles naturally took the lead on the next play.
And you by now already know what happened when Weeden took over with the opportunity to lead his team to a game-winning FG and totally redeem his performance.
Be afraid, Cleveland. Be very afraid.
Time of Possession: PHI - 35:58, CLE - 24:02
Total Yards: PHI - 456, CLE - 210
Yards Passing: PHI - 306, CLE - 111
Yards Rushing: PHI - 150, CLE - 99
First Downs: PHI - 25, CLE - 12
Turnovers Forced: CLE - 5, PHI - 4
Sacks: PHI - 2, CLE - 2
Final Score: Philadelphia 17, Cleveland 16
The vast gulf in the stats doesn't really reflect the closeness of the game. The disparity comes from the fact that while the Browns were going 3 and Out, Philly was getting a 1st down or 2 every drive, and after a while that adds up.
Still, depressing. Philly could've easily had 200 yards rushing except for penalties and if they hadn't inexplicably made Vick pass the ball 56 times. The Browns would've had nowhere near 99 yards rushing except for the reverse to Benjamin and that useless Weeden scramble at the end of the 1st Half.
It is however yet another props to the Defense that they could keep the team in the game despite being on the field such an inordinate amount of time. Seems just like 2011.
Dick Jauron - At least one of our coaches knows how to game plan.
Josh Cribbs - Really set the team up with solid field position on almost all his returns.
D'Qwell Jackson - Not only QB'd a Defense that played out of its mind, but a Pick 6 to boot. Not to mention the high-quality flip finish.
Pass Defense - 4 picks (and potentially more), pressure on Vick all game, that guy is sore as a 90 year old hooker today.
Craig Robertson - Made a play on a McCoy screen that would've gone for 30 if Fujita had been in there. Did a great job defending the screen on another play, reading it correctly when it was obvious Philly was setting up for it. And a pick, for effect.
TJ Ward - Stripped the ball from LeSean McCoy for the first turnover, made some nice hits, unfortunately the victim on the final TD.
Billy Winn - Very active up the gut, resulted in several Eagles' Holding penalties and hits on Vick.
Dimitri Patterson - Great hit on Jeremy Maclin in the 2nd Q, stopping a 1st Down. Solid game altogether.
Trent Richardson - For knocking off Kurt Coleman's head. Everything else was meh.
Hall of Shame
Joe Haden - Pass Interference that didn't even prevent the catch. Whiffed on a tackle. Totally burnt on the Maclin TD. You sure you weren't on suspension?
Joe Thomas - Got fried by Trent Cole that caused yet another Weeden strip-sack.
Greg Little - 0 catches for 0 yards, 1 muffed catch attempt that resulted in a pick and took at least 3 points off the board. Pathetic effort.
Owned Marecic - The first time he actually catches a ball thrown to him, he'll probably drop it out of shock. Surely there's a mediocre, mostly-useless Fullback on the waiver wire that can at least catch?
Buster Skrine - Hate to give this to the guy, since he played a pretty solid game, but... running into the returner when he'd already clearly signaled for a fair catch while you were looking right at him?
Oniel Cousins - Why not?
Just Shoot Yourself
Brandon Weeden - Had to make up a new category for that effort, Weeds. It's difficult to say that one player was responsible for any loss, since there are just too many variables to make such a statement. But you were responsible for this loss. Oh, and nice block attempt on the reverse to Benjamin.
Pat Shurmur - Makes Brian Daboll look creative. See below.
Dead. Man. Coaching.
This guy has about zero chance of surviving the inception of the Haslam Era. He's shown no development, his play calling is heinous, his decision-making questionable, and he loses. A lot.
From the PD:
Wearing a bright orange tie, Haslam was on the field before the game and in the locker room area after it. He sat in one of the back rows during Shurmur's news conference.
And I'm sure he was there because he was pleased with Paddy's effort.
Many have gone apeshit over the not going for 2 in the 4th up 15-10, and I certainly would've gone for 2 there myself. But I can see other conservative Coaches taking the 1 there, so I'm not going to rail against it other than I personally think it was dumb.
Myself, I'm more upset with the predictable play calling. For instance, they ran the ball right up the gut on every 1st Down play (they didn't pass on 1st Down until the 2nd Q), despite the fact that the Eagles knew it was coming and stuffed it. And, like clockwork, they'd go pass on 2nd Down. It was like watching an orangutan play chess.
It couldn't have been more obvious if Shurmur had walked out to the middle of the field and yelled at the Philly players "HEY! WE HAVE A ROOKIE QB, SO WE'RE GONNA TRY AND PROTECT HIM BY RUNNING ON FIRST DOWN AND GETTING INTO MANAGEABLE SECONDS AND THIRDS! I READ IT ONE OF MY COACHING HANDBOOKS, AND IT SEEMS SMART! BUT DON'T TELL ANDY, OK?"
Whatever, I can understand trying to establish the run, even using the same unimaginative plays with a rookie RB that never took a Preseason snap, but when the Eagles lose respect for the passing game and start putting 10 men on the line of scrimmage and 8 in the box, you can't keep crashing Richardson into a pile and expecting anything to happen.
We saw it a million times last year with Colt, and we saw it yesterday. When teams start doing that, you have to throw them out of it. You have to burn 'em. You have to make them respect the pass. And if you don't have the confidence in your QB to call those plays, you might as well punt on 1st Down and avoid the turnover.
It was all slants and short passes and longer passes down the sidelines. There was no attempt to use Tight Ends or Running Backs to exploit the middle of the field. Where was Jordan Cameron? Where was Ben Watson? How about screens? How about sweeps?
It's like he has a play sheet with 5 plays on it. THIS IS WHAT YOU DIDN'T WANT TO SHOW THE EAGLES IN PRESEASON GAME 3?
And another thing... your QB last year and your QB this year came from certain types of college offenses. When they start struggling and look like they might be entering a funk, why not throw in a series or two of straight shotgun-and-no-huddle to help them get their feet?
Watching a Shurmur offense is like watching the British during the French and Indian War - the troops line up in organized rows on a field and get cut down by the enemy forces that have the sense to think outside the box and hide behind trees.
This team has no hope of sustained success until he is gone.
Here's what I've seen so far from Weeden, and this includes every single Preseason game: He comes in, feels good, slings it around, makes a mistake (or a mistake is made for him), and his confidence goes right to hell.
Once it goes right to hell, he's done. Can't make a read. Can't make a decision. Can't make a throw.
He still doesn't know the offense well enough or trust his Receivers enough or understand how to maintain focus under duress enough to keep himself from becoming a head case when things don't go his way. He is not displaying any mental toughness.
Weeden is a rookie and with the way he plays, he's going to make mistakes. But he needs to show a lot more of that "forget it and move on" that he professes that he learned in baseball.
There weren't many Receivers open on Sunday, but when they were, Weeden missed 'em. Badly. On airmailing Mo Massaquoi on the 1st drive in the end zone, Weeden said "I was jacked up. When it left my hand I thought I underthrew it." But then he airmailed Alex Smith on another possible TD throw, and that final pick that ended the game? "Mo ran a speed move just like he was supposed to and the ball slipped and took off on me."
I'm not sure I saw Mo Mass on the screen. Kurt Coleman looked like he was fielding a punt.
As with Colt McCoy last year, yes, the Offensive Line had its issues. Yes, the Receivers dropped balls. Yes, Shurmur called another uninspired, crappy game. They were all part of the problem. But so was Weeden.
Now, let's all repeat the mantra... rookie... first game... rookie... first game...
Andrew Luck threw 3 picks yesterday. Ryan Tannehill (who looked as bad as Weeden) threw 3 too. Russell Wilson was definitely sub-par. Rookies are gonna look like rookies right out of the gate, especially against some of the better NFL defenses.
So there is hope. Weeden still throws a beautiful ball, and there's no reason to think that he can't be successful IF he pulls it together mentally.
But if I'm still watching this crap come about Week 5 or 6, I might find it easier to believe that Jimmy Haslam & Co. (which would certainly not be the present Co.) would pull the emergency rip cord and take another 1st Round QB.
I don't believe in any afterlife, so I'm of the mind that he's not somewhere "burning" or "suffering" (not sure his Purgatory Attorney couldn't argue his actions weren't in violation of the 10 Commandments anyway), he's just entered oblivion like everyone else. So he's free of everyone's hatreds, and we're free of his existence.
Deserve's got nothing to do with it.
I've been over him for a while now, especially since he got forced out in Baltimore and has had nothing to do with anything NFL-wise for 7 or 8 years. So he's just another dead person whose passing means nothing to me.
The only thing pissing me off is the rash of revisionist history that's been accompanying this. He "allowed Cleveland to keep the name, colors, and history"? Yeah, after he was sued for them. He "was forced out of Cleveland"? Yeah, like I was "forced" to drink all those beers yesterday.
You can eulogize the man if you see fit, but there's no need to make excuses for the guy now - he's taking a dirt nap and can't hear you, and his family knows perfectly well what the truth is.
***Evidence that I have become totally numb to this team: D'Qwell's Pick 6 was the only time all day I made any noise. I clapped twice.
***That's a lie. I screamed an obscenity when Owned Marecic dropped the ball. It was on my audio notes. I must shamefully admit that I called him a Very Bad Name Very Loudly.
***Uh, Shurmy... can you tell me why not one single back other than Richardson got a carry? Not one? Can't pile enough of a load on a guy who never played an NFL snap and is coming off of knee surgery?
***Uh, Shurmy... can you tell me why you had both Travis Benjamin and Greg Little running the exact same route on the 3rd Weeden pick? Needed more defenders in the area?
***Love the logic behind Weeden running the ball on the last play of the 1st Half instead of throwing a Hail Mary... and then sliding. That made sense.
***The Eagles player DID touch that ball with his foot during the punt return that Paddy challenged.
***Billy Winn DID recover that fumble from Vick on the final drive. That whistle was blown way too quickly during a loose ball situation.
***Yesterday's game was announced by Dick Stockton and John Lynch. Neither one of them can pronounce Jabaal Sheard's name. According to Stockton, it's Jabaal Shurd. Lynch? Jabaal Shepard.
***Yes, RG3 looked great yesterday. That still doesn't mean history has changed and that the Browns didn't offer three 1st rounders to try and get him, an offer I'm sure they thought would be plenty sufficient to get it done. So let's hold down the crying over this particular glass of spilled milk.
***I really detest the whole concert-and-carnival production that is the NFL Opening Night pregame. If I wanted to watch No Doubt I'd go back in time to the 90's when they mattered.
Gwen Stefani is still ridiculously hot, though.
Cincinnati Bengals (0-0).
Although I have yet to see them play, my thoughts are that Cincy is overrated. I don't think that highly of Andy Dalton, I don't think that highly of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and their Defense has suffered plenty of injuries. The Cats are about an 8-8 or 7-9 team in my opinion, just negligibly better than the Browns.
That is, if Weeden were playing at a Dalton-level of mediocrity.
Until I see him do it, Weeden is not. He's playing at some odious level which led many past men to short careers.
So the turnovers will be the difference in this low-scoring, incredibly boring game.
Bengals 13, Browns 10.