BEREA — The plan all along was for Brandon Weeden to win the starting quarterback job. The Browns drafted him No. 22, at age 28, so he could replace Colt McCoy for 2012. The offseason was spent getting him ready, and the first week-plus of training camp was set up to make sure he was.
Coach Pat Shurmur officially named Weeden the starter Monday. He had seen enough, and the preseason opener in Detroit was looming Friday. McCoy and veteran backup Seneca Wallace will compete for the No. 2 job.
“That was my goal. I’m excited about it,” Weeden said following practice. “A lot of hard work’s gone into it, but it’s a privilege to be a starting quarterback for this football team.”
The selection of Weeden was as surprising as Team USA’s win over Nigeria in Olympic men’s basketball. He got the majority of the time with the first-team offense during the offseason, threw the ball well and has taken every snap with the starters in training camp. The competition McCoy was hoping for never materialized.
“As you kind of plan how you’re going to do this thing, we’ve got to see it kind of unfold that way,” Shurmur said. “I’ve seen Brandon and the other quarterbacks improve and I’ve seen enough now he’s going to be our starter and we’re moving forward.
“We’re committed and we’re rolling. And we anticipate he’s going to do a great job.”
Just a year ago, McCoy was the hope for the future. He was coming off an encouraging rookie year in which he had started eight games and beaten New Orleans and New England.
But McCoy struggled in his first year in Shurmur’s West Coast Offense and went 4-9. He suffered a concussion against the Steelers and missed the final three games, but only after re-entering the game following the huge hit from linebacker James Harrison. McCoy’s father ripped the team’s handling of the situation.
McCoy no longer looked like the answer at the game’s most important position, and his relationship with the organization had been strained.
“I have approached my job like I was a starter and I will continue to do that as a professional,” he said. “I would like to say that I haven’t taken any snaps in walkthrough or in practice with the first group. I thought coming in it would be a competition.
“But again I’ve come out here and competed my tail off and I’ve really worked hard to get better and improve and I know I have and I know our team has. So from that standpoint I am OK.”
The Browns are hoping Weeden (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) can stop the carousel at the position. He is scheduled to become the 17th starting quarterback since 1999 and 11th to start a season opener.
“He’s an outstanding thrower, he knows how to play the position, he’s a good decision-maker and he’s working through the progressions and understanding where the ball goes,” Shurmur said. “He’s accurate and I think when he gets in the huddle, he’s wired right to play the position.
“We’ve seen him get a pretty good handle on what we’re doing, although it’s important to remember he is still a rookie and there will be some things that got to get cleaned up as we go.”
Shurmur said Weeden and the starters will play about a quarter against the Lions. Despite it being a foregone conclusion, Weeden didn’t take winning the job for granted.
“I’ve busted my tail for 10 practices now,” he said. “I’ve put in a lot of work, a lot of studying. I’ve had some ups, had some downs, but I think I’ve come a long ways. I wanted to show I was the best guy out there to give this team a chance to win.
“Hearing the news, it’s obviously exciting, but my preparation’s not gonna change. I’m gonna go about it the same way I’ve been going about it and continue to get better as a player, continue to be a leader on this football team.”
Joshua Cribbs is the veteran of the receiving corps and likes what he’s seen from Weeden.
“Early leadership from having the age and experience that a young guy wouldn’t have coming in,” he said. “You see he’s a quick learner.
“You see the potential of being a great quarterback this year. So it’s not like, ‘Oh, he’s going to be good in a couple of years.’ You see the potential for him to be a contender this year.”
Shurmur said he told the quarterbacks of his decision individually and they all reacted professionally. He was asked if McCoy told him he wanted to be traded.
“Nope, nope,” Shurmur said. “All Colt’s told me is that he wants to compete and get better and help this team win.”
McCoy, who signed autographs after practice, was asked if he wants a trade.
“I learned right before practice, I came to practice, I worked hard and got better,” he said. “I’m excited about the preseason and we’ll see what happens.
“Trust me, you will continue to get the best that I can do. I love Cleveland, I love the fans, I love this place, I love my teammates.”
Shurmur said McCoy will play with the second team against the Lions, but the No. 2 quarterback will be determined by the rest of camp and the preseason. For the first time Monday, Wallace led the second team during the two-minute drill, with McCoy relegated to third team.
“We’ve got two guys here that could be our No. 2 quarterback, so for me it’s a win-win,” Shurmur said.