New coach Rob Chudzinski introduced his former boss to the media Wednesday and announced Turner will be the play caller and quarterbacks coach.
Chudzinski wasn’t nearly as decisive when asked if he’s proceeding as if quarterback Brandon Weeden will be the starter. Weeden, the No. 22 pick in 2012, started the first 15 games before injuring his shoulder against Denver and missing the finale.
“No, I think that’s premature to say any of that,” Chudzinski said, “until we all get together, we get this staff set, we get a chance to sit down and talk through personnel and everybody’s on the same page with those things.
“And then you don’t know even watching tape necessarily how guys are. Sometimes guys will get out there and get in the system, maybe it’s a better fit, maybe you see some things that you didn’t see from tape, whether it’s game tape or practice tape. So you just never know. Like Norv mentioned before, there’s a lot of young guys and those young guys have a lot of growth potential and you have to see what they are when they get out there on the field.”
Weeden had periods of good play, but not enough to convince many observers he’s the long-term answer, especially at 29 years old. CEO Joe Banner and new vice president of player personnel Michael Lombardi have refrained from giving public evaluations, and the Browns could add a rookie and/or veteran to the mix before training camp.
“Certainly that position is a critical position in the offense,” Chudzinski said. “It’s going through and looking at guys and projecting them. ‘Hey, at the end of the day, this guy can be that type of player.’ And then does that fit in scheme-wise and what we can do to adjust scheme-wise to anybody we’re talking about in that.”
Turner and Chudzinski share an offensive philosophy that Turner described as power running with explosive plays downfield and efficiency in all situations. They believe the coaches should adjust the system to fit the attributes of the players.
“You look at the tape and identify things that I think Brandon does well that we’re going to ask him to do,” Turner said. “I looked at things where I know he needs to improve, needs to get better to do the things we want him to do. But I think he has a lot of the skill set that we’re looking for. He does have a big arm and he can throw the ball over the field.”
Weeden completed 57 percent of his passes for 3,385 yards, 14 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and a 72.6 rating. He went 5-10 as the starter, including a 7-6 win over the Chargers in terrible weather conditions. Turner was San Diego’s head coach before getting fired after six seasons.
“For me to give you a big evaluation on Brandon would not be fair. I haven’t met him and just started looking at tape,” said Turner, 60. “But he did good things in the game when we played and he did good things in the games that we evaluated getting ready for that game.
“Rob and I have had a lot of success with young players. A lot of guys I’ve been with had their best seasons while I was coaching them. So you get excited about going out and working on the details of playing the position. Part of playing quarterback is getting everyone around him playing at a high level also.”
The Browns also have Colt McCoy and Thaddeus Lewis under contract at quarterback, and McCoy is eager to get another chance to play. He started 21 games in 2010 and ’11, then was limited to 17 passes in 2012 before also injuring a shoulder vs. the Broncos.
“He’s had success,” said Chudzinski, who’s spoken with Weeden and McCoy since getting the job. “I really need to study all of these guys and sit down and do it. I look forward to going through this process over the course of the next few weeks and month to get us in position where we make decisions and go where we need to go.”
Turner said he’s familiar with McCoy but hasn’t done a thorough evaluation.
“He brings a different style than maybe Brandon,” Turner said. “He’s been a productive player when he’s played.”
McCoy nor Weeden fits in the category of athletic phenom like Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson, who sent a jolt through the NFL this season with their multidimensional play. Chudzinski might’ve had the most athletically gifted quarterback of them all as Carolina’s coordinator the last two years with Cam Newton.
Chudzinski will bring what he learned to form the “Browns offense,” but didn’t guarantee he’d add a dual threat to the roster.
“The most important thing you do as a coach, and I learned a lot of this from Norv, is being able to adjust to the people you do have and really focus on the guys you have, finding roles for them, finding what they do best and putting them in situations to let them have the success they can have,” Chudzinski said. “You can have success with all different types of players, and quarterbacks in particular.
“The good thing is that Norv and I really are coming from the traditional quarterback background. How we’re going to merge these systems, it’s really going to be a dynamic environment.”
Turner said the Super Bowl matchup of pocket passer Joe Flacco and speedster Kaepernick proves you can win with either style. Turner just wants an exciting offense that scores a lot of points with explosive plays.
“You want to be a team that fans love to watch,” he said. “And I think it’ll show that our guys like to play football.”