August 22, 2014

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(Updated) Benched Browns QB Brandon Weeden takes “full responsibility” for losses, but remains confident in his ability, wants another shot in Cleveland

BEREA — Brandon Weeden doesn’t want his Browns career to end like this.
“I hope I get another shot,” he said Friday. “I’m champing at the bit.”
Weeden spoke to reporters for the first time since being benched earlier in the week. Weeden will back up veteran Jason Campbell on Sunday in Kansas City, but his future with the organization is uncertain only 18 months after he was drafted No. 22.
Many people believe the midseason move signaled the end of the road for Weeden in Cleveland. He’s 0-4 as the starter this year, 5-14 in his two years and the Browns are expected to draft a quarterback in the first round in May.
“It’s hard. I don’t know. I don’t think too much about it,” he said. “Those decisions, they have a plan, and unfortunately I don’t get to sit in those meetings.”
Weeden, 30, has been harshly criticized by fans and media but wants to stick around.
“Absolutely. I love it here,” he said. “I think this team is on the rise. We’re doing some good things and I’m excited about the group we have. I love this town.
“You never know. This league is crazy. Whether it’s this Sunday, four Sundays down the road or at the end of December, I’ll be ready.”
The benching capped a difficult start to the season for Weeden. He banged his right thumb on a helmet in Week 2, missed two games and lost his job to Brian Hoyer. He regained the job when Hoyer suffered a season-ending knee injury, beat Buffalo off the bench, then lost two straight as the Browns fell to 3-4.
“It was kind of broken up and so it is what it is,” Weeden said of the start-and-stop nature of his season. “It’s professional football, you gotta win. You gotta win games and all 53 guys in here would agree.”
Weeden ranks 30th with a 66.5 rating and 32nd with a 52.8 completion percentage. The brutal beginning to his second year was capped by a terrible six-quarter stretch against Detroit and Green Bay that produced 13 points and spurred coach Rob Chudzinski to make the move to Campbell. Weeden went 31-for-65 (48 percent) for 306 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions and a 53.8 rating as the Browns were outscored 55-13 in the last game and a half.
“I’m still 100 percent confident in my abilities,” he said. “I feel like I have what it takes to play in this league and that’s not going to change.
“When it’s all said and done, you’ve got to get it done and I’ll get another opportunity sometime. You’ve just got to be ready when that number’s called.”
Weeden didn’t make excuses for his poor play or role in the offense’s struggles.
“We didn’t win any games,” he said. “We just didn’t play well. I don’t know how else to put it. We didn’t get it done.
“I’ll take full responsibility. I’m never going to be a guy that’s going to point the finger. I had plenty of opportunities to make plays. There are some throws that I’d love to have back. Unfortunately you don’t get them back. Again, that falls on me.”
Weeden was supposed to thrive in new coordinator Norv Turner’s vertical passing attack, but he never appeared comfortable once the regular season started. Weeden came from a spread attack at Oklahoma State, where he completed 69.5 percent. He switched to the West Coast system last year, completing 57.4 percent.
“Completion percentage is affected by a lot of things,” Turner said. “The accuracy, sometimes Brandon gets speeded up, sometimes legitimately so because of the rush. He’s missed some guys that were open. They’re throws he’s capable of making.
“There are plays that Brandon could’ve made and he knows he could’ve made them.”
Weeden began the season with high hopes, as he planned to prove to the new front office and coaching staff that he was the long-term answer. Yet eight weeks in, he’s lost his job twice.
“It’s tough. I’m a competitor. This is not the situation I want,” he said. “With that being said, I’m going to support Jason just like he supported me.
“I’m a team guy. I want this team to win on Sunday. I’m going to be ready if called on.”
Chudzinski said Weeden took the news as a professional, but it obviously stung. His demeanor improved as the week progressed.
“He’s been awfully good,” Turner said. “We had a long conversation about that.
“I just think you have to keep working and believe in yourself and be ready.”
Tight end Jordan Cameron said his friend has handled the demotion as well as can be expected.
“He’s been good,” Cameron said. “He’s very positive. He’s been preparing like he’s going to play, which is awesome. You’re always a play away. He’s ready. He’ll be fine.”
The trading deadline is Tuesday at 4 p.m. Campbell and Weeden are the only quarterbacks on the roster, so a trade seems unlikely. But if Campbell plays well Sunday vs. the Chiefs and another team wants Weeden, the organization may be inclined to make a move.
“I got traded in baseball and you just never know,” said Weeden, a former minor league pitcher. “Our focus is Sunday, and whatever happens on that is again out of our control.”
Weeden didn’t have to talk to the media, but felt it was the right thing to do.
“I’m not going to stand back and hide from you guys and sulk and all that,” he said. “I’m going to confront the situation head-on. I think that’s the right way to do it. That’s the professional way to do it.
“I like to think of myself as a pro. If I go and just hide and don’t want to talk to anybody, that’s not the right way to do it. I take full responsibility of my effort. Whether it’s good, bad, indifferent, I take full responsibility of how I play, and I’m not afraid to answer any tough questions.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.