Have I mentioned Oklahoma media types have missed Brandon Weeden?
The Cleveland Browns quarterback and former Oklahoma State star is back in town for the NFL offseason and chatted Friday with reporters before serving as the keynote speaker at Oklahoma Christian’s Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner. Weeden’s high school baseball coach at Edmond Santa Fe, Lonny Cobble, now holds that position at OC.
And, as usual, Weeden was his normal talkative and insightful self.
There’s a Q&A in Saturday’s Oklahoman, but that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the range of topics covered.
Here’s the complete version:
What’s the biggest thing you learned during your rookie season?
Those guys are really good. It’s a very challenging league. There’s so much preparation that goes in. Basically, when you’re done on Sunday afternoon, you’re already thinking about next week and trying to prepare. You’ve got to come in Monday morning kind of having a feel for what the other team does. It’s nonstop. This is our job. We don’t go to school anymore. We get paid to do this. They expect us to be more prepared, or as prepared, as the coaches. There’s so much time that goes into each week. And if you don’t prepare, if you just kind of go through the motions, you’ll get exposed. Even if you do prepare, sometimes you get exposed, because those guys are so good.
It was a fun year. We didn’t win as many games as we would have liked to, obviously. But you look at the games we were in. We were in so many games with one of the youngest teams in the NFL. At one point, we had eight of our guys on the offensive side of the ball at one time were rookies. When you’re playing teams like the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals — that are all veteran teams that have guys that are future Hall of Famers and very experienced players — (and) you have rookies, you can’t make mistakes. And they force you to make mistakes. It’s a tough league, but I’m getting paid for something I love to do and I’m blessed for it.
Do you have a “Welcome to the NFL” moment that sticks out?
I had a lot. I thought I’d be smart and not wear a rib protector when we went to Green Bay. They brought a little ‘Sam’ linebacker blitz. I saw it coming, but I knew I could get the ball out. I thought my (running) back was going to protect. Well, he didn’t, and I took one right underneath the sternum and it knocked the breath out of me. Long story short, I couldn’t breathe for probably 45 seconds. I didn’t want to get off the ground. I wanted to just lay there, call a timeout, something, because I couldn’t breathe. I got in the huddle and tried to spit out a play and it wasn’t happening. So everybody’s laughing at me and it kind of became the running joke for that game. And then I finally got to the line of scrimmage and we got a false start because I couldn’t say the cadence because I still couldn’t talk. That was a bad play.
That Thursday night we played in Baltimore, Ray Lewis got me really good. He didn’t sack me — I got the ball out like I was supposed to — but he hit me extremely hard. And instead of helping me up, he kind of pushed himself up and just kind of stood over the top of me for a minute and I was like, ‘All right. Well, here we’re are. We’re in the NFL and this is the way it’s gonna be week in a week out.’ What better way, to have a guy like Ray Lewis welcome you to the NFL?
Was it Clay Matthews that hit you in Green Bay?
I can’t remember who it was, to be honest with you. I don’t want to remember.
What about a positive “Welcome to the NFL” moment?
In Cleveland, it’s very similar to Bedlam here with Pittsburgh. If you beat Pittsburgh in Cleveland, you think the world is ending. That’s a big deal up there, and rightfully so. It’s a big-time rivalry in a tough division. So beating Pittsburgh at home, even though I got a concussion and didn’t play the last five or six minutes — and didn’t get to celebrate, which I don’t know why this is my welcome to the NFL positive moment (laughs). But still, beating Pittsburgh at home, with the year that we had, was probably the highlight. Anytime you beat those guys, as good as they are, is something to take a lot of pride in.
You mentioned being in the huddle. That’s different than the way you ran things at OSU. What was that adjustment like?
When I first got drafted and we started OTAs, that was probably the biggest transition, spitting out a play that’s this long (extends arms across table) and trying to remember all the terminology and stuff and trying to get it all right after hearing it, repeating it, knowing what everyone’s doing. There’s a lot more thinking. It’s a complex system, especially that West Coast offense. But honestly, once I got into it and kind of understood the terminology, I enjoyed it more because you’re able to communicate more. I always talked about that when I was at Oklahoma State, we relied all on signals. So if you’re not on the same page, it can be tough. Whereas in the huddle, you have no excuse. You know exactly what to do.
What was the most challenging part about being a rookie?
I think adversity. At Oklahoma State, I faced adversity one time, really, with that loss to Iowa State. Other than that, we lost to Oklahoma and we lost to Nebraska when I was a starter, two really good football teams. Not winning consistently is challenging. It’ll really test you as a person. To come to the building on Monday morning after losing games like we did is not a good feeling and a feeling that we don’t want from here on out.
How’d you get over that adversity?
Winning. Really and truly, it’s all about winning. (It helps) having a core of coaches, players, leaders that keep the locker room headed in the right direction. Sometimes when you lose a lot of games, everybody wants to push the panic button and everyone wants to start looking for answers and look around the room versus just line up, prepare, keep doing what you’re doing. We never really got blown out. We kind of got blown out in New York, which we were up 14-0. We got blown out at Denver. Other than that, they were all 3-, 7-, maybe 10-point games. We’re not talking about we were just getting walloped every week. You just have to have good leaders, good people around you.
Was there a specific teammate you looked up to as a leader?
The vocal leader of our team is D’Quell Jackson, our middle linebacker. He’s a veteran, extremely mature. He just has that charisma, that ability to lead, and he’s great at it. As a rookie, it’s tough. especially when you’re coming in and you have so many other demands on you. You want to be that guy, and now this year, that’s my job. Now it’s my offense. It’s my turn to kind of take the lead and be the leader.
Does all the change on the Browns’ coaching staff and front office make you uneasy about keeping the starting quarterback job?
You just have to understand it’s part of the business. In college, it’s one thing. (With the NFL), you’re talking about a multi-billion dollar corporation, essentially. There’s going to be changes. Obviously, we’ve already seen some. The guys that drafted me are no longer there. I fully expect there to be competition. I want competition. I want to go into camp and compete. If I had won 10-11 games last year, it may not be the case, but we weren’t able to get that done. I expect competition. I’m eager to get started. I’ve already started working tirelessly at several different things that I feel like I can get better on from last year. I expect competition. That’s the way professional sports are. Unless you’re Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, you might as well expect for somebody to come try to take your job. It’s part of the business, but it’s also the fun part to compete and try to be a winner.
How much contact have you had with the new coaching staff and, specifically, your new offensive coordinator in Norv Turner?
Very limited. There’s rules on that. It’s almost like we’re in college again. There’s more rules in the NFL, I think, than the NCAA. You’re not able to talk Xs and Os. You can’t sit down and talk ball. I’m going to be learning a totally different offense. It’s going to be completely different than what we did last year. I think being the quarterback, you want to have as much contact with those guys as possible, you’re not just able to talk football. I’ve talked to them a couple times, but it’s been very limited.
I’m excited. What Norv Turner has done with quarterbacks throughout his career, what he did with Philip (Rivers) these past few years in San Diego — throwing for over 4,000 yards and a ton of touchdowns — (is impressive). I talked to Troy Aikman a couple weeks ago — and, obviously, they’re kind of attached at the hip, (Turner) giving his speech at the Hall of Fame and all of that — he thinks highly of Norv. And I think every guy that’s ever played for Norv has always come away extremely impressed and become not only friends (with him), but he’s their mentor. He’s been one of the best in the game for a long time. A lot of people regard him as one of the best playcallers of all time, or definitely in the game today. It’s going to be exciting playing for him.
How much were you able to watch OSU this season? And what are your thoughts on what that offense was able to do, despite a revolving door at quarterback?
Me and (Josh) Cooper actually went to the hotel early to watch the end of the Bedlam game. We were yelling and screaming. People were coming to check on us because they thought we were about to fall out. It was a fun year and fun to watch those guys. Definitely different being on the outside looking in.
The quarterback situation, I’ve never seen anything like it. That was impressive by all three of the guys that played. It’s not easy to play at that level, especially when you’re not getting many reps or coming off the bench. When Wes (Lunt) went down, J.W. (Walsh) came in and didn’t miss a beat. And that goes back to coaching. Coach (Todd) Monken gets those guys prepared to play every Saturday. Obviously, we all know that those three guys have different qualities as a quarterback, but Coach Monken found a way to call plays to put those guys in position, to put that offense in position to win and succeed.
Did you ever talk to Clint Chelf about it? You two became close at OSU.
Me and Clint would text back and forth. He called me a couple times, but mainly just text messages back and forth. Same with J.W. I congratulated him after his first win and those types of things. Me and Clint became pretty close when I was there, so I think he kind of felt like he could rely on me if he needed advice, before he was even playing, and stuff like that. He’s a good kid and a guy that I think came in and faced a lot of adversity, but he was able to overcome it and prove a lot of people wrong. I was in the same boat. I was a third-stringer. You’re not excited about the position you’re in, but the only thing you can do to overcome it is to go out on the field and get it done. That’s what he did.
You’ve already got Trent Richardson in your backfield. Are you going to make a push for the Browns to draft Joseph Randle?
I don’t want to make anybody mad. I want to stay in my lane. But playing with Joseph Randle, he’s got the ability to play at the next level. What I saw when I was (at OSU), what I saw just watching him on TV, he’s explosive. I think he made the right decision. I think he’s a talented enough back to play in the NFL, and I know how he works. On that team last year, he probably worked harder than anybody in that locker room. And that’s what it’s going to take to play at the next level, and I think he’s got the ability to do it.
You recently partnered with the Children’s Hospital Foundation to raise funds to help children like family friend Gavin Kuykendall. How is that progressing?
It’s moving in the right direction. We hired a guy to run our golf tournament. He’s putting the final plans together as far as designing the entire program. This guy we hired is Patrick Siver — he’s done a bunch of PGA events, he actually did Scott Verplank’s event last year. The final outline may be done within this weekend. That’s definitely moving in the right direction. We have a couple other ideas. I’m going to do a little quarterback camp, probably this summer, and all the proceeds we raise I’ll give directly to the Children’s Hospital. Try to raise as much money as possible so Oklahoma City can have a heart surgeon. We just don’t have a pediatric surgeon, and we need to find a way to get that done.
What has OC baseball coach Lonny Cobble meant to you?
He’s been tremendous. I was excited he got this opportunity, with all the success he had at Santa Fe. I joked with him, I said, ‘Well my senior year we were so good, you didn’t have to coach. You just filled out the lineup card and let us go play.’ Of course, I didn’t mean it. He’s an outstanding coach, an outstanding character person. It’s fun to play for guys that enjoy coming to the field every day and working for him. He’s the right guy for the job.
What will you talk about as the keynote speaker at the OC’s Athletic Hall of Fame dinner? (Note: media availability was before the event)
A little bit of my story. I think just talk about kind of what I’ve been through to get to where I’m at. In high school, when I was a freshman, I was 5-foot-7, probably the least talented player in our class. I just wasn’t that mature as far as my body, I didn’t throw hard. (I want people to learn) to work on the field, off the field, to keep a level head, to have the support I’ve had, stuff like that. The little things that have gotten me to where I’m at.