Departing Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren endorsed Brandon Weeden as the team’s quarterback of the future. Holmgren spoke with media during a 1 p.m. ET press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
Holmgren made strong endorsements for general manager Tom Heckert, head coach Pat Shurmur and, most importantly, quarterback Brandon Weeden.
“I think Brandon is off to a good start, in my opinion. He’s an excellent passer, I like how he leads,” Holmgren said. “People don’t cut him quite enough slack because he’s 29, but he’s a rookie.”
He took it further by comparing Weeden to the light at the end of the tunnel for the Browns’ franchise.
“I think he’s done very well. There’s a bright future because the organization has found its quarterback.”
As a rookie, Weeden has improved each week after a poor performance in his first start against the Philadelphia Eagles, in which he threw four interceptions and posted a passer rating of 5.1.
Through five games, Weeden become the second-highest rookie passer in NFL history by posting 1,519 yards. He also set the team’s single game rookie yardage record with 322 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2.
Overall, Weeden has shown a quick learning curve and an ability to move the ball downfield that the Browns have lacked for many, many seasons.
He’s also progressed dramatically as a pocket passer. He isn’t a mobile quarterback, by any means, but has shown an increased awareness in the pocket and an ability to throw strikes in the face of pressure.
Perhaps the biggest area for improvement for the young quarterback is in his progressions. At times, defenses have been able to lock in on Weeden’s eyes and make plays for the ball at the line-of-scrimmage and in the secondary.
Last week, new owner Jimmy Haslam’s purchase of the team was finalized by an owner’s meeting in Chicago.
Haslam’s first act of business was to announce he was going to bring in Joe Banner, the former Philadelphia Eagles president and CEO who constructed the team that has seen great success over the past decade, to fill Holmgren’s role at the end of this season.
Holmgren talked about his desire to stay with the organization and help whoever he can with his expertise before he leaves.
“I’m not going to rock the boat or get in anyone’s way,” Holmgren said. “I think I can help, a little bit. But (not) if it gets cumbersome or uncomfortable; I don’t want that to happen.”
He also lamented on his staff's inability to turn things around for the Browns franchise.
“I so much wanted to put a product on the field to win some games for Randy Lerner. That I feel there will be moments where…I wish we had won a few more games.”
Despite the move to Banner, no other personnel moves are planned until at least the end of the season, Haslam said last week, according to Associated Press reporting (via USA Today).
Before finishing things off, Holmgren wouldn’t close the door on a return to coaching following the end of his tenure in Cleveland.
“I’ve learned a lot of things in the last three years. I do miss the coaching part of it,” Holmgren said.
*All quotes obtained from live Mike Holmgren press conference that aired on Oct. 23 on 850 AM WKNR ESPN Cleveland's live stream.
Mike Hoag Jr. covers the NFL and the Cleveland Browns for Bleacher Report and is the Browns Gameday Correspondent for the site.