Former Oklahoma State coach Jake Spavital on Brandon Weeden’s study habits

by Cleveland Frowns on February 25, 2013

Folks wondering about the idea that Brandon Weeden’s horrendous rookie season was all or mostly a function of Pat Shurmur’s play-calling got another clue before the Combine when a former graduate assistant coach at Oklahoma State, Jake Spavital, spoke to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about the difference between Weeden and 2013’s top QB prospect Geno Smith. Spavital, who was recently hired by Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M as quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator, moved from Oklahoma State after Weeden’s junior year to join Dana Holgorson’s staff as quarterbacks coach at West Virginia where he worked with Smith for the last two seasons.

[Smith] studies [the game],” Spavital said. “With Brandon Weeden, I couldn’t say that about him. I love the guy to death but he had some good guys around him. Brandon knew how to get the ball to those guys. There were times at West Virginia when (Smith) had to create things.”

“[Smith] could do it all,” Spavital added:

“He could be under center. He can throw out of the shotgun. He can throw comebacks. He can pull it and run when he needs to. We got to do some pretty good stuff with Geno because he was such a good student of the game and we could do anything with him. … He impresses me a lot with the things that he can do — how he operates the game, how he studies. He would actually sit there and bring ideas to the table. There were times when we let him check 80% of the game. We put a lot on him and he’s capable of doing that. … There are those guys that are ‘what can football do for me?’ He’s ‘what can I do for football.'”

Mary Kay Cabot picked up on these comments from Spavital in Saturday’s Plain Dealer in discussing a pair of quotes from Joe Banner and Rob Chudzinski in which they raised questions about, “how bad [Weeden] wants it,” and “how much he puts into it,” respectively. And it’s as clear as ever that if last year’s 22nd overall pick isn’t going to be a complete waste, it will depend on a 29-year-old multimillionaire quarterback picking up NFL-level study habits that he didn’t have when he was 28.


In other news, per MKC, Joe Banner revealed “his football philosophy” at a Combine press conference.

“[It’s] about preventing pressure on your quarterback and getting pressure on the opposing team’s quarterback,” Banner said. “If you can do that, you have a chance to win any game against any team.”

Which is either completely meaningless or a simplistic echo of what every armchair analyst in the country said after the Packers and Giants won consecutive Super Bowls in 2010 and 2011 with excellent quarterback play and a pass rush propelled by an end who finished in the league’s top 5 in sacks.

Relatedly, Ziggy Ansah/Jason Pierre-Paul comparisons are rapidly gaining currency (here’s the PD’s Tom Reed on the same).

And in other sports, Zac Jackson wrote a profile on University of Akron mens basketball coach Keith Dambrot, notable of course for MACtion, as well as something for biscuitologists to keep an eye on as March approaches (the Zips have won 18 in a row and face last year’s MAC champ Ohio U. this Wednesday night), and an excellent read on a local leader that Northeast Ohio can be proud of.

  • Bryan Joiner

    Unless you’re calling him a multimillionaire to illustrate how bad a cap hit he is, you’re taking a cheap shot, and an irrelevant one. You want to hoe that road, it never ends.

    • Cleveland Frowns

      Yeah, it is a bad cap hit, but how’s it “cheap” or anything but good sense to infer that a man of a certain age who’s made so much money by way of certain habits will be significantly less likely to change those habits than one who hasn’t been paid so much?

      • Bryan Joiner

        If that’s true, why did you ever push for LeBron to do yoga?

        • Cleveland Frowns

          Shucks, you could just as well call this a “push” for Weeden to start studying film. But the larger point is, at least from the perspective of the folks who run (and care about) the Browns, it sure seems late for that given that quarterbacks 10 years younger than him are coming to the league with study habits that he got to a 29-year old millionaire without developing.

          Yoga, on the other hand, is an easy fix for a world class athlete who’s having back problems. All the easier when that athlete is 24-years old. LeBron, thankfully, proved that. Too bad there’s no such easy fix for Weeds.

          • Bryan Joiner

            Sounds to me like a bunch of guesswork on your part. I hope, for your sake, that you’re guessing wrong, and that Weeden is able to properly identify the incentives to change his behavior

          • Cleveland Frowns

            I suppose in some very technical sense I am “guessing” that a man of a certain age who’s made so much money by way of certain habits will be significantly less likely to change those habits than one who hasn’t been paid so much. Others might call it a perfectly reasonable inference.

            Anyway, what Weeden capable of doing and what he’s likely to do are two different things, both relevant, and a more complete analysis of the situation requires accounting for both.

          • mo_by_dick

            Joe Haden got a 1st-Round deal and it didn’t affect his “study habits.”

          • bupalos

            Joe Haden didn’t ride a bus around the minor leagues for 5 years or whatever. Joe Haden is thoroughly convinced he is the baddest thing the NFL has ever seen, and he’s out to prove it.

            Give me motivated immaturity over this wizened contentedness any day of the NFL calendar.

          • Cleveland Frowns

            I’m pretty sure that Moby was just making an Adderall joke, but I agree with everything you say here as well.

          • Bryan

            Frowns –

            I agree that Weeden’s success to this point in life DESPITE apparent mediocre work habbits is a bad sign. However, your statement “that a man of a certain age who’s made so much money by way of certain habits will be significantly less likely to change those habits than one who hasn’t been paid so much,” depends more on the incentives moving forward than on those looking back. The bottom line is that if Weeden doesn’t improve drastically he will be out of a job (and if the problem is deep enough, out of the league). Such stark incentives may light a fire under him, and I think they outweigh the fact that he has a few mill in the bank already. But we shall see….

            The good news is that it seems like the Browns have a good handle on this. They think the guy has talent, they will give him a chance to improve, but they will likely bring in a Matt Moore type and keep him on a short leash. I prefer this to drafting a questionable prospect or overpaying for Alex Smith/Vick/Flacco type.

          • Cleveland Frowns

            For heavens sake, I don’t at all disagree with most of what you say in the first paragraph. I just don’t think it’s a “cheap shot” to mention the real world fact that Weeden does in fact have a few (at least 6, actually) mill in the bank. I know it could cut both ways, which was probably Joiner’s point, but on the average I don’t suppose it does (inertia, etc.), and in Weeden’s case time really isn’t on his side.

            As for bringing in Matt Moore, I don’t see how he wouldn’t immediately take the job from Weeds.

            As for your statement that the Browns “have a good handle on” the quarterback situation, I wonder how you think it’s possible for anyone to have “a good handle” on a mess as big as this QB situation, and what it is about Banner and Chud’s vague press conference statements that makes you think they do. It’s not hard to stand up there and say Weeds needs to work harder.

          • Bryan

            Mostly, I am just very glad they aren’t panicking about the QB situation. This team is not ready for a Superbowl. They have other holes to fill. They should not waste resources on a QB unless they absolutely love him. Reading between the lines of the various press conferences, I get the sense that there is no one in the draft or free agency that they absolutely love. Given that, they seem to have reached the sensible (if un-sexy) conclusion that giving Weeds one more season is better than reaching or overpaying for a QB. This type of patience is a welcome change in my book.

          • Cleveland Frowns

            I think this team is a quarterback away from having a really dynamic offense. Given that, I think this team should do everything it can to find a quarterback as soon as possible. The problem that I have with your line of reasoning here is that you seem to be assuming that improving on Weeden will require “reaching or overpaying for a QB.”

          • Bernietocatcherguy

            my favorite Weeden line of the 2012 season, “if I had a dollar for every hour I worked this week”…and then your reply of “someone give this man a hundred dollars.”

            I still laugh thinking about that one. As if professionals at the highest level would be expected to do anything but work anyway. Hell, I’m a low level accountant and work my ass off to support a family of four…”if I had a dollar…”

          • Bryan

            No argument there: I am definitely assuming that “improving on Weeden will require “reaching or overpaying for a QB.”” If you know of a way to get a great QB immediately without burning a high draft pick or getting into a bidding war, I am all ears. Given the draft class and free agency class this year, I just don’t see how its possible.

          • dubbythe1

            Is there anyone (fa/trade/draft) that you think can do it for us right now, or that can do it for us if we bring him in this year and we make the push next year? Mallet? Moore?

          • MichaelTheRed

            I agree it’s what they should do. I’m not down with drafting a qb in the 1st round ever again unless the next Luck or RG is a lock for us. I can’t stand weedon but I’m fine with giving him another year. I just hope we bring in another downhill back to help Trent out cause I get the feeling Weedon’s gonna be calling alot of run audible’s. What I don’t want to see is Trent run down by the time this offense takes real shape.

          • dubbythe1

            In my humblest observation, Weeden seems like an insecure idiot. The same qualities the Huggy/Feely Browns PR machine touted of Weeden can be seen as a detriment:
            1. failure in minors built character… no he learned nothing, and instead of working to get better he looked for an easy way out.
            2. people say bad things about me on twitter, I block them… ok Grossi jr, grow a pair, some of the shit said was not bad at all.
            3. He really cant read defenses yet, rookie mistake? We will see but what we’ve heard via rumors of his study habits I’m very doubtful.
            4. He sounds robotic and ass-kissing when answering the media.
            All that being said, I want to give him another year, but I also want to see at least some hint of a contingency plan, Chips is not it in this new offensive scheme.

          • MichaelTheRed

            I agree 100%. If it weren’t for the fact that getting someone else would cost us too much I’d say ditch him. But since I don’t want to see Geno Smith “competing” for the job in August just give Weeds another year.

          • Anne Dunn

            Good article and comments. I think Weeden’s complacency is only magnified by the fact he has a guaranteed contract. He gets his money whether he plays or even makes the team or not.

            He held out for that and the former management was DUMB enough to give it to him. Looking back, that sounds like the plan of a pretty contented slacker to me.

          • dubbythe1

            I mean, I have no clue where the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” came from That saying has been around for so long, and obviously there was no basis for it to exist before now when Frowns finally put an argument towards its use. Now do I really have to use my sarcasm font?

          • Anne Dunn

            It’s been clear from Weeden’s comments to the press that he wouldn’t or couldn’t learn the play book and he made jokes about falling asleep every time he tried to watch film.

            It gets much more serious when it is clear that all the team has noticed and a player like Richardson, when he thinks the mic is off, is very clear about Weeden not studying enough to read defenses and having to have a much simplified and more predictable offense as a result.

            None of the players when prompted will praise him, and they would do so easily if he had their respect. When a QB loses “his” team, there isn’t much else to lose and he doesn’t really still have a job, even if he’s on the roster.

            Weeden has to convince more people than just the coaches. And he’s going to have to work harder than he has ever done in his life — not really likely after 30yrs of doing something different.

          • BIKI024

            we’re basing the opinion of Weeds study habits from a guy who worked with him 3 years ago, a year before Weeden made the huge jump he did as he performed as one of the top QB’s in college his senior year.

            study habits can be improved and developed by good coaching and of course Weeden’s personal will to compete, we’ll see if he can make a similar leap like he made in year 1 to year 2 like he did in college.

          • acto

            Right Frownie,
            Yoga “is an easy fix.
            I have seen your circus contortions, if you get Weeden started on your yoga program, he will quickly become a quadriplegic.
            Will that help the Browns’ QB decision?

  • jimkanicki
    • NeedsFoodBadly

      What are we talking about? Practice?? We’re talking about practice, man. We’re talking about practice.

  • bupalos

    This whole line of thinking flatters the prejudices I had against Weeden from the start, and outlines the primary reason I screamed in horror when we selected him. And calling him “multimillionaire” is not beside the point at all. He tried for a looong time to get paid in professional sport. And he finally got paid enough that he wouldn’t absolutely ever have to work again if he didn’t want. What lessons did he learn from all that?

    He’s almost 30. His absolute top end at this point is “a good quarterback that played in the NFL for a few years.”

    I’m sure he’d like to be a good player. I’m sure he’d like several more millions if he can get them without too much trouble. But there’s no way he can have the fire of a motivated kid, and from the get-go– from “having a great time” in that Philly disaster, to throwing picks that were as bad as you’ll ever see late in the season, to complaining about the “fairness” of play calls– all the externals on this guy point somewhere between “content” and “lazy.” He’s lucky his skin is light enough that this hasn’t come up until now.

    I’m all in on Ansah, up to and including a trade up (which I think would probably be necessary.) But if there is realistically anything that can be done at QB (I know next to nothing about Smith) I’d be open to that because I think Weeden’s traits taken all together (including this senioritis trait) simply aren’t going to be more than a very mild plus QB at best.

    Compare and contrast to Joe Haden and reflect on the importance of “maturity” in the NFL.

    • MichaelTheRed

      I agree with everything you said…..right up until you said ur all in on trading up for Ansah. I just fell out of my chair in near sputtering rage. You can’t be serious? We would get butt raped by any team for that pick and for a player who’s “at least” equal is going to fall to us at the #6. “Maybe” two of these guys go before the 6…likelihood is that we’ll have most of the OLB”s/DE’s on the board at the 6th spot. Why on earth would we trade away anything valuable in order to move up?

      • bupalos

        Dunno. I really don’t think this guy or Jarvis Jones is on the board at 6, and no one else is on this level for me, these are the two potential game changers I see. Have you seen the videos? That a guy who has played two years of football looks like this is unreal. Mocks be damned, I see what I see and I’m pretty sure GMs (specifically det.) will see it too. I’m not wild about trade ups but honestly if we had the #1 this would probably be my choice.

        • MichaelTheRed

          Well are you seeing just “highlights”? I’ve watched full game breakdowns now of Moore and Werner. What i’ve read about Ansah is that he’ll often disappear for long stretches and big strong tackles if they get to him, swallow him up. Surprisingly they also talked about his stamina, which i thought would be a non issue if you were a starter in college football….even in the ROcky Mountain division. So I’m sure there’s these moments where Ansah showed something unique. My issue is that these other guys show it consistently. Take Werner for instance, he’s another guy I’m not 100% sure fits in our system but I tell you what….if we were still running the 43 and needed an End i’d take him over Ansah all day. Moore seems like he fits more what we need though, still need to look at Jordan. Seen enough of Mingo, don’t like him….he’s a fast edge rusher but that’s it. He will get smoked in the run game, but hey if we get Ellerbe it might not matter. I just see way too much project in Ansah, and you’d give him a #1 contract? Can we Courtney Brown again?

          • MichaelTheRed

            Just watched some footage of Ansah, especially the ND game.

            1) People should have called ND for being overrated after that game
            2) Ansah get’s “moved” at will. In space the dude is nasty. BYU used him as a 34 DL and that’s terrible. His “flashes” are from when he was standing up. So basically we’re talking about spending the #6 on a 6’7 270+OLB? That’s crazy. Also watched Margus Hunt footage and while I think he runs into some of the same problems with leverage that Ansah does…I would draft Hunt over Ansah anyday but as a DL.

            The best film I’ve seen so far is still from Werner. I watched Ansah and Hunt get moved alot, Ansah more than Hunt. Werner…omg, he’s like a Golem at the point. Pass rushing skills from these 3 guys seem pretty much a wash….but in run defense there is simply no comparison. Werner is just a rock. He blasts huge men off of him with regularity. I know Hunt benched 225 38 times but Werner looks “alot” stronger on the field than Hunt. Werner stonewalls guys than discards them at his leisure. And these are not Div 2 or 3 OL he’s taking on.

            Werner has stated at the draft he’s got no issue with converting to a 3-4 OLB. So far he’s got the best film. Moore has officially lost me with basically showing up at the combine out of shape and apathetic. Done.

            So now I gotta look at Jordan, maybe Jones, seen Mingo but I’ll go back and look some more.

            But you Ansah marks you gotta spell it out for me what you’re seeing that I”m not. I don’t care about his “athletic numbers” either, what are you seeing on the field that’s so darn special to warrant the #6?

    • dubbythe1

      I like Ansah also, but trade up nonononono! Depth in this draft means we will get someone good, just might not be our #1 guy.

    • jaws.

      if we trade up it has to be for dion jordan. that dude is a baller.

  • CleveLandThatILove

    Since Weeds looks to be naturally lacking in the intensity department, some good old fashioned competition will hopefully take care of that. And make MKC’s job easier, if that’s even possible.

    • bupalos

      I fully expect any competition to simply up the frequency of Weeden’s references to “fairness.”

      • CleveLandThatILove

        That will not fly with this new regime, I don’t think.

  • BIKI024

    Weeden made a big leap in production from his Junior and Senior seasons (after Spavital left) and I remember reading a lot of reports of how Weeden invested a lot of time studying and working with coaches, hence the signficant jump in performance. Now it’s on Weeds to put the work in this offseason and we’ll see how he competes (possibly against Geno??)

  • rulesboy

    There are those guys that are ‘what can football do for me?’ He’s ‘what can I do for football.’

    To the extent a person can actually be a statement (a subject on which I have my doubts), no one in the history of eternity was ever, EVER this one.

  • Leftyjsf

    Where art thou Anne Dunn….

    I dread the thought of another year with Weeds under center. No 4th qtr comebacks, no big wins over established SB teams and just as many TDs as Colt with more to work with.

    I would rather roll the Geno Smith dice than stay status quo.

    • Anne Dunn

      Hi, Leftyjst, it’s not that hard or that rare to find problems with Weeden. You can do it, too.

  • MichaelTheRed

    I know it’s the combine, but if we’re gonna talk about Ziggy’s combine work did any of you catch Margus Hunt? He’s taller and heavier than Ziggy but he posted a better 40, a better broad jump, same vertical….and 38 reps on the bench. I don’t think ziggy even benched. That’s freakish athleticism for a 6’8 280lb dude. Too bad he fits nowhere for us. lol

    • MichaelTheRed

      i stand corrected Ziggy hit somewhere in the low 20’s on teh bench. Besides Hunt, Ziggy, Werner and Mingo have been the 3 best prospects for us so far combine wise.

  • MichaelTheRed

    Are any of you watching the “vs” highlights on youtube? Pick any of these prospective draftees and type their name into youtube and see a breakdown of every defense snap they took vs a particular team.

    Ok so now having watched a bunch of these guys i went back and watched a couple more Werner games. I “thought” he didn’t fit in our system cause he was more a prototype 43. He played this season at 260 or just a little under so he’s not a monster size wise…but he’s the strongest and most explosive of the guys we’re looking at, hands down. He’s a better pass rusher than Ansah, he’s better at run defense (vastly) and all at a more OLB type weight. Fl St played him standup this season and he did well…his best work is from the 4 point but holy fug, if he can stonewall these monsters at the point (see the Miami game against Centrell Henderson), and blow by them in the pass rush….maybe we don’t need him to cover in space much. Blt makes it work with Kruger. I mean guys just watch some tape. Werner comes out of his 4 point faster and more explosively then Ansah. When he two points at the line he stumps double teams. It’s sick. And this isn’t just one game, this isn’t a highlight reel. Watch those video’s where they show all the D snaps out of one game and they highlight the player in question. He’s doing all that at 255-260lbs….gotta draft him. His football instincts as well are far far far and away superior to Ansah. Ansah get’s fooled badly by the read. Werner is thinking while he’s flying around the field. It’s all there on the tape.

  • jaws.

    you want Weeden to work harder? Bring in Tebow. You thought he was determined before? Just wait until he gets a chance to make the Jets look bad for getting rid of him. Now I may be in the minority when I say that I completely believe in Tebow’s talent, but at the very least you have to admit that he’ll make the other QBs on your roster sit up and go “Look at what this dude is willing to give… I’d better step my game up.”

    • trashycamaro

      Can I vote up more than once? And you know who Tebow works best with? Big, strong receivers that can get up the field and RBs that know how to use a little bit of extra space. Know any skill position players like that?

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