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Browns want Weeden to cut down on interceptions

Browns want Weeden to cut down on interceptions

BEREA, Ohio (AP) The numbers aren't good, at least not good enough. Brandon Weeden doesn't need anyone to tell him that.

The Browns rookie quarterback doesn't have to scan his statistics to know he has to play better. He's well aware that he's thrown too many interceptions, won too few games and has yet to convince Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam and new CEO Joe Banner that he's the franchise's future.

Weeden understands he must improve. Just don't bother bringing it up.

``I'm not a moron,'' he said.

Following a bye week to rest his arm, relax his body and mentally block out the bad stuff from the season's first nine games, Weeden said Wednesday that he's determined to play at a higher level and lead the Browns to some victories in their last seven games.

Maybe because he's 29, Weeden isn't always viewed as a rookie, which may explain some of the criticism about his game.

``I think lost in all of this is that I'm a rookie,'' he said. ``I'm still playing teams for the first time. I'm still seeing things for the first time. I'm making a lot of mistakes that I'm making for the first time. I'm trying not to repeat them. But I'm not a nine or 10-year veteran.

``Some people might lose track of that sometimes. But it is what it is. I've got to play better. I've got to do my part to help this team win.''

And taking better care of the football should be his top priority.

Before practice, Browns coach Pat Shurmur made it clear there is one aspect of Weeden's game that needs immediate attention.

``Don't throw interceptions,'' he said. ``Done. End story. I want to be right to the point.''

Point taken.

Weeden has thrown 12 interceptions, tied for the NFL's second-highest total. The only QB to throw more picks is Dallas' Tony Romo, who will match up against Weeden on Sunday when the Browns (2-7) visit the Cowboys (4-5) looking to end an 11-game road losing streak.

Weeden concurred with Shurmur's candid and curt assessment that he needs to be smart with the football.

``That's kind of been my priority since I played Pee-Wee football,'' Weeden said. ``We never want to throw interceptions. My aggressive manor and mindset sometimes gets me in trouble. I'm not going to take that away from myself.

``I have to take care of the football. I have to cut down on them. I think guys that are aggressive like that, sometimes that's one category they unfortunately may have a couple more than they'd like. It's not good, but we're just being aggressive. Sometimes, making that aggressive throw, sometimes it catapults you and gets you momentum. You get a big throw and kind of spark a drive or something. I agree with him.''

The Browns' game before their bye was testament to Shurmur's evaluation of Weeden, who has completed 185 of 336 passes (55 percent) for 2,088 yards and nine touchdowns.

Weeden threw two interceptions during a 25-15 loss to Baltimore. Those miscues weren't particularly costly, but he failed to get the Browns into the end zone despite five possessions inside the Ravens' 20-yard line. There were some who theorized that Weeden played too cautiously in the red zone, perhaps because he was afraid to throw a pick with Ravens safety Ed Reed lurking.

Did the gunslinger get gun shy?

Weeden said he took what the Ravens gave him.

``If you go watch the tape, no one was open,'' he said. ``I made smart decisions down there. We were in the red zone and the balls I did throw, I did check down. Windows were small, but if I throw a pick there, you guys are asking me the same questions.

Weeden and Shurmur have discussed his decision making and interceptions, but it hasn't been a major point of emphasis during their talks.

``It's just common knowledge between the both of us, we know you can't turn the ball over,'' he said. ``It's in my forefront, but I don't let it get to the front of my mind, where I'm so paranoid about throwing interceptions that I don't take shots.''

Unable to work out a trade to move up and draft Robert Griffin III, the Browns selected Weeden with the No. 22 overall pick in April's draft. They ignored his age, dismissed the fact that he rarely took a snap under center in college and banked on him filling a position that has been unresolved for years.

Shurmur believes Weeden can become an ``outstanding player'' and to do that he needs ``to lead us to victories and don't throw interceptions.''

That will happen once Weeden starts making better choices.

``I've looked at all of those interceptions and there are times when he could've made better decisions,'' Shurmur said. ``There's, of course, things that have happened where a ball bounces off a guy's chest. So you look at all of those things. You don't want to play anxious football, but you also have to be smart.''

Last week, Banner said he and Haslam will use the rest of the season to decide if Weeden is indeed Cleveland's long-term answer at quarterback. If there wasn't enough pressure on Weeden already, Banner raised the heat level a few degrees.

Weeden, though, isn't sweating it. He's doesn't feel as if he's under fire.

``I would've expected him to say that,'' he said. ``They're taking over this organization and they're going to do the moves to help this team win and I obviously want to be the guy that they have a lot of confidence in going forward and I've got to play like it.

``I've got to go play well and keep the team growing and keep the team making better plays and let the rest kind of take care of itself.''

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NOTES: Browns RB Trent Richardson is still not 100 percent but the bye week helped his rib cartilage injury. Richardson is close with Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith, whose records he broke in high school. Richardson said they speak regularly and he has watched Smith on TV's ``Dancing With The Stars.'' Richardson said, ``He got moves, man.'' ... Browns TE Benjamin Watson was named the fourth captain for this week's game. .... Browns CB Joe Haden was limited in practice with an oblique injury but said he expects to play.

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Ravens reportedly agree to a deal keeping John Harbaugh in Baltimore long term

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USA Today Sports

Ravens reportedly agree to a deal keeping John Harbaugh in Baltimore long term

The Ravens have reportedly agreed in principle to a new contract extension with head coach John Harbaugh, a move already being praised by national pundits everywhere. 

It was nearly a month ago that the Ravens announced Harbaugh would be returning as the team’s head coach in 2019, which was noteworthy considering his status as a potential lame duck head coach.

In the same release, the team announced they were working towards a contract extension with Harbaugh, whose current deal was set to expire next year.

Despite reports from national NFL insiders, including Jason La Canfora and Peter King, that Harbaugh might prefer to hit free agency as a highly sought-after head coach after the 2019 season, it appears the Ravens will keep him in Baltimore for the foreseeable future. 

This news comes on the heels of a busier-than-usual coaching carousel, with a quarter of the 32 NFL teams changing head coaches in the last month, including two AFC North rivals. Harbaugh almost certainly would have been the cream of the crop among coaching free agents no matter when he became available, so the Ravens were looking to lock him up long term.

After a tough November home loss to the Steelers that put the team at 4-5, Harbaugh was asked about his job security, and he remained steadfast and confident.

"I've never been someone who's worried about keeping a job," Harbaugh said. "It's always been, for me, [about] doing the job. I've got a bunch of great coaches and a bunch of great players that bust their tails every day to do the best job they can. I feel really good about the way this team has been coached for the last 11 years, and for the last number of weeks we've been in the season. So, there are no regrets. Never been any regrets here with me."

After that game, the Ravens rattled off six wins in seven games to make the playoffs, and many players credited Harbaugh with keeping the team together. It was prior to Week 16 when the front office announced Harbaugh would be returning no matter how the season ended, but the strong finish and AFC North title certainly made the decision easier.

A coach with a special teams background, Harbaugh is an anomaly in the current era of young, offensive-minded head coaches. He won Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, and holds a 104-72 career record in Baltimore.

The terms of the new deal have not yet been released, but it will be interesting how many years the team is committing to Harbaugh.

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Youth movement leads Ravens’ list of MVPs of 2018 season

Youth movement leads Ravens’ list of MVPs of 2018 season

The Baltimore Ravens' 2018-19 season certainly wasn't boring.

A change at starting quarterback while displaying the NFL's No. 1 defense for just the second time in team history en route to a playoff run highlighted their campaign. 

With rookies on the rise and veterans still at the top of their game, who on the Ravens' roster had MVP performances in 2018?

Offensive MVP: QB Lamar Jackson

Coming in for an injured Joe Flacco in Week 11, Jackson pulled the Ravens out of a four-game losing streak and led the team to a 6-1 record down the stretch. His 695 rushing yards is the most by all NFL quarterbacks in 2018 and also ranks 11th most by a quarterback in NFL single-season-history. 

The Ravens' leader for the foreseeable future, Jackson landed the team in their first postseason appearance in three seasons and rekindled fandom in the city of Baltimore. 

Defensive MVP: CB Marlon Humphrey

Humphrey followed up his strong rookie season with an even stronger sophomore season. Nursing a groin injury for part of it, Humphrey led the team with 15 passes defended, 37 total tackles, two interceptions and one forced fumble. 

Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 15, the cornerback produced a career-high four passes defended and one interception in the 20-12 win. Through 14 games, Humphrey proved he can matchup with some of the best receivers in the league while slowly emerging as a leader of the defense.

Special Teams MVP: Justin Tucker

He's the most reliable guy in Baltimore, finishing the 2018 season with a franchise-record 141 points for the third-consecutive season.

Named AFC Special Teams Player of the Month in September and November, Tucker was snubbed from a Pro Bowl appearance after making 36 of 39 field goal attempts. 

Unsung Hero: RB Gus Edwards

Beep, beep. Make way for Gus 'the bus'' Edwards. 

Alongside Jackson, the undrafted rookie out of Rutgers emerged in their Week 11 matchup against the Bengals rushing for 115 yards on 17 carries and his first-career touchdown. Through seven weeks, Edwards helped take the Ravens' 27th ranked run game to No. 2 in the league. An introvert in the locker room but an extrovert on the field, Edwards became the Ravens' second rookie in franchise history to post back-to-back 100-yard rushing games in Week 11 and Week 12.

With Greg Roman being promoted to offensive coordinator, expect to see Gus 'the bus' pounding the field in 2019.

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