- Pat McManamon, ESPN Staff Writer
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In Thursday night’s game between Seattle and Arizona, Russell Wilson of the Seahawks threw a pass as he was falling ... the ball floating out of his hand as he was being tackled.
Wilson’s pass happened to float to a teammate for a first down.
It was thus given all the predictable tags ... gutsy, tough, courageous.
Wilson’s pass was at least forward and not backward. It was overhand as opposed to underhand. But it was completed. Which made it smart and all the other adjectives that folks like to use about plays like that, especially those who gush about the most mundane of NFL plays.
This came to mind when Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner was speaking Thursday about Brandon Weeden’s backhand, underhand throw, the pass that Weeden correctly called “a boneheaded play.”
“I've coached this game a long time, so I’ve seen a lot of different things,” Turner said. “He’s not the first guy to throw a ball like that.”
Turner’s actually seen worse. He was the coach in Washington when Gus Frerotte was the quarterback. In a Monday night game against Dallas, Frerotte scored on a 1-yard scramble, ran to the corner of the stadium and fired the ball into the wall.
Then he ducked his head and slammed the top of it into the padded wall.
It was pretty evident there was a problem when he had trouble taking his helmet off. By halftime, Frerotte was on his way to the hospital with a sprained neck.
After the game, Turner said he’d have to add a ban on headbutting a wall “to the manual.”
In a game a couple years later, Frerotte played for the Bengals. While being tackled, he tried a left-handed pass against the Browns that defensive end Kenard Lang intercepted and returned 71 yards to set up a touchdown in a Browns win.
“I’m not going to name them because then somebody’s going to say I’m comparing them,” Turner said. “But guys who have been to numerous Pro Bowls, and guys who’ve won Super Bowls, I’ve seen not only attempt that pass but have it returned for a touchdown.”
Clearly one man’s courageous play to keep a drive alive is another’s career-defining mistake. It’s probably part of the reason the Browns were so supportive of Weeden after the error. They all know they’ve had bad errors on the field, they just weren’t seen.
"At the end of the day you have to be productive and you have to make the play, whatever the play is and however you can," coach Rob Chudzinski said. "As we've coached and talked with Brandon, he's the guy that has the ball last; as the quarterback you have to make the right decisions."
It’s just as important to note Turner wasn’t shrugging off Weeden’s mistake. Just saying things like that can and do happen from time to time. The key, he said, is making sure the mistakes like that don’t happen more than once.
“It’s not excusable for anyone and it doesn’t make it right that someone else has done them,” Turner said. “We’re going to eliminate it.”
What Weeden did was a bad mistake. And nobody hides from it.
But at this point, the important thing for Weeden is how he reacts to the mistake. If he lets it affect him, it's a bigger problem. If he puts it behind him and plays well, it's a bump along the way. Chudzinski said Weeden had his best week of practice all season, which may or may not translate into a win at Green Bay.
The ultimate half-full view is Turner's statement: "It's a correctable mistake."