Even though the Cleveland Browns are sitting in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC North, and they are currently on a three game winning streak, you can sense thoughts of gloom and doom among the team’s fans.
Why? Because Brandon Weeden is back as the starting quarterback, replacing the people’s choice, hometown hero Brian Hoyer.
We know about Weeden’s weaknesses. He holds the ball too long, he locks in on his receivers, he’s a statue in the pocket. These things were particularly noticeable after watching Hoyer play in wins against the Vikings and Bengals.
Still, it really was the second year player from Oklahoma State that guided Rob Chudzinski’s team to a win over the Bills eight days ago. And although the special teams and defense put up 14 points in the contest, and Travis Benjamin’s first long punt return led to a field goal, Weeden still was a part of drives that put 20 points on the scoreboard.
And we understand he was terrible in the first two games of the season, losses to Miami and Baltimore. Both of those teams have the same record as the Browns, by the way.
However, sometimes young quarterbacks (in terms of experience) benefit from watching on the sidelines and viewing how another guy handles it, and when they get a second chance at the job, they are better prepared to handle it.
Remember, Weeden was thrown in there as a rookie, without a lot of preseason time, and was expected to perform well right out of the gate. Also, we was running an offense that he was both ill-suited for, and was told not to make any mistakes.
Heck, his own coach frightened him with his constant talk about Ed Reed before a game against the Ravens a year ago.
Part of Weeden’s problem was the success of other passers taken in the same draft class. No one confused the Browns’ choice with Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and even Ryan Tannehill before the draft, and Russell Wilson was picked in the third round.
They all have had some or a lot of success in the NFL. Weeden’s career so far pales in comparison.
Luck is likely this generation’s Peyton Manning. Barring an injury, he could be the next great signal caller in the league.
Wilson had the league’s third best running game on his side. He only threw 405 passes on the season.
Griffin’s Redskins had the best rushing attack in the league. He threw 393 passes in 2012.
Tannehill had a similar passer rating as Weeden (76.9 for the Dolphins’ QB compared to 72.6 for the Browns’ passer), with a 58.3 completion percentage, 12 TDs and 13 interceptions.
Weeden threw 14 touchdowns and 17 picks. He threw 517 passes and missed the last game of the season. That’s over 100 more throws than Wilson and Griffin. Clearly, there was a much greater burden on Weeden than those two.
This isn’t to say Weeden is going to be great or even an average NFL quarterback. It is the point out that the Redskins and Seahawks gave their rookie quarterbacks a much easier starting point than Pat Shurmur did.
Besides, Weeden isn’t horrific. He’s not Ken Dorsey, Charlie Frye, Trent Dilfer, or Doug Pederson.
Those are all guys Browns’ fans have been forced to watch in the last 15 years.
RIght now, the path Brandon Weeden’s career takes is in his hands. Can he take what he learned by watching Hoyer and make it apart of his own game?
If he doesn’t, he will likely carve out a tenure in the league as a back up.
It’s still unfair to portray him as a guy who can’t play in the NFL this soon.