CLEVELAND — Despite the Cleveland Browns thrilling 37-24 win over the Buffalo Bills Thursday night, the loss of new hometown hero Brian Hoyer and the return of first-round pick Brandon Weeden makes for a bittersweet moment.
For the record, this writer defended and gave Weeden a pass in various columns on this site, as I felt that the former Oklahoma State standout was put in a bad situation with a rookie head coach in Pat Shurmur, a bad fit for the West Coast Offense(WCO) and a team mostly composed of rookies, Weeden was set to have a big year in new offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s vertical passing attack that was a better match for his skill set.
Alas, things looked promising in the pre-season—but that was in the pre-season against hopefuls—and once the proverbial bullets started firing and stuff got real, Weeden looked like he regressed instead of progressed.
Perhaps the loss of wide receiver Josh Gordon, may have been a cause, but in his two starts against the Miami Dolphins and the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, he simply didn’t really show any real improvement.
I am personally and professionally stating this based on what I saw with my very own eyes Thursday night after he came in to relive Hoyer, and all the same things that were said over social media and commentators in his tendency to pat the ball—or “burp the baby” as NFL Network’s Mike Mayock says—stare down his receivers and look way too slow in making his reads were all very frighteningly true.
Along with fellow Inscriber : Digital Magazine writer and Associate Director of Content/Quality Control, Scott DellaFave, whom came down from Buffalo to cheer on his beloved Bills, I got to see perhaps the most inept—yet tantalizing—play by a Browns quarterback I have ever seen.
And mind you, I’ve seen the likes of Charlie Frye in person.
To give you an example of contrasting emotions, the moment Hoyer crumpled to the turf in pain, you could literally feel all the air being sucked out of First Energy Stadium like a vacuüm, and when Weeden took the field to a cascade of boos, it was as if Darth Vader was under center for the Browns.
Clearly, Weeden has a lot to do to win over the trust of the fans again. Now, he gets that opportunity with Hoyer out for the year.
I finally see what my fellow Browns fans have said about Weeden in terms of his inability to inspire, failure to make good decisions and a tendency to panic under duress. That being said, the irony is that the player that many Browns fans hate and harshly criticize, is now maybe their best hope in terms of making an improbable playoff push.
Yes, I cannot believe that I actually typed that, Weeden and Browns playoff push in the same sentence, kinda hits you like a shot of absinthe, mine the green fairies of course!
Let’s be clear, Weeden is far from perfect, or may have already peaked in already hit his proverbial ceiling, thanks to his immobility, lack of pocket presence and about to turn 30, but if a “dumbing down” of the offense were to be made that would enable Weeden to manage the offense instead of taking ill-advised shots downfield into triple coverage, or trying to “squeeze” the ball into tight windows, that could actually help both the Browns and Weeden.
This is all just this writer’s opinion of course, and like I said, I do like Weeden as a player, and still think he has some potential, but thanks to his bad play early and the emergence of Hoyer in leading the Browns to three straight wins—Hoyer gets credit due to starting the Bills game—Weeden gets a second chance of redemption, which is very rare in such a cutthroat, “next man up” league as the NFL.
Hopefully, for both Weeden and the Browns, the ol’ Cowboy gunslinger makes the most of it.
Robert D. Cobb is the Founder/CEO/Senior Editor-In-Chief Of The Inscriber : Digital Magazine, for questions, comments and concerns email me at [email protected] follow me on Twitter @RC_TheInscriber and follow The Inscriber : Digital Magazine on Twitter at @TheInscriber