CLEVELAND – Thanks to the installation of Norv Turner’s new vertical passing offense, 2013 could potentially be a banner year for Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden.
Weeden, the 22nd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma State, threw for 3,385 yards, 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, and completed 57.6 percent of his passes in 2012-13 under former head coach Pat Shurmur’s West Coast offense(WCO).
While these numbers don’t exactly scream “Pro Bowl” Weeden in Turner’s attack-minded offense has the potential to play more towards Weeden’s strengths instead of his weaknesses under Shurmur’s.
Let’s get one thing clear.
First, Weeden never was—and never should have—been in the West Coast Offense to begin with due to the offense he came from out of college at Oklahoma State, where he was predominantly in shotgun and relied on inside slants to Justin Blackmon.
Second, Weeden’s first year in the NFL was a bit of a wash when you consider that along with himself, he also had fellow rookies in Josh Gordon, Trent Richardson and Mitchell Schwartz on offense to work with.
Couple that with learning a completely new system—in addition to learning to play more from under center—and you have Weeden’s ho-hum rookie year, if that’s what you want to call it.
How is it you call a 29-year-old a rookie is beyond the point, the main issue is that Weeden was a rookie placed in a inept and incompetent offense run by one of the worst head coaches in recent memory in Shurmur alongside fellow rookies and that is the result one should expect.
Bottom line. Period.
Weeden’s bad habits of telegraphing his throws, patting the ball before his released it and the many balls batted at the line of scrimmage—he’s 6’4—gave ample fuel to the vocal die-hard legion of Colt McCoyanistas for their one-time savior to resume his stating mantle.
Alas, it was not meant to be, as Weeden would be retained by the new Haslam regime and the former boy wonder would be jettisoned to San Francisco—and reunited with longtime kicker Phil Dawson.
In would come Jason Campbell and former local standout in Brian Hoyer and all of a sudden, Weeden’s being outplayed by a former journeyman in minicamp?
Surely you just!
Before the anti-Weeden crowd orders their new Campbell or Hoyer jerseys, I will have to go out of my way to personally disappoint you with the cold hard fact that Weeden is here to stay whether you like it or not, and unless Weeden magically regresses to Brady Quinn-like levels, only then should the Browns consider a quarterback change.
As I’ve said from the get-go, continuity is needed at the quarterback spot in Cleveland, before the Browns will ever be considered a threat to division heavyweights, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati.
While Browns fans anxiously twiddle their collective thumbs in angst wondering whether Weeden is going to start, fans of the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals can fall asleep secure in the fact they have franchise quarterbacks—and Super Bowl rings—in Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton.
That type of mentality is why Cleveland will always be Cleveland, why the Browns will always be the Browns, and why the “once-proud and storied” franchise is the NFL version of ABC’s “The Bachelor” due to the contest parade of johnny-come-lately journeyman quarterbacks since 1999 and the real reason Cleveland is the perennial butt of jokes in NFL circles.
Before those so-called fans are ready to disgard Weeden for the unproven likes of A.J. McCarron, Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Taji Boyd, perhaps they should look to the fact that for once the Browns have a proven offensive coordinator in Turner(no Brian Daboll or heaven forbid Maurice Carthon and his obsession with fullbacks) who developed former top overall in pick in Troy Aikman into a three-time Super Bowl champion for the Dallas Cowboys and Philip Rivers into a perennial Pro Bowl quarterback for the San Diego Chargers.
For those ready to write off Trent Richardson as old news due to his recent hamstring injury, I’m sure you’ve heard of Emmitt Smith and LaDainian Tomlinson too, right?
What the Browns have in 2013-14, as opposed to last year is more experience at wideout thanks to the additions of David Nelson, Davone Bess, and the potential emergence—as well as another year—under the belts of Josh Gordon and Greg Little in a San Diego Chargers-style offense along with a bona-fide breakout tight end in Jordan Cameron.
Can you say Antonio Gates?
With these weapons, as well as a more favorable offense that will finally showcase his true arm strength, a more favorable passing league, and strength of schedule, do not be surprised to see Weeden pass for more than 4,300 yards, throw over 25 touchdowns and post a QB rating of over 90.0 this coming season, the question is will Browns fans care, or pine for the backup on the bench?
Robert D. Cobb is the Founder/CEO/Senior Editor-In-Chief Of The Inscriber : Digital Magazine, for questions, comments and concerns email me at rob[email protected] follow me on Twitter @RC_TheInscriber and follow The Inscriber : Digital Magazine on Twitter at @TheInscriber