By Bruno Vanderhoof
We’ve heard all the rhetoric from all the people in the know when it comes to Brandon Weeden.
A strong armed quarterback perfectly suited to Norv Turner’s downfield passing game. One of the better offensive lines in the league. He’s sure to benefit from a power running game, and the maturity and emergence of this young corps of receivers.
A soon to be 30 year old first round pick who is only starting his second season of pro football. Jaworski and Gruden have both voiced their approval. He “won” the starting job this year fending off Jason Campbell and Lombardi favorite Brian Hoyer.
I’ll admit I’ve been a staunch defender of the aged sophomore and Chris Weinke student. (That brings to mind an old saying… Players play, and teachers teach. But that’s another story all together).
And I was eagerly awaiting the downfield onslaught that the hapless Dolphins would have no answer for because it would be all they could do to stop T-Rich and the running game.
Yet in all the worst case scenarios running through my mind up til game time, I never saw that performance coming. Which is infuriating because its exactly what I should have expected.
Weeden was 26 of 53 for 289 yards. He threw 3 interceptions, in the first half no less. He was sacked 6 times, fumbled once, and had 4 passes batted down – now those are some serious numbers!
He stared down his receivers, held the ball way too long and too often, had happy/jittery feet, and patted the ball constantly. All things that we were assured were behind him heading in to his second year.
Worst of all he looked terrified of trying to fit the ball into those small windows that are often all he’s going to get. Where is the fearless gunslinger that will throw into traffic and let his playmakers make plays? He seems unable to finish drives, and seems to get entirely too bothered by bad/terrible starts.
This is not to say Sunday’s result is entirely on Weeden. We were told he put in all the work this summer, learned the new playbook, worked on his footwork, sharpened his release, etc. He is on his second offensive coordinator in two years, and he is missing his best weapon in the passing game.
So why oh why is he attempting 53 passes in a tight, low scoring game? Is this something we should expect in future weeks? Again, it’s only one game, but that doesn’t bode we’ll for this “up and coming” squad. I wasn’t in the stadium on Sunday, but I can imagine more than a few bewildered fans like myself yelling “RUN THE DAMN BALL!!!”
The new owner and front office have never been sold on Weeden, nor have they ever denied that fact. Campbell is waiting in the wings, and lets not forget he was in the midst of a fine season in Oakland before an injury brought Carson Palmer to town.
Personally, I want to see the guy that gives the Browns the best chance to win. If Weeden comes out against Baltimore in week two and looks more like the guy in pre-season that looked ready to set the league on fire, all the better. But is it unreasonable to think that another dismal performance is all Lombardi and company need to pull the plug on Heckert and The Big Show’s last first round reach?
Only the men in charge know exactly how much rope they’re going to give Weeden, but Sunday’s performance surely tightened the noose.
But I, like a lot of you I’m sure… am not ready to start talking about Johnny Football taking his talents to Cleveland.
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