- Pat McManamon, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly analysis of the Browns’ quarterback play.
Rewind: The Browns have had a little time to adjust to the sudden loss of Brian Hoyer to a torn knee ligament. Now? Who knows what happens with Brandon Weeden back as the starter. Weeden is tall and strong-armed, but he tends to key on receivers and has trouble reading the rush. Instead of moving forward with a quarterback the Browns were excited to discover, they’re back to the guy they replaced after the second game.
Fast-forward: Weeden will be challenged up the middle, like every team that faces the Lions. Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are both mean, physical and strong interior linemen. Both can collapse a pocket on their own. Weeden will have to hope Shawn Lauvao starts and plays an entire game, and is more stout in pass protection than Oniel Cousins. If Weeden is protected, he’ll have the chance to get something done. The Lions give up 268 yards per game passing and have allowed 18 plays of 20 yards or more, and four of 40 or more.
Considering confidence: Weeden played and looked like he was rattled in the first two games. He was sacked 11 times, threw three interceptions and had just one touchdown. In the third game, when he was rushed back after the injury to Hoyer, he was improved but not perfect. Weeden threw some good passes down the field, especially to Greg Little for a long gain and to Josh Gordon for a touchdown. But he also threw some passes that came close to being picked off. If Weeden struggles early, he will need to maintain or find his confidence as the game progresses.
Prediction: In his past six starts going back to last season, Weeden has thrown three touchdown passes and seven interceptions, with a passer rating of 71.4. Expecting him to be perfect is expecting too much. A 225-yard game with two touchdowns and one interception might not be enough to win, but it is realistic to expect.