What will give with Browns QB spot?

October, 20, 2013
10/20/13
10:05
PM ET
Brandon WeedenAP Photo/Tom LynnThe Packers pressured quarterback Brandon Weeden into a number of mistakes in Cleveland's 31-13 loss Sunday.
The numbers for Brandon Weeden in Sunday's 31-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers included these:

-- The Cleveland Browns quarterback threw for 149 yards.

-- He threw 42 times to get those yards.

-- He completed 40 percent.

-- He averaged 3.5 yards per attempt.

Those numbers speak volumes that something drastic has to change for the Browns and their offense or the next two months will seem endless -- sort of like the last two months of the last five seasons have seemed in Cleveland.

Either the Browns have to find some magic somewhere, Weeden has to improve or the offense/team has to find a way to win playing a style that fits Weeden's strengths and limitations.

None would be easy.

The Browns already found magic once with Brian Hoyer. But since he hurt his knee the offense has regressed. After Hoyer's injury, coach Rob Chudzinski said the offense would trust Weeden, in part because they had no other choice. They still have few choices. Brian Sipe and Otto Graham are not walking through any doors.

If Weeden is to improve it will have to be marked. He had at least three balls dropped against the Packers, and he saw Josh Gordon make a half-hearted effort on a key fourth down play in the fourth quarter. But Weeden also overthrew folks, made other bad throws and at times seemed outmatched as he looked downfield.

The Browns played a bad first half, but even with that had chances down 17-3 to get back in the game. The offense never did its part.

It appeared the Browns gave Weeden extra protection given Green Bay's aggressive blitzes, and at times receivers didn't win and at other times Weeden didn't see them when they did win.

The team says it has confidence in Weeden. If so, it needs to play like it does -- and Weeden needs to help.

In his two starts since Hoyer was hurt, Weeden is barely over 50 percent (43-for-85) and has three touchdowns and three interceptions, with the TD against Green Bay late with the game virtually decided.

Chudzinski said Sunday he never gave a thought to pulling Weeden. He said he would evaluate this week and always play guys who give the team the best chance to win.

Clearly something has happened with Jason Campbell -- and it might have been the underhand throw out of bounds in the fourth quarter against Baltimore in a 14-6 game.

The Browns best chance might be for Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner to try to adjust the scheme to fit Weeden better. Or to rely on the defense more. Or to try to gimmick some things up to help on special teams (something they're doing already). Or to go to the running game more -- though that's tough because the Browns don't have a legitimate running game.

What they do might challenge the team's offensive minds, especially since the next game is at undefeated Kansas City and then home against Baltimore, two aggressive pass-rush teams much like Green Bay.

But at this point the Browns are winless in Weeden's four starts and he's completing 56.2 percent, which is 30th in the league.

But ... the guy ahead of him is Alex Smith (56.5 percent) and he's unbeaten in Kansas City. Obviously teams can win with the right plan with a guy completing a low percentage. (Though Smith's 50.0 Total Quarterback Rating is double Weeden's 24.9.)

It takes time to build a team and Chudzinski deserves that time. But in the short term something has to give, or change.

If it doesn't, or if it can't, the final two months of the season will be about the 2014 draft.

Again.

Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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