Wednesday, September 18, 2013
QB Watch: Browns' Weeden and Hoyer
By Jamison Hensley
A weekly analysis of the Cleveland Browns' quarterback play:
Rewind: It was another painful outing for Brandon Weeden, who was sacked five times by the Ravens and hit a total of 12 times. Weeden left the game in the fourth quarter with an injured thumb. Before he hurt his throwing hand, he didn't have much time to look downfield, which is why 18 of his 21 completions went for less than 20 yards. The struggles continue on third down, where he was 4-of-14 (28.5 percent) against the Ravens. He fell to 0-3 against Baltimore.
Fast-forward: Weeden is out, and No. 2 quarterback Jason Campbell isn't in. The Browns announced Wednesday morning that third-string Brian Hoyer will make the start Sunday at the Minnesota Vikings. It's an interesting decision considering Campbell has a stronger arm than Hoyer, and offensive coordinator Norv Turner wants to drive the ball downfield in the passing attack. But general manager Mike Lombardi is a well-known admirer of Hoyer, applauding his leadership and toughness in the past. This will be the second career start for the 27-year-old Cleveland native. It came for the Arizona Cardinals last season, when he completed 19 of 34 passes for 225 yards with one touchdown and one interception against the San Francisco 49ers.
Not much support: If the Browns continue to block like they have the first two games, it won't matter if Hoyer, Weeden or Bernie Kosar is throwing passes for Cleveland. Weeden has been sacked a league-high 11 times this season. Only nine quarterbacks have half that amount. On the positive side for the Browns, the Vikings have one sack this season.
Prediction: Hoyer is going against a Vikings pass defense that ranks 25th in the NFL, but Cleveland's passing attack has struggled more. The Browns have scored one touchdown in two games and they're converting 17 percent of their third downs. Wide receiver Josh Gordon returns, but wide receiver Greg Little is still dropping passes and the right side of the offensive line can't pass protect. Don't expect a change in quarterback to change Cleveland's fortunes.