Wednesday, October 16, 2013
QB Watch: Browns' Brandon Weeden
By Pat McManamon
A weekly analysis of the Browns' quarterback play:
Rewind: Brandon Weeden played well for half a game Sunday against Detroit. Unfortunately for the Browns the other half was really bad, punctuated by a comical moment with his underhand, backhand flip that resulted in a fourth-quarter interception. But his struggles were about more than one play. The Browns did not have a first down in the third quarter and had only three first downs overall before the famous flip. Weeden did little to quell growing unrest about his future.
Fast-forward: The good news for Weeden is that the Packers are beat up and missing Clay Matthews Jr. and Nick Perry, both strong outside rush guys. The bad news: That won't stop the Packers from sending waves of folks after him. Dom Capers is an original zone-blitz guy, and he loves to pressure the passer. If the Browns had a consistent, dependable running game, that would help Weeden. But they don't, and Green Bay doesn't allow teams to run on them either. It's the same story as the Lions game: Weeden has to get rid of the ball, and he has to avoid sacks. He also can't be trying any more backhand flips.
Considering confidence (again): Same topic as a week ago, different prism from which to view the issue. Weeden needed to be confident in his return as the starter. He was for a half -- but how he reacts to the famous flip could define the rest of the season. If he uses it to make himself stronger, it could be a turning point. If he doesn't ... well, the end of that story is not tough to figure.
Team confidence: The Browns will deny it when asked, but that flip had to affect the psyche of every player on the team. For two games, the Browns saw that with good quarterback play they had the talent to win. They just needed smart, aggressive, quick-thinking play from the guy under center. The flip was none of the above, and it had to have the other 52 players wondering if they are able to win with him. Weeden not only has to find his confidence, he has to regain -- or perhaps reinforce -- the confidence of the players around him.
Prediction: Going to Green Bay after a win is tough. Going there after a demoralizing loss is tougher still. Especially when the Packers do two things that will badly hurt the Browns: rush the passer and defend the run. This is not a good matchup for Weeden, and anything he provides will be a positive. Asking him to provide more than 220 yards and a touchdown is a lot, and expecting him to take fewer than four sacks is even more.