Time to make a change
It’s time. As a matter of fact, it’s high time. It’s high time to introduce Brandon Weeden to the clipboard.
Yep, the professionalizing of Brandon Weeden as a football player has bottomed out on the National Football League level. He’s not nearly the quarterback he was for a couple of years at Oklahoma State.
If anything, he is regressing and he’s taking the Browns’ offense down with him. And if head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner don’t see that, then there’s no hope for them, either.
Sunday’s putrid performance in the 31-13 loss to the Packers in Green Bay stands as ample proof that Weeden, at best, is a backup quarterback in the NFL. The only way he should play is if another quarterback is injured.
And since Jason Campbell, the only other quarterback on the Cleveland roster, is in perfect health, well . . . draw your own conclusions.
Not that Campbell is the quarterback of the future for this franchise, but at least he can play a more representative brand of football than Weeden, who still seems overwhelmed at how the game is played on the NFL plane.
He is hurting this team more than perhaps even he realizes. With any kind of a performance that approached decent, the Browns might have had a shot to make it a game because the Packers, in large part due to a Cleveland defense that played well after a slow start, did not play that well.
The game seems too fast for Weeden, who looks somewhat bewildered in the pocket and too frequently makes the incorrect throw or takes a sack. When he holds the ball for more than four seconds, count on a negative play of some sort.
His pocket awareness if woefully abysmal. He does not seem to feel or sense when the opposition is getting close and is painfully slow to react or recognize when trouble lurks. When he does, it’s usually too late and he either goes down or makes a dumb play. It’s almost as though the light comes on a second or two after it should.
It’s maddening to the fans when Weeden doesn’t seem to learn from his mistakes. He keeps repeating them and no amount of coaching is going to straighten him out. If he made them yesterday and today, he’ll no doubt make them tomorrow. He is who he is and he can’t be changed. That has become painfully obvious.
Somewhere along the line, it was hoped he would show a modicum of improvement. You know, it’s like anything else. If you do something enough times, you probably will get better at it. Not Weeden. He is clearly regressing. With him, the correctable is not correctable.
For example, remember that bonehead pass (Weeden’s words) he threw in last Sunday's loss to the Detroit Lions? The one he sort of shoveled sideways that was intercepted and eventually went viral on You Tube?
Well, he did it again against the Packers, this time underhanding the ball toward Chris Ogbonnaya on the Browns’ final possession of the game late in the fourth quarter. The only difference is this one fell incomplete.
Defenses are designed, of course, to confuse quarterbacks. And it’s working all two well with Weeden, who seems to be confused, dazed and befuddled on nearly every pass play.
The recognition factor is really not a factor with him. Rarely does he get rid of the ball in three seconds or less. And against the Packers, he had all sorts of time because the offensive line was solid in pass protection most of the afternoon. His 17-for-42, 149-yard effort was embarrassing.
Yes, the receivers dropped a few of his passes. But that in no way factored into the final result. When clutch throws were needed, they arrived as incompletions. They were either overthrown (twice) in the end zone or underthrown, resulting in an interception.
If Chudzinski and Turner stubbornly insist on staying with Weeden even though the game hasn’t slowed down for him, they can expect performances similar to the one we witnessed in Green Bay.
Weeden does not deserve to be this team’s starting quarterback anymore. He has done nothing to prove to the coaching staff or the front office that he belongs under center on a weekly basis.
And it’s not a matter of being spoiled by the way Brian Hoer played the position when he was healthy. There is a clear difference between the way Hoyer and Weeden play the game. Hoyer, to be perfectly blunt, is way more cerebral and brings that to his game.
During Packers week, Chudzinski had nothing but good things to say about Weeden. “I thought he’s had his best couple of days of practice . . . very focused and receptive to coaching,” he said.
“You can see him doing things. Specifically working to improve in areas that we’re talking about where he needs to improve. . . . I have confidence in him, like the team does, to go out and play his very best."
Well, if what we saw Sunday in Green Bay was Weeden’s very best, then the bar has been lowered substantially. How focused did he look against the Green Bay pass rush? Practicing well means squat.
There are good practice players, those guys who always look good leading up to a game. They look downright brilliant working against their teammates, then disappear when the game means something.
And then there are game players, those guys who come out, no matter how they practice, and perform a whole lot better when the game means something than they do in practice.
Give me the game player, the guy who goes out there and performs at or above his capability. My game players will beat your good practice players every time.
And that confidence of which Chudzinski spoke? Wonder where it’s at now.
For a front office that has not been shy about its intention to look to the collegiate ranks for its franchise quarterback, there is still some pride to salvage. After all, there are still nine games left.
Weeden has been given every opportunity to prove his worth to the front office and coaching staff. And he keeps failing. Unfailingly.
They have to drop the hammer on him at some time if for no other reason than the players will begin to wonder just how important winning is to them and begin to lose confidence.
It’s time. It’s high time to go in a different direction.