Cleveland Browns: Brandon Weeden Needs Help to Win in 2012
The Cleveland Browns are a franchise that has become synonymous with poor personnel decisions since they returned to the NFL in 1999. The quarterback position for the Browns has been the prime example of the organizations troubles over the past 13 seasons. Cleveland sent 16 starting quarterbacks to the line of scrimmage in the past 13 years, and only one quarterback managed to play an entire season without suffering an injury or being benched by the coaching staff.
Brandon Weeden is very likely to become the 17th starting quarterback to step under center for the Browns when Cleveland hosts the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1 of the 2012 NFL season. Weeden has been receiving rave reviews from the Cleveland sports media, and many Browns fans are ready to label him the savior of the franchise without ever taking a snap in the NFL.
Weeden has been described as a mature quarterback with very good route anticipation and a strong arm down the field. Despite the off-field issues with contract negotiations over the past month, Weeden has become a fan favorite and has been the recipient of some lofty expectations from Browns fans across the world.
The Browns are a team with a lot of potential, but lack the playmakers that have made certain NFL teams explosive powerhouses over the last few seasons. With the exceptions of Trent Richardson and Josh Gordon, Cleveland did not sign any real playmaker to help the offense in 2012, and it seems that the organization puts the poor offensive production of 2011 on the shoulders of Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace.
The Browns front office has been consistent in their claims that the Browns wide receivers are a better group than their statistics have shown and that there are other reasons for the Browns’ lack of production over the past five seasons. The team's recent actions of selecting Gordon in the supplemental draft seem to contradict those statements. Gordon had a tumultuous run through his college career and had problems failing drug tests on multiple occasions. Gordon will be expected to contribute early in 2012 to warrant the team losing its second-round pick in 2013 for his services.
In the backfield, Richardson is expected to be a jack of all trades for Cleveland’s offense, but the Browns have a severe lack of depth behind him. Brandon Jackson and Montario Hardesty will be placed in the backup roles and each have had multiple injury concerns over the last few seasons. Free agent Cedric Benson was linked to the Browns before the team selected Richardson in April and could be an interesting option if injuries start to pile up early in training camp. Chris Ogbonnaya and Adonis Thomas are also on the Browns' active roster as running back options.
Weeden will need some of these names to step up in 2012 if he expects to be the quarterback of the Browns for an extended period of time. Weeden's journey will really begin once he finally gets under contract and comes to training camp in the next few weeks. However, one thing is certain, if Weeden does not have more of a supporting cast than McCoy did last last year he will have a very tough road as he looks to solidify his job this season.
Cleveland's offensive unit as a whole ranked 30th in the NFL in scoring and 24th in average passing yards per game last season. The Browns only managed to score 20 points in a game on two occasions and scored only 21 touchdowns over the course of the entire year.
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